Friday, October 30, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/30-11/1/15 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it is almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, from his book, "The Lord's Prayer":

"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 delivered us from the wrath to come,' (1 Thess. 1:10)."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thurs., 10/29/15 Devotion (2 Tim. 1:7)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 1:7, which says this:

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

Ministers have to be pretty stout souls—and Paul knew that Timothy's natural disposition was anything but "Type A." Still, the apostle reminded the young pastor that God's provisions in his (Timothy's) ordination included courage, sweetness, and firm resolve.

The world around us *can* at times be a pretty foreboding (fearful) place; but the Lord has given each of His Christian churchmen—clergy *and* laity—a Spirit—not of cowardice, but one of true skill in living, charity, and solid, spirit-ual reason. Let all God's believing children rise up today, and shed every-where the light of Christ's grace. Let us take our rightful places as the royalty of heaven (here on earth).

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who has God to be his God is so well content-ed with his condition that he does not much care whether he has anything else.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wed., 10/28/15 Devotion (Ps. 119:86c)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 119:86c, where we read these two words:

" . . . Help me!"

Sometimes the best prayers are the simplest ones. God is not impressed with flowery oratory in prayer. He would rather hear a few syllables of gut-wrench-ing honesty, than a whole dissertation of religious insincerity.

Do we need help today? Let us ask Christ for it. Let us be as specific as we can be, for our own soul's well-being; but let us not for a moment think that the Lord cannot figure out what we are trying to say—if we are having a hard time getting the words out. Prayer is important—but it is not a magical genie coming out of a bottle; and God does not hold us to any particular formulas.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is no such thing as any inordinateness in holy affections; there is no such thing as excess in longings after the discov-eries of the beauty of Christ Jesus . . . Men may be as covetous as they please (if I may so speak) after spiritual riches . . . “ —Jonathan Edwards, in one of his sermons]

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tues., 10/27/15 Devotion (Ps. 119:49)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 119:49, where we read these words:

"Remember the word to Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope."

All of us operate on the principle(s) of one or two foundational statements, which we thoroughly believe; and, against which all other truth claims get measured. The psalmist (above—who wrote Ps. 119) was famous for his love for God's word; and yet even he fiercely clung to some *one* promise of the Lord, which gave him "hope," and which helped him cope in a tough world.

What is it, at base, to which we are *really* committed? If it is the Gospel prin-ciple, which directs us to Jesus, and puts us in His church—then we are in good shape. If it is anything else, then we are putting our hope in things (and people) which cannot deliver.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Faith works the heart to a sweet, serene compo-sure. It is not having food and raiment, but having faith which will make us content.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Monday, October 26, 2015

Mon., 10/26/15 Devotion (1 Tim. 4:4a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Timothy 4:4a, where we read these words:

"For every creature of God is good . . . "

This is a refreshing doctrine (above). Every single created being and thing is good, (even mosquitos—if we can believe that[!]). Of course, fallen sinners have managed to foul-up and idolatrize virtually every good thing God creat-ed. But this in no way detracts from the intrinsic goodness of everything God made.

False religion leaves people feeling sick and uneasy. This is because it seeks to gain God's approval through denigration of the good things God created, viz. by requiring people to abstain from them, or using them in a perverse way. The True Religion is able to enjoy *everything* God made; and do so to Christ's honor and glory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The Lord gives double pay. He gives great rewards in His service here—and afterwards He refreshes us with the delights of para-dise which are without intermission and expiration.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Fight of Faith Crowned"]

Friday, October 23, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/23-25/15 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it is almost Sunday! This Lord’s Day is “Reformation Sun-day,” as we celebrate the 498th anniversary of the official start of the Protes-tant Reformation. In order to try to help get us ready for the church's worship of God, 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, there is no saving him, unless the king has a purpose to save him. God's purpose is His prerogative royal.

"If it is God's purpose that saves, then it is not merit. Bellarmine holds that good works do expiate [take away] 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 purpose 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, October 22, 2015

Thurs., 10/22/15 Devotion (Ps. 115:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 115:3, which says this:

"But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases."

