Friday, April 29, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/29-5/1/16 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book. Pastor Watson is addressing Christ's incarnation (below). . . .

"Why was Jesus Christ made flesh?

"The 'causa prima,' and impulsive cause, was free grace. It was love in God the Father to send Christ, and love in Christ that He came to be incarnate. Love was the intrinsic motive. Christ is God-man, because He is a lover of man. Christ came out of pity and indulgence to us. Augustine wrote, 'Not our deserts, but our misery, made Christ take flesh.' Christ's taking flesh was a plot of free grace, and a pure design of love. God Himself, though Almighty, was overcome with love. Christ incarnate is nothing but love covered with flesh. As Christ's assuming our human nature was a masterpiece of wisdom, so it was a monument of free grace.

"Christ took our flesh upon Him, that He might take our sins upon Him. . . . He took our flesh that He might take our sins, and so appease God's wrath.

"Christ took our flesh that He might make the human nature appear lovely to God, and the divine nature appear lovely to man."

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Thurs., 4/28/16 Devotion (Heb. 3:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 3:1 & 2, where we read these words:

"Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apo-stle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house."

Remaining faithful over the long haul is not an easy thing to do. Most people who start off on the Christian journey, eventually end up giving up the fight. The key to perseverance is never found within us, but always and only in the Object of the true believer's love and devotion: the Lord Jesus Christ.

This was why Moses was able to endure to the end: because he never lost sight of Christ. Is Jesus our "Apostle," the One who fulfilled the mission of re-demption? Is He our "High Priest," the One whose atonement cleanses us? If so, then we will, by grace, remain in Him. But this is all of God's sovereign do-ing. The Lord alone gets the glory for it.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The remembrance of past goodness is very helpful for present encouragement. This rule David followed in Ps. 42:6: 'O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore will I remember You from the land of Jordan.’ “ —Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wed., 4/27/16 Devotion (Heb. 2:11)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 2:11, where we read these words:

"For both He [Jesus] who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren . . . "

It is amazing, to think that Christ and His church are so closely linked, that the Messiah Himself deigned to undergo *everything* we experience (yet without sin). Do we suffer? He suffered first. Do we have to get sanctified? He, though always perfectly holy, had to "learn obedience through the things which He suffered," (Heb. 5:8). Is Jesus in glory, and bliss? The church is there with Him, even now, (cf. Col. 2:12).

Christ does not stand aloof from us, those whom He has redeemed. He is *with* us in every way, as He is our great and elder "brother" in the family of God.

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tues., 4/26/16 Devotion (Ps. 37:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 37:1, where we read these words:

"Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity."

It can be a real temptation for the people of God to be afraid of evildoers. This is especially the case when the wicked are "in our faces," and they are shameless in their bold support of godlessness. But faithful churchmen should not be scared of these people. "Workers of iniquity" are like play-ground bullies: all puffed-up, but full of nothing but hot air.

Worse than that (for them), they must face the judgment day without the benefit of atonement. Who could be "envious" of that? Instead of fearing evil-doers, let us fear the Lord. When we do that, no one and nothing else ap-pears formidable.

[Puritan quote of the day: "As there is in God [enough] to satisfy the whole soul, so trust carries the whole soul to God.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Monday, April 25, 2016

Mon., 4/25/16 Devotion (Ps. 36:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 36:8, where these great words are found:

"They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures."

God is not against our pleasure—so long as we find it all in Christ. In fact, God is totally committed to our happiness. The true Christian must go through many trials in this life (to be sure); but this in no way diminishes the fact that he or she enjoys the greatest, and most satisfying delights (in this life). The professing Christian who always hangs the head, frowns, and is sullen in spirit is telling the world that he or she does not have a very good God.

When we fully avail ourselves of Jesus, and of all His provisions which He metes-out in and through His gospel and church—we know everything of which David speaks (above).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Get contentment into the sling of your heart, and with this sacred stone you may both defy the world and conquer it.” —Thom-as Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Friday, April 22, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/22-24/16 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it is almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book. He is addressing God's Mercy in this section. . . .

