Friday, September 30, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/30-10/2/16 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it is almost Sunday! In order to help us get ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, on God's Mercy, from his wonderful "A Body of Divinity" book. . . .

"We are to look upon God in prayer, not in His judgement robes, but clothed with a rainbow full of mercy and clemency. Add wings to prayer. When Jesus Christ ascended up to heaven, that which made Him go up there with joy was, 'I go to My Father’—so that which should make our hearts ascend with joy in prayer, is, 'We are going to the Father of mercy, who sits upon the throne of grace.' Go with confidence in this mercy; as when one goes to a fire, not doubtingly, saying, 'perhaps it will warm me, perhaps not.'

"Believe in God's mercy. 'I will trust in the mercy of God for ever,' (Psa. 52:8). God's mercy is a fountain opened. Let down the bucket of faith and you may drink of this fountain of salvation. What greater encouragement to believe than God's mercy? God counts it His glory to be scattering pardons; He is de-sirous that sinners should touch the golden sceptre of His mercy and live."

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thurs., 9/29/16 Devotion (Gal. 5:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Galatians 5:1, where we read these great words:

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage."

Every day when we wake up we are faced with an array of forces that are dead-set on robbing us of our joy in Christ. First among them is our own flesh, which continues to desire to have a right standing with God independently of Jesus' blood atonement. On top of this, there is the world of works-religion, which preaches law to us, and insists that we be enslaved by rules (just like they are).

It takes courage, determination, and intentionality *not* to be swept away with the rest of the world, which is in bondage to its own "righteousness." Let all faith-redeemed churchmen trust, not in themselves, but in Jesus only. Let us reaffirm our liberty in Christ today, by faith.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The devil is the most sullen spirit there is, and yet the most proud.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wed., 9/28/16 Devotion (2 Sam. 24:14)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Samuel 24:14, where we read these words:

"And David said to Gad [the prophet], 'I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall in-to the hand of man.' "

When faced with the options of dealing directly with God, or with man, David chose God. Why? Because he knew the Lord to be gracious and merciful. Al-so, he knew that man can be cruel and brutal. What an enlightened perspec-tive! Today, most sinners imagine themselves to be good, fair, and even-handed; while they think God is mean and unreasonable.

Actually, the exact opposite is the case. The Lord is good; He is slow to an-ger, and abounding in lovingkindnesses. Sinners, on the other hand, are vi-cious and unjust. Let us today—just like David—cast ourselves on *God's* mercy, trusting in Jesus, and not in man.

[Puritan quote of the day: "That sin is worse than affliction is evident because the greatest judgment God lays upon a man in this life is to let him sin without control.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tues., 9/27/16 Devotion (Ps. 78:38a, 39a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 78, verses 38a & 39a, where we read these words:

"But [God], being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity . . . For He remem-bered that they were but flesh . . . "

Behold the amazing mercy and forbearance of God. In Ps. 78, the Lord's con-tinued kindnesses to a stubborn and rebellious people are rehearsed over and over. So it is true today: Christ's New Covenant church is also made up of people who are saints and yet still sinners. We need the grace and kind-ness of our Heavenly Father every day.

Believers are also able to emulate their Lord: whereas God sees us as "but flesh”—let us remember that our fellow brothers and sisters in the church are also "but flesh," even as we are, as well. This should make us sympathetic to-ward one another; and it should arrest our tendency to be harsh with each an-other.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The Lord expects praise wherever you have com-fort.” —John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Monday, September 26, 2016

Mon., 9/26/16 Devotion (Gal. 2:21)

Today's encouragement comes from Galatians 2:21, where we read these great words:

"I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."

The Apostle Paul was adamant about not giving in on the gospel of grace. Like us, he felt the pressure to compromise the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ—but he refused to do so. There is always a tendency in all of us to resort back to works, or law, as the means of our seeking a right standing with God. But this is to lose Jesus altogether; and to commit the most heinous spiritual crime against God—The One who saves His church by Christ's blood atonement alone, received by faith alone.

The church in Galatia temporarily caved-into the Judaizers of their day. Many in our time are doing the same thing. Let us continue to cling to Jesus, by faith—and hence, be His faithful church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Surely it is best for you which Providence has ap-pointed, and one day you yourselves will judge it so to be.” —John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Friday, September 23, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/23-25/16 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday! We *get* to go back to church again. In order to help get us ready, here is 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, eith-er 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, September 22, 2016

Thurs., 9/22/16 Devotion (2 Sam. 18:9b)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Samuel 18:9b, where we read these words:

" . . . so he [Absalom] was left hanging between heaven and earth."

