Friday, July 31, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/31-8/2/15 Devotion

So as to help prepare us for the Lord's Day's church worship services, here are some good words from the great Jonathan Edwards, as they are taken from his sermon entitled, "God Glorified in Man's Dependence":

"The grace of God in bestowing this gift [of grace] is most free. God was under no obligation to bestow it. He might have rejected fallen man as He did the fallen angels. We never did anything to merit it; it was given while we were yet enemies, and before we had so much as repented. It was from the love of God, who saw no excellency in us to attract it; and it was without ex-pectation of ever being requited for it [paid back]. And it is from mere grace that the benefits of Christ are applied to such and such particular persons. Those who are called and sanctified are to attribute it to the good pleasure of God's goodness alone, by which they are distinguished. He is sovereign, and has mercy on who He will have mercy."

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Thurs., 7/30/15 Devotion (Acts 17:21)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 17:21, where we read these words:

"For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing."

Can you imagine having so much "free time," that you can stand around all day chatting about "new things"? Actually, this is the situation today, with most modern people. They have nothing better to do, than to waste their time, try-ing to fill themselves up with something "new."

The reality, however, is that there is "nothing new under the sun." All "new" thrills, "new" sins, and "new" experiences are actually very old. They take on themselves the circumstances of the day—but they are not "new" at all. The best path for the child of God is to go back to the "old ways"; and to enjoy the tried and true pleasures of church life in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Who ever stayed and waited long upon God, but he had more than he prayed for?” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wed., 7/29/15 Devotion (Acts 16:25)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 16:25, where we read these words:

"But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them."

This well-known verse (above) has several intriguing elements to it. First off, Paul and Silas are up late (at midnight). Secondly, they are praying and sing-ing "publicly," and out loud—sensitively, but not being shy that others would hear them. Lastly (and most-miraculously), the other prisoners were "listen-ing" to them. They were giving attention to what was being sung and said.

We can imagine that those two men may have had gravelly singing voices; but it is also likely that what they sang and prayed was a great source of mini-stry to all who heard them. Let us remember that the Christian faith, the true religion, is not a "private" matter, as the unbelievers would seek to make it; instead, our doctrine is totally "public," and it should fill the world even as "the waters cover the sea."

[Puritan quote of the day: "Is your sin as big as God, as big as Christ?”
—William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tues., 7/28/15 Devotion (Mk. 10:35-36)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 10:35 & 36, where we read these words:

“Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to [Jesus], saying, 'Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.' And He said to them, 'What do you want Me to do for you?' "

This exchange (above) is a very interesting one. James and John, the ever-bold brothers, come to the Messiah with an audacious statement: "We want You to do for us WHATEVER we ask." The impressive thing here is that Christ does not reprove, rebuke, or correct them in *any way*. The Lord sim-ply asks, "What do you want Me to do for you?"

Could it be, that we believers are often just not "intrepid" enough to ask God for *everything* we really want? The Lord knows our hearts and desires any-way—why should we not have the candor of laying them bare before Him?

[Puritan quote of the day: "Though God does not answer you immediately, yet He does hear you immediately.” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mon., 7/27/15 Devotion (Acts 13:7)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 13:7, where we read these words:

"The proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man . . . called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God."

Sometimes we believers wrongly imagine that no one "out there" wants to hear the Word of the Lord. We often feel that we are all alone, as the only ones who have any interest in the truth, or the gospel. The Bible—the New Testament in particular—challenges this notion. Here, a smart man wants to hear the Word of God. (Cf. also in this connection Acts 13:42 & 44, where people "beg" to hear the Word, and show up in big numbers [to do so].)

Therefore, let us always be prepared to speak the gospel of Christ's grace to any and all who will hear it. We are likely to be surprised by those who are (and who are not) interested.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Our victory lies not in ourselves and our own habit-ual strength, but in Christ's fresh assistance.” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, July 24, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/24-26/15 Devotion

Yippee—it is almost Sunday! Since church worship on the Lord's Day is our highest experience in this life, here is Thomas Watson, to help get us ready. This comes from his, "A Body of Divinity" book. . . .

"We know that there is a God by His works, and this is so evident a demon-stration of a Godhead, that the most atheistical spirits, when they have con-sidered these works, have been forced to acknowledge some wise and su-preme Maker of these things.