"God's mercy is free. To set up merit is to destroy mercy. Nothing can deserve mercy, because we are polluted in our blood; nor force it. We may force God to punish us, but not to love us. 'I will love them freely,' (Hos. 14:4). Every link in the chain of salvation is wrought and interwoven with free grace. Election is free: 'He has chosen us in Him, according to the good pleasure of His will,' (Eph. 1:4). Justification is free: 'Being justified freely by His grace,' (Rom. 3:24). Salvation is free: 'According to His mercy He saved us,' (Titus 3:5). If God should show mercy to such only as are worthy, he would show none at all.

"God's mercy is an overflowing mercy; it is infinite. 'Plenteous in mercy, (Psa. 86:5). 'Rich in mercy,' (Eph. 2:4). 'Multitude of mercies,' (Psa. 51:1). The vial of wrath drops, but the fountain of mercy runs. The sun is not so full of light as God is of mercy. God has morning mercies. 'His mercies are new every mor-ning,' (Lam. 3:23). He has night mercies: 'In the night His song shall be with me,' (Psa. 13:8). God has mercies under heaven, which we taste; and in hea-ven, which we hope for."

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Thurs., 4/21/16 Devotion (2 Tim. 4:5)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 4:5, where we read these words:

"But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evan-gelist, fulfill your ministry."

Paul's exhortation to his fellow-comrade in the church's ministry is a straight-forward and difficult one. Timothy will need to be "watchful," or on-guard; and this in "all things." He will need to "endure afflictions," (or persevere through difficult trials). On top of this, Timothy is to be always mindful of his responsi-bility to "do the work of an evangelist." Finally, Paul would have his young protegee not fall short of his life-goal, but rather "fulfill [his] ministry."

How do any of us—be we of the clergy or the laity—succeed at the high and holy callings (and exhortations) that God gives us? By sincere and living faith in our Risen Lord Jesus. This faith will put a spring in our step; and it will work against laxity and slothfulness. The faithful Christian is on a mission; and his or her life is never without challenges and blessings.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ does His church more good now that He is in heaven . . . “ —Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wed., 4/20/16 Devotion (Eccl. 7:14a, b)

Today's encouragement comes from Ecclesiastes 7:14a & b, where we read these words:

"In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: surely God has appointed the one as well as the other . . . "

This is good counsel (above) from the "Preacher" (Solomon). We all naturally want good things to come our way, and to happen to us; but it takes real faith and maturity to understand that "bad" things also come from the *same* Fa-therly hand of our loving God in heaven.

This is not to suggest that we should be "happy" about bad things happening to us—because that would be misguided. But we may take comfort in know-ing that nothing comes our way that does not ultimately originate from God's perfect will and intentions toward us (who are truly in Christ and His church).

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a holy state of soul to be under the power of nothing beneath itself.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "The Soul's Conflict with Itself"]

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tues., 4/19/16 Devotion (2 Tim. 2:8)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 2:8, where we read these words:

"Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel."

Why would Paul have to remind Timothy that Jesus was raised from the dead? Because, every time he (or we) fall into fear and unbelief—we have, essentially, forgotten this most-important truth. And note that Christ is "of the seed of David." In other words, He is one of us. He understands our weak-nesses; and He has gone ahead of us, in His death and resurrection.

May we, today, not forget that our Savior—unlike all the false "gods" of all the world's works religions—*is* alive, even right now. Therefore, let us appeal to Him for help, in prayer.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Morality shoots short of heaven. It is only nature refined. A moral man is but old Adam dressed in fine clothes.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Monday, April 18, 2016

Mon., 4/18/16 Devotion (Ps. 28:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 28:1, where David wrote these words:

"To You I will cry, O LORD my Rock: do not be silent to me, lest, if You are silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit."

God invites us, His children, to make urgent pleas to Him; and to ask Him to hear our prayers, and respond to them. It could seem odd that we who be-lieve that God is sovereign, and knows all things, and does all things well, would want us to ask Him to "not be silent" to us.

