Monday, November 30, 2015

Mon., 11/30/15 Devotion (Mic. 5:2)

Today's encouragement comes from Micah 5:2, where we read these words:

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting."

Often, God works from and in obscure places. Bethlehem was certainly not Rome, or Babylon, or even Jerusalem. Still, it would be the place where the now-incarnated King of Glory would be born into the fallen world. Bethlehem became the "hinge" between Christ's heavenly past, and His current state as the God-Man Lord of of heaven *and* earth. The humble Baby born in a manger now reigns as the King and Head of His church and all that exists.

Are our situations in life down here a bit on the "humble" side? Let us not think that God cannot and will not visit us in our lowly conditions. He delights to do so—and Bethlehem is proof of this.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Those whose hearts follow hard after the Lord have the right hand of God upholding them.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gos-pel Worship"]

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/27-29/15 Devotion

Yippee—it is almost Sunday! So as to help prepare us for the Lord's Day's church worship, here are some good words from the great Jonathan Ed-wards, 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 un-der 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 [paid back] for it.

"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 distinguish-ed. He is sovereign, and has mercy on who He will have mercy."

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thurs., 11/26/15 Devotion (Lk. 10:21a)

Happy Thanksgiving, all you American, Puritan-loving Christians!

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 10:21a, where we read these few words:

"In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, 'I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth . . . ' "

Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself often thanked His Heavenly Father for the vari-ous blessings and mercies that were wrought during the time of the Messiah's first advent. All genuine Spirit-filled living renders thanksgiving to God. There is almost nothing more wretched, gross, and disgusting than a thankless, graceless person.

On this Thanksgiving Day, the one great American Puritan holiday, let us fol-low not only our excellent Pilgrim spiritual fathers; but even much more, our Lord, King, Savior, and Head of the church, the Lord Jesus—by giving heart-felt and sincere thanks to God.

[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"]

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wed., 11/25/15 Devotion (Jon. 4:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Jonah 4:6, where we read these words:

"And the LORD God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant."

To his credit, Jonah was "grateful for the plant"; but it would soon be evident that Jonah's thankfulness was piecemeal. When God removed the plant, Jonah became very peevish and churlish. When God refused to give Jonah a divine fireworks display, by blowing up Nineveh, it displeased the prophet greatly.

True gratitude that honors the Lord is universal and uniform. This does not mean that we Christian churchmen will always get it right; but it does mean that we are to set our hearts on being grateful to God for all things, be they "good" or "evil."

[Puritan quote of the day: "As the sun rises by degrees till it comes to shine in glory, so it was with the Sun of Righteousness [Christ]. He revealed Himself in the church little by little.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tues., 11/24/15 Devotion (1 Chron. 20:8)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 20:8, where we read these words:

"These were born to the giant in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants."

What problems do we have, that were (and are) "born" of the "giants" that have harassed us (perhaps for years)? Whatever they are, they may fall at the feet of King Jesus, the true and ultimate "David." Even as David, the lad, slew Goliath, the experienced soldier—so it is that all sincere Christian churchmen overwhelm God's enemies, through our faith in Jesus.

Our good and holy God allows "big" troubles to assail us, so as to show us just how great He truly is.  “The bigger they are, the harder they fall”—and no enemy of the true church can stand before Christ, the conquering Sovereign of all.

[Puritan quote of the day: "In heaven the saints rest with Him [God], on earth they walk with Him.” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Monday, November 23, 2015

Mon., 11/23/15 Devotion (Jon. 2:4)

Today's encouragement comes from Jonah 2:4, where we read these words:

"Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ "

Jonah goes from consciously running away from God, to once again desiring to enjoy His sweet presence (in the context of the temple—the Old Covenant church). What made the difference? Probably, the interesting time he spent in the belly of the great fish.

