Friday, May 29, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/29-31/15 Devotion

Hallelujah—it is almost Sunday! We *get* to go to church! In order to help get us ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his outstanding book, entitled, "A Body of Divinity":

"As God’s mercy makes the saints happy, so it should make them humble. Mercy is not the fruit of our goodness, but the fruit of God’s goodness. Mercy is a gift that God bestows. They have no cause to be proud that live upon the gifts of God’s mercy. 'If I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head,’ (Job 10:15). All my righteousness is the effect of God’s mercy, therefore I will be humble and will not lift up my head. . . .

"God’s mercy is free. To set up merit is to destroy mercy. Nothing can deserve mercy, because we are polluted in our blood; nor force it. We may force God to punish us, but not to love us. 'I will love them freely,’ (Hos. 14:4). Every link in the chain of salvation is wrought and interwoven with free grace. Election is free. '[God] has chosen us in [Christ], according to the good pleasure of His will,' (Eph. 1:4). Justification is free. 'Being justified freely by [God's] grace,’ (Rom. 3:24). Salvation is free. 'According to [God's] mercy He saved us,’ (Titus 3:5). . . . If God should show mercy to such only as are worthy, He would show none at all."

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Thurs., 5/28/15 Devotion (3 Jn. 2)

Today's encouragement comes from 3 John, v. 2, where we read these words:

"Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers."

I like this little verse (above). It reminds us Christians that God is concerned about *all* facets of our being, (and not just one or two of them). The soul is the most important part of any person—by far—and it is to get first attention; but, after it is thriving, God would have every other part of His child prosper, too. (Those with healthy souls will be diligent to preserve the body’s health, too.)

Does this mean that sick believers are under God's displeasure? Not at all. We cannot know the Lord's providences for His children; but we can know this: that *we* ought to desire, and pray for health at every level--so that the church and the gospel will spread and grow all over the earth.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Have you forgotten the years of the right hand [viz. the extreme blessings] of the Most High? —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wed., 5/27/15 Devotion (2 Jn. 9)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 John, v. 9, where we read these words:

"Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son."

Sometimes we hear simple and ignorant people say things like this: "Doctrine is bad. Who needs it? It only causes trouble and division among Christians." Actually, those statements themselves are doctrinal—but they demonstrate very *bad* doctrine.

We cannot have Christ without doctrine; and this is one of the reasons doc-trine is so critically-important. Good doctrine leads the church directly *to* Jesus, and seeks to keep her there. Bad and vacuous doctrine leaves people out in the theological "cold.” Let us not be ashamed of Christ, nor His doc-trine. We cannot have one without the other.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A praying man can never be very miserable, what-ever his condition be, for he has the ear of God . . . “ —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tues., 5/26/15 Devotion (1 Jn. 5:12)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 John 5:12, where we read these words:

"He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."

This is a very straightforward scripture (above). If a soul has Jesus, that soul has life. If a soul lacks Jesus, that soul has no life. If this is true—which it clearly is—then most people do not have life. No matter what else they pos-sess, they are devoid of the most important and vital principle of existence: being "alive" spiritually, (or, in the soul).

Therefore we must ask: "*How* do we *get* this life? Do we have to work for it, beat ourselves up (in order to get it), or become extremely religious (to pro-cure it)?" No; none of this will suffice. We must have *faith* in Jesus. Saving faith fetches Christ to our hearts; and He (alone) gives us life.(Cf. 1 Jn. 5:4 in this regard.)

[Puritan quote of the day: "We do not live by feeling, but by faith. It is the duty of a Christian to begin with faith, and so to rise up to feeling.” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, May 22, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/22-24/15 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday! We *get* to go to church! Here is Thomas Wat-son, from his book, entitled, "All Things for Good":

"We must love God above all other objects. 'There is nothing on earth that I desire beside You,' (Psalm 73:25). God is the quintessence of all good things; He is superlatively good. The soul seeing a super-eminency in God, and ad-miring in Him that constellation of all excellencies, is carried out in love to Him in the highest degree.

"The measure of our love to God, says Bernard, must be to love Him without measure. God, who is the chief of our happiness, must have the chief of our affections. The creature may have the milk of our love, but God must have the cream. Love to God must be above all other things, as the oil swims above the water."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thurs., 5/21/15 Devotion (2 Pet. 3:18a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Peter 3:18a, where we read these words:

" . . . But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. . . . "

How does a church full of sincere Christians *grow* in "the grace and know-ledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ"? Certainly, by being well-fed. The context of Peter's injunction (above) is largely that of the proper use and un-derstanding of the word of God (the sacred scriptures)—particularly as they are preached.

