Friday, February 27, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 2/27-3/1/15 Devotion

Praise God—it is almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, from his "The Ten Commandments" book:

"We keep the Sabbath Day holy, by 'consecrating and dedicating' this day to the 'service of the high God.' It is good to rest on the Sabbath Day from the works of our calling; but if we rest from labor and do no more, the ox and the ass keep the Sabbath as well as we—for they rest from labor.

"We must dedicate the day to God; we must not only 'keep a Sabbath,' but 'sanctify' a Sabbath. Sabbath-sanctification consists in two things: 1) Solemn preparation for it. If a prince were to come to your house, what preparation would you make for his entertainment! You would sweep the house, wash the floor, adorn the room with the richest tapestry and hangings, that there might be something suitable to the state and dignity of so great a person.

"On the blessed Sabbath, God intends to have sweet communion with you. He seems to say to you, as Christ to Zacchaeus, 'Make haste and come down, for this day I must abide at your house,' (Luke 19:5). Now, what prepar-ation should you make for entertaining this King of glory?

"When Saturday evening approaches, sound a retreat; call your minds off from the world and summon your thoughts together, to think of the great work of the approaching day. Purge out all unclean affections, which may indispose you for the work of the Sabbath. Evening preparation will be like the tuning of an instrument, it will fit the heart better for the duties of the ensuing Sabbath."

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thurs., 2/26/15 Devotion (Lk. 12:22a)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 12:22a, where we read these words:

"Then He [Jesus] said to His disciples, 'Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life . . . ' "

Here is a very big challenge for any of us: not to worry about our lives. This would be impossible to do, aside from miraculous grace. We "worry about [our lives]" just about as naturally as we breathe air.

But it is highly-liberating to actually *trust* God, and *not* to worry about our lives. It can be done, but it requires real and applied faith in Christ.  No Chris-tian on earth will ever do this (failure to worry) perfectly; but it really honors God whenever we do it *sincerely*—even though we still have a long way to go.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The mercies of God have a melting influence upon the soul; they dissolve it in love to God. God's judgments make us fear Him, His mercies make us love Him.” —Thomas Watson, in "All Things for Good"]

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wed., 2/25/15 Devotion (Job 25:4)

Today's encouragement comes from Job 25:4, where we read these words:

"How then can man be righteous before God? Or how can he be pure who is born of a woman?"

Bildad the Shuhite asked this question (above). It is a good query. The an-swer is, "No one can be righteous before God on one's own. What is neces-sary is an 'alien' righteousness." This "alien" righteousness is that of Christ, imputed to our sinful souls, by faith.

Faith immediately follows regeneration. Regeneration is God's sovereign act of bringing to life a dead and rebellious soul. Faith is the gift of regeneration. By faith, we bring to our hearts the Lord Jesus Christ, who then is our right-eousness. Therefore, "Can a man be righteous before God?" Yes, but only as he is clothed in Christ's righteousness.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A godly man loves God and therefore delights to be in His presence; he loves God and therefore takes comfort in nothing with-out Him.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Godly Man's Picture"]

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tues., 2/24/15 Devotion (Lk. 10:21a)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 10:21a, where we read these words:

"In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, 'I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth . . . ' "

Things can get pretty gnarly down here on the earth. Is it not wonderful that we may know that God our Heavenly Father is Lord of heaven "and *earth*"? Whatever difficulties we are experiencing today—no matter how real and stressful they are—are all under the watchful providential sovereignty of our Heavenly Father.

Ours is not a "stale” or detached deity. Instead, the Lord of heaven and earth loves us, His churchmen, more than we can ever imagine. He cares for us much more than we care for ourselves (or for our loved ones). Jesus "thank-ed" and praised His Father. Let us do the same—even in trying times.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The church is the fitting place for glory. We enter into heaven in the church here.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mon., 2/23/15 Devotion (Lk. 9:13a)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 9:13a, where we read these words:

"But He [Jesus] said to them [His disciples], 'You give them something to
eat.' . . . "

The church is the only institution on earth that is in the position to really "feed” people—especially with regard to those morsels of nourishment that are most important. This would focus mostly on the gospel of God's free grace in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Sunday sermon, and the sacrament of The Lord’s Supper are the primary means of this "feeding."

Too often we look to the government, families, individuals, or organizations to "feed” us heavenly food, when in fact they can only aid us as they are in sub-mission to Christ and His true church. Once Christians *are* fed the Bread of Life (Jesus), we are indeed in a position to benefit others. Let us be sure not to neglect the church's responsibility to feed the entire world the Lord Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let us pray that God will preserve pure ordinances and powerful preaching among us. Idolatry came in at first by the want [lack] of good preaching.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Ten Commandments"]

Friday, February 20, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 2/20-22/15 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it is almost The Lord's Day! In order to help get us ready for church, here is the great Thomas Watson, from his book, "The Doctrine of Repentance":

"If God should save men without repentance, making no discrimination, then by this rule He must save all, not only men, but devils, as Origen once held—and so consequently the decrees of election and reprobation must fall to the ground. How diametrically opposed this is to sacred writ, let all judge.

"There are two sorts of persons who will find it harder to repent than others: 1) Those who have sat a great while under the ministry of God's ordinances [preaching and Lord’s Supper] but grow no better. The earth which drinks in the rain, yet 'bears thorns and briars, is nigh unto cursing,' (Heb. 6:8). There is little hope of the metal which has lain long in the fire but is not melted and refined. When God has sent His ministers one after another, exhorting and persuading men to leave their sins, but they settle upon the lees of formality and can sit and sleep under a sermon, it will be hard for these ever to be brought to repentance. They may fear lest Christ should say to them as once he said to the fig tree, 'May no fruit grow on you anymore,' (Matt. 21:19)."