God has a way of making us, His churched children, want Him very badly. Even when our own fleshly wills assert themselves and get us into big trou-
ble—the Lord knows how to turn us back to Himself, and to cause us to de-spair of sin’s false promises. As we once again regain our senses, and begin to think clearly, we, like Jonah, begin to say, "I will look again toward Your holy temple."  In Christ, there is always hope.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God would have His people humble, but not un-grateful. It is the devil's policy either to keep us from duty, or else to put us up-on it when it is least in season.” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Trees of Righteousness Blossoming"]

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/20-22/15 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his book, "A Body of Divinity":

"If you would have peace, make war with sin. Sin is the Achan that troubles us, the Trojan horse. . . . If you would have peace with God, break the league with sin; give battle to sin, for it is a most just war. God has proclaimed it: nay, He has promised us victory. 'Sin shall not have dominion,' (Rom. 6:14). No way to peace, but by maintaining a war with sin. . . . "

"Go to Christ's blood for peace. Some go to fetch their peace from their own righteousness, not Christ's. They go for peace to their holy life, not Christ's death. If conscience be troubled, they strive to quiet it with their duties. This is not the right way to peace. Duties must not be neglected, nor yet idolized. Look to the blood of sprinkling, (Heb. 12:24). That blood of Christ which paci-fied God, must pacify conscience. Christ's blood being taken in by faith, gives peace. 'Being justified by faith, we have peace with God,' (Rom. 5:1). There is no balm to cure a wounded conscience, but the blood of Christ."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thurs., 11/19/15 Devotion (1 Chron. 14:12)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 14:12, where we read these words:

"And when they [the Philistines] left their gods there, David gave a command-ment, and they were burned with fire."

To me, this is one of the funniest verses in all the Bible. The Philistines lug their heavy gods around; and after they get defeated on the battlefield by David and the Israelites, they (the Philistines) dump their gods, and do not even bother to take them with them (as they flee).

What good are gods that are so valueless, that people do not even show them a little respect, so as to get them off the field of battle?! But so it is with all idols: they are worthless. They are good only for being burned (see above). Even all of our "sophisticated" idols need to be thrown on the fire, too.

[Puritan quote of the day: “[God] has sent forth His messengers, and appoint-ed ministers in His church, to be subordinate lights, to shine with the com-munications of His light, and to reflect the beams of His glory on the souls of men.” —Jonathan Edwards, from his sermon, "The True Excellency of a Gos-pel Minister"]

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wed., 11/18/15 Devotion (1 Chron. 11:6)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 11:6, which says this:

"Now David said, 'Whoever attacks the Jebusites first shall be chief and cap-tain.' And Joab the son of Zeruiah went up first, and became chief."

David here employs God's way of developing leaders. The king did not need talkers, braggers, or theoreticians—he needed someone to risk his neck, and kick the Jebusites out (of what would become Jerusalem, the headquarters of the Old Covenant church). We see this same pattern in the New Testament, (cf. Rom. 16:3-4).

What about us? Is God calling us to do something bold for Christ and His church, within the sphere of our influence and ability? Spiritually, we are al-ways "safer" when we are on the offensive, rather than when we are on the defensive.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is not the weakest and poorest creature in the world who is pardoned [for sin] but he understands more of the light of God's grace and covenant than the greatest doctors or rabbis in the world.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tues., 11/17/15 Devotion (1 Chron 9:22)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 9:22, where we read this:

"All those chosen as gatekeepers were two hundred and twelve. They were recorded by their genealogy, in their villages. David and Samuel the seer had appointed them to their trusted office."

David was the king of Israel. Samuel was the prophet of Israel. This verse re-minds us that the church and the state—though not one and the same—are certainly not to be enemies. Both are instituted by God. There is a proper no-tion of the "separation of church and state”—but not so as to put them in ten-sion with one another. They are distinct entities, but they are to work together for the glory of Christ, and the spread of the gospel.

The church is greater than the state (or the family, for that matter); and be-cause of this she is to serve them both, by gentle instruction, and godly ex-ample.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Where God has forgiven sin, such a one need not care for the censures of all the world and the reproaches they cast upon him.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Monday, November 16, 2015

Mon., 11/16/15 Devotion (Heb. 11:6)

Today's encouragement comes from the immortal words of Hebrews 11:6, which say this:

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him [God], for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

This amazing verse, along with the chapter in which it is found, is of great en-couragement to every sincere Christian church member. Why? Among other reasons, because it highlights the primacy of the one grace (faith) that imme-diately fetches our Only Hope (Jesus) to our souls. Also, when we look at the "heroes" of the true religion mentioned in Heb., ch. 11, we see a lot of people who were ordinary sinners—just like us—but who were *extraordinary* be-cause of their exercise of faith (just like we get to do).