Believers *grow* when we ingest the word—being hungry for its nourishment. The written word, which is the base and foundation of the church's preached word, always points to the Incarnate Word (the "Logos," of Jn. 1:1). This "Word” (Christ) is the ultimate Revelation of God. Only He (Jesus) can "feed" us. He feeds us His own "flesh" and "blood," in the preached Gospel, and in the proper administration of the sacrament of The Lord's Supper.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Every godly, gracious man is a praying man.”
—William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wed., 5/20/15 Devotion (Ps. 73:16-17)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 73:16 & 17, where Asaph, the hu-man author, was dealing with, and finally received resolution to the thorny is-sue of the prosperity of the wicked, (see vv. 2-3 ff.). . . .

"When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me—until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end."

On our own, individually, we are simply *unable* to grasp a whole lot of things that are necessary for our happiness and well-being. This is no accident. God intentionally designed us to be insufficient and incomplete in and of our-selves. This is why He puts His saints into the body of Christ, His holy church. When Asaph came into the communion of his fellow-believers—all of a sud-den the darkness was dispersed, and his understanding was enlightened.

It is the height of pride and foolishness, to believe we do not need God or His church. Let us enter the Lord's sanctuary on Sunday, and get what we need for all of life.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Mercy is not for them that sin and fear not, but for them that fear and sin not. God's mercy is a holy mercy; where it pardons it heals.” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tues., 5/19/15 Devotion (Isa. 19:24-25)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 19:24 & 25, where we read these words:

"In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, 'Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inherit-ance.' "

These two verses (above) end a remarkable section of scripture, that de-scribe the era in which we currently live. Egypt, Assyria, Israel, and every other nation on earth are all now "leveled" in the New Covenant church. No one country has prominence over another, since elect souls in all of them are brought into the one church, by grace through faith in the one Savior, Christ.

Let us thank God that this day has come. Had it not, most of us who are reading these words would still be in darkness, and in the condemnation of our sins. But now, Jesus has proclaimed His gospel to the whole world—through His church. May His Name be blessed for this!

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ's blood is the object of faith, and faith brings peace.” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mon., 5/18/15 Devotion (Num. 27:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 27:5, where we read these words:

"So Moses brought their case before the LORD."

When Moses was faced with a practical dilemma, and there was no clear-cut ordinance that applied directly to it (in the written word of God), he brought the issue to the Lord in prayer, and waited for an answer. We who are in the church ought to do the same thing. Nothing is too big, nor too small for our God; and He is honored when we inquire of Him.

Sometimes the Lord allows things to come into our lives that bewilder us—solely for the purpose of our appealing to Him for help and support. What are we facing today? Whatever it is, let us spread it out before our Father in heaven, as we boldly approach the throne of grace in and through Jesus' im-puted righteousness (to us).

[Puritan quote of the day: "As you have any spiritual comfort from Christ, spend all for Christ . . . “ —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, May 15, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/15-17/15 Devotion

Yippee—it is *almost* Sunday! In order to help us get ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from "The Ten Commandments":

"We dress our souls on a Sabbath morning by prayer; 'When you pray, enter into your closet,'  (Matt 6:6). Prayer sanctifies a Sabbath.

"The things we should pray for in the morning of the Sabbath. Let us beg a blessing upon the word which is to be preached; that it may be a savour of life to us; that by it our minds may be more illuminated, our corruptions more weakened, and our stock of grace more increased. Let us pray that God's special presence may be with us, that our hearts may burn within us while God speaks, that we may receive the word into meek and humble hearts, and that we may submit to it, and bring forth fruits, (James 1:21). Nor should we only pray for ourselves, but for others."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thurs., 5/14/15 Devotion (1 Pet. 1:7c-8a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Peter 1:7c & 8a, where we read these words:

" . . . Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. . . . "

Is it possible for us to love Someone we have never seen? For that matter, is it possible for us to believe in the existence of that Someone (God), whom we have not seen? Indeed, the answer to these questions is, "Yes." How do we know that Jesus Christ exists; and that we can love Him? Through credible witnesses. The Ultimate Witness is the Holy Spirit Himself.

If we sincerely love the God we have not seen with the eyes of our bodies, we are blessed. Christ said as much, in Jn. 20:29. The *greatest* realities are not seen. Even atheists must employ these spiritual realities, in order to deny them.  Let us love the Christ who is more *with* us, than we are with our-selves.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Compare sin with hell, and you shall see that sin is worse.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wed., 5/13/15 Devotion (Ps. 63:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 63:1a, where we read these words:

"O God, You are my God; early will I seek You . . . "

David is craving God in this Psalm. He wants to get to the sanctuary, but he is hindered (in that he is in the wilderness). Still, David seeks the Lord "early." We can learn something from his example. Christian church members should think on God and pray to Him as soon as they get up. Young people should seek the Lord in their youth. And we should look to God "early" in all our trials (or joys).

Let us make everything else wait in line, as we put Christ first in all things. This is totally against our fallen nature—but it is consistent with regeneration. Those who earnestly seek God will not be outdone by Him (in terms of His favors bestowed on us).

