Thursday, December 31, 2015

Thurs.-Sabbath, 12/31/15-1/3/16 Devotion

Happy New Year, everyone!

Yippee! Sunday is coming! As we prepare for the Lord's Day, here is some encouragement from Thomas Watson's "A Body of Divinity" book:

"We glorify God, by praising him. Doxology, or praise, is a God-exalting work. Ps. 1:23: ‘Whosoever offers praise glorifies Me.’ The Hebrew word 'Bara,' to create, and 'Barak,' to praise, are little different, because the end of creation is to praise God. David was called the sweet singer of Israel, and his praising God was called glorifying God. Ps. 86:12: ‘I will praise You, O Lord my God, and I will glorify Your name.’

"Though nothing can add to God’s essential glory, yet praise exalts Him in the eyes of others. When we praise God, we spread His fame and renown, we display the trophies of His excellency. In this manner the angels glorify Him; they are the choristers of heaven, and do trumpet forth His praise. Praising God is one of the highest and purest acts of religion. In prayer we act like men; in praise we act like angels. Believers are called ‘temples of God,’ (1 Cor. 3:16). When our tongues praise, then the organs in God’s spiritual temple are sounding."

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wed., 12/30/15 Devotion (2 Chron. 35:21)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 35:21, where we read these words:

"But he [the king of Egypt] sent messengers to him [King Josiah of Judah], saying, 'What have I to do with you, king of Judah? I have not come against you this day, but against the house with which I have war; for God command-ed me to make haste. Refrain from meddling with God, who is with me, lest He destroy you.' "

This is a rather odd case (above). The great and godly Josiah does not be-lieve the words of the pagan pharaoh of Egypt, and it ends up costing him (Josiah) his life. God can and does sometimes employ even the heathen for His own purposes. Those who are in the church covenant should be aware of this, and we should be loathe to assume that the Lord cannot (on occasion) speak through them, (those outside the covenant).

Josiah ends up dying in the (unnecessary) battle he insisted on having with Egypt. Let us not "meddle" where we do not belong. In all things, let us be sure to seek God's guidance.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Though [David] found God present with him in ex-ile, yet there is a sweeter presence of Him in His ordinances.” —Richard Sib-bes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tues., 12/29/15 Devotion (2 Chron. 34:27)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 34:27, where we read these words:

" ' . . . because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,' says the LORD."

This verse (above) is in reference to the excellent king of Judah, Josiah. When Josiah heard the new-found Scripture read to him, he immediately re-sponded, with faith and repentance. When Josiah inquired of God, as to the judgments pronounced on the land, the king greatly humbled himself before the Lord.

This is a wonderful encouragement for all of us in the faithful church today. The world of religion, and the world generally, are not good in good shape. But, so long as true believers in Jesus are thoroughly pierced by God's gos-pel word, and are melted in heart by the Spirit of grace, then there is full hope for us—even concerning the temporal issues of life. On top of that, through this whole process, our souls are made more like Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Places and conditions are happy or miserable as God grants His gracious presence more or less.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict"]

Monday, December 28, 2015

Mon., 12/28/15 Devotion (2 Chron. 33:12-13)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 33:12 & 13, which says this:

"Now when [Manasseh] was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God."

This is the account of one of the most astounding conversions of all time. Manasseh, the king of Judah, was one of the worst idolaters the Bible ever chronicled. He never met an idol he did not love. But God, in His amazing and infinite grace and mercy, brought this man to his senses, and gave him the gift of faith and repentance.

May we all take comfort from examples such as this. As the angel said, in Lk. 1:37: "For with God nothing will be impossible."

[Puritan quote of the day: "That you may become capable of [God's] mercy, you must fall out with your sins, for there's no talk of mercy till you first are cruel to your sins.” —Robert Harris, in, "The Way To True Happiness"]

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Thurs.-Sabbath, 12/24-27/15 Devotion

Merry Christmas!

Here is the devotion. . . .