When our Lord Jesus Christ was on the cross, bearing the sins of all the elect church from all time, He hung, as it were, "between heaven and earth." He bridged the infinite gap between a holy God and sinful men. The regenerate churchman, who struggles through the process of sanctification, also, in a sense, is suspended "between heaven and earth." Our old flesh nature is at war with our new Christ nature.

Where are the eyes of our hearts focused, today? If they are on the things of the world, we will naturally gravitate there. If they are on Jesus, we will, by grace, soar aloft (in our souls).

[Puritan quote of the day: "In His last sufferings, Christ sapped the very foun-dations of Satan's kingdom. He conquered His enemies in their own territor-ies, and beat them with their own weapons, as David cut off Goliath's head with his own sword.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Excellency of Christ"]

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wed., 9/21/16 Devotion (2 Cor. 10:4-6)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 10:4-6, where Paul wrote these astonishing words:

"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled."

Behold the armament of the church and the pastoral ministry. Paul's oppo-nents had corrupted the Corinthian congregation; and now the apostle brings out the “heavy artillery,” as he annihilates the work of the devil, and re-estab-lishes and furthers the cause of Christ.

Let all true believers remember this: discipleship begins in the church; but it does not stop there. By grace, the Corinthian Christians would eventually join with Paul and expunge the evil from their midst.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Moderate sorrow differs from immoderate sorrow in this: true sorrow stirs up holy endeavors to act in your place and calling for the deliverance of the church.” —Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tues., 9/20/16 Devotion (2 Cor. 9:8)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 9:8, where Paul wrote these words:

"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always hav-ing all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work."

This promise is made to the cheerful, generous Christian giver. Note how grace encompasses even the issues of money, and things. And see as well that God is not stingy, nor miserly with His church children. Instead, He is lavish and bountiful with us—so that we might be in a good position to con-tinually bless others in need.

The divine "pipeline" is full. The only thing that "clogs" it is our sin. Let us live in the fullness of Christ today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "What is the heavenly treasure the worse for being brought in an earthen vessel or the better when handed to us by an angel?” —Ralph Venning, in his sermon, "The New Commandment Renewed"]

Monday, September 19, 2016

Mon., 9/19/16 Devotion (2 Sam. 15:25-26)

Today's encouragement comes from David's words, as they are found in 2 Samuel 15:25 & 26:

"Then the king [David] said to Zadok, 'Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, He will bring me back and show me both it and His dwelling place.' "

David's attitude is a good one. He was suffering the consequences of his (forgiven) sin, as Absalom was in the process of usurping his throne. David had enough faith to believe that the ark should remain in Jerusalem, even though he (David) had to leave that city. He had enough humility to accept from the Lord whatever He would decree: either exile and death, or rein-statement and life.

Let us also have this perspective on life: not holding on too tightly to any of God's blessings; while clinging for dear life to the Lord Jesus Himself.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When Christians are more inquiring after privileges than inquiring after their duty, it is just with God to keep their comfort from them.” —Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Friday, September 16, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/16-18/16 Devotion

Wahoo—Sunday is almost here! In order to help prepare us for church, here are some good words from Thomas Watson, from his, "All Things for Good" masterpiece:

"See then what an encouragement here is to become godly. All things shall work for good. Oh, that this may induce the world to fall in love with [the true] religion! Can there be a greater [magnet] to piety? Can anything more prevail with us to be good, than this; all things shall work for our good? [True] Reli-gion is the true philosopher’s stone that turns everything into gold. Take the sourest part of religion, the suffering part, and there is comfort in it. God sweetens suffering with joy; He candies our wormwood with sugar. Oh, how may this bribe us to godliness! 'Acquaint now yourself with God, and be at peace; thereby good shall come to you,' (Job 22:21). No man did ever come off a loser by his acquaintance with God. By this, good shall come unto you, abundance of good, the sweet distillations of grace, the hidden manna, yes, everything shall work for good. Oh, then get acquaintance with God, espouse His interest."

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Thurs., 9/15/16 Devotion (Ps. 63:2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 63:2, where David wrote these words:

"So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory."