"We will begin with the creation of the glorious fabric of heaven and earth. Sure there must be some Architect or First Cause. The world could not make itself. Who could hang the earth on nothing but the great God? Who could provide such rich furniture for the heavens, the glorious constellations, the firmament bespangled with such glittering lights? We see God's glory blazing in the sun, twinkling in the stars. Who could give the earth its clothing, cover it with grass and corn, adorn it with flowers, enrich it with gold? God only, (Job 38:4). Who but God could make the sweet music in the heavens, cause the angels to join in concert, and sound forth the praises of their Maker? Job 38:7: 'The morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.’

"If a man should go into a far country, and see stately edifices there, he would never imagine that these built themselves, but that some greater power had built them. To imagine that the work of the creation was not framed by God, is as if we should conceive a curious landscape to be drawn by a pencil without the hand of an artist. Acts 17:24: 'God . . . made the world, and all things therein.' To create is proper to the Deity."

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Thurs., 7/23/15 Devotion (Mk. 5:36c)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 5:36c, where we read these words:

" . . . Do not be afraid; only believe."

This is sweet counsel of our Lord Jesus Christ, to all of us, His faithful church-men. There are plenty of times that we are tempted to fear—but the antidote is always faith. It is intriguing that the Savior does not say, "Do not be afraid, only be strong"; or, He does not say, "Do not be afraid; only try harder"; or, He does not say, "Do not be afraid; only get more religious."

The man in Mark 5 had plenty of "reason" for fear: his little daughter had just died. But even in those dire straits, the answer was and is faith. Let us believe the Lord—albeit weakly, if necessary—recognizing that it is faith (in any sin-cere measure) that pleases God (cf. Heb. 11:6).

[Puritan quote of the day: " . . . Man's unrighteousness must usher in Christ's righteousness.” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wed., 7/22/15 Devotion (Acts 9:31)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 9:31, which says this:

"Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied."

This blessed state (described above) came directly on the heels of the Apo-stle Paul's conversion, and his being accepted by the church. These sweet conditions are usually temporary. Indeed, in just two chapters, we see the church once again having to deal with persecution. But, when the church *is* given lovely seasons of rest and comfort, we had best take advantage of them.

And just *why* do we need them? So as to be able to *prepare* ourselves for the hardships, challenges, and struggles to come. Only a fool imagines that everything will always be fine, and trouble-free. The wise Christian uses his respites to build strength for the future.

[Puritan quote of the day: "None are damned in the church but those who are determined to be . . . “ —Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tues., 7/21/15 Devotion (Acts 8:35)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 8:35, where these words are spok-en of Philip, with regard to the Ethiopian eunuch:

"Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him."

Anywhere we turn in our Bibles we find, ultimately, the very same message: it is that the Son of God would be/is incarnated, crucified, resurrected, and glorified. Some texts, like the Isaiah passage that Philip expounded to the Ethiopian, are more specific than others—but every jot and tittle of the OT, and every Greek letter of the NT speaks of Jesus.

Let this inform us as we hear sermons and study the Scriptures; and when we share the gospel with others. If we do not "preach Jesus to [them]," we are doing them no service at all.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The love of Christ for the elect is so great that God the Father looks upon it proper and suitable to account Christ and the elect as one, and accordingly to account what Christ does and suffers as if they did it and suffered it.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "The Wisdom of God"]

Monday, July 20, 2015

Mon., 7/20/15 Devotion (Jer. 16:19)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 16:19, where we read these words:

"O LORD, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come to You from the ends of the earth and say, 'Surely our fathers have inherited lies, worthlessness and unprofitable things.' "

Things were not going particularly well for Jeremiah, and certainly not for his countrymen. Still, the prophet found comfort and courage in his God. On top of this, he drew strength from the fact that though his own generation was not too stellar—there would indeed be a people arising (later) in God's time who would cling to the gospel of grace.

Let all God's sincere churchmen—be they clergymen or laity—trust in the Lord, and persevere, knowing that nothing done from the principle of genuine faith in Jesus is insignificant or vain, (cf. 1 Cor. 15:58).

[Puritan quote of the day: "But now Christ does that which we could not do, that is, fulfill the law for us. And He also does that which the law could not do, which was justify us.” —Obadiah Grew, in, "The Lord our Righteousness"]

Friday, July 17, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/17-19/15 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it is almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for the church's worship of God, on the Lord's Day, here is the amazing Thomas Watson, from his "A Divine Cordial" book:

"If it be God's purpose that saves, then it is not free will. The Pelagians are strenuous asserters of free will. They tell us that a man has an innate power to effect his own conversion; but this text [Eph. 1:11] confutes it. Our calling is 'according to God's purpose.' The Scripture plucks up the root of free will: 'It is not of him that wills,' (Rom. 9:16). All depends upon the purpose of God. When the prisoner is cast [bound] at the bar [judgment], there is no saving him, unless the king has a purpose to save him. God's purpose is His prerog-ative royal.