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augus-tus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keep-ing watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. "And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marvel-ed at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.  (Luke 2:1-20)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wed., 12/23/15 Devotion (2 Chron. 28:22a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 28:22a, where we read these words:

"Now in the time of his distress King Ahaz became increasingly unfaithful to the LORD."

Probably, most of us have known people like this. May we not be numbered among them. They encounter hardships in their lives, and their response is to become so furious at God—that they forsake Him utterly (by abandoning Christ's church and the gospel of grace). Instead of *going* to the only One who can actually *help* them in their distress—they flee even farther from Him than they were before.

In the case of the wicked King Ahaz of Judah (above), his problems were of his own making. He was a gross idolater. His worship of false gods brought on him (and his nation) great judgment. Then, when given an excellent oppor-tunity to repent, and embrace the True God—he "became increasingly un-faithful" to Him. May we learn from Ahaz' bad example; and may we always go to Jesus and His church when we are in trouble.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a harder thing to believe than to keep the Ten Commandments.” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast”] GREAT QUOTE, BTW!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tues., 12/22/15 Devotion (2 Chron. 26:5b)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 26:5b, where we read these words:

" . . . and as long as he [Uzziah] sought the LORD, God made him prosper."

Why is it, that we cannot seem to understand this very basic principle? So long as we seek the Lord, in His Son, and in the context of His church, we will "prosper." If we do *not* do this, we will not prosper. The reason we so often fail here, is because our faith is not as perfected as it should be. Our flesh tells us that "prosperity" may be had outside of Christ.

Even the great Uzziah ended up getting a bit "full of himself"; and though his life was blessed and prosperous, his pride took a bite out of him before he died, (cf. 2 Chron. 26:16). Let us churchmen be sure to humble ourselves be-fore the Lord—trusting in Him alone, and not in ourselves (at all).

[Puritan quote of the day: "When we preach Christ and free grace it is to bring you to Christ. Our preaching down of [or against] works is not to keep you from doing them but from resting in them.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Monday, December 21, 2015

Mon., 12/21/15 Devotion (Jn. 11:26b)

Today's encouragement comes from the few words of John 11:26b, where we read this:

" . . . Do you believe this?"

Our Lord Jesus asked this question (above), of Martha, the sister of Lazarus. Christ is asking her if she believes a body of doctrine that He had just taught her—regarding Himself (Jesus), the veracity (power) of faith, and the resur-rection of the dead.

Such is the nature of all good doctrine, and of the churchman's belief in it: when rightly-construed it (good doctrine) always directs the believer to the Person of Jesus. The difference between a regenerated Christian and the devil himself, is not that we believe different things about historical facts—but that the true saint's faith resides ultimately in the Person of the Redeemer (Jesus).

[Puritan quote of the day: "A man by faith may come into the presence of God with open mouth and speak all his mind unto God.” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Friday, December 18, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/18-20/15 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it is almost Sunday! Here is some encouraging doctrine re. prayer, from the great Thomas Watson. This comes from his "The Ten Com-mandments" book:

"What are the several parts of prayer?

"1) There is the confessor's part, which is the acknowledgement of sin. 2) The supplicatory part, when we either deprecate and pray against some evil, or request the obtaining of some good. 3) The congratulatory part, when we give thanks for mercies received, which is the most excellent part of prayer. In pe-tition, we act like men; in giving thanks, we act like angels.

"What are the several sorts of prayer?

"1) There is mental prayer, in the mind, (1 Sam. 1:13). 2) Vocal, (Psa. 77:1). 3) Spontaneous, which is a sudden and short elevation of the heart to God: 'So I prayed to the God of heaven,' (Neh. 2:4). 4) Inspired prayer, when we pray for those things which God puts into our heart: 'The Spirit helps us with sighs and groans,' (Rom. 8:26). Both the expressions of the tongue, and the impressions of the heart, so far as they are right, are from the Spirit. 5) Pre-scribed prayer. Our Savior has set us a pattern of prayer. God prescribed a set form of blessing for the priests, (Numb. 6:23). 6) Public prayer, when we pray in the audience of others. Prayer is more powerful when many join and unite their forces. 7) Private prayer; when we pray by ourselves: 'Enter into your closet,' (Matt 6:6)."

