Monday, October 31, 2016

Mon., 10/31/16 Devotion (2 Ki. 13:23)

Happy Reformation Day, everybody!

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Kings 13:23, where we read these words:

"But the LORD was gracious to them, had compassion on them, and regard-ed them, because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not yet destroy them or cast them from His presence."

This is a sweet verse (above). The reason the redeemed church is secure, and is not subject to the judgment we all deserve, is because of God's cove-nant with us in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Father beholds the blood of Jesus' atonement, and He is satisfied that His righteous wrath against our sin is fully and justly expended (on Christ).

Let us in the church never abuse or take for granted this great privilege. In-stead, let us make sure that our hearts are full of love for God: blessing and thanking Him for His kindness and generosity to us (in Jesus).

[Puritan quote of the day: "For a lack of hearts full of love [for God], men have heads full of error.” —Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Friday, October 28, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/28-30/16 Devotion

Thank God—Sunday is almost here. We get to go to church, and worship The Lord. In order to help get us ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his "The Art of Divine Contentment" book:

"To learn Christ, is to believe in Him: 'My Lord, and my God,' (Jn. 20:28). When we do not only believe God, but IN God—which is the actual applica-tion of Christ to ourselves—and is as it were the spreading of the sacred me-dicine of His blood upon our souls. Have you heard much of Christ, and yet cannot with a humble adherence say, 'My Jesus'? Be not offended if I tell you, the devil can say his creed as well as you.

"To learn Christ, is to love Christ. When we have gospel-conversations, our lives like rich diamonds cast a sparkling lustre in the church of God; and are, in some sense, parallel with the life of Christ, as the transcript with the origin-al."

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Thurs., 10/27/16 Devotion (Ps. 119:52)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 119:52, where we read these words:

"I remembered Your judgments of old, O LORD, and have comforted myself."

The best way to get a good perspective on the present and the future, is to heartily believe in the God who has decreed all things in eternity past. It is al-so helpful for us to remember how gracious the Lord has been to His church in days gone by. All this has the effect of giving us confidence and peace in the current situation (be it "good" or "bad").

But only the faithful churched Christian can do this happy “remembering." For unbelievers, their musings on God are *not* comforting at all. After all, His "judgments" are just that, for them—assurances of their eternal doom (barring faith in Jesus). For us believers, on the other hand, God's judgment has al-ready been poured out on Christ (on the cross) for us. We can and should re-joice in the forgiveness of our sins.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God intermixes mercy with affliction. He steeps His sword of justice in the oil of mercy. There was no night so dark but Israel had a pillar of fire in it.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Godly Man's Picture"]

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wed., 10/26/16 Devotion (2 Ki. 7:9a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Kings 7:9a, which says this:

"Then they said to one another, 'We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent. . . . ' "

These words were spoken by four lepers who found great booty in the Syrian army camp, that had been miraculously deserted.  They could have kept the wonderful news to themselves, and simply glutted themselves with food and delights—or they could share it with others, who (like them) were starving to death.

So is it the case with the gospel. Those who, by grace, feed on Christ and His goodness every Lord’s Day and throughout the week, ought to have compas-sion and concern for those who do not. What do we have to offer them? The Christ of the good news of salvation. We are all spiritual lepers before we are converted to Jesus, the Bread of Life.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The people of God are begotten through the edu-cation, instruction, and endeavors of those who were God's people before. Therefore, the church is represented in Scripture as being the mother of its members, (Gal. 4:26).” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "Christians a Chosen Generation"]

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tues., 10/25/16 Devotion (2 Ki. 6:33b)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Kings 6:33b, where we read these words:

" . . . the king [of Israel] said, 'Surely this calamity is from the LORD; why should I wait for the LORD any longer?' "

The king of Israel's response here (above) is entirely too typical of sinners. Trouble comes; and instead of blaming self and sin--God is blamed for it. Then, when relief does not show up right away, any hope in God is entirely abandoned, and sinful and idolatrous alternate courses are pursued.

How true is this also with many professing Christians? They are willing to put up with God, so long as their bellies are full, and their bank accounts are strong. But once a little difficulty comes their way—they throw off all of their false "God-talk," and show themselves to be what they are: unregenerate and unbelieving idolators. May this never be said of any of us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Oh, do not let the devil be your master, nor the world your god. Do not let sin cheat and impose upon you with its false and counterfeit delights.” —Timothy Rogers, in, "Trouble of Mind and the Disease of Melancholy”]

Monday, October 24, 2016

Mon., 10/24/16 Devotion (Dan. 9:18b)

Today's encouragement comes from Daniel 9:18b, where Daniel prays these words:

" . . . For we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies."

If we had to approach God, and present our petitions to Him based on our righteous deeds, we would never arrive at our destination, ever. Besides that, we would have no basis for our prayers, because we do not *have* any sav-ingly righteous deeds. In other words, we have to be in a state of absolute moral and spiritual perfection to be heard by God.

This is why we may only come to God on the basis of Christ's righteousness alone, which is imputed to the saints in the true church, by sovereign grace. This is the ground on which we may and do rightly approach God. He will hear the prayers of those who come to Him through Jesus’ perfect atonement for sin. He disregards all other petitions and petitioners.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Hell did not know what it did when it crucified Christ; death, with all its armies, was put to death with Him.” —Richard Al-leine, in, "Heaven Opened"]

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/21-23/16 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday! We *get* to go to church! Here is Thomas Wat-son, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book. He is dealing with our chief end of glorifying God here. . . .

