Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tues., 5/31/16 Devotion (Deut. 4:39)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 4:39, which says this:

"Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the LORD Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other."

Are we facing fearful trials and difficult hardships today? Then, let us soak up verses like the one above. By faith in Jesus, let us "know" "this day" (and not some time in the future); and let us take it to “heart”—that there is only one God; and that He rules in heaven, and on earth.

Since this *is* the case—and all faithful churched Christians know that it is—then, what do we have to worry about? God has heaven covered; and God has the earth covered. His enemies are active here on earth—there is no doubt about that—but the Lord is the King, and He will crush them, after He has used them up for His glory. Therefore, let us rest in The Triune God *to-day*; and take a lot of heart in our holy (and true) faith in The Christ of the one true religion.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Satan puts good names on sin . . . “ —Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godliness"]

Monday, May 30, 2016

Mon., 5/30/16 Devotion (Ps. 85:6)

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 85:6, which says this:

"Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?"

God's people tend to fall asleep, spiritually. From time to time we need to be awakened, and renewed (or revived) in our holy faith—which will then re-kindle our love for Christ. We should humbly ask God to do this: corporately, as His church; and individually, for our own souls. The revived heart is enam-ored with God, filled with true and (often) inexpressible joy, and is in a lively state of willing obedience.

Our God can fan into flame even a very small spark. Do we have the life of Christ in us? Then, we may be assured: God can revive us again.

[Puritan quote of the day: "All the riches of the world, or the honors and pleas-ure of it, all the learning, the power, and the policy of the world, all the worldly titles and distinctions cannot make the sinful creature happy or do him any good.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "Christ is the Christian's All"]

Monday, May 23, 2016

Mon., 5/23/16 Devotion (Ps. 77:13)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 77:13, where Asaph wrote these words:

"Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; who is so great a God as our God?"

God always operates from His sanctuary. The Old Covenant sanctuary was a type of heaven, (cf. Heb. 8:4-5). In the heavenly sanctuary today, the Son of God intercedes for His saints by virtue of His atoning death, (cf. Heb. 7:25). The gathered church in Sunday worship constitutes the place of God's sanct-uary, (cf. 1 Pet. 2:4-5). And finally, the individual hearts of the regenerate churchmen are also the place of His sanctuary, (cf. 1 Cor. 3:16).

*From* God's sanctuary goes forth praise of Christ, and the evangelism of the world. Let us be thankful that the true God is the God of the sanctuary: the place of worship and rest.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Here is a pillar of support to every soul who has broken off sin and espoused holiness. This is an undoubted evidence that you are a true child of God.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Mischief of Sin"]

Friday, May 20, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/20-22/16 Devotion

Yay—it is almost Sunday. We get to go back to church. Here are comforting words from the great Puritan pastor Richard SIbbes, relative to how believers are sometimes accosted by awful thoughts. May this be an encouragement to us, as we get ready to worship the Lord.  (This is from Sibbes' "Bruised Reed" book.) . . .

"Some again are haunted with hideous representations to their imaginations, and with vile and unworthy thoughts of God, of Christ, of the Word, which, as busy flies, disquiet and molest their peace. These are cast in like wildfire by Satan, as may be discerned by the strangeness, the strength and violence, and the horribleness of them even to corrupt nature. A pious soul is no more guilty of them than Benjamin was when Joseph's cup was put into his sack. Among other helps recommended by godly writers, such as detestation of them and diversion from them to other things, let this be one, to complain to Christ against them, and to fly under the wings of His protection, and to desire Him to take our part against His and our enemy. Shall every sin and blas-phemy of man be forgiven, and not these blasphemous thoughts, which have the devil for their father, when Christ Himself was molested in this way so that He might comfort all poor souls in this condition?"

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Thurs., 5/19/16 Devotion (Isa. 19:24-25)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 19:24 & 25, which finds the pro-phet writing these remarkable words:

"In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, 'Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inher-itance.' "

We should be so encouraged by the New Covenant's promises of the gos-pel’s and the church's universality, and realized victory. For Isaiah to proph-esy these words must have seemed extremely preposterous and impossible to his contemporaries. But, because of the coming of the "Rod from the stem of Jesse [Christ]," (Isa. 11:1 ff.)—the fulfillment of this prophecy was not only possible, but inevitable. (For a good NT explanation of the folding together of all the nations into the church, see Eph. 2, esp. vv. 11-13.)

Let us revel in the wonderful strength of our Savior; and thank God for His comprehensive rule of the entire world.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Which of these two is more fit to take place, God's justice or man's reason? . . . The plumb line of our reason is too short to fath-om the depth of God's justice.” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wed., 5/18/16 Devotion (Ps. 71:16b)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 71:16b, where we read these words (of David):

" . . . I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only."