David penned these words while he was stuck in the wilderness of Judah—separated from the Lord's tabernacle in Jerusalem. Even from the dry desert of desolation and isolation, David craved to be in his God's blessed presence.

When we are cut off from the Lord's ordinary means of grace which we would enjoy in the church (house/tabernacle) of God, let us still resort to His pres-ence in the "sanctuary of our hearts"; and let us long for and look forward to those glorious days of sweet communion with the saints, as we gather for Sunday's church worship services.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[God's] ways are secret, but always just. God is most in His way when we think He is out of His way.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godliness"]

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wed., 9/14/16 Devotion (2 Cor. 3:5-6a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 3:5 & 6a, where Paul wrote these words:

"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant . . . "

What has God given us to do, in this life? Are we content with this assign-ment? Is it a bit "less glamorous" than we would have desired? The sufficient Lord supplies His saints with all the resources we need, in order to fulfill our God-given roles on earth. Especially the church's ministry itself, which cannot be done in the flesh without great shame—is totally dependent upon the grace of Christ.

Let us not be discouraged, if we are faithful (by grace) in our spheres. Let us thank God that He has equipped us, and honored us with His seal of love.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The Son is the fullness of God, and the church is the fullness of the Son of God.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Glory of God"]

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tues., 9/13/16 Devotion (Ezek. 16:63b)

Today's encouragement comes from Ezekiel 16:63b, where we read these amazing words:

" ' . . . when I provide you an atonement for all you have done,' says the Lord GOD."

These words mark the end of the otherwise-quite-lurid ch. 16 of Ezekiel. Just when all seemed lost and hopeless, and even after God had detailed His con-demnation of Judah's idolatry and iniquity—here comes the good news of atonement.

Why would the Lord provide His people of old, or His church of today atone-ment, (and resulting remission of sins)? Is it not because of His love for His elect, secured from all eternity, in His gracious decrees—that culminate in Jesus’ cross and resurrection? The redeemed of the Lord *deserve* judg-ment, hell, and wrath; but, in Christ, we *get* forgiveness, adoption, and sanctification. Let the faithful church love this great God today; and may we live for Him with sincerity and zeal.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Providence has ordered that condition for you which is really best for your eternal good.” —John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Monday, September 12, 2016

Mon., 9/12/16 Devotion (2 Cor. 1:24c)

Today's encouragement comes from the few words of 2 Corinthians 1:24c, which say this:

" . . . for by faith you stand."

When it is all said and done, the entire life of the true religion revolves around the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ—Who is known by us through faith alone. This is why Paul could write to the rebellious and proud Corinthian believers, and say that "by faith [they] stand."

A lot of times in religion the emphasis is put on all kinds of other things, like, “I am going to be sure to obey everything the Bible says"; or, “I am going to try real hard to be a good Christian." These statements may have their place—but they do not amount to anything devoid of the life of Christ flowing through us by faith. This is why the little believing baptized child stands infinitely taller than the proud pharisee (in the eyes of God).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Can the soul be sad while God is with it?” —John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Friday, September 9, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/9-11/16 Devotion

Yippee—it is almost Sunday. In order to encourage us in our faith walk, here is Thomas Watson, from his book, "A Divine Cordial":

"God's purpose is the ground of assurance.

"Here is a sovereign elixir [medicine] of unspeakable comfort to those who are the called of God. Their salvation rests upon God's purpose. 'The foun-dation of God stands sure, having this seal. The Lord knows those that are His. And, let everyone that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity,' (2 Tim. 2:19). Our graces are imperfect, our comforts ebb and flow, but God's foundation stands sure. They who are built upon this rock of God's eternal purpose, need not fear falling away; neither the power of man, nor the vio-lence of temptation, shall ever be able to overturn them."

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Thurs., 9/8/16 Devotion (1 Cor. 13:13)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 13:13, which says this:

"And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

Love is greater than faith and hope, because love, like Christ, salvation, and the church lasts forever. As great as faith is—and it is *very* great because it is the grace by which we apprehend Christ and His righteousness—nonethe-less, in glory (heaven) it will not be necessary. The same can be said about hope, (which is also a marvelous mercy of God to us).