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Thurs., 2/19/15 Devotion (Ex. 2:24)

Today's encouragement comes from Exodus 2:24, which says this:

"So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abra-ham, with Isaac, and with Jacob."

This is an amazing couplet: our groaning, and God's remembering. One of the chief reasons the good and perfect God gives even His beloved children troubles is so that we will call out (or groan) to Him. This causes the Lord to call to mind His eternal covenant in Jesus.

The covenant of grace is fulfilled in Christ's body and blood—given for sin-ners, who are then brought into His family (church). It is our privilege to be in covenant with God, and to secure His aid at every turn. This covenant does not exempt us from trouble—but it does provide us redemption (which is of ultimate value).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The work and business of ministers of the gospel is, as it were, that of servants: to wash and cleanse the souls of men; for this is done by the preaching of the Word, which is their main business.” —Jona-than Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "Christ the Example of Ministers"]

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wed., 2/18/15 Devotion (Lk. 4:22c)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 4:22c, where we read these words:

" . . . And they said, 'Is this not Joseph’s son?' "

The people that made this statement (above) had just been marveling at how wonderful Christ was. Later in the chapter, they are ready to try to throw the Messiah over the cliff of their town (Nazareth). The problem these people had was that they thought Jesus was "Joseph's son." They could not conceive of Christ as being the Son of God, (and not of a mere man: Joseph).

Such is the nature of almost all theological heresy: it starts with a mistaken foundation. If Christ was not the Son of God, He would not be sinless. He could also not atone for sinners, since He Himself would have to deal with His own sin nature. Let us recognize Jesus for who He is: the Son—not of Joseph—but of God Himself.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Defilers and profaners of ordinances, by known and allowed wickedness, provoke God more than the heathen who have no ordinances.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "A Warning to Professors of Religion"]

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tues., 2/17/15 Devotion (1 Cor. 4:17c)

Today's encouragement comes from the few words of 1 Corinthians 4:17c, which say this:

" . . . As I teach everywhere in every church."

Paul was consistent in his preaching, teaching, and instruction. All the church congregations everywhere—be they in Ephesus, Colosse, Thessalonica, Cor-inth, Philippi, Rome, or elsewhere—received uniform doctrine. This was par-ticularly true of the critically-important article of justification: that sinners are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone.

The individual parishes had peculiar (and unique) challenges, and Paul's let-ters reflect his concern about these things. But still, *every* church in his day, and ours, is to preach and teach certain things: foremost among them being the sufficiency and atonement of Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[God] rewards His subjects in this life. He gives them inward peace and joy; a bunch of grapes by the way; and oft-times rich-es and honor.” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Monday, February 16, 2015

Mon., 2/16/15 Devotion (Lk. 2:49)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 2:49, where we read these words (of Christ):

"And [Jesus] said to them [Mary and Joseph], 'Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?' "

On all Sundays we who claim to belong to God ought to be easy to find. Any-one looking for us should be able to immediately discern that we would be in our Father's house, being about His “business”—just like Jesus was. Nothing trumps this, for the true believer. Mary and Joseph apparently looked all over the place for the young Messiah—but, had they immediately gone to the temple, they would have found Him right away.

May we be just like our Savior, in this particular (at least): that we put Christ's church and His business before everything else. We are sinners; Christ is holy—but in this one regard we may match Him almost step-by-step.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Do you think that when Christ is so highly advanc-ed, and has all power in heaven and earth in His hand, He will not take care of His elect, and turn the most astonishing providences to the good of His church?” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Friday, February 13, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 2/13-15/15 Devotion

Yippee—it is almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, from, "A Body of Divin-ity":

"Go to Christ's blood for peace. Some seek their peace from their own right-eousness, not Christ’s. They go for peace to their holy life, not Christ's death. When their conscience is troubled, they strive to quiet it with their duties. This is not the right way to achieve peace. Duties must not be neglected, nor idol-ized. Look to the blood of sprinkling, (Heb. 12:24). The blood of Christ which pacified God, must pacify conscience. Christ's blood being taken in by faith, gives peace. 'Being justified by faith, we have peace with God,' (Rom 5:1). There exists no balm to cure a wounded conscience, but the blood of Christ."

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Thurs., 2/12/15 Devotion (Gen. 45:7)

Today's encouragement comes from Genesis 45:7, which says this:

"And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance."

This is Joseph speaking here (above), as he addressed his shocked brothers. Joseph is a "type" of Christ. Jesus did fully and perfectly, what Joseph did (partially and imperfectly): Christ has "preserve[d] a posterity . . . in the earth." He has done this through His sacrificial death and glorious resurrection, whereby He purchased the church for Himself.

If we are faithful churched Christians today, then let us rejoice greatly. All the benefits of heaven are ours, now, even here on earth, in the Lord Jesus Christ. These are all apprehended by grace through faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God is not now terrifying to us; but in Christ, God's nature is Fatherly and sweet to us.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Free-dom"]

Monday, February 2, 2015

Mon., 2/2/15 Devotion (Rom. 5:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 5:1, where we read these words:

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ . . . "

What a precious verse this is. Those who are justified by faith in Christ have *peace* with *God*.  To be at peace with God is to be in proper relationship with everything else: self, the church, non-Christians, and the whole universe. The wrath of God is removed from the soul that is "justified by faith."

Those who seek justification in any other way than faith in Jesus will never possess, nor experience the peace of God. To have God pacified, in relation to us, is a great and glorious thing. The Lord is right to grant this peace to those who believe in Christ, since He alone bore the punishment for the sins of the faithful church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "What is the glory of the times we live in, but God's face revealed in Christ?” —Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]