"Glorifying God consists in adoration, or worship. Psa. 29:2: 'Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.' There is a twofold worship: (1.) A civil reverence which we give to persons of honor. Gen. 23:7: 'Abraham stood up and bowed himself to the children of Heth.' Piety is no enemy to courtesy. (2.) A divine worship which we give to God as His royal prerogative. Neh 8:6: 'They bowed their heads, and wor-shipped the Lord with their faces towards the ground.'

"This divine worship God is very jealous of; it is the apple of His eye, the pearl of His crown; which He guards, as He did the tree of life, with cherubims and a flaming sword, that no man may come near it to violate it. Divine worship must be such as God Himself has appointed, else it is offering strange fire, (Lev. 10:1). The Lord would have Moses make the tabernacle, 'according to the pattern in the mount,' (Exod. 25:40). He must not leave out anything in the pattern, nor add to it. If God was so exact and curious about the place of wor-ship, how exact will He be about the matter of His worship! Surely here every-thing must be according to the pattern prescribed in His word."

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Thurs., 10/20/16 Devotion (Ps. 111:4b, 5b)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 111:4b & 5b, where we read these words:

"The LORD is gracious and full of compassion. . . . He will ever be mindful of His covenant."

What a great God believing churchmen serve! He is amazingly merciful; and He is totally committed to His covenant (i.e. keeping His promises to His church, in Christ's blood atonement). The world, our own flesh, and the devil are always seeking to make us think that the Lord is anything *but* "gracious and full of compassion”—but all the redeemed know this to be true.

Since we have such a wonderful God, let us serve Him with cheerfulness and vivacity today. While we live in this world, we have the honor and privilege of overcoming our weaknesses (by faith); and, as we do this, we can lift up the Name of the Lord Jesus before the watching world.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Though heaven is God's glorious mansion, yet it will not serve His turn. God does not think that to be enough unless He has a dwelling also in a tender, broken, humble spirit.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Fear"]

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wed., 10/19/16 Devotion (1 Thess. 5:15b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Thessalonians 5:15b, where we read these words:

" . . . but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all."

This is a very interesting text of Scripture. God would have us pursue what is good—this we readily understand; but He would have us do this "both for *ourselves*," as well as "for all." This seems a bit like the "airplane principle": "put your own mask on first, and then put it on the child next to you."

It makes sense: if we are not cognizant of the states of our own hearts, we can be of little good or use to anybody else. Are we faith-filled Christian churchmen today, trusting in Jesus? If so, then let us pursue what is good—both for ourselves, as well as everybody else.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You have heaven while you are on earth when you have a contented spirit; yea, in some regards it is better than heaven.”
—Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment"]

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tues., 10/18/16 Devotion (1 Ki. 21:3)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Kings 21:3, where we read these words:

"But Naboth said to Ahab, 'The LORD forbid that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you!' "

When we true believers sin, we give some of the priceless treasure of the covenant of God's grace to the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh. Na-both refused even his earthly king what was rightfully his [Naboth's], by divine bestowment. Naboth would not bow to pressure, or convention; but rather took his place with the true church of God.

How about us? Are we zealous to retain what God has given us, so that we will be fruitful and productive in the world; or are we willing to sell what is precious to God's enemies?

[Puritan quote of the day: "[Improper religious] toleration is the grave of re-formation. . . . By toleration we adopt other men's sins and make them our own.” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "Christ's Loveliness"]

Monday, October 17, 2016

Mon., 10/17/16 Devotion (Dan. 2:44)

Today's encouragement comes from Daniel 2:44, where we read these words:

"And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever."

Daniel is speaking to Nebuchadnezzar here, and is explaining the king's dream. The "kingdom" that Daniel is referring to here, is the establishment of, and the proliferation of the New Covenant church, by the Lord Jesus Christ. The Savior's kingdom is now in the process of "break[ing] in[to] pieces" all op-posing "kingdoms."

Some of these counterfeit "kingdoms" arise even among professing, errant Christians. Others of them are wholly and self-proclaimedly "anti-Christian." All of them are in the process of falling at the feet of King Jesus. For this, let all the churched kingdom people give Him praise—even now.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Many, in a fit of terror, are willing to do or to suffer anything to keep out of hell and go to heaven; but when the fit is over, they will not deny themselves and take up the cross to follow Christ.” —Isaac Am-brose, in, "The Christian Warrior"]

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wed., 10/12/16 Devotion (Col. 2:23)

Today's encouragement comes from Colossians 2:23, where we read these words:

"These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indul-gence of the flesh."

Paul (here, above) is lambasting human religion, which always thinks that the way to godliness is through self-depravation. Works-religion is consumed with *doing* things, designed to impress God, so that He will be obligated to save the religionist, and/or to do something good for him (or her). They also believe that somehow this asceticism will subdue the flesh and its desires.

But *no* amount of strident religious activity can do anything to please God. Only Jesus satisfies the Father. *We* are acceptable to God *only* as we are seen by the Father as being *in* Christ, by faith. Let us trust in our Savior to-day.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You have an accuser, but you have an Acquitter; you have adversaries, but you have an Advocate.” —Richard Alleine, in, "Heaven Opened"]

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tues., 10/11/16 Devotion (Col. 1:13-14)

Today's encouragement comes from Colossians 1:13 & 14, where Paul wrote these words to the church:

"He [God] has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins."

Behold the privilege of every sincere Christian churchman. He or she is no longer a citizen of the kingdom of darkness (Satan). Rather, now, we believ-ers are the princes and princesses in the kingdom of light (Christ). And we do not need to wait till we die, to get there, either. Instead, this advantage is ours now, as we has been engrafted into Jesus, in His body, the church.

These blessings are immeasurable. If we belong to Christ, our sins