This is a great verse on the sovereignty of God: the doctrine that the Lord does what He wants to, and that He is not beholden to anyone or anything. But sometimes we have to admit that we (even among the true church) do not always like the things the sovereign God allows to happen. After all, there are a lot of "negative" events that occur in our world (and even to ourselves).

What is the sincere and serious Christian to do about this? That is a very valid question. We are to trust that the Maker of all things, and the Redeemer of His people understands and directs *all* things according to a great plan of His, (that He alone can and does fully comprehend). We are to believe that God has His church's best interests in mind always; and that everything He does ultimately accrues for the church's good and His glory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You have heaven while you are on earth when you have a contented spirit; yea, in some regards it is better than heaven.”
—Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment"]

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wed., 10/21/15 Devotion (Dan. 6:3a)

Today's encouragement comes from Daniel 6:3a, where we read these words:

"Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, be-cause an excellent spirit was in him . . . "

Daniel was an extraordinarily-gifted man. He had faith, integrity, humility, in-telligence, looks, position, honor, advancement, and the respect of all his superiors. But what is interesting—and we see this as an almost-universal fact—is that his carnal contemporaries both envied him, and sought to bring him down.

When we find these "excellent spirit"-type of Christian church members—we should seek to emulate them; and not to destroy them. They are models to us of what we can all be, too. Let us learn to appreciate what God Himself ad-mires; and let us not forget the fate of the enemies of such souls: they—Dan-iel's accusers—ended up being dinner for a bunch of hungry lions(!)

[Puritan quote of the day: "A true saint thinks he can never speak too well of God or too ill of himself.” —Richard Steele, in, "The Character of an Upright Man"]

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tues., 10/20/15 Devotion (Ps. 111:4b, 5b)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 111:4b & 5b, where we read these words:

"The LORD is gracious and full of compassion. . . . He will ever be mindful of His covenant."

What a great God all true Christians serve! He is amazingly merciful; and He is totally committed to His covenant (i.e. keeping His promises to His church, in Christ's blood atonement). The world, our own flesh, and the devil are al-ways seeking to make us think that the Lord is anything *but* "gracious and full of compassion”—but in time and space all the redeemed know this to be true.

Since we have such a wonderful God, let us serve Him with cheerfulness and liveliness today. While we live in this world, we have the honor and privilege of overcoming our weaknesses (by faith); and, as we do this, we can lift up the Name of the Lord Jesus before the watching world.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Though heaven is God's glorious mansion, yet it will not serve His turn. God does not think that to be enough unless He has a dwelling also in a tender, broken, humble spirit.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Fear"]

Monday, October 19, 2015

Mon., 10/19/15 Devotion (1 Ki. 22:14)

Today’s encouragement comes from 1 Kings 22:14, where we read these words:

“But Micaiah said, 'As the LORD lives, what the LORD says to me, that I will speak.’ “ (ESV)

Faithful and truly-called church ministers of Christ’s gospel would literally rather die, than fail to deliver the message God lays on their hearts. Micaiah (above) was being encouraged to join the false prophets, and speak words that the wicked King Ahab wanted to hear. But Micaiah refused to do this. He was but one against 400 (false) prophets.

Even today, real pastors are urged to “fudge” on the truth, and to “tickle the ears” of sinners. Worse than that, they are pressured to “ease-up” on sin, and especially not to make it too “personal.” But God’s faithful servants do Christ and His church the most good (by far) when they are true to Jesus, and preach to people what they really need to hear.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Nothing in all the world can deliver from the fear of death but forgiveness of sin, and then this makes a man look on the Day of Judgment with comfort.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in a book of his sermons, en-titled, "Gospel Remission"]

Friday, October 16, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/16-18/15 Devotion

Yippee—it is almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, from, "The Ten Com-mandments." Here, he is dealing with the Fifth Commandment. . . .

"Honor these spiritual fathers, by becoming advocates for them, and wiping off those slanders and calumnies which are unjustly cast upon them, (1 Tim 5:19). Constantine was a great honorer of the ministry; he vindicated them; he would not read the envious accusations brought against them, but burnt them. Do the ministers open their mouths to God for you in prayer, and will not you open your mouths in their behalf? Surely, if they labor to preserve you from hell, you should preserve them from slander; if they labor to save your souls, you ought to save their credit.