[Puritan quote of the day: "A heartless, drooping, and discouraging life and walk is very unbecoming the gospel of Christ.” —James Durham, in, "The Un-searchable Riches of Christ"]

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tues., 5/12/15 Devotion (Num. 21:4b-5a)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 21:4b & 5a, where we read these words:

" . . . and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses . . . "

The natural reaction of people walking in the flesh (and not the Spirit) is to lash out at God and His church leaders--especially when they (the grum-blers) are really discouraged or downhearted. This always happens--even among Christians--when faith (and its resultant humility and repentance) is not being exercised. Sometimes we are very sophisticated in our "speaking against God"; and instead of it taking overt forms of expression, it is the at-titude and verbiage of our hearts.

Let all the faithful church be careful to ascribe blame to ourselves and other sinners alone; and always to believe and assert (in earnest) the absolute righteousness and perfection of God. The Lord may send troubles our way--but instead of grumbling about them, let us seek to grow by and through them.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A heartless, drooping, and discouraging life and walk is very unbecoming the gospel of Christ." --James Durham, in, "The Un-searchable Riches of Christ"]

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mon., 5/11/15 Devotion (Ps. 59:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 59:8, where we read these words:

"But You, O LORD, shall laugh at them; You shall have all the nations in de-rision."

God's "belly-laughs" are not always brought on by some silly (or funny) things His creatures do (perhaps, even innocently). In the verse above, the Lord is hooting over the foolishness and stupidity of His enemies, who think they can take Him on and overcome the Creator (who made them).

In reality, life is no "laughing matter"; and God calls on His whole world to worship Him (alone)—through Christ. The fact of the matter, however, is that only the faithful church actually practices this (proper worship). Those who love Jesus will be vilified by those who hate Him. But the same Lord who "laughs" at the wicked also blesses His true children.

[Puritan quote of the day: "What peace or comfort had Judas in the sight of his thirty pieces of silver?” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Down-cast"]

Friday, May 8, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/8-10/15 Devotion

Wahoo—Sunday is *almost* here. In order to help prepare us for church, here is Thomas Watson, from "The Ten Commandments":

"The sacred observation of [The Lord's Day]. Rejoice at the approach of the day, as a day wherein we have a prize for our souls, and may enjoy much of God's presence. John 8:56: 'Abraham rejoiced to see My day.' So, when we see the light of a Sabbath shine, we should rejoice, and 'call the Sabbath a delight.' This is the queen of days, which God has crowned with a blessing, (Isa. 58:13). As there was one day in the week on which God rained manna twice as much as upon any other day, so He rains down the manna of heav-enly blessings twice as much on the Sabbath as on any other.

"This is the day wherein Christ carries the soul into the house of wine, and displays the banner of love over it; now the dew of the Spirit falls on the soul, whereby it is revived and comforted. How many may write the Lord's Day, the day of their new birth! This day of rest is a pledge and earnest of the eternal rest in heaven. Shall we not then rejoice at its approach? The day on which the Sun of Righteousness shines should be a day of gladness."

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Thurs., 5/7/15 Devotion (Ps. 51:1b-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 51:1b & 2, where we read these words:

"Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin."

What a great prayer (by David) above. After all, if our sins are forgiven, and if we know (and even sense) this—can there be a greater blessing? Jesus died for sinners. He did not die for good people who think their good works make Him unnecessary. If we are sinners today, saved by grace through faith in Christ (plus nothing)—then we are supremely happy people.

What are we to do when we feel guilty? We are to bring the issue to God. If we believe in Jesus' atonement, then let us leave our sin there (at the cross). If we do not believe in Jesus' atonement, then we are lost, and must bear our own sin's punishment (in perdition).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The church of Christ is a common hospital, where-in all are in some measure sick of some spiritual disease or other . . . “
—Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wed., 5/6/15 Devotion (Ps. 50:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 50:15, where we read these words:

"Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me."

God brings trouble to us, His people, so that we will cry out to Him. The Lord is pleased when we exercise faith (see Heb. 11:6)—and faith is mostly de-monstrated through our Christ-honoring responses to difficulties. Faith takes practical expression in and through prayer.

Are we in any trouble today? If so, this is all right, because through Jesus we have our powerful and good God to go to. Life is less about how to avoid hardship; and a lot more about how to take advantage of the opportunities it affords us (to know Christ better).

[Puritan quote of the day: "We should labor to give the best interpretation to the actions of governors that the nature of the actions will possibly bear.”
—Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tues., 5/5/15 Devotion (Num. 12:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 12:3, where we read these words:

"(Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)"

Moses' humility was in some respects his most notable characteristic. He was not full of himself. Moses would have been very pleased, had God chosen someone other than he (Moses) to lead the people.

Humility, however, is necessary for greatness; and Moses was certainly des-tined for that. Let us recognize that God chooses His faithful churchmen, not on the basis of anything at all in them—but entirely on the premise of His own will and greater glory. None of us have anything to boast in (except Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The church is a distinct race, that originally came from God.” —Jonathan Edwards, in the book, "On Knowing Christ"]