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Thurs., 12/17/15 Devotion (2 Chron. 20:12b, c)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 20:12b & c, where we read these words:

" . . . For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You."

Let us focus on the phrase, "Nor do we know what to do." This is how we of-ten feel, when we are faced with overwhelming forces that are arrayed against us, and that are threatening our peace and security. Jehoshaphat, the godly king of Judah who uttered this prayer (above), actually *did* know that he was to trust the Lord, and rest in Him, etc.—but he did not know how this was to *practically* manifest itself (in such a stressful situation).

So it may be for some of us Christian church members today. What are we to do, especially when we "do not know what to do"? In v. 17 of this same chap-ter, the people simply "stood still." In v. 22, they sang praises to God. The re-sult: the Lord gave them a big victory. He still does this for His church through Jesus’ mediation today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Sin feeds the sinner with delightful objects and then makes him mortgage his soul.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wed., 12/16/15 Devotion (Jn. 6:66-68)

Today's encouragement comes from the wonderful interchange between Christ and His disciples, as it is found in John 6:66-68:

"From that time many of [Christ's] disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, 'Do you also want to go away?' But Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.' "

This is a very poignant scene in the ministry of the Messiah. After intentionally paring-down the numbers of His "disciples" (among the multitude) by teaching them that they would have to ingest Him into their beings, and that God alone could draw them to Himself, etc.—the Lord Jesus is left with just a few re-maining hardy souls, (one of which was Judas, who, of course, was not faith-ful).

Peter's confession, representing the true church throughout all ages, is not only brilliantly insightful, but it was also eminently practical: there is nowhere to go, in this world, but to Jesus—unless one prefers hell.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When the Word comes to any place, the kingdom of heaven is said to come. . . . and Christ rules in it by the preaching of the gospel.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tues., 12/15/15 Devotion (Jn. 5:6)

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

"When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, 'Do you want to be made well?' "

At first glance Christ's question (above) to the lame man seems out of place. After all, does not everyone want to be "made well"? Actually, no; and this is why Jesus inquired of the infirm person. A lot of people are comfortable with their maladies—especially as they serve as excuses not to live responsibly before God. Some people literally do *not* "want" to be made well.

It is actually a blessing to desire good things—and health and well-being are two of them. It is one thing to be unwell (in whatever way this may be); but it is quite another thing to be content to be in that state. God would have us de-sire Christ, wholeness, and all good things—as His beloved church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Sometimes persons live in ways of sin and are not sensible of it because they are blinded by common custom and the examples of others.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Necessity of Self-Exam-ination"]

Monday, December 14, 2015

Mon., 12/14/15 Devotion (Ps. 147:11)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 147:11, which says this:

"The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy."

God created the world, in order to enjoy it. The Holy Trinity always experienc-es perfect and unremitted bliss. God is never perturbed. But, if it may be said that the Lord's pleasure may be "added to," (and I think it *can* be said, [in a certain sense]), then those who "fear Him" are the ones that achieve this re-markable privileged status.

Do we fear the Lord—through our faith in Jesus? If so, then let us take great comfort. God not only delights in us, He also loves us very dearly and tender-ly (as His church).

[Puritan quote of the day: "If once you come to receive the mercy of God in and through Christ Jesus, then that mercy will be the greatest opposer of your lusts and sin as anything can be in the world.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, a book of his sermons, entitled, "Gospel Remission"]

Friday, December 11, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/11-13/15 Devotion

Wahoo! Sunday is almost here. Here is Thomas Watson, from "All Things for Good," or, "A Divine Cordial":

"The word preached works for good. It is a savor of life, it is a soul-transform-ing word. It assimilates the heart into Christ’s likeness; it produces assurance. 'Our gospel came to you not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance,' (1 Thess. 1:5). It is the chariot of salvation.