"Honor them by conforming to their doctrine. The greatest honor you can put upon your spiritual fathers, is to believe and obey their doctrine. He is an hon-orer of the ministry who is not only a hearer, but a follower of the word. As disobedience reproaches the ministry, so obedience honors it. The apostle calls the Thessalonians his crown. 'What is our crown of rejoicing? Is it not you?' (1 Thess 2:19). A thriving people are a minister's crown. When there is a metamorphosis, a change wrought; when people come to the word proud, but go away humble; when they come earthly, but they go away heavenly; when they come, as Naaman to Jordan, lepers, but they go away healed; then the ministry is honored. . . . You cannot honor your spiritual fathers more, than by thriving under their ministry, and living upon the sermons which they preach."

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thurs., 10/15/15 Devotion (1 Ki. 18:21a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Kings 18:21a, where we read these words:

"And Elijah came to all the people, and said, 'How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him. . . . ' "

We should appreciate this perspective, put out by Elijah. Even today this same principle applies. All people worship some deity (alleged, or true). "Let the best [God] win," as the saying goes. Is the Muslim god the true one? Then all should worship him (or it). Is the atheists' god the true one? Then we should bow down to it. Is the secularists' god true? Let all people honor it (or her, or whatever). Is the God of the True Christian Religion the only Real De-ity? Then, let all humans and angels worship Him.

It turns out that the Holy Trinity *is* the one and only God. We know this—among other reasons—primarily by the resurrection of the Son of God, who lives and reigns today. Christ can withstand all pretenders to His throne. Let us worship Him; and let us not fear any fake gods.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There are the greatest reasons in the world to be a Christian . . . “ —Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Wed., 10/14/15 Devotion (Ezek. 47:12b)

Today's encouragement comes from Ezekiel 47:12b, where we read these amazing words:

"They [the trees] will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine."

The first part of Ezek., ch. 47, is remarkable—one of my favorite parts of the Bible. The expanse of the New Covenant church, and the spread of the gos-pel of grace are all in view here. This is all happening today. Christ dwells in the "sanctuary," (the church). The church, through the Holy Spirit, feeds, nou-rishes, and heals the world. And, in time, the "knowledge of the Lord covers the earth, as the waters cover the sea."

Let us be thankful that the God of heaven has *not* abandoned His earth, or the people thereupon. He has left His colony, the church, here. As the Body of Christ, let us be "feeders" and "healers" of the whole world—through the preaching of the gospel.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Grace continues and increases.” —Richard Sib-bes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tues., 10/13/15 Devotion (1 Ki. 16:22b)

Today's encouragement comes from the few words which make-up 1 Kings 16:22b, which say this:

" . . . So Tibni died and Omri reigned."

These words (above) are almost comedic. But this was how it was in the an-cient (and still even in the modern) worlds: when claimants to the throne bat-tled it out, one won, and the other died. But it may dawn on us that there is a much more profound (and legitimate) application of this principle; and it is
this . . .

. . . When sinners are regenerated, the "old man" of the flesh dies, and the "new man" of the Spirit reigns. The *experience* of this truth is the struggle all converted souls on earth have to traverse, (and we call this, "sanctification"). Let all true believers reckon themselves to be dead to sin, and alive to Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The more a true saint loves God with a gracious love, the more he desires to love Him, and the more uneasy is he at his want [lack] of love to Him.” —Jonathan Edwards, in, "Religious Affections"]

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Thurs.-Mon., 10/8-12/15 Devotion (Ps. 92:13-14)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 92:13 & 14, where we read these words, from a Psalm for the Sabbath Day:

"Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flour-ishing . . . "

Are some of us growing a bit older (like me), and wondering if our lives have been worth while, or not? If so, please recognize—even from the verses above—that those who are firmly planted in Jesus, in His church *do* make all the difference in the world, and that they *do* "flourish," and that they *do* continue to "bear fruit in old age."

