Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tues., 6/30/15 Devotion (Matt. 10:28)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 10:28, where our Lord Jesus said this:

"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

Practically-speaking, fear is a big issue everyone must face everyday. Will we fear men; or will we fear God? If we fear men, then we will not fear God; and if we fear God, then we will not fear men. Do we have faith in Christ? Do we really believe the soul is of infinite value? Do we believe that this present body will someday die; and that it will be resurrected? If so, then why do we fear man?

Failure to fear God will certainly, in the end, turn out to be much more fright-ening, than anything a human being could bring our way. Let us trust Christ, love Him, and fear Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "As the restraint of a sin is gladness to a godly man, so falling into a sin is a matter of trouble, sorrow, and tears to him.”
—Christopher Love, in, "The Mortified Christian"]

Monday, June 29, 2015

Mon., 6/29/15 Devotion (Matt. 9:2)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 9:2, where we read these words:

"Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, 'Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.' "

Here is an interesting case, where our Lord Jesus saves a soul on the basis of the faith of others. Presumably, the paralytic man had no faith. He, like all of us in our fallen states, was dead in trespasses and sins. But the prayers of his believing friends were answered, and the paralyzed man was both saved, and healed.

This verse also encourages the church in her doctrine of covenant. Our little babies—for instance—who are united to the church in baptism, also derive benefit from the faith of their parents (and the other fellow church members). Let us be encouraged to apply our faith to the benefit of others.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The more a man is humbled, truly humbled for sin, the more he is found in duty; the more a man is discouraged, the more his hands are weakened for duty.” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/26-28/15 Devotion

Praise God! Sunday is only two days away! Here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Divine Cordial":

"Love will make us stoop to the meanest [lowest] offices. Love is a humble grace, it does not walk abroad in state, it will creep upon its hands. It will stoop and submit to anything whereby it may be serviceable to Christ. As we see in Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus, both of them honorable per-sons, yet one takes down Christ’s body with his own hands, and the other embalms it with sweet [spices]. It might seem much for persons of their rank to be employed in that service, but love made them do it.

"If we love God, we shall not think any work too [low] for us, by which we may be helpful to Christ’s members. Love is not squeamish; it will visit the sick, re-lieve the poor, wash the saints’ wounds. The mother that loves her child is not coy and nice; she will do those things for her child which others would scorn to do. He who loves God will humble himself to the meanest [lowest] office of love to Christ and His members."

Tues., 6/23/15 Devotion (Isa. 55:1a, 3a)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 55:1a & 3a, where we read these words:

"Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. . . . Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live . . . "

God lays-out a great feast, and He invites all nations to it. To partake of the luscious fare set before sinners, all that is necessary is the "taking" of it. Mon-ey, effort, works—one of these may be used, to "buy," earn, or apprehend it.

The practical dimension in getting the goods of the banquet of the kingdom of heaven is simply to "hear," (as v. 3a says, above). The church proclaims the gospel of Christ's free grace; and the only ones that benefit from it are those who come with empty and hungry hearts, and who unashamedly gorge them-selves on the Lord's promises. Christianity teaches an entirely passive right-eousness through Jesus—which then enlivens the believer to all kinds of gracious deeds.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Justification admits of no degrees. No, not in heav-en—you are not more justified there than you are here. You are now as per-fectly justified as ever and as accepted of Christ as ever.” —Jeremiah Bur-roughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Monday, June 22, 2015

Mon., 6/22/15 Devotion (Isa. 54:17)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 54:17, where the prophet wrote these great words:

" 'No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the ser-vants of the LORD, and their righteousness is from Me,' says the LORD."

God's servants may take great comfort from this divine promise. Satan and evil (religious) men form unholy alliances against God's ministers and church-es. And though they rage, and create a fuss, they are never successful. The reason for all this is because of the latter part of this verse: the saints' right-eousness is from God. If righteousness had anything to do with us sinners, then the devil and his horde would have a hey-day with us. But, since right-eousness is from Christ alone, and is His gift of grace alone—the redeemed are safe.

Let us joyfully trust in Jesus' righteousness today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Justification is the very hinge and pillar of Christi-anity. An error about justification is dangerous, like a defect in a foundation.” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Friday, June 19, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/19-21/15 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 savor 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, June 18, 2015

Thurs., 6/18/15 Devotion (Ps. 111:2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 111:2, where we read these words:

"The works of the LORD are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them."

God's works are remarkable indeed. Consider the far-flung universe. Who created all those galaxies and stars, etc.? God. But the creation of one hu-man being is more significant than *all* the non-rational creation put together. Still, greater than the work of the making of man, is the labor of God through which He procured His church's salvation.