"If it is God's purpose that saves, then it is not merit. Bellarmine holds that good works do expiate sin and merit glory; but the text says that we are called according to God's purpose, and there is a parallel Scripture: 'Who has saved us, and called us, not according to our works, but according to His own pur-pose and grace,' (2 Tim. 1:9). There is no such thing as merit. Our best works have in them both defection and infection, and so are but glittering sins; therefore if we are called and justified, it is God's purpose that brings it to pass."

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thurs., 7/16/15 Devotion (Acts 3:26)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 3:26, where we read these words:

"To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities."

Peter is speaking here to the Jewish people (above). What is intriguing here is that the Risen Christ is "sent" *after* His resurrection, to bless people, in applying the forgiveness of sins. When and where the Holy Spirit works, so does the Risen Savior.

When we think of Christ's "comings," we should not limit these to the Incarna-tion, the Second Coming, and the events of 70 AD. We should also include the visitations Jesus makes to every redeemed soul. This is a great blessing—one that confirms every other "coming" of Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God sees fit that we should taste of that cup of which His Son drank so deep, that we might feel a little what sin is, and what His Son's love was.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wed., 7/15/15 Devotion (Acts 2:47b)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 2:47b, where we read these words:

" . . . And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."

This blessed phrase (above) describes what is still happening today, and everyday. God is "adding to the church daily those who are being saved.” The Holy Spirit never takes a break from His labors; and the sovereign decree of God is never interrupted by any of the events in a fallen world; and the church can never be stopped or destroyed.

Therefore, the operations of God, whereby He continually brings in His lost sheep continues unabated. But, the Lord has deigned (stooped) to allow us to share in this sweet privilege. Are we already faithful members of the church by God’s grace? If so, then let us be about sharing Jesus with those who are yet outside, and under God’s righteous wrath.

[Puritan quote of the day: "How [Jesus] defends His disciples from malicious imputations of the Pharisees!” —Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tues., 7/14/15 Devotion (Josh. 21:45)

Today's encouragement comes from Joshua 21:45, where we read these great words:

"Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass."

God's written Word's track record is 100%. When the Lord makes a promise to His people, He keeps it. In Jesus, the church has the complete fulfillment of the ultimate promise of God, (see 2 Cor. 1:20). Everything that we supremely need and want is to be found in Christ (alone). Just as God delivered the Is-raelites into the promised land, and gave it to them—so He has translated His church from sin, and into Christ.

What do we need today? Let us go ahead and ask God for it. So long as we belong to the Savior, our Father is more than pleased to show us His faithful-ness.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Shall man be proud after God has been humble?” —Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Monday, July 13, 2015

Mon., 7/13/15 Devotion (Ps. 149:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 149:6, which says this:

"Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand."

It is interesting how the Spirit-filled Christian churchman is both a joyful singer of praise to God, and a valiant soldier for Him. In fact, until or unless one takes up Christ's arms, he or she is no adorer of God at all, (despite all pro-tests to the contrary).

Worshippers are warriors, fighting under the banner of the Prince of Peace. Our mission is to conquer the world for our Redeemer—starting at home, rooting out sin in our own hearts. From there, the professing church is to be cleansed of hypocrisy. And from there, the fertile ground of the unconverted nations are to be brought to Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Oh, let us strive to keep God among us! What is the glory of a nation but the presence of God in His Word and ordinances?” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "Comfort for the Church"]

Friday, July 10, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/10-12/15 Devotion

Wahoo—Sunday is just around the corner! In order to help get us ready for church, here is the incomparable Puritan Thomas Watson, from his book, en-titled, "The Ten Commandments":

"It is God that speaks to us in His word; therefore the preaching of the word is called the 'breath of His lips,' (Isa 11:4). Christ is said now to speak to us 'from heaven,' as a king speaks in his ambassador, (Heb 12:25). Ministers are but pipes and organs, it is the Spirit of the living God that breathes in them. When we come to the word, we should think within ourselves, 'God is speak-ing in this preacher.' The Thessalonians heard the word Paul preached, as if God Himself had spoken unto them. 'When you received the word of God, which you heard of us, you received it not as the word of men, but (as it is in truth) the word of God,' (1 Thess 2:13). When Samuel knew it was the Lord that spoke to him, he lent his ear, (1 Sam 3:10). If we do not regard God when He speaks to us, He will not regard us when we pray to him."