But such is the personal nature of the great God that we serve in the Lord Jesus Christ. He wants us to be honest with Him; and to live in this world with a complete and self-conscious dependence upon Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When you read in the historical parts of Scripture an account of the sins of which others have been guilty, reflect on yourselves as you go along, and inquire whether you do not in some degree live in the same or like practices.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Necessity of Self-Examination"]

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Wed.-Sabbath, 4/13-17/16 Devotion

Wahoo—Sunday is coming in just four days. We will *get* to go to church again! In order to help get us ready, here is the remarkable and ingenious Thomas Watson, from his, "The Picture of a Godly Man" book:

"A humble soul thinks better of others than of himself: 'Let each esteem others better than themselves,' (Php. 2:3). A humble man values others at a higher rate than himself, and the reason is because he can see his own heart better than he can another's. He sees his own corruption and thinks surely it is not so with others; their graces are not so weak as his; their corruptions are not so strong. 'Surely,' he thinks, 'they have better hearts than I.' A humble Christian studies his own infirmities and another's excellencies, and that makes him put a higher value upon others than himself. 'Surely I am more brutish than any man,' (Prov. 30:2). And Paul, though he was the chief of the apostles, still calls himself, 'less than the least of all saints,' (Eph. 3:8)."

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tues., 4/12/16 Devotion (Ps. 19:4)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 19:14, where we read these words:

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer."

This is a sweet prayer (above) with which David ends this psalm. It is interest-ing that he mentions "the words of [his] mouth" before the "meditation of [his] heart." We usually like to hope that we think first, and then speak. Knowing his own human nature the way David did, he may have been making a "pre-emptive strike" here, against his words—recognizing that what is in the heart will make its way through the mouth.

At any rate, let all of us Christian churchmen today offer the same prayer—as it is surely good to be "acceptable in God's sight." We can only be this, as we are found to be in Jesus, by faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Some set their bags of money always before them, others set the fear of men always before them, but a wise Christian will set God, judgment, and eternity always before him.” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "God's Anatomy upon Man's Heart"]

Monday, April 11, 2016

Mon., 4/11/16 Devotion (2 Thess. 3:3)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Thessalonians 3:3, where we read these words:

"But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one."

It is wonderful that God protects His Christian churchmen from "the evil one." The old snake comes slithering around in all kinds of guises. He is a restless, sullen, and driven foe. Sometimes he manages to land a "punch" on some of the Lord's children—but he is never able to fell us.

Let all Christ's believing people be thankful that our Lord is "faithful"; and that this kind grace expresses itself in both the "establishment" of our souls, and the safety and security of them. This is no small blessing—as life in a fallen world of dangerous sinners is not a "walk in the park."

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ gives to those who come to Him such com-fort and pleasure as are enough to make them forget all their former labor and travail.” —Jonathan Edwards, in the book, "On Knowing Christ"]

Friday, April 8, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/8-10/16 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it is almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his great book, "The Doctrine of Re-pentance":

"Turning to God makes for our profit. Our repentance is of no benefit to God, but to ourselves. If a man drinks of a fountain he benefits himself, not the fountain. If he beholds the light of the sun, he himself is refreshed by it, not the sun. If we turn from our sins to God, God is not advantaged by it. It is only we ourselves who reap the benefit. In this case self-love should prevail with us: 'If you be wise, you will be wise for yourself,' (Prov. 9:12).

"If we turn to God, He will turn to us. He will turn His anger from us, and His face to us. It was David's prayer, 'O turn to me, and have mercy upon me,' (Ps. 86:16). Our turning will make God turn: 'Turn unto me, says the Lord, and I will turn unto you,' (Zech. 1:3). He [God] who was an enemy will turn to be our friend. If God turns to us, the angels are turned to us. We shall have their tutelage and guardianship, (Ps. 91:11). If God turns to us, all things shall turn to our good, both mercies and afflictions . . . "

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Thurs., 4/7/16 Devotion (Lev. 10:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Leviticus 10:1 & 2, where these words are found:

"Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD." (ESV)

God's worship was serious business in the Old Testament; and its even more so, in the New (Covenant). Nadab and Abihu thought they were doing God good service—even going above and beyond the call of duty. Their “reward” was that God killed them.