Let us recognize that faith pleases God because it asserts that it believes He exists, and that He can do anything He wants to, for our good. Are we weak in other graces? Then, let us not worry, so long as we have faith in Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A believing soul dares venture his name, his es-tate, his life, yea, his eternal life on God. He dares to put them all into His hands.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Friday, November 13, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/13-15/15 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it is almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here is the amazing and incomparable Puritan Thomas Watson, from his book entitled, "The Ten Commandments":

"Faith in Christ is acceptable to God because it is a self-denying grace; it makes a man go out of himself, renounce all self-righteousness, and wholly rely on Christ for justification. It is very humble, it confesses its own indigence [poverty], and lives wholly upon Christ. As the bee sucks sweetness from the flower, so faith sucks all its strength and comfort from Christ.

"Faith is a grace acceptable to God, because by faith we present a right-eousness to Him which best pleases Him: we bring the righteousness of Christ into court, which is called 'the righteousness of God,' (2 Cor 5:21). To bring Christ's righteousness, is to bring Benjamin with us. A believer may say, 'Lord, it is not the righteousness of Adam, or of the angels, but of Christ who is God-Man, that I bring before You.' The Lord cannot but smell a sweet savor in Christ's righteousness."

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thurs., 11/12/15 Devotion (Ps. 144:15)

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

"Happy are the people who are in such a state; happy are the people whose God is the LORD!"

What "state" does the psalmist (David) have in mind, here? The state of tem-poral [this world] bliss, made possible through God's divine protection from His church's enemies. This is clear, from the verses that precede v. 15 (above). This doctrine is interesting, because sometimes we are hesitant to ascribe "happiness" to things pertaining to *this* life. But that type of religious outlook is more akin to Buddhism, than it is to authentic Christianity.

The church, "whose God is the Lord," is a blessed community. Not only do we have all the riches of glory, to be enjoyed in heaven—but in Christ alone we already have all the abundance of grace (in all its forms), to be relished here on earth.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Proud innocence is worse than humble sin, and I would rather see a man tainted with many sins, if he is humbled for them and strives against them, than another puffed up and bragging to others of his freedom from gross and notorious enormities.” —Richard Harris, in, "The Way to True Happiness"]

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wed., 11/11/15 Devotion (Heb. 6:19-20a)

Today's encouragement comes from the words of Hebrews 6:19 & 20a, which say this:

"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus . . . "

The hope of believing Christian church members is as tied to the Person of Jesus Christ, as was the rope that they used to tie to the high priest in the old covenant, when he entered the Holy of Holies (for fear that he would die in there, and they would not be able to get him out). When God's people are af-flicted, and tossed and turned on the sea of a world of sin and rebellion—they are always tethered to the Rock, which cannot be moved.

As Christ is our "forerunner," then we who believe will inevitably end up where He is. Jesus is our Hope. There is none to be found anywhere else.

[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"]

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tues., 11/10/15 Devotion (Ps. 142:7)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 142:7, where David wrote these words:

"Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Your name; the righteous shall surround me, for You shall deal bountifully with me."

This (above) is a neat last verse of this psalm, because David started-out very down and dejected. Just as the dark clouds hide the bright sun—so life's struggles may hinder our view of the Son of God. Still, let us remember that He is there; and that He will again (soon) show His wondrous face (to our souls).

It is highly God-pleasing when the saints praise the Lord in earnest, even when we feel blue. When we are finally delivered, we will wish we had glori-fied Christ with vigor and enthusiasm (while we were going through our trial).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The Church is the wisest body and society in the world. Indeed, all the world besides is a company of mere fools and mad-men.” —Nathaniel Vincent, in, "A Discourse concerning Love"]

Monday, November 9, 2015

Mon., 11/9/15 Devotion (2 Ki. 22:8)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Kings 22:8, where these words are found:

"Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, 'I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.' And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it."

Whenever the Holy Scriptures are "discovered," especially for the very first time, by Spirit-ripened souls—the results are revolutionary. When young King Josiah had this newly-found scroll read to him, he responded with faith, humil-ity, contrition, and repentance. He then embarked on his wonderful and far-reaching reforms (in Judah).

