Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wed., 8/31/16 Devotion (Ps. 39:7)

Today's encouragement comes from the words of Psalm 39:7, which say this:

"And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You."

In vv. 4-6, David had surveyed his life, and determined that there was not really that much to it, especially time-frame-wise. Now, it is as if he says to God, "In light of the brevity of my existence, what does it all amount to? What am I here for—especially for the years that remain?" And David's answer, ap-propriately, is, "I am here for You, Lord. You are the only One I hope in."

What do we "wait for"? If it is anything less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself we are wasting our lives, and our days. Let us put our hope in Him. Let us "wait" for Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "True [gospel] mourning begins in the love of God, and ends in the hatred of sin.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Beatitudes"]

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Tues., 8/30/16 Devotion (1 Sam. 23:14)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 23:14, where we read these words:

"And David stayed in strongholds in the wilderness, and remained in the mountains in the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand."

The devil, and God's enemies seek the Lord's true churchmen "every day"; but thankfully, our Father does not allow us to be delivered into their hands. There are times when it is appropriate for us to hide in God's "strongholds"; and there are other times when we have to go on the offensive, and put the devil to flight (cf. Jas. 4:7).

In any case, there is never a permanent reprieve from this spiritual dynamic down here. All the time, we are to be watchful and diligent—knowing that Jesus is our Eternal (and temporal) Refuge.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The fragrance of the graces of God's Spirit in His people, which is delightful to God and His saints, puts wicked men into a rage.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Monday, August 29, 2016

Mon., 8/29/16 Devotion (1 Sam. 22:23)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 22:23, where we read these words (of David):

"Stay with me; do not fear. For he who seeks my life seeks your life, but with me you shall be safe."

The Lord Jesus might say these same words to all His sincere churchmen. We live in a dangerous world—surrounded by many perils and fears. But there is no need to be discouraged, nor afraid, so long as we are with the King. He protects His Own.

As we stray from our Redeemer, we increase our uncertainly and confusion. As we abide with Christ, by faith, we enjoy His sweet presence, and we ex-perience many seasons of comfort and joy, (though sometimes with hardship and difficulty).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Godly sorrow shows itself to be ingenuous be-cause when a Christian knows that he is out of the gun-shot of hell and shall never be damned, yet still he grieves for sinning against that free grace which has pardoned him.” —Thomas Watson, in "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Friday, August 26, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/26-28/16 Devotion

Praise God—it is almost Sunday! We get to go back to church again! To help prepare us for the Lord’s Day, here is Thomas Watson, on God's Mercy, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book:

"Mercy coming to us in a covenant is sweetest. It was mercy that God would give Israel rain, and bread to the full, and peace, and victory over their ene-mies, (Lev 26:4-6)—but it was a greater mercy that God would be their God, (v. 12). To have health is a mercy, but to have Christ and salvation is a great-er mercy. It is like the diamond in the ring, which casts a more sparkling lustre. . . .

"All the mercy in the creature is derived from God, and is but a drop of this ocean. The mercy and pity a mother has to her child is from God. God is call-ed, 'The Father of mercies,' because He begets all the mercies in the world, (2 Cor 1:3). If God has put any kindness into the creature, how much kind-ness is in Him who is the Father of mercy!

"As God's mercy makes the saints happy, so it should make them humble. Mercy is not the fruit of our goodness, but the fruit of God's goodness. Mercy is an alms that God bestows. They have no cause to be proud that live upon the alms of God's mercy. 'If I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head,' (Job 10:15): 'All my righteousness is the effect of God's mercy, therefore I will be humble and will not lift up my head.' "

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thurs., 8/25/16 Devotion (Rom. 15:13)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 15:13, where we read these words:

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

This sweet verse (above) ought to encourage all of us, today. Note that it is "in believing" that we receive the blessings of joy and peace from the "God of hope." It is not in doing, trying, or striving that we benefit from these heavenly things—but rather in "believing."

Let all of us who by God’s grace have put our faith in Jesus, and who are joined to Him in His church "abound in hope." We are the only ones on earth who have any reason to have any hope at all; and we are to flourish in it. Hope in Christ will never disappoint. Let us fully trust in Him this day.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you would regain a comfortable assurance of God's love, keep a holy and conscientious care to live in grace throughout the course of your lives.” —Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wed., 8/24/16 Devotion (Ps. 32:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 32:1, where we read these words:

"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered."

If sins are covered—and they can only be atoned for by apprehending the benefits of Christ's sacrifice of Himself on the cross, by faith—then a person is truly blessed. If a soul lives in unforgiveness before the Lord, that soul can in no way be truly happy, or at peace—because it lies under the constant and righteous condemnation of a perfectly holy God.

Forgiven people are not perfect people—we continue to sin, while we live here. But the guilt of all our trespasses is forever removed, and our iniquity is not "imputed" to us, (see v. 2). Instead, Christ's perfect righteousness is im-puted to us. Who are these amazingly-blessed people? Believing Christian churchmen—who do not trust in themselves, but in Jesus alone.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We then, who are Christians, having made a vow to Christ in baptism, and so often renewed it in the blessed sacrament [of the Lord's Supper], should, with much contentment, choose rather to suffer than violate our sacred oath.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Content-ment"]

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tues., 8/16/16 Devotion (Jer. 44:18)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 44:18, where we read these words:

"But since we stopped burning incense to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consum-ed by the sword and by famine."

