Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wed., 9/30/15 Devotion (Gal. 6:10)

Today's encouragement comes from Galatians 6:10, where we read these words:

"Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith."

Christians are to do good to all people; but first and foremost to their fellow-churchmen. This makes sense: the family of God must look out for each other first, before anyone else. Why? Partly because our closest heart-contacts are those natural family members who are also in the covenant of the (universal, yet particular) church. After them, our next closest "kin" is the rest of the church. From there, we are to care for people in their right order: other (unbe-lieving) family members, neighbors, co-workers, et. al.

As we follow this God-ordained pattern, we find our resources of time, talent, and treasure used in ways that please Christ, and forward His kingdom (of His church).

[Puritan quote of the day: "When men are godly, their parts [natural abilities] are not debased by their godliness but raised.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Monday, September 28, 2015

Mon., 9/28/15 Devotion (Ps. 79:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 79:1, where we read these words:

"O God, the nations have come into Your inheritance; Your holy temple they have defiled; they have laid Jerusalem in heaps."

All believing Christians *want* the nations to come into Christ's "inheritance," (the church). But we want this to be on *God's* terms, not theirs. This text (above) reflects the negative dynamics of the nations "defiling" the "temple." When the church allows the world to set the tone and tempo of worship, it corrupts the true religion, and dishonors God.

Let us bring the nations into the church: but let them be brought under the tutelage of Christ, wherein they learn a new language, culture, and lifestyle. When we do this, we bless them, and honor God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Keep your ear open to God and shut out sin; deaf-en your ears to the lies of the slanderer and the heretic. Do not let him have your ear who comes to rob you of your heart.” —Thomas Watson, in his ser-mon, "The Spiritual Watch"]

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/25-27/15 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday! We get to go to church! In order to help get us ready for Sabbath worship, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "Picture of a Godly Man" book:

"Question: How does faith work patience? Answer: Faith argues the soul into patience. Faith is like that town clerk in Ephesus who allayed the contention of the multitude and argued them soberly into peace, (Acts 19:35, 36). So when impatience begins to clamour and make a hubbub in the soul, faith ap-peases the tumult and argues the soul into holy patience. Faith says, 'Why are you disquieted, O my soul?,' (Psa. 42:5).

"Are you afflicted? Is it not your Father who has done it? He is carving and polishing you and making you fit for glory. He smites that He may save. What is your trial? Is it sickness? God shakes the tree of your body so that some fruit may fall, even 'the peaceable fruit of righteousness,' (Heb. 12:11). . . . Do you suffer reproach for Christ's sake? 'The spirit of glory and of God rests up-on you,' (1 Pet. 4:14). Thus faith argues and disputes the soul into patience."

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Thurs., 9/24/15 Devotion (2 Cor. 13:11c)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 13:11c, where we read these words:

" . . . And the God of love and peace will be with you."

Even the world relishes the idea of a God of "love and peace." Their "love and peace" god, however, is not the Lord of heaven and earth, who saves sinners and judges all men (according to His perfect and holy standard). Un-believers' idea of "love and peace" is really more like, "lust, and leave me alone."

But Paul's statement above *does* apply to the redeemed church. The True God of "love and peace" *is* with us; and we particularly *experience* these blessed attributes of His (love and peace), as we are maturing, united, and secure (as the Body of Christ), [see the earlier parts of v. 13].

[Puritan quote of the day: "If temptations arise from natural causes, then na-tural means, as medicines, are to be used and applied, and people would do well to be persuaded thereunto.” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wed., 9/23/15 Devotion (Ps. 74:12)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 74:12, where we read these words:

"For God is my King from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth."

This verse is sweet for several reasons. 1) There is a personal dimension to it: the Lord is the Christian churchman's own "King." Then, there is a cosmic aspect: God is "working salvation in the midst of the earth." The same God who has secured the eternal salvation of those already in His justifying care is also at work to bring others to Himself.

Let us never despair of how "bad" things are, or seem on the earth. The flesh, the devil, and the world system set up against the Lord and His Christ have *already* been defeated in Jesus' resurrection. They are simply in their hys-terical and frantic "last gasp” death-throes of seeking (vainly and futilely) to overcome the God of heaven.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[For] you who do love Christ, and have the mani-festations of His love to your souls. . . . Of all persons in the world, you have most reason to rejoice. You are the happiest men and women alive.” —Tho-mas Vincent, in, "The True Christian's Love to the Unseen Christ"]

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tues., 9/22/15 Devotion (Ps. 73:28a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 73:28a, where we read these words:

"But it is good for me to draw near to God . . . "

It is very good for all God's children to draw near to Him. Are we ever reticent about doing this, since we imagine ourselves to be too unworthy, dirty, imper-fect, or unacceptable? If so, that is *all* the *more* reason to "draw near to God”—so long as we come to Him through our faith in Christ. There is only one way the Lord will allow Himself to be approached, and that is by virtue of the merits of Jesus' blood atonement (the benefits of which we apprehend by grace through faith alone).