Does the Holy Book, in conjunction with the Spirit and the gospel life of the church, continue to transform our lives? If our Bible reading brings us to Jesus, and causes us to love Him more—then there is no doubt but that it does.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The heart will tell us that sin is but small, and, be-ing small, it is venial. The heart will apologize for sin, masking bad transac-tions over with golden pretenses.” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Spiritual Watch"]

Friday, November 6, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/6-8/15 Devotion

Yippee—it is almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here are words from Thomas Watson's, "The Lord's Prayer" book:

"True faith is wrought by the ministry of the word. 'Faith comes by hearing,' (Rom. 10:17). Peter let down the net of his ministry, and at one [fell swoop] caught three thousand souls. Let us examine how our faith was wrought. Did God in the ministry of the word humble us? Did He break up the fallow ground of our heart, and then cast in the seed of faith? A good sign; but, if you know not how you came by your faith, suspect yourselves; as we suspect men to have stolen goods, when they know not how they came by them.

"True faith is at first small, like a grain of mustard-seed; it is full of doubts and fears; it is smoking flax: it smokes with desire, but does not flame with com-fort. It is so small that a Christian can hardly discern whether he has faith or not.

"True faith is joined with sanctity. . . . Though faith does but touch Christ, it fetches a healing virtue from Him. Justifying faith does that in a spiritual sense which miraculous faith does; it removes the mountains of sin, and casts them into the sea of Christ's blood."

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Thurs., 11/5/15 Devotion (2 Ki. 18:22)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Kings 18:22, where we read these words:

"But if you say to me, ‘We trust in the LORD our God,’ is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and said to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem’?"

This verse (above) records the words of the Assyrian official, who was seek-ing to taunt and discourage the people of Jerusalem, during Hezekiah's reign. What is intriguing, is that he thought Hezekiah (who was a very faithful be-liever in the Lord) had *dishonored* God, by his (Hezekiah's) tearing down of "high places" and "altars."

In the True Religion, less is more. And even though there were fewer places for people to be religious—the ground was laid for them to be actually faithful and obedient (to God), through Hezekiah's reforms. Let us be less-impressed by pomp and circumstance; and more committed to God's truth—especially as it is incarnated in Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: " 'Yes, I know, Satan, that Christ loves me, because you tell me that He hates me.' “ —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Wed., 11/4/15 Devotion (Ps. 130:3-4)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 130:3 & 4, which says this:

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

This psalm is written by, and for those who were on their way to perform sin-cere worship of God. The true believer knows, that though he or she hates his or her sins, and seeks to repent of them all—he or she is still far from confes-sing all of them. On top of that, all hearts, in their natural states, are still totally corrupt.

But the wonder is that God forgives *all* the sins of those who sincerely be-lieve in Christ's blood atonement. This fact engenders a loving fear of the Lord, (even as this psalm avers).

[Puritan quote of the day: "If, when public ordinances are administered, any person, whether out of pride or sloth, shall stay at home, though he may have his private devotions, yet he brings forth fruit out of season, and let that man know he shall bear his sin.” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Trees of Righteousness Blossoming"]

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tues., 11/3/15 Devotion (Ps. 128:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 128:5, where we read these words:

"The LORD bless you out of Zion, and may you see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life."

This is a sweet benediction (above). What better life is there, than to be bles-sed by God "out of Zion," viz. from Christ's church? And what more pleasant prospect is there, than to "see the good of Jerusalem," viz. the church, the people of God, "all the days of [our lives]"?

These are the values the Lord places on life on earth; and they are the ones we ought to aspire to, as well. As we do so, by grace, we learn how to live in heaven, while we are yet on the earth. May all God's children be encouraged today. Instead of despairing, let us look to Christ for help and grace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Hence we learn that a life of holiness is the pleas-antest life in this world, because in such a life we have the imperfect begin-nings of a blessed and endless sight of God.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Pure in Heart Blessed"]

Monday, November 2, 2015

Mon., 11/2/15 Devotion (Hos. 8:14a)

Today's encouragement comes from Hosea 8:14a, where we read these words:

"For Israel has forgotten his Maker, and has built temples . . . "

At first glance, this is a strange couplet (above). Israel *forgets* God; and then goes out and *builds temples*. Here, we see the incurable religiosity of all people everywhere. Just because sinners choose to dishonor the True God—this does absolutely nothing to alleviate their need to worship *some* god, of some sort.

Let us resolve to remember that every unbeliever we talk to today—be they allegedly as "irreligious" as they want to pretend to be—are diligently building temples for their false deities. We also would be in this boat, except that God has miraculously and sovereignly brought all true believers to Himself, and placed us in Jesus, and His church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He that enjoys much of God in this life carries heaven about him. . . . The enjoyment of God's sweet presence here is an earnest of our enjoying Him in heaven.” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Di-vinity"]