"Prayer works for good. Prayer is the bellows of the affection; it blows up holy desires and ardors of soul. Prayer has power with God. It is a key that un-locks the treasury of God’s mercy. Prayer keeps the heart open to God, and shut to sin; it assuages the intemperate hearts and swellings of lust. It was Luther’s counsel to a friend, when he perceived a temptation begin to arise, to betake himself to prayer. Prayer is the Christian’s gun, which he discharges against his enemies. Prayer is the sovereign medicine of the soul. Prayer sanctifies every mercy (1 Tim. 4:5). It is the dispeller of sorrow: by venting the grief it eases the heart. When Hannah had prayed, 'She went away, and was no more sad,' (1 Sam. 1:18). And if it has these rare effects, then it works for good."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Thurs., 12/10/15 Devotion (Lk. 24:27)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 24:27, where we find these words:

"And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He [Christ] expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself."

Why did Jesus employ the Scriptures (only), when He was teaching His dis-ciples all things concerning Himself? Why did He not use tradition, councils, and the opinions of ancient Jewish leaders? Because those sources were not inspired of God—they had no authority over His disciples' consciences.

Let us be sure we garner what we are going to know about God from the Holy Scriptures. This will require the ministry of the church, to be sure—but as your ministers are faithful to their callings, they will be preaching The Christ as He is revealed in HIs Resurrection and God's Holy Book.

[Puritan quote of the day: "None can better discover Satan's sleights and poli-cies, than those who have been long in the fencing-school of temptation.”
—Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

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

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 23:12, where we read these words:

"That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other, for previous-ly they had been at enmity with each other."

Have we ever considered that the devil does quite well at holding his forces together? God's people could learn a lesson from this fact. We ought to be in-finitely *more* united around Jesus, and His church's gospel doctrine, than Satan and his followers are, around their hatred for Christ and His people.

What made Herod and Pilate like each other? Not their affinity for Jeru-salem's restaurants. Instead, they stood arm-in-arm in opposition to the stat-ed Kingship of Jesus. This is why even today we find Christian hypocrites "in bed" with Muslims, atheists, and all other unbelievers. They are all united to-gether in their resistance to our unconquerable Sovereign, Christ the Lord.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The work and business of ministers of the gospel is, as it were, that of servants: to wash and cleanse the souls of men; for this is done by the preaching of the Word, which is their main business.” —Jona-than Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "Christ the Example of Ministers"]

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Tues., 12/8/15 Devotion (Lk. 22:43)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 22:43, where we read these words:

"Then an angel appeared to Him [Jesus] from heaven, strengthening Him."

All God's churchmen need strength. Even the very Captain of our souls, the Head of the church Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ, did. A lot of times we chil-dren of God find ourselves in trouble, or need. Naturally, we call out to God for deliverance and freedom (from what afflicts us). But what oftentimes the Lord chooses to do, is *not* to immediately extricate us from our problem—but to use it as a great opportunity to make us stronger.

After all: this happened with our Savior Himself. He is in the Garden of Geth-semane, He is in agony and anguish; and His Father chooses to give Him strength to endure the looming cross, (rather than a way around it). This is certainly something for us to think about today. . . .

[Puritan quote of the day: "The nature of God is lovely in Christ, and our na-ture in Christ is lovely to Him.” —Richard Sibbes, in "Glorious Freedom"]

Monday, December 7, 2015

Mon., 12/7/15 Devotion (2 Jn. 10)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 John, v. 10, where we read these words:

"If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him."

These are interesting words from the tender and sensitive "apostle of love," (John). Is it not the case that sweet-natured people are to listen to just about anyone? Are we not to be open to everyone's take on God? Actually, no. The best love says, “You are coming to my house with a false gospel of works. I serve the God of heaven, who gave His Son for my sins. I do not need, nor will l tolerate your doctrines of demons."

Does this mean we do not try to reach these people? No, it does not mean that. Here is the rule to go by: inform all heretical works-righteousness people that *you*, not they, will do the talking. If they want to listen, fine; if not, "adieu."

