Friday, July 29, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/29-31/16 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday again! We *get* to go to church and worship God! In order to help us get ready, here is the great Puritan pastor Richard Sibbes, from his amazing, "The Bruised Reed" classic. . . .


"When we think of Joseph, Daniel, John the Evangelist, we frame concep-tions of them with delight, as of mild and sweet persons. Much more when we think of Christ, we should conceive of Him as a mirror of all meekness. If the sweetness of all flowers were in one, how sweet must that flower be? In Christ all perfections of mercy and love meet. How great then must that mercy be that lodges in so gracious a heart? Whatever tenderness is scatter-ed in husband, father, brother, head, all is but a beam from Him; it is in Him in the most eminent manner. We are weak, but we are His; we are deformed, but yet carry His image upon us. A father looks not so much at the blemishes of his child as at his own nature in him; so Christ finds matter of love from that which is His own in us. He sees His own nature in us: we are diseased, but yet His members. Whoever neglected his own members because they were sick or weak? None ever hated his own flesh. Can the head forget the mem-bers? Can Christ forget Himself? We are His fullness, as He is ours. He was love itself clothed with man's nature, which He united so near to Himself, that He might communicate His goodness the more freely to us. And He took not our nature when it was at its best, but when it was abased, with all the natural and common infirmities it was subject to.

"Let us therefore abhor all suspicious thoughts, as either cast in or cherished by that damned spirit who, as he labored to divide between the Father and the Son by jealousies, by saying, 'If You be the Son of God' (Matt. 4:6), so his daily study is to divide between the Son and us by breeding false opinions in us of Christ, as if there were not such tender love in Him to such as we are. It was Satan's art from the beginning to discredit God with man, by calling God's love into question with our first father Adam. His success then makes him ready at that weapon still."

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Thurs., 7/28/16 Devotion (Judg. 11:24)

Today's encouragement comes from Judges 11:24, where we read these words:

"Will you not possess whatever Chemosh your god gives you to possess? So whatever the LORD our God takes possession of before us, we will possess."

These are the words of Jephthah (above), as he communicated to the king of Ammon. What he is basically saying is this: "Hey, if you want to worship your false god—go ahead and do so—and receive from it whatever it can deliver to you. But let us play fair: on the same basis *we*, the church in covenant with the True God, will receive good things from Him, the Lord (Yahweh)."

Of course, on these grounds, the unbelieving and idolatrous world is not only at a disadvantage—it is also sure to be defeated (by the One God of the true religion). Even today, let all faithful Christians recognize that the "gates of Ha-des cannot prevail against" Christ's church, (Matt. 16:18).

[Puritan quote of the day: "One word of God can do more than ten thousand words of men to relieve a distressed soul.” —John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tues., 7/26/16 Devotion (Mk. 8:34b-35)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 8:34b & 35, wherein the Lord Jesus said this:

"Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but who-ever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it."

Notice that the key here is the twice-repeated word, "desires." What do we desire? If we desire to follow Jesus, this is good—but it will cost us some-thing. It will cost us our sin, our autonomy, and our false sense of "freedom." We cannot live in Christ, until we die to ourselves. This is very difficult. In fact, aside from sovereign grace, it is impossible.

But, once we do this, we are truly liberated. Jesus will be no man's debtor. If we give Him what we are—He will give us far more than we could ever ima-gine.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Consider that God's mercy and Christ's merits in pardoning the guilt of the sin you have committed are far greater than the greatness of your own guilt.” —Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Monday, July 25, 2016

Mon., 7/25/16 Devotion (Mk. 7:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 7:15, where the Lord Jesus said this:

"There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man."

These words lay out a basic criterion between the true religion and all false religion. False religion is always concerned about externals, first and fore-most, and exclusively. The true religion is concerned about the wicked nature of the heart, and how this issue must be resolved before a Holy God.

False religion is very easy to practice: do a few things, and one can pretend to be in God's good standing. True religion requires sorrow for heart sins, re-pentance, and sincere and saving faith in Jesus Christ, the only Redeemer of God's elect.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a true rule in divinity that the desire for any grace is the grace itself; for to desire to believe is faith, and true desire to re-pent is repentance, and true desire to mourn for sin is mourning for sin.”
—Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Friday, July 22, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/22-24/16 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday! We *get* to go back to church! Here is Rev. Richard Sibbes, the great Puritan pastor, from his, "The Bruised Reed"
book. . . .


