Thursday, June 30, 2016

Thurs., 6/30/16 Devotion (Ps. 124:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 124:8, where we read these words:

"Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth."

To have the help of God is a big deal. To have the Lord fighting for us is a great asset. After all, He "made heaven and earth.” Let us think about this: the godless have this powerful Deity as their enemy. As long as they remain in their sin, He is always set against them. Even as they live, the Lord is sim-ply allowing them to heap up wrath, that will be unleashed on them.

But not so for the true and redeemed church of Christ. Believers in Jesus are aided and supported in their struggle down here. Life is never easy, but vic-tory is always certain, because Christ's church has a good Captain, who helps her. For this, let us be thankful, and call upon our kind and gracious God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ was made sin for saints, therefore their sin shall not hurt them.” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wed., 6/29/16 Devotion (Ps. 121:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 121:1 & 2, where these great words are found:

"I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth."

When the Old Testament church members looked upon the hills around Jeru-salem, the one that especially caught their eye was Mt. Zion, on which was built the temple. Beholding this sight would raise the faithful saint's spiritual eyes even higher, to heaven itself, where God dwells in unapproachable light. The New Covenant-era believers do the same thing. Having beheld with the eyes of faith The Christ and His New Jerusalem having come down from heaven, (Rev. 3:12)—we then immediately raise our hearts, prayers, and thoughts to the highest heaven, where Jesus is now permanently enthroned.

Do we need help today? Let us look to our Redeemer, by faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is nothing within us that could justify, but something without us; not any righteousness inherent, but imputed. We may as well look for a star in the earth as for justification in our own righteous-ness.” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Friday, June 17, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/17-19/16 Devotion

As we prepare for Sunday's church worship, let us allow these words of Jon-athan Edwards, from his sermon entitled, "A Warning to Professors of Reli-gion," to bless our hearts:

"When we are in attendance on the ordinances of divine worship, we are in the special presence of God. When persons come and attend on the ordin-ances of God, they are said to come before God, and to come into His pre-sence. Jer. 7:10: 'Come and stand before Me, in this house which is called by My Name.' Ps. 100:2: 'Come before His presence with singing.'

"In diving ordinances, person have immediate [interaction] with God, either in applying to Him (as in prayer and singing praises), or in receiving from him, waiting solemnly and immediately on Him for spiritual good (as in hearing the Word), or in both applying to God and receiving from Him (as in the sacra-ments [baptism and the Lord's Supper])."

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thurs., 6/16/16 Devotion (Isa. 48:22)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 48:22, where we see these powerful few words:

“ 'There is no peace,' says the LORD, 'for the wicked.’ "

These words become a refrain in Isaiah. He ends major sections of his thought with it. Who are the wicked? All those who live contrary to the gospel of grace, and who refuse to love and cling to the Messiah. These are found both inside and outside of the realm of organized religion.

If the wicked are NEVER, even for a solitary moment, at peace—then, who would want to be wicked? Do not even compete unbelievers profess to desire a sense of peace in their hearts? Surely may they think they do; but in fact they do not—since they reject the Prince of Peace. By faith in Christ, may our hearts dwell contentedly in our Redeemer today, no matter how much turmoil swirls about us, (cf. Rom. 5:1).

[Puritan quote of the day: "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.” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divin-ity"]

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wed., 6/15/16 Devotion (Deut. 20:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 20:1, which says this:

"When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and char-iots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up from the land of Egypt."

Are we sincere churched believers in Christ? Then, it is not a question of "whether or not" we will go to spiritual war—but rather of simply "when," as this verse indicates. On top of that, we bring the fight to our enemies. We do not wait for them to come to us. When we see our flesh, the world, the devil, pharisees, and hypocrites all lined up against us, we are not to fear them.

The simple fact that Christ our Captain is on the side of His true church and each individual saint is our sole support and confidence. If our great God could bring us "out of the land of Egypt," (sin)—He can surely give us daily victories.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Do you think that when Christ is so highly advanc-ed, and has all power in heaven and earth in His hand, He will not take care of His elect, and turn the most astonishing providences to the good of His church?” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tues., 6/14/16 Devotion (Isa. 46:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 46:5, which says this:

"To whom will you liken Me, and make Me equal and compare Me, that we should be alike?"