What is the New Covenant church to offer God today? We cannot offer sacri-fices for sin—since Jesus only did that, one time; and His is the only atone-ment accepted by God (cf. Heb. 9:24-26). But we may offer sacrifices of praise, as per Heb. 13:15. Especially in church worship, let us do only what God commands, (or else be willing to suffer the consequences).

[Puritan quote of the day: "For any to say that, though their mind be ignorant yet their heart is good, they may as well say that, though they are blind yet their eyes are good.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Beatitudes"]

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Wed., 4/6/16 Devotion (Lev. 9:4b)

Today's encouragement comes from Leviticus 9:4b, where we read these few words:

" . . . For today the LORD will appear to you."

Every Lord's Day, in the proper worship of the church, God "appears" to His people, and visits them, with His grace and mercy (in Christ). In Lev. 9, God came to the people in their worship service, (see vv. 23-24). But the Lord may also "appear" to His saints throughout the week—subordinate to Sabbath (Sunday) worship, but nonetheless every bit as really.

Are our hearts tender? Are we sensitive to God? Do we truly feel badly about our sins; and do we cling only Jesus for forgiveness? If so, then God is cer-tainly near to us, visiting us by His Spirit, (cf. Ps. 34:18).

[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"]

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Tues., 4/5/16 Devotion (1 Thess. 2:13b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Thessalonians 2:13b, where Paul wrote these words to the church:

“ . . . When you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you ac-cepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God . . . “ (ESV)

The Bible teaches that there are three forms of the “Word” of God: the Scrip-tures themselves (graphe in Greek)—cf. 2 Tim. 3:16; the preached word (kerygma in Greek)—cf. Rom. 10:14, and the Divine Word (Jesus Christ), (“Logos” in Greek)—cf. Jn. 1:1.  Paul is referencing here (above) “kerygma,” or the preached Word.  This is the most frequent meaning of the OT and NT uses of the phrase “Word of God." 

The Word as the Bible, and the Word as preaching are both designed to bring sinners to The Ultimate and Final Word (Jesus).  When this happens, souls are saved, and God is glorified.  Let us be like the Thessalonian church, which received all three manifestations of the Word, and were pleasing to God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Indeed, sometimes grace is as a sleepy habit in the soul, like sap in the vine—not exerting its vigor, due to spiritual sloth or by reason of falling into some sin—but this is only for a while. The spring of grace will come, the flowers will appear, and the fig tree will put forth her green figs.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Monday, April 4, 2016

Mon., 4/4/16 Devotion (1 Thess. 1:8)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Thessalonians 1:8, which says this:

"For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything."

How could a little church congregation in Thessalonica, in the days before the internet, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, have its gospel message of faith broadcast all over the known world? By the grace of God. Whenever and wherever a faithful church worships Christ on His Day (Sunday)—the Lord makes sure that His glory, His gospel, and His word gets spread about.

Do we understand (completely) how this happens? No; but it is true, nonethe-less. Let us recognize that our greatest evangelistic witness happens in the church's worship services; and let us thank God that His praise does indeed go from there to all the earth.

[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, April 1, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/1-3/16 Devotion

Yippee—it is almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, to help get us ready for church. This is from his, "A Plea for the Godly" book:

"A righteous man is wise to know Jesus Christ. The natural man hears of Christ by the hearing of the ear but he does not know Him. Those who jour-neyed with Paul heard a voice but saw no Man, (Acts 9:7). So the unregener-ate person hears the minister set forth Christ as altogether lovely; he hears a voice but sees no Man. He does not see Christ's glorious beauties. Christ is a treasure, but a hidden treasure. But a gracious soul has the veil taken off; he sees the amazing excellencies of Christ: 'Unto you therefore who believe He is precious,' (2 Peter 2:7). Christ's merits, graces, and benefits are precious. A righteous man has Christ's eye-salve to see his tried gold, (Revelation 3:8).

"Zeuxis, having drawn a curious piece, Nicostratus fell into the admiration of it and commended it. An ignorant man stood by and asked him what rare excel-lency he saw in that piece. Said he, 'If you could see with my eyes, you would admire it as well as I.' So, if a carnal man could see with a spiritual man's eyes, he would wonder at those surpassing beauties in Jesus Christ which he now makes light of."