"Those that are under Christ's government have the spirit of revelation, whereby they see and feel a divine power sweetly and strongly enabling them to preserve faith when they feel the contrary, and hope in a state which is hopeless, and love to God under signs of His displeasure, and heavenly-mindedness in the midst of worldly affairs and allurements which draw a con-trary way. They feel a power preserving patience, nay joy, in the midst of causes of mourning, inward peace in the midst of assaults. Whence is it that, when assaulted with temptation and compassed with troubles, we have stood firm, but from a secret strength upholding us? To make so little grace so vic-torious over so great a mass of corruption, this requires a spirit more than hu-man. This is like preserving fire in the sea, and a part of heaven even, as it were, in hell. Here we know where to obtain this power, and to Whom to re-turn the praise of it. And it is our happiness that it is so safely hid in Christ for His, in one so near to God and us.

"Since the fall, God will not trust us with our own salvation, but it is both pur-chased and kept by Christ for us, and we for it through faith, wrought by the power of God, which we lay hold of. This power is gloriously set forth by Paul: it is (1) a great power; (2) an exceeding power; (3) a working and a mighty power; (4) such a power as was wrought in raising Christ from the dead (Eph. 1:19, 20). That grace which is but a persuasive offer and in our power to re-ceive or refuse is not the grace which brings us to heaven. But God's people feel a powerful work of the Spirit, not only revealing to us our misery and de-liverance through Christ, but emptying us of ourselves, as being redeemed from ourselves, and infusing new life into us, and afterwards strengthening us and quickening us when we droop and hang the wing, never leaving us till the conquest is perfect."

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Thurs., 7/21/16 Devotion (Acts 8:35)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 8:35, where these words are spok-en of Philip, with regard to the Ethiopian eunuch:

"Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him."

Anywhere we turn in our Bibles we find, ultimately, the very same message: it is that the Son of God would be/is incarnated, crucified, resurrected, and glor-ified. Some texts, like the Isaiah passage that Philip expounded to the Ethio-pian, are more specific than others—but every jot and tittle of the OT, and every Greek letter of the NT speaks of Jesus.

Let this inform us as we study the Scriptures, and when we share its truth with others. If we do not "preach Jesus to [them]," we are doing them no ser-vice at all.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The love of Christ for the elect is so great that God the Father looks upon it proper and suitable to account Christ and the elect as one, and accordingly to account what Christ does and suffers as if they did it and suffered it.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "The Wisdom of God"]

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wed., 7/20/16 Devotion (Jer. 16:19)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 16:19, where we read these words:

"O LORD, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come to You from the ends of the earth and say, 'Surely our fathers have inherited lies, worthlessness and unprofitable things.' "

Things were not going particularly well for Jeremiah, and certainly not for his countrymen. Still, the prophet found comfort and courage in his God. On top of this, he drew strength from the fact that though his generation was not very good—there would indeed be a people arising in God's time who would cling to The Christ and His gospel of grace.

Let all God's sincere churchmen—be we clergy or laity—trust in the Lord, and persevere, knowing that nothing done from genuine faith in Jesus is insignifi-cant or vain, (cf. 1 Cor. 15:58).

[Puritan quote of the day: "But now Christ does that which we could not do, that is, fulfill the law for us. And He also does that which the law could not do, which was justify us.” —Obadiah Grew, in, "The Lord our Righteousness"]

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Tues., 7/19/16 Devotion (Mk. 1:35/Acts 6:4)

Today's encouragement comes from an interesting collation of two verses: Mark 1:35, and Acts 6:4. They say this:

"Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, [Jesus] went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. . . . But we [the apostles] will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word."

Both our Lord Jesus Christ, and (later) His apostles put their priority on prayer and the preaching of the Word [gospel] of God. Everything else in the ministry would have to be either done by others (viz. the deacons, as in Acts 6); or it would simply have to wait until a convenient time.

After Christ rose from prayer, He announced that it was for the purpose of preaching He had come forth from God (Mk. 1:38). The same thing could be said of the apostles. While others served the tables, they served up the meal of The Lord Jesus Christ, as He is spread before the church in preaching.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When the times are troublesome, [a] good consci-ence makes it calm. If the conscience is clear, so what if the days are cloudy?” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Monday, July 18, 2016

Mon., 7/18/16 Devotion (Acts 5:38-39)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 5:38 & 39, where we read these words:

"And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God."

Gamaliel, a highly-respected first-century rabbi, made this astute observation (above). He was absolutely right. When it comes to religion and the spiritual life—anything man-made is bound to fail. There is little sense in even giving it much of our time or attention. But, what is of (or from) God *is* of absolute importance. What the Lord does, cannot fail.

Let us be found fighting "alongside" God, as Christ’s faithful churchmen. If we do not do this, we will be exposed as fighting *against* God—and who could ever hope to overthrow Him, or His work?