The work of Christ on the cross, and in His glorious resurrection—is the "magnum opus," and masterpiece of all that God has ever done. We contri-bute *no* work to our salvation—God does it all, even "against the grain" of our natural rebellion and disdain for Him. Creation is the work of the Lord's "fingers"; redemption is the work of His "arm."

[Puritan quote of the day: "God, in the sentence of justification, pronounces a man perfectly righteous, or else he would need a further justification after he is justified.” —Jonathan Edwards, in, "Justification by Faith Alone"]

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wed., 6/17/15 Devotion (Deut. 22:3c)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 22:3c, where we read these words:

" . . . You must not hide yourself."

If you are like me, sometimes you probably feel like you would like to be in-visible, or anonymous. You would like to have your own private (and "perfect") life, separated from the pedestrian problems of the masses. But God would not have us live like that. Instead, He would have us be involved in the troubles, trials, and misfortunes of other human beings—some of whom are churchmen, and others of whom are not.

The Deut. 22 passage (above) is in a context of the believer not ignoring the lost possessions of one's neighbor. Instead of "looking the other way," or ig-noring these things, we are to get actively involved. Christ did this for us, His church; and we are to follow His pattern in His (sovereignly-guided) world to-day.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you look into the scripture, you will observe that when the people of God fall, usually they fail in that grace wherein they most excel.” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tues., 6/16/15 Devotion (Isa. 48:17b)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 48:17b, where we read these words:

"I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit . . . "

Most normal and/or sane people want to "profit" in their lives. They want their existence on earth to amount to something. Even the worst and most rebel-lious haters of God feel this way. And this is good, because the Lord made us to want to "profit." But note (above) that our God "teaches" His church *how* to profit.

The *way* the Triune God does this is through convincing His children of the proper hierarchy of "loves." If we love Jesus and His church *first* and fore-most; then we are in a good and legitimate position to also love other people (outside of the church); and to enjoy other things, including abundance and pleasures. In this way, through Christ, we fully profit in all aspects of life (for God’s glory).

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you would not be discouraged in any condition, then never make your comforts depend upon your condition, nor be in love with any condition for itself . . . “ —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, June 15, 2015

Mon., 6/15/15 Devotion (Ps. 107:9)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 107:9, where we read these words:

"For He [God] satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with good-ness."

It is a good thing to have a "hungering heart”—so long as the desired "meal" is Christ. To long for the Lord is a supreme blessing, because it is one that: 1) is sure to be satisfied; and 2) leads to the highest levels of happiness imagin-able (and attainable).

Human beings are so-designed, that they can only rest fully contented with Jesus. Everyone who hates God, and refuses to come to the Savior, still seeks fulfillment in their own contrived ways. But these never measure up. They may artificially relieve a hunger for a short time—but only the true Christ meets the deepest longings of anyone's heart.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God's will will be done upon us whether we do His will or not. There is no such thing as frustrating the Almighty.” —Jonathan Ed-wards, in his sermon entitled, "God Does what He Pleases"]

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Thurs., 6/11/15 Devotion (Isa. 43:13c)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 43:13c, where we read these words:

" . . . I [the Lord] work, and who will reverse it?"

These are encouraging words (above). A lot of times we might look about us, and think, "God's foes are certainly at work—look at all they are achieving." But there is a huge difference: sinners work hard to establish ungodliness, but it all gets overthrown (in this world, and the one to come). God works, and *no one* can "reverse it."

Let all sincere Christians take heart at this truth. Has the Lord "worked" in our souls? Do we trust in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of our sins, plus no-thing? If so, God, not *us*, "worked"; and we are redeemed. No one—not even our old flesh nature or the devil—can overturn what the Lord has done in us—all through Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Luther is bold here, for says he, 'Christ is made sin-damning, our sin is sin-damned.' “ —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wed., 6/10/15 Devotion (Ps. 102:1-2a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 102:1 & 2a, where we read these words:

"Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come to You. Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble . . . "

We have got to love texts like these (above). Sometimes we find ourselves in situations and circumstances that require us to cry out to God for *immediate* help. In our minds, there is no room for delay—we must be aided right away.

The advantages of prayers like these are that they thrust us Christians direct-ly into the presence of God through Christ’s intercession. Whereby in calmer conditions, we may be a bit less intentional—when things are rough, we get right down to business. Let us not hesitate to call on the Lord today. He is both able and willing to hear all who believe in Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a true rule in divinity [theology] that the desire for any grace is the grace itself; for to desire to believe is faith, and true desire to repent is repentance, and true desire to mourn for sin is mourning for sin.” —Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tues., 6/9/15 Devotion (Isa. 41:10)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 41:10, where we read these great words:

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

These (above) are very encouraging words. Are we harried today? Do we feel like things are spinning a bit "out of control"? If so, then let us stop, and re-af-firm our humble but real faith in Christ. The Lord will not forsake us. Instead, He will sustain us—especially in our toughest times.