But love is special, because it will be perfected (and continued forever) in heaven; and it is to be our creed here on earth. True faith and true hope al-ways lead to inevitable (and invincible) love. Let us live in Christ's love today, and in so doing, bring Him lots of glory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a sinful modesty in Christians that they are not more free with their ministers and other spiritual friends in unburdening them-selves and opening the sores and troubles of their souls to them.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wed., 9/7/16 Devotion (Ps. 49:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 49:5, where we read these words:

"Why should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity at my heels surrounds me?"

The psalmist asks a good question here (above). Is fear the proper response to "days of evil"? Is cowering what God requires of HIs churchmen when "ini-quity" "surrounds" them? Indeed, no. Instead, faith and resulting faithfulness is to be employed. Faith in Christ says, " 'The days of evil' will not intimidate me, or overwhelm me."

Let us face it: these are not great days, in many ways; and yet Christ's church is still expanding, and the gospel is going out. No matter whether things look promising, or foreboding—let all the faithful church glory in Jesus today, and trust in our Sovereign God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The true God perfectly knows the circumstances of everyone who prays to Him throughout the world.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Most High a Prayer-Hearing God"]

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Tues., 9/6/16 Devotion (Ps. 48:9)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 48:9, where we read these words:

"We have thought, O God, on Your lovingkindness, in the midst of Your temple."

Thinking on God's lovingkindness is a great thing to do. It is particularly good to do this in His "temple," (church). When we consider that we could well have been left out in the cold of our sin and death—it is a great marvel that any of us are brought into the embraces and kindnesses of God's love and forgiveness.

Let us take time today to bless God for His goodness to you, in Christ. Those who are not grateful show, by their lack of thankfulness, that they are not true beneficiaries of saving grace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A man full of grace has Christ in his heart, and the world under his feet; grace humbles, yet elevates.” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon entitled, "The Beauty of Grace"]

Monday, September 5, 2016

Mon., 9/5/16 Devotion (Ps. 46:1-2a)

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

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear . . . "

Christian fearlessness is never a result of perceived safety or security. In-stead, it is the result of God being "present" with us in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our God "refuges” us, His true churchmen, by cleansing our souls from sin in and through the blood of Christ. This, then, becomes the source of our strength.

Let all God's children be strong in the Lord. There is no sense in imagining that there will be a "trouble-free" existence here on earth—but with the Lord in our midst we have nothing to fear.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Ministers should study [work] to promote God's glory. God has entrusted them with two of the most precious things: His truth, and the souls of His people.” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Friday, September 2, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/2-4/16 Devotion

Hurrah—it is almost Sunday! So as to prepare us for church worship, here is the incomparable Thomas Watson, from his book, entitled, "A Divine Cordial":

"Love is valorous, it turns cowardice into courage. Love will make one venture upon the greatest difficulties and hazards. The fearful hen will fly upon a dog or serpent to defend her young ones. Love infuses a spirit of gallantry and for-titude into a Christian. He that loves God will stand up in His cause, and be an advocate for Him. 'We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard,' (Acts 4:20). He who is afraid to own Christ has but little love to Him.

"Nicodemus came sneaking to Christ by night (John 3:2). He was fearful of being seen with Him in the day time. Love casts out fear. As the sun expels fogs and vapors, so divine love in a great measure expels carnal fear. Does he love God that can hear His blessed truths spoken against and be silent? He who loves his friend will stand up for him, and vindicate him when he is re-proached. Does Christ appear for us in heaven, and are we afraid to appear for Him on earth? Love animates a Christian, it fires his heart with zeal, and steels it with courage."

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Thurs., 9/1/16 Devotion (Ps. 40:17a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 40, v. 17a, which says this:

"But I am poor and needy; yet the LORD thinks upon me. . . . "

David wrote these words (above). He was "poor and needy" in that he knew he was bankrupt before God—having no righteousness of his own. All of David's favor with God came through his union (by faith) with Christ. But what I find most intriguing in this verse is the expression, "The LORD thinks upon me."

Can we picture the God who created the entire universe "thinking" on you, and me? He does—so long as we are joined to Christ as His church. We may not think of ourselves as particularly interesting—but the people of the true church are of intense interest to God. He "thinks" on us; and all His thoughts are for our good, our welfare, our betterment, and our prosperity. Let us think on Him today, and thank the Lord for His goodness.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Do not say thus, 'I shall never be helped; I am in a sad condition and shall never be better.' . . . This you cannot say, for who knows what God will do?” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Down-cast"]