[Puritan quote of the day: "A godly man has many signal experiences of God's favor to him, and experience breeds hope.” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Sacred Anchor"]

Friday, July 15, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/15-17/16 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it is almost Sunday! In order to get us ready for the church's worship of God, on the Lord's Day (Sunday), here is the amazing Thomas Watson, from his "A Divine Cordial" book:

"If it be God's purpose that saves, then it is not free will. The Pelagians are strenuous asserters of free will. They tell us that a man has an innate power to effect his own conversion; but this text [Eph. 1:11] confutes it. Our calling is 'according to God's purpose.' The Scripture plucks up the root of free will: 'It is not of him that wills,' (Rom. 9:16). All depends upon the purpose of God. When the prisoner is cast [bound] at the bar, there is no saving him, unless the king has a purpose to save him. God's purpose is His prerogative royal.

"If it is God's purpose that saves, then it is not merit. Bellarmine [pope’s man] holds that good works do expiate sin and merit glory; but the text says that we are called according to God's purpose, and there is a parallel Scripture: 'Who has saved us, and called us, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace,' (2 Tim. 1:9). There is no such thing as merit. Our best works have in them both defection and infection, and so are but glittering sins; therefore if we are called and justified, it is God's purpose that brings it to pass."

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Thurs., 7/14/16 Devotion (Josh. 21:45)

Today's encouragement comes from Joshua 21:45, where we read these neat words:

"Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass."

God’s word's track record is 100%. When the Lord makes a promise to His children, He keeps it. In Jesus, the church has the complete fulfillment of the final and ultimate promise of God, (see 2 Cor. 1:20). Everything that we su-premely need and want is to be found in Christ (alone). Just as God delivered the Israelites into the promised land of Canaan, and gave it to them—so He has translated His redeemed church from sin, and into His Son.

What subordinate things do we need today? Let us go ahead and ask God for them. So long as we belong to the Savior, our Father is more than pleased to show us all His faithfulness.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Shall man be proud after God has been humble?” —Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wed., 7/13/16 Devotion (Jer. 9:23-24)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 9:23 & 24, where these great words are found:

"Thus says the LORD: 'Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,' says the LORD."

What do *we* "glory in"? God created us to enjoy and revel in a Reality so great, wonderful, and worthy, that there would be no danger of it leading us into pride or idolatry. That Reality, of course, is the Triune God Himself. There is nothing wrong with delighting in subordinate blessings, like wisdom, might, or even riches—so long as our #1 pleasure is Christ the Lord.

Do we "understand and know" the true God? If so, then we have good cause to "glory."

[Puritan quote of the day: "Unless your restraint of sin extends to inward and bosom sins as well as to open and notorious crimes, you cannot conclude that the power of mortifying grace is upon your heart.” —Christopher Love, in, "The Mortified Christian"]

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tues., 7/12/16 Devotion (Matt. 22:29)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 22:29, where we read these words:

"Jesus answered and said to them, 'You are mistaken, not knowing the Scrip-tures nor the power of God.' "

One sure way for anyone to be in error, or to be mistaken, is by not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. The greatest truths are all too wonder-ful, to be apprehended by "reason" alone. How would we know that God saves sinners by the atonement achieved by His Son; or how would we know that God is Trinity—were it not for the special revelation of the Scriptures?

Ignorance is *not* bliss—instead, it is a sure road to perdition and misery. Let us who know Christ, seek to become more acquainted with Him: in His church, through the doctrines found in His written word.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A man may think himself into hell. What were the apostate angels damned for, was it for any more than proud thoughts?”
—Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godliness"]

Monday, July 11, 2016

Mon., 7/11/16 Devotion (Ps. 146:5, 9b)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 146:5 & 9b, where we find this remarkable contrast:

"Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God . . . But the way of the wicked [God] turns upside down."

According to these verses, God-lovers are happy; and God-haters are miser-able. Why, then, does it often seem to be the other way around? This is be-cause sometimes God allows the wicked to prosper, and the righteous to suffer. But the end result is to "fatten" the godless for slaughter; and to hum-ble the godly, so that they can be made joyful.

If the "God of Jacob" is *our* God, then we, like Jacob, will go through tough times—but we will also be supremely and supernaturally happy in Jesus, by grace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "No man can feel sin but by grace. A wicked man is insensible. Lay a hundred pound weight upon a dead man, he does not com-plain; but being sensible of corruption, argues a gracious principle.” —Thom-as Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Friday, July 8, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/8-10/16 Devotion

Yes—it is almost Sunday!  Here is Thomas Watson, from his "A Body of Di-vinity" book, to help us get ready for church. . . .

"What shall we do to attain this blessed peace?

"1. Let us ask it of God. He is the God of peace; He beats back the roaring lion; He stills the raging of conscience. If we could call all the angels out of heaven, they could not speak peace without God. The stars cannot make day without the sun. None can make day in a dark deserted soul, but the Sun of Righteousness. . . .