A major reason people commit idolatry is because of a serious misunder-standing of the source of blessing. Jeremiah had condemned this idolatrous worship of Ishtar, "the queen of heaven”—but the people would not risk the truth of the prophet's words, as over against an alleged stock of provision (coming from the worship of the false goddess).

It is always wiser for us to choose to worship the true God (through Christ alone), and to get by with hardly anything, and end up with Jesus and in heaven—than to commit idolatry, have our "needs" met, and end up in hell.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The happiness of angels as well as of men con-sists very much in beholding the glory of God.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Wisdom of God"]

Monday, August 15, 2016

Mon., 8/15/16 Devotion (Rom. 5:3-5)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 5:3-5, where Paul wrote these words:

"And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

"Glory in tribulations"? Is the apostle Paul saying this just to put a "spiritual" spin on the believers' hardships? No. The maturing churchman comes to re-cognize the peculiar value of trials and difficulties—especially when the end result is realized—which is hope rooted in Jesus, anointed with God’s love.

Let us be good stewards of the heart-shaking troubles that come into our souls. Let us recognize that the faithful Christian cannot be hurt by them; and let us ask God to use them for our good.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God chooses broken vessels to pour comfort into that they may diffuse it unto others.” —Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Friday, August 12, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/12-14/16 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday again. Lord-willing, we will be *able* to be in church in a few days. In order to help us get ready, here is the eminent Puri-tan pastor Richard Sibbes, from his, "The Bruised Reed" book. . . .


"Christ has conquered all in His own person first, and He is 'over all, God blessed for ever,' (Rom. 9:5); and therefore over sin, death, hell, Satan and the world. And, as He has overcome them in Himself, so He overcomes them in our hearts and consciences. We commonly say that conscience makes a man kingly or contemptible, because it is planted in us to judge for God, either with us or against us. Now if natural conscience be so forcible, what will it be when, besides its own light, it has the light of divine truth put into it? It will undoubtedly prevail, either to make us hold up our heads with boldness or abase us beneath ourselves. If it subjects itself, by grace, to Christ's truth, then it boldly faces death, hell, judgment and all spiritual enemies, because then Christ sets up His kingdom in the conscience and makes it a kind of paradise.

"The sharpest conflict which the soul has is between the conscience and God's justice. Now if the conscience, sprinkled with the blood of Christ, has prevailed over assaults fetched from the justice of God, now satisfied by Christ, it will prevail over all other opposition whatsoever."

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Thurs., 8/11/16 Devotion (Rom. 1:17a, 18a)

Today's encouragement comes from Paul's words, as they are found in Ro-mans 1:17a & 18a:

"For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith
. . . For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men . . . "

Notice that God makes two "revelations" here, both within the space of only two verses. The first is His "righteousness"; and the second is His "wrath." The righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel (and its elect recipients); and it is received and lived-in by faith. The wrath of God is revealed to the en-tire world; and is manifest in the consciences of all human beings.

The only difference between those who receive the righteousness of God and the wrath of God is faith in Jesus. "The just live by faith," (Rom. 1:17b); whereas the wicked are "given up to uncleanness," (Rom. 1:24a). What is being revealed to our hearts today: God's righteousness or His wrath?

[Puritan quote of the day: "A good life adorns religion, a good tongue propa-gates it.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godliness"]

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Wed., 8/10/16 Devotion (Acts 28:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 28:6, where these words are found:

"However, they were expecting that [Paul] would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god."

Behold the amazing fickleness of religious man. In v. 4, the natives thought Paul was a murderer. Two verses later, they think he is a god. There is a les-son here: it is the weakness of the flesh to automatically run to wild extremes, in the evaluation of people. The truth is that even the redeemed of the Lord operate in the "middle," "gray area," where our new natures in Christ struggle against our old natures in Adam.

Let us be wary of either exalting or demeaning God's people. Only Christ is 100% perfect in every way.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Zeal quickens the pursuit after glory. Zeal, en-countering difficulty, is emboldened by opposition and tramples upon danger.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Tues., 8/9/16 Devotion (Acts 27:31)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 27:31, where we read these words:

"Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, 'Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.' "

What Paul says (above) regarding the merchant ship he and many others were sailing on, God would say to all professing Christians: "Unless you stay in the ship (of Christ as His church), you cannot be saved." Why would any-body want to "jump ship"? Because of persecution, trial, fiery furnaces of af-fliction, cowardice, etc.

The good ship of Jesus sails over the sea of judgment today, as Noah's ark did in the book of Genesis. Let all God's true children stay faithful in Christ and His church—and enjoy the ride, even when it gets bumpy.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Not one of all [God's] true soldiers was ever left to perish on the field of battle.” —Thomas Jones, in the preface of Isaac Am-brose's, "The Christian Warrior"]

Monday, August 8, 2016

Mon., 8/8/16 Devotion (Acts 26:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Paul's words, as they are found in Acts 26:8:

"Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?"