This promise is not for everyone—(although it is held out to everyone). In-stead, it is the exclusive privilege of the true church of Christ. Therefore, let us look to our Savior, the faith we have in Him (which is His gift to us), our baptisms, and our assurance of God's love for us. Let us not look to our cir-cumstances: be they good, or bad.

[Puritan quote of the day: " . . . Get your self-love mortified, even religious self-love.” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, June 5, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/5-7/15 Devotion

Yippee—it is almost Sunday! We *get* to go back to church again. In order to help us get ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his "A Picture of a Godly Man" book. . . .

"The test of a pilot [sea captain] is seen in a storm; so the test of a Christian is seen in affliction. That man has the right art of navigation who, when the boisterous winds blow from heaven, steers the ship of his soul wisely, and does not dash upon the rock of impatience. A Christian should always main-tain decorum, not behaving himself in an unseemly manner or disguising him-self with intemperate passion when the hand of God lies upon him. Patience adorns suffering. Affliction in Scripture is compared to a net: 'You brought us into the net,' (Psa. 66:11). Some have escaped the devil's net, yet the Lord allows them to be taken in the net of affliction. But they must not be 'as a wild bull in a net,' (Isa. 51:20), kicking and flinging against their Maker, but lie pa-tiently till God breaks the net and makes a way for their escape."

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Thurs., 6/4/15 Devotion (Isa. 36:4)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 36:4, where we read these words:

"Then the Rabshakeh said to them, 'Say now to Hezekiah, "Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: 'What confidence is this in which you
trust?' " ' "

Do we trust in the Lord? Do we have confidence in Christ? If so, then the world (and its emperors) will not understand us, nor why we dare put our faith in God—and not in them. Here, the self-important king of Assyria reckoned himself invincible: "How dare Hezekiah would trust in a God, over me," he thought.

God is *very* pleased by our simple and sincere faith in Jesus. No matter what our situation may be today, we will do well to put all our faith in Christ. As we do so we can enjoy God in every way.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is the honor of religion to have such disciples as will own her and stand for her at all times, and that with an undaunted cour-age.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Wed., 6/3/15 Devotion (Isa. 35:10)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 35:10, where we read these words:

"And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."

The blessedness of salvation in Christ leads to forgiveness and complete re-storation. These graces bring on a great deal of supernatural heartfelt joy and pleasure. Only the redeemed know the deepest and most profound senses of bliss and contentment (in Jesus).

Therefore, let us try to look at our lives from the vantage point of what really matters. Are we forgiven people? Do we trust in Christ alone for our salva-tion? If so, then, we have reason and cause for much joy—even if a lot of other areas of our lives are difficult and trial-filled.

[Puritan quote of the day: "As God is the worst enemy, so He is the best friend, the truest friend, the most real friend in all the world.” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tues., 6/2/15 Devotion (Deut. 6:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 6:5, where we read these words:

"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength."

This (above) is one of the most important verses in all the Holy Book. In the final analysis, everything comes down to whether or not we love God—and that more than anyone or anything else. From whence does love come? It comes from God Himself.  When He grants a sinner the gift of saving faith, that soul, recognizing the immensity of what the Lord has done, now genuine-ly and deeply loves God—and always in and through Christ.

This, then, is the key to all the Christian's obedience and happiness. Do we love God? If so, we are willing and pleased to serve Him (in any and all re-spects). We can endure hardships and trials, because we know we are for-given, and that the Almighty Himself loves us. The love of and in Christ is the most powerful force in the world.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Are you accused by Satan, the world, or your own conscience? Christ is called your Advocate.” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, June 1, 2015

Mon., 6/1/15 Devotion (Isa. 33:24b)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 33:24b, where we read these words:

" . . . The people who dwell in it [Zion] will be forgiven their iniquity."

THE great blessing of being in Christ, is having our sins forgiven. Without this, the wrath of God hangs over our heads, and no positive relationship with God is possible (at all). BUT, with forgiveness comes every other good and truly precious treasure (that Christian churchmen enjoy, in Jesus).

How do we know if our sins are forgiven, or not? Good question. What do we *believe*? Do we believe we have to *do* something, in order to assuage God's righteous anger (against our sin)? If so, our sins remain with us. Do we believe that Jesus Christ *bore* our sins on the cross—and that we appre-hend forgiveness through imputation of Christ's righteousness to our souls, by grace through faith (alone--without works)? Then, our sins are forgiven.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Did not Christ lack the sense of God's love, when He said, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?' “ —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]