"2. If you would have peace, make war with sin. Sin is the Achan that troubles us, the Trojan horse. What peace, so long as sin remains unmortified? 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 maintain-ing a war with sin. . . .

"3. 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 du-ties. 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 pacified God, must pacify conscience. Christ's blood being applied by faith, gives peace. 'Being justified by faith, we have peace with God,' (Rom 5:1). No balm to cure a wounded conscience, but the blood of Christ."

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Thurs., 7/7/16 Devotion (Matt. 17:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 17:8, where we read these words:

"When they [the three disciples] had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only."

The account above is in reference to Christ's transfiguration on the mountain—when Moses and Elijah joined the Savior and the three apostles (Peter, James, and John). After the encounter with the heroes of the Old Covenant church (Moses and Elijah), the three disciples saw "no one but Jesus only."

Why? Because everything Moses and Elijah did and wrote pointed directly and only to Jesus. And, in comparison with the Messiah, Moses and Elijah were "small potatoes." Let all faithful churchmen look to Christ alone for their souls' help and salvation. No one else can do what He alone is capable of doing.

[Puritan quote of the day: "In a word, as Christ's Person excels your person, so His obedience infinitely exceeds your disobedience.” —Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Wed., 7/6/16 Devotion (Matt. 16:12)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 16:12, where our Redeemer uttered these words:

"Then [the disciples] understood that [Jesus] did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

The doctrine of both modern-day Pharisees *and* Sadducees is to be reject-ed by the true church of Christ. The hyper-conservative Pharisees, being driven by fear, exalt self, family, the Bible as a dead letter, and tradition over Christ, the church, and the gospel. The hyper-liberal Sadducees, motivated by position, exalt self, the state, prestige, and money over the same truths and graces of God. The basic commonality that Pharisees and Sadducees share is their utter (and usually secret) hatred of Jesus, and His redeemed people.

Let us not be fooled by religion. All hypocrites (of whatever stripe) have an agenda of heresy. Let us love, and cling to Christ alone; and “beware" of the "doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

[Puritan quote of the day: "The more love a Christian receives from God, the more he sees himself a debtor to free grace, and the sense of his debt keeps his heart humble . . . “ —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Tues., 7/5/16 Devotion (Ps. 138:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 138:3, which finds David saying this:

"In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul."

Strength of soul is infinitely more important than strength of body. Most peo-ple are more concerned about their bodies, which, though of great worth, are not nearly as valuable as their souls. The way to get healthy souls is by crying out to God, in prayer, in and through the merits of Jesus Christ. Boldness re-sults. Now, instead of pampering our bodies, in an idolatrous way—we benefit both our souls *and* our bodies, in holy love for God.

Let us call out to God today. If we come to Him through Christ alone He will not turn away our persons, since He treasures all those who love His Son.

[Puritan quote of the day: "As a thundering storm sours the beer in our cel-lars, so, when God thunders upon the conscience, it will sour and embitter sin to a man so that he has no desires after it for the present.” —Christopher Love, in, "The Mortified Christian"]

Friday, July 1, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/1-3/16 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday, the Lord's Day, the best day of the week! In or-der to help us get ready for church worship, here is Thomas Watson, from "A Body of Divinity":

"If there be one God subsisting in three Persons, then let us give equal rev-erence to all the Persons in the Trinity. There is not more or less in the Trinity; the Father is not more God than the Son and Holy Spirit. There is an order in the Godhead, but no degrees. One Person has not a majority or superemin-ence above another, therefore we must give equal worship to all the Persons. 'That all men should honor the Son even as they honou the Father,' (John 5:23). Adore Unity in Trinity.

"Obey all the Persons in the Blessed Trinity; for all of them are God. Obey God the Father. Christ Himself, as man, obeyed God the Father, (John 4:34), much more must we, (Deut. 27:10).

"Obey God the Son. 'Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,' (Psa. 2:12). Kiss Him with a kiss of obedience. Christ's commands are not grievous, (1 John 5:3). Whatever He commands is for our interest and benefit. Oh then kiss the Son! Why do the elders throw down their crowns at the feet of Christ, and fall down before the Lamb, (Rev. 4:10, 11)? To testify their subjection, and to profess their readiness to serve and obey Him.

"Obey God the Holy Spirit. Our souls are breathed into us by the glorious Spirit. 'The Spirit of God has made me,’ (Job 33:4). Our souls are adorned by the Blessed Spirit. Every grace is a divine spark lighted in the soul by the Holy Spirit. Nay, more, the Spirit of God sanctified Christ’s human nature; He united it with the divine, and fitted the man Christ to be our Mediator. Well then does this Third Person in the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, deserve to be obey-ed; for He is God, and this tribute of homage and obedience is due to Him from us."