This little phrase (above) is a good reminder that the *only* One who has any inherent "righteousness" is the Triune God alone. All of our righteousness is derived from Christ, the Second Person. When it comes to the greatest form of righteousness (i.e. justification before God), this is imputed to the churched Christian; and it is received by faith in Jesus—His blood atonement and justi-fying resurrection. When it comes to any form of "civil" righteousness (which cannot and does not save), any person may have it, and it is given as a token of God's "common" grace.

Let us who have received the gift of faith in Christ bless God that we possess *His* (Jesus') Own righteousness. This is the great advantage of believing the gospel and being members of the true church; and it is cause for great re-joicing.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The truth is, we should listen as much to the voice of God in the ministry of His Word as if the Lord should speak out of the clouds to us.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Worship"]

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tues., 5/17/16 Devotion (1 Pet. 4:19)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Peter 4:19, where we read these words:

"Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator."

Suffering is never fun; but it can forward the genuine progress of the saints. It has a cleansing effect on the soul; and it draws us back to Christ. If we are going to have to suffer anyway, let us do so for doing good, or for insisting on God's ways. "Commit[ting sour] souls" to God means that we do what is right, and leave the consequences with the Lord.

It is interesting that Peter refers to the Lord as a faithful "Creator," at the end of this verse—rather than a Redeemer. God's creation covers everything in the universe: those things that positively affect our obedience, and those things that "negatively" affect it.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Satan tempts to sin under a pretense of religion. He is most to be feared when he transforms himself into an angel of light.”
—Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Friday, May 13, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/13-15/16 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, May 12, 2016

Thurs., 5/12/16 Devotion (Jas. 4:6)

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

"But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: 'God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.' "

Are we not glad that God "gives more grace"? This is sanctifying grace, that both causes us to humble ourselves (before the Lord), and increases our hu-mility (before Him). No one in their right mind would really want to be "resist-ed" by God. Who could withstand the Almighty?

Let us humble ourselves today, under the Lord's powerful hand, and in that position enjoy the sweet peace and freedom that only come to the contrite of heart. In Christ, God does not, and cannot "resist" the truly humble soul. To them, He "gives more grace."

[Puritan quote of the day: "When you go to mourn for sin, begin aloft with Christ: and do not always think to begin below with sin, and so to come up to Christ; but begin aloft with Christ, and so by your humiliation, fall down upon sin.” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Wed., 5/11/16 Devotion (Num. 20:10)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 20:10, where we read these words:

"And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he [Moses] said to them, 'Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?' "

Anyone can understand why Moses was so exasperated with the people—still, it was no excuse for him to "blow a fuse" and fail to honor his God. This one critical misstep prevented Moses from entering the Promised Land. We may be sure he replayed what happened many times in his head, and wished he could do it all over again.

Let us keep this in mind, especially if we are in a significant leadership role: people *will* err, and provoke us to anger; but the mark of greatness is not retaliation, but meekness. Typically, Moses was a giant of humility, but in this case he fell short.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If the church is beautiful beyond all other of the children of men, how beautiful is Jesus Christ, from Whom the church derives all its comeliness?” —Thomas Vincent, in, "The True Christian's Love to the Unseen Christ"]

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Tues., 5/10/16 Devotion (Ps. 56:3-4)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 56:3 & 4, where David wrote these words:

"Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?"

God's children are, from time-to-time, afraid. David had his problems; and un-doubtedly we have ours. It is precisely at the exact moment of fear, however, that we are most able to strengthen ourselves in God's grace, and trust Him. This trust, then, has the effect of turning fear away from us. After that, a re-newed sense of confidence arises in our hearts, which allows us to say, "What can flesh do to me?"

Let us not be undone by fear. Instead, let us turn it on its head; and use it for our own advantage. Let us see it as a fresh opportunity to trust God in and through our Lord Jesus Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Purity of heart is the jewel which is hung only upon the elect. As chastity distinguishes a virtuous woman from a harlot, so the true saint is distinguished from the hypocrite by his heart-purity.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Beatitudes"]

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mon., 5/9/16 Devotion (Ps. 55:6-8)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 55:6-8, where David penned these heartfelt words:

"So I said, 'Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.' "

Have we ever wished that we could be magically transported away from our problems—especially from our problem people? Because of David's pain and anguish (see vv. 4-5), he did. But this is not, in the end, God's way. (It is the world's way—and we see the dreadful effects of this all around us.) The Lord would have David stand his ground, and fight it out (see vv. 16-19).

If we will but persevere in our holy faith, we will, in Christ, get the victory, and the reward. Let us hang in there; and do so by constantly crying out to our good and powerful God for help (see vv. 1-3).