Authentic Christianity is all about resurrection life, at every turn. The faith of believers is built on the objective historical fact of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. And the current experience of regeneration (resulting in justifi-cation, etc.) is the fruit of the soul's resurrection with Jesus (even now). If we take resurrection out of any aspect of our faith, we have nothing left.

All resurrection (or Spirit-filled) living is miraculous; but, as Paul avers above, it is not impossible, or irrational. What struggles do we have today? Let us, by faith, go to the resurrected Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is not so much the sins we have committed that so provoke and grieve Christ as that we refuse the [medicine] of repentance which He prescribes.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Friday, August 5, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/5-7/16 Devotion

Praise God—it is almost Sunday. We *get* to go back to church. Richard Sib-bes' words are helpful to us, as they come from his excellent "The Bruised Reed" book. . . .

"Christ's Public Triumph

"It is not only said that judgment shall be victorious, but that Christ will bring it forth openly to victory. From this we observe that grace will become glory, and come forth into the sight of all. Now Christ conquers, and achieves His own ends, but He does so to some extent invisibly. His enemies in us and outside us seem to prevail. But He will bring forth judgment unto victory, in full view of all. The wicked that now shut their eyes to this shall see it to their torment. It shall not be in the power of subtle men to see or not see what they wish. Christ will have power over their hearts; and as His wrath shall immediately seize upon their souls against their wills, so will He have power over the eyes of their souls, that they may see and know what will increase their misery. Grief shall be fastened to all their senses, and their senses to grief.

"Then all the false glosses which they put upon things shall be wiped off. Men are desirous to have the reputation of good, and yet the sweetness of ill; no-thing is so cordially opposed by them as that truth which lays them open to themselves and to the eyes of others, their chief care being how to deceive the world and their own consciences. But the time will come when they shall be driven out of this fools' paradise, and the more subtle their manipulation of things has been, the more shall be their shame."

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Thurs., 8/4/16 Devotion (Jer. 32:26-27)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 32:26 & 27, where we read these remarkable words:

"Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, 'Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?' "

What a great comfort this word from God really is. Nothing is “too hard” for the Lord who created all that is, and has re-created the hearts of all the mem-bers of Christ’s true church. What obstacles are we facing today? They surely *are* “too hard” for us, and we should readily-acknowledge that—but they are not “too hard” for our God.

Statements like this one above (from Jeremiah’s prophecy), made by God, remind us never to lose heart, or hope. In Christ, all is well; and everything conspires for His church’s good and growth in grace. Let us rejoice in Jesus today; and thank God that He is so powerful.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God often saves His church by despicable instru-ments. He makes use of rotten rags.” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "Comfort for the Church"]

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Wed., 8/3/16 Devotion (Judg. 17:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Judges 17:3, where we read these words:

"So when he [Micah] had returned the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, his mother said, 'I had wholly dedicated the silver from my hand to the LORD for my son, to make a carved image and a molded image; now therefore, I will return it to you.' "

Now, here is theological confusion at its worst. Micah's mother thinks she is actually doing God a service, by asking her son to make a carved image, (something explicitly prohibited in the 2nd Commandment). On top of this, Micah gets a priest from Bethlehem to be his own "home priest," and expects that God will be pleased with this(!), (see v. 13).

Why all this sad confusion? Because "everyone did what was right in his own eyes," (v. 6b). In those days, this was because there was no king in Israel. Even today, when there are no good clergymen in the churches, the same kinds of heresies and calamities happen.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Conscience is like a bee: If a man does well, it gives honey; if ill, it puts forth a sting.” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "A Plea for the Godly"]

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Tues., 8/2/16 Devotion (Jer. 29:4-5)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 29:4 & 5, where we read these words:

"Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon: 'Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit.’ "

Instead of seeking to destroy the Babylonian culture to which the Judean captives were taken, Jeremiah, under God's direct inspiration, encourages them to build-up the Chaldean society. To many of the captives this instruc-tion must have grated against them: they would rather be terrorists in their enemies' land, than to be assets to it.

The same is true of the church today. We are the only rightful "owners" of the earth, under Jesus—and we are to be a blessing to every community in which we live—even if, for the present, it appears to be under the control of the devil and his minions.

[Puritan quote of the day: "In all the comfortable providences of your lives, eye God as the Author or Donor of them.” —John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Monday, August 1, 2016

Mon., 8/1/16 Devotion (Acts 19:20)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 19:20, where we read these few words:

"So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed."

It is good for both the church and the world, when the word of God grows mightily, and prevails. When the devil is put on the defensive, and the church and gospel advance boldly—real territory is gained, and Christ is glorified.

Let us pray toward this end; and let us live toward this end: that the word of God would grow and prevail. There are only two options: either God's word is advancing, or the world's (devil's) word is making temporary headway. Thank God that we know Christ always has the victory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The Lord has a special eye upon and loves to dwell with these who are of choice and excellent spirits.” —Jeremiah Bur-roughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]