All who forsake Jesus, and therefore also His church, waste their lives. Their miserable existences are worth nothing. On the other hand, those who plant themselves in Christ and His soil, are rich, fruitful, and fulfilled.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ's blood only can merit pardon.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wed., 10/7/15 Devotion (Ps. 91:9-10)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 91:9 & 10, where we read these words:

"Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling . . . "

Those who are safely trusting in Jesus' blood atonement alone to protect them from the condemnation of sin's righteous judgment of them are the only people on earth who will weather the storms of this life (and the next). God is the Christian churchman's "dwelling place" by faith. Faith, not anything else, proves to be our key to victory (1 Jn. 5:4b), since it directly binds us to Christ.

Do we want to be safe from the most real and fearful evils? Then, as the church, let us trust in Jesus alone. Let us look not to our works, or our per-formance—but to our Redeemer.

[Puritan quote of the day: "All the wicked, still, are under the covenant of works . . . “ —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tues., 10/6/15 Devotion (Ps. 90:17)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 90:17, where Moses wrote these words:

"And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands."

The beauty of the Lord is what will make our church lives irresistibly appeal-ing to all who behold us. When God anoints our souls with His grace, then our labors, borne out of sincere faith in Jesus, matter. What we do will outlast us. This is why Moses, in this psalm, asks the Lord to "establish the work of our hands."

Most people want their names to be perpetuated; but they neglect the only thing that will cause that to actually happen (in the most honorable way)—namely, having Christ's beauty shine through them. By faith, let us walk with Jesus today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God has a greater delight in the sincere worship and love of one poor, obscure Christian than in all that is done throughout the globe by irreligious kings and princes.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "Christians a Chosen Generation"]

Monday, October 5, 2015

Mon., 10/5/15 Devotion (Eph. 5:1-2a)

Today's encouragement comes from Ephesians 5:1 & 2a, where we read these words:

"Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love . . . "

Paul is telling the Ephesian Christians—even as he still speaks to the church today—that we are to "imitate" God. The first and clearest way we do this, is by "walking in love." The key to both of these otherwise preposterous com-mands, is to be found in what sandwiches in between them: "as dear chil-dren."

As the children of God, churchmen will imitate their Heavenly Father, even as natural children imitate their human father. But *how* do we do something that does not come naturally to us (because of our sin)? Through faith in Jesus. The Son of God is the One who connects us, the children of God, to our Heavenly Father. Can we walk in divine imitative love today? Yes; in and through Christ our Lord.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Inward grace is wrought by outward means; the preaching of the Word is the engine that God uses to work grace; it is called 'the rod of HIs strength,' (Ps. 110:2).” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Beauty of Grace"]

Friday, October 2, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/2-4/15 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it's almost The Lord's Day (Sunday)! In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, in his book, "The Lord's Prayer":

"The old serpent [Satan] either takes men off from the use of means [of grace], or makes them miscarry in the use of them.

"He labors to take men off from duty, from praying and hearing [sermons], in order to discourage them; and, to do that, he has two artifices [tricks]:

"He discourages them from duty by suggesting to them their unworthiness; that they are not worthy to approach to God, or have any signals of His love and favor. They are sinful, and God is holy, how dare they presume to bring their impure offering to God? That we should see ourselves unworthy, is good, and argues humility; but to think we should not approach God because of unworthiness, is a conclusion of the devil's making. God says, 'Come, though unworthy.' By this temptation, the devil takes many off from coming to the Lord's Table. 'Oh,' says he, 'this is a solemn ordinance, and requires much holiness: how dare you so unworthily come? You will eat and drink un-worthily.' Thus, as Saul kept the people from eating honey, so the devil by this temptation, scares many from this ordinance, which is sweeter than honey and the honeycomb."

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Thurs., 10/1/15 Devotion (Eph. 1:7)

Today's encouragement comes from Ephesians 1:7, where we read these words:

"In Him [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace . . . "

When it is all said and done, the only thing that matters in life (and religion) is the soul's cleansing before a Holy God. Christ's blood *alone* washes away sins; and our confidence before God is solely based in and on our faith in Him (Christ).

So much religious talk and discourse is nothing other than the bluster of peo-ple who wish to find some substitute (for the blood atonement of Jesus). Let us not be ensnared by this; and may God's true Christian churchmen rejoice in their right standing with the Lord, by grace through faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a Christian's duty to triumph, not only over the world, but over Satan . . . “ —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Down-cast"]