The incomparability of God is a major theme in Isaiah, and in the rest of the Bible. Compared to God, the entire created universe, with all its vastness and abundance, is nothing. Compared to God, an idol is a joke, at best. Isaiah makes fun of how idolaters carve out their god from a block of wood, and then burn up the rest of the timber in the fireplace, (see Isa. 44:15-17).

It is astounding that this incomparable God would unite Himself to mankind, in the incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. May we stand in awe of the true God, and give Him all the glory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you have left off calling upon God, it is time for you to leave off hoping and flattering yourselves with an imagination that you are the children of God.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "Hypocrites de-ficient in the duty of prayer"]

Monday, June 13, 2016

Mon., 6/13/16 Devotion (Isa. 45:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 45:15, where we read these words:

"Truly You are God, who hide Yourself, O God of Israel, the Savior!"

Blaise Pascal, the great French Christian philosopher and mathematician, made famous the idea of "Deus Absconditis," "The God who hides Himself." Pascal's meaning was that God only reveals Himself redemptively to those whom He is going to save; and that He does not "sell" Himself cheaply to anyone who happens to come along.

While this is true, are we not still glad that God "showed" Himself historically and fully, in the Lord Jesus Christ? In the Redeemer, we see not only God’s complete glory and goodness—but we also behold ourselves as clean and new, as our sins are forgiven through Christ's blood atonement.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You can no more conceal your sin than you can defend it.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Friday, June 10, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/10-12/16 Devotion

Thank God: Sunday is almost here. The Lord has 52 holy days a year (except when there are 53)—and they are all on Sunday. In order to prepare us for church worship, here is Thomas Watson, from "All Things for Good":

"If you do not love God, you will love something else, either the world or sin; and are those worthy of your love? Is it not better to love God than these? It is better to love God than the world, as appears in the following particulars.

"If you set your love on worldly things, they will not satisfy. You may as well satisfy your body with air, as your soul with earth. . . . Is it not better to love God? He will give you that which shall satisfy. . . . If you love worldly things, they cannot remove trouble of mind. If there be a thorn in the conscience, all the world cannot pluck it out.  . . . But if you love God, He can give you peace when nothing else can; He can turn the 'Shadow of death into the morning,' (Amos 5:8). He can apply Christ’s blood to refresh your soul; He can whisper His love by the Spirit, and with one smile scatter all your fears and disquiets."

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Thurs., 6/9/16 Devotion (Isa. 41:10)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 41:10, where we find these great words:

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will streng-then you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

These promises are made to God's church, which is gathered "from the ends of the earth," (v. 9a). Faithful Christians may be fearless for only *one* rea-son: because Christ is with them. The true believer may be encouraged and strengthened—not because of some native ability or pretended righteousness or virtue—but only because the Lord is his (or her) God.

There is no hope, happiness, strength, life, or purpose outside of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us trust in His promises; and love Him with our whole hearts.

[Puritan quote of the day: "To suppose mercy without supposing misery, or pity without calamity, is a contradiction; therefore men cannot look upon themselves as proper acts of mercy unless they first know themselves to be miserable.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "Pardon for the Greatest Sinners"]

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Wed., 6/8/16 Devotion (Deut. 12:30b-31a)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 12:30b & 31a, where we read these words:

" . . . do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way . . . "

This is a very "relevant" Scripture (above), because many (if not most) religi-ous organizations today *do* the very thing we are told not to do (here). They look at the sinful, idol-worshipping world and society in which we live, and they ask, "How do the people worship their gods? Let's design our services around their ways, so as to be 'relevant'."

Once an alleged church sets out to be "relevant" to the culture, that entity has instantly become "irrelevant," (especially to God Himself). We are to look to heaven, and get our instructions from above; rather than looking to earth, to do as all the rest of the heathen. A faithful church sets the standard for the culture, and invites sinners to come up to a life of dignity and worth (in Jesus).