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Thurs., 7/9/15 Devotion (Ps. 144:15b)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 144:15b, where we read these words:

" . . . Happy are the people whose God is the LORD!"

Why may the church of Christ be in a happy and comfortable condition? Be-cause of our Risen Head Jesus who has conquered our sin, forgiven us, and given us immediate, full, and free access to the throne of grace. Are God's people *always* "circumstantially" happy? No; the presence of sin in us, oth-ers, and the fallen world prevents this.

But, are the redeemed of the Lord *inherently* happy? Yes; because every-thing of ultimate importance has been taken care of for us by our Savior. Cheerfulness should characterize those who are loved by God—even though there are legitimate times and reasons for grief. Let us be God's truly happy people.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We are only poor for this reason, that we do not know our riches in Christ.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tues., 7/7/15 Devotion (Matt. 17:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 17:8, where we read these words:

"When they [the three disciples] had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only."

The account above is in reference to Christ's transfiguration on the mountain—when Moses and Elijah showed up to join the Savior and the three apostles (Peter, James, and John). After the encounter with the heroes of the Old Cov-enant church (Moses and Elijah), the three disciples saw "no one but Jesus only."

Why? Because everything Moses and Elijah did and wrote pointed directly and only to Jesus. And, in comparison with the Messiah, Moses and Elijah were "small potatoes." Let all faithful believers look to Christ alone for their souls' help and salvation. No one else can do what He alone is capable of do-ing.

[Puritan quote of the day: "In a word, as Christ's Person excels your person, so His obedience infinitely exceeds your disobedience.” —Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Friday, July 3, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/3-5/15 Devotion

Yippee—it is almost Sunday, the Lord's Day, the day we especially (and cov-enantally) celebrate Jesus' resurrection! In order to help get us ready for church, here is the great Thomas Watson, from his "A Body of Divinity" book:

"As Christ being clothed with our flesh makes the human nature appear lovely to God, so He [Christ] makes the divine nature appear lovely to man. The pure Godhead is terrible to behold, we could not see it and live; but Christ clothing Himself with our flesh, makes the divine nature more amiable and de-lightful to us. We need not be afraid to look upon God through Christ's human nature.

"It was a custom of old among shepherds to clothe themselves with sheep-skins, to be more pleasing to the sheep; so Christ clothed Himself with our flesh, that the divine nature may be more pleasing to us. The human nature is a mirror, through which we may see the love and wisdom and glory of God clearly represented to us. Through the lantern of Christ's humanity we may behold the light of the Deity. Christ being incarnate makes the sight of the De-ity not formidable, but delightful to us."

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Thurs., 7/2/15 Devotion (Ps. 130:3-4)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 130:3 & 4, where we read these words:

"If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared."

That God forgives sin is an astounding fact. If the Lord kept track of our sins, and harbored them against us, we would have no hope of "standing" on the great Judgment Day. But, because Jesus Christ bore the sins of all His elect churchmen, who would, in time and space, be brought to believe in Him alone for their atonement, by grace—any sinners go free, and will never have to bear the condemnation of God.

If we are in this blessed condition today, then we have *no* troubles to speak of. We may have numerous hassles that harangue us—but we have no real problems. People who are not forgiven their sins have serious issues; but we do not. For this most-blessed standing before God, let us be ever-thankful.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Grace is not glorious if we add the least thing of our own to it.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wed., 7/1/15 Devotion (Matt. 11:28)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 11:28, where we read these words which fell from the Savior's lips:

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

Augustine's maxim is so true: "Our souls are restless until we find our rest in You [God]." Are our souls "on the move" today? Are they restless, ill at ease, and unsettled? If so, then we need to come to Jesus. Sin and life’s troubles cause our hearts to "move around," like planets in the night sky. Faith in Christ’s blood atonement causes them to rest, like stars in the firmament.

A soul at rest can pray to God, and can concentrate on what is truly import-ant. A person that is constantly restless can only do a lot of work, hoping to assuage guilt and worry. God only accepts hearts that come to Christ, and rest in Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "This may be a great comfort to you: God does not expect you to root out all presence of sin, but only to keep down the reigning of sin in you.” —Christopher Love, in, "The Mortified Christian"]