[Puritan quote of the day: "A great part of the pleasure and delight of the Christian life is made out of the observations of Providence.” —John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Friday, December 4, 2015

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/4-6/15 Devotion

Hurray—it is almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his work entitled, "The Lord's Prayer."  (He is dealing with the second petition, "Thy Kingdom Come," here.) . . .

"God is a glorious King. 'Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory,' (Psa. 24:10). He has internal glory: 'The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty,' (Psa. 93:1). Other kings have royal and sumptuous ap-parel to make them appear glorious to beholders, but all their magnificence is borrowed. God is clothed with His own majesty; His own glorious essence is instead of royal robes, and 'He has girded Himself with strength.' Kings have their guard about them to defend their person, because they are not able to defend themselves; but God needs no guard or assistance from others. 'He has girded Himself with strength.' His own power is His lifeguard. 'Who in the heaven can be compared to the Lord?'

"Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord?,' (Psa. 89:6). He has a pre-eminence above all other kings for majesty. 'He has on His vesture a name written, Rex Regum, KING OF KINGS,' (Rev. 19:16). He has the highest throne, the richest crown, the largest dominions, and the longest possession. 'The Lord sits as King forever,' (Psa. 29:10). Though He has many heirs, yet no successors. He sets up His throne where no other king does; He rules the will and affections; His power binds the conscience. Angels serve Him; all the kings of the earth hold their crowns and diadems by immediate tenure from this great King. 'By Me kings reign,' (Prov. 8:15). To this Lord Jehovah all kings must give account, and from His tribunal there is no appeal."

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Thurs., 12/3/15 Devotion (Nah. 1:7)

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

"The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him."

Because God is inherently benevolent (good), He is able to help His believing children whenever they are in distress. But the phrase that most comforts me is that, [quote], "He knows those who trust in Him." This knowledge is not only informational, viz., "Joe trusts Me, Fred does not”—but it is *personal*, viz., "I KNOW Joe, hehe iss one of My redeemed churchmen. I also love Joe."

Our trust in God is not perfect in this life. Therefore, let us not be tricked by the devil into thinking that we have *no* faith in Christ, when in fact we *do*—even though it is not to the degree that we desire.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You come to prayer and cannot tell what to
say. . . . Can you breathe? God's ear lies open to the breathings of a soul He has received to mercy.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wed., 12/2/15 Devotion (Lk. 16:31)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 16:31, where we read these amaz-ing words:

"But [Jesus] said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.' "

No one was ever converted to Christ on the basis of beholding miracles—even the great one of Jesus' bodily resurrection. Instead, all those who truly belong to God are in this blessed state because of the great miracle of re-generation (or the new birth). No one believes the Bible, either, until or unless the Holy Spirit gives him or her Christ's righteousness (and the subsequent new nature in Him).

Therefore, let us not be surprised at the recalcitrant blindness and rebellion of sinners, who simply *will* not believe. The truth is they *cannot* believe, until God sovereignly calls them. Let us ask the Lord to do this for all our lost friends.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Now Christ and the church are all one. They make but one mystical body. The church is the queen, and Christ is the King.”
—Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tues., 12/1/15 Devotion (Lk. 15:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 15:1, where we read these words:

"Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him [Jesus] to hear Him."

Are not verses like this one (above) astounding? Let us ask ourselves: "Why did the notorious 'sinners' find Christ so compelling, so attractive, so alluring, that they would gather around Him, and hang on every word that fell from His blessed mouth?" I believe it is because they knew that He was real. They knew that He was not a religious freak, or a hypocrite, or a puffed-up doctrin-aire. They also knew that Jesus genuinely cared for them.

Let all of us who are sincere Christian churchmen recognize that if unbeliev-ers do not find us magnetic—something is wrong with us, not them. Jesus set the standard; let us follow in His blessed steps. Let pharisees despise us; but may ordinary sinners love us, and seek us out.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you grieve [God's] Spirit in heaven, He will sad-den your spirit on earth.” —Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]