The devil seeks to discourage us, God’s church, from drawing near to Him. In Christ, let us come boldly to our Father in heaven—recognizing that we are clothed in the perfect righteousness of Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "For from our neglect of prayer comes that dead-ness of spirit, that worldly-mindedness and unaptness to pray, to hear the Word, and to keep the Sabbath.” —John Preston, in his sermon entitled, "The Saint's Daily Exercise"]

Friday, September 4, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/4-6/15 Devotion

Yippee—it is almost Sunday. In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his elucidation of the second petition ("Thy Kingdom Come") of The Lord's Prayer (which is also the title of his book):

"Here is comfort to those who are the subjects of the King of heaven. God will put forth all the royal power for their help and comfort. 1) The King of heaven will plead their cause. 'I will plead your cause, and take vengeance for you,' (Jer 51:36). 2) He will protect his people. He sets an invisible guard about them. 'I will be unto her a wall of fire round about,' (Zech 2:5). A wall, that is defensive; a wall of fire, that is offensive. 3) When it may be for the good of His people, he will raise up deliverance to them. 'The Lord saved them by a great deliverance,' (1 Chron 11:14).

"God reigning as a King, can save any way; even by contemptible means, as the blowing of the trumpets, and blazing of lamps, (Judges 7:20). By contrary means; as when He made the sea a wall to Israel, and the waters were a means to keep them from drowning. The fish's belly was a ship in which Jon-ah sailed safe to shore. God will never want ways of saving His people; rather than fail, their very enemies shall do his work, (2 Chron 20:23). He sets Am-mon and Mount Seir one against another. As God will deliver His people from temporal danger, so from spiritual danger, as from sin, and from hell. 'Jesus which delivered us from the wrath to come,' (1 Thess 1:10)."

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Thurs., 9/3/15 Devotion (Ps. 44:4)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 44:4, where we read these words:

"You are my King, O God; command victories for Jacob."

This is an interesting verse (above); and one from which we can learn a lot. The psalmist first pledges allegiance to God, as his personal and covenantal "King"; and then he immediately has the holy "audacity" to ask Him (God) to "command victories for Jacob."

The point is this: God is a Sovereign King that listens to His children. He does not sit in heaven, "protecting" Himself from the intrusions of His saints on earth. Instead, He welcomes our prayers; *wants* us to ask Him for things; and almost "entices" us to be as bold as we want to be with Him. All of this is because of God's incredible love for His redeemed church, (in Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is nothing that would render the true religion more lovely, or make more proselytes [converts] to it, than to see the profes-sors of it tied together with the heart-strings of love.” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Wed., 9/2/15 Devotion (1 Cor. 7:17b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 7:17b, where we read these words:

" . . . And so I ordain in all the churches."

This little phrase (above), written by Paul, is an intriguing one. The Apostle did not teach one thing in one congregation, and another thing in another parish. There was uniformity and order to his instruction. The various church-es had different needs, challenges, and even giftedness—but they all receiv-ed consistent doctrinal and practical teaching.

So it is to be, even today. Though there is room for variation in the churches, with regard to non-essentials—there is no room for deviation from the cardin-al truths of the gospel. Regrettably, this uniform commitment to core values is not being practiced today, (as it was not totally the case in Paul's day, either). But still, the most faithful churches must, and will, take the lead.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Men are by nature utterly careless of the glory of God. They have no degree of concern for it. A natural man never does any one thing out of true concern for the glory of God.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "It is Well for us that God is Not as we are"]

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tues., 9/1/15 Devotion (Ps. 40:17a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 40, v. 17a, which says this:

"But I am poor and needy; yet the LORD thinks upon me. . . . "

David wrote these words (above). He was "poor and needy" in that he knew he was bankrupt before God—having no righteousness of his own. All of Da-vid's favor with God came through his union (by faith) with Christ. But what I find most intriguing in this verse is the expression, "The LORD thinks upon me."

Can we picture the God who created the entire universe "thinking" on us, His individual churchmen? He does. We may not think of ourselves as particularly interesting—but the church, and the individual members therein are of pas-sionate interest to God. He "thinks" on us; and all His thoughts are for our good, our welfare, our betterment, and our prosperity. Let us think on Christ today, and thank God for His goodness.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Do not say thus, 'I shall never be helped; I am in a sad condition and shall never be better.' . . . This you cannot say, for who knows what God will do?” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Down-cast"]