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is from low, mean thoughts of God that in your minds you oppose His sovereignty, that you are not sensible how dangerous your conduct is; and what an audacious thing it is for such a creature as man to strive with his Maker!” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Sover-eignty of God"]

Friday, May 6, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/6-8/16 Devotion

Praise God—it is almost Sunday! We *get* to go back to church again. In or-der to help us get ready for worship, here is the great Puritan pastor Richard Sibbes, from his "The Bruised Reed" book. . . .

"The sighs of a bruised heart carry in them a report, both of our affection to Christ, and of His care to us. The eyes of our souls cannot be towards Him unless He has cast a gracious look upon us first. The least love we have to Him is but a reflection of His love first shining upon us. As Christ did, in His example to us, whatever He charges us to do, so He suffered in His own Person whatever He calls us to suffer, so that He might the better learn to relieve and pity us in our sufferings. In His desertion in the garden and on the cross He was content to be without that unspeakable solace which the pre-sence of His Father gave, both to bear the wrath of the Lord for a time for us, and likewise to know the better how to comfort us in our greatest extremities.

"God sees fit that we should taste of that cup of which His Son drank so deep, that we might feel a little what sin is, and what His Son's love was. But our comfort is that Christ drank the dregs of the cup for us, and will comfort us, so that our spirits may not utterly fail under that little taste of His displeas-ure which we may feel. He became not only a man but a curse, a man of sorrows, for us. He was broken that we should not be broken; He was troub-led that we should not be desperately troubled; He became a curse, that we should not be accursed. Whatever may be wished for in an all sufficient Com-forter is all to be found in Christ."

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Thurs., 5/5/16 Devotion (Num. 12:1a, 2a)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 12:1a & 2a, where we read these words:

"Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian wo-man whom he had married . . . So they said, 'Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? . . . ' "

As we take a look at these two phrases above, we learn something. Aaron's and Miriam's problem with their brother (Moses) was that he had gone off and married an Ethiopian woman. They did not like this for some reason. Maybe they were prejudiced against Ethiopians (or Cushites). But let us note *what* Aaron and Miriam do: they make their statement about those through whom God speaks as a *pretense* (with regard to what it was that *really* bothered them).

This is a very common practice among sinners of all sorts—even religious ones. What they say is not really the issue. Let us keep this principle in mind as we deal with people, especially if we are in any kind of leadership position. Let us try to understand what the real "rub" is, and not be duped by "straw men."

[Puritan quote of the day: "Bend the greatest strength of your heart in [ferv-ent] prayer to God against the corruption that troubles you the most.” —Chris-topher Love, in, "The Mortified Christian"]

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wed., 5/4/16 Devotion (Num. 11:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 11:1a, where these sobering words are found:

"Now when the people complained, it displeased the LORD; for the LORD heard it, and His anger was aroused. . . . "

There is an acceptable (even proper) way to "complain" to God (cf. Ps. 142:2); and then there is this unacceptable and improper way to do it, (as seen all throughout Num., ch. 11). The people "craved"; they wanted their way; they "wept all over" Moses; they insisted that they be granted their de-sires. God's answer was to give them exactly what they wanted, and then to afflict many of them, (see vv. 33-34).

Let us be careful about what we earnestly long for; and of what we "demand" of God. In fact, it may not be good for us. The "status quo," (viz. continuing to eat God's provision of His manna), is a whole lot better than an early grave.

[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"]

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tues., 5/3/16 Devotion (Ps. 46:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 46, vv. 1 & 2, where we read these words:

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea . . . "

Nations come and nations go; but Christ and His church remain forever. In times of national and international distress and apostasy, it is easy to get nervous and unsettled.The words of this Psalm (above) are comforting to the true saints. What we know and are familiar with may indeed "be removed”; and "the mountains [may] be carried into the midst of the seas”—but still our God remains with His true church, through it all.

In these days of real and palpable "trouble," and great religious and political upheaval, let us find all our strength in the One who is our "very present help.” The Triune God will sustain us, His church, no matter whatever else befalls us, or the world in which we live.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Whether we have comfort or not, both are for our good.” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, May 2, 2016

Mon., 5/2/16 Devotion (Num. 9:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 9:1a, where we read these words:

"Now the LORD spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai . . . "

This little phrase (above) reminds us that God does not desert His church at anytime—not even when we feel like we are in the "wilderness." Even then and there the Lord "speaks" to His people. We might be inclined to "expect" God to converse with us when all is well, and we are settled into our faith, our church, and our sense of security very snugly. But do we think the same of Him when all seems dark, aimless, and unfeeling?

Let true Christians be assured of Christ's love for them—even when they feel like they are wandering around in "the wilderness." Even there, God has or-dained a ministry to feed us; and He has not abandoned us. For this mercy, let us all be thankful.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Show your love to Christ in your vigorous resist-ance and opposition of Christ's enemies.” —Thomas Vincent, in, "The True Christian's Love to the Unseen Christ"]