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a greater mercy to descend from praying pare-nts than from the loins of nobles.” —John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Provi-dence"]

Monday, June 6, 2016

Mon., 6/6/16 Devotion (Isa. 38:17)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 38:17, wherein we find these lovely words:

"Indeed it was for my own peace that I had great bitterness; but You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back."

This is part of the prayer of King Hezekiah, after God had graciously promis-ed to extend his life. Oftentimes it is only through "great bitterness" that we experience, in this life, the benefits of resurrection living ("delivering my soul from the pit"). It is also the means, often, by which we feelingly recognize the blessings of forgiveness ("You have cast all my sins behind Your back").

Let us not be discouraged, even if we are going through bitter times. Instead, let us look to the advantages that will accrue to us as we (by grace) remain faithful—as we keep our eyes focused on Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Do we think it too much boldness for such sinners as we to come for pardon? . . . Surely this is a sinful modesty. To be afraid to come to God in prayer is a dishonor to Christ's intercession.” —Thomas Wat-son, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Friday, June 3, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/3-5/16 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday! In order to help us get ready for church, here is Puritan Pastor Richard Sibbes, from his "The Bruised Reed" book. . . .

"To determine whether we are this smoking flax which Christ will not quench, we must remember these rules:

"We must have two eyes, one to see imperfections in ourselves and others, the other to see what is good. . . . Those who are given to quarrelling with themselves always lack comfort, and through their infirmities they are prone to feed on such bitter things as will most nourish that disease which troubles them. These delight to be looking on the dark side of the cloud only.

"We must not judge of ourselves always according to present feeling, for in temptations we shall see nothing but smoke of distrustful thoughts. Fire may be raked up in the ashes, though not seen. Life in the winter is hid in the root.

"We must beware of false reasoning, such as: because our fire does not blaze out as others, therefore we have no fire at all. By false conclusions we may come to sin against the commandment in bearing false witness against ourselves. The Prodigal would not say he was no son, but that he was not worthy to be called a son, (Luke 15:19). We must neither trust to false evi-dence, nor deny true; for so we should dishonor the work of God's Spirit in us, and lose the help of that evidence which would cherish our love to Christ, and arm us against Satan's discouragements. Some are as faulty in this way as if they had been hired by Satan, the 'accuser of the brethren,' (Rev. 12:10), to plead for him in accusing themselves."

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Thurs., 6/2/16 Devotion (Deut. 6:4-5)

Today's encouragement comes from the wonderful words of Deuteronomy 6:4 & 5, which say this:

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength."

As there is but one God (in Three Persons), so we are to have but one great Object of our love, manifesting our affections in the three capacities (of heart, soul, and strength). Love is the principle thing in the true religion (assuming faith and its resultant humility). It is actually harder to be a genuine God-lover, than it is to be a religious fanatic. It takes a miraculous work of saving grace in our souls.

Let us ask for and attain a fresh stock of grace from Jesus today—with the goal of loving God better than we have before. This request is gladly answer-ed by our Lord.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It never came into God's thoughts to make a new covenant upon terms of worthiness. If God should show mercy to none but such as are worthy, then must He show mercy to none.” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Wed., 6/1/16 Devotion (Isa. 33:14a)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 33:14a, where we read these words:

"The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness has seized the hypocrites . . . "

The context of the phrase (above) is that the Old Covenant church would be tested and tried in the furnace of affliction. The sincere believers would sub-mit to this, and would come out more purified. The unbelieving hypocrites—who were still in the outward covenant—would *not* do well at all. They would be fearful; and they would prove to be false.

True Christians oftentimes also experience fear; but we are able, by grace, to undergo God's "proving grounds." A hypocrite will never willingly suffer any-thing for the Lord or the true religion. Real believers—though not enjoying it—are always, in the end, willing to do whatever their Savior requires of them.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who belongs to the Jerusalem above speaks the language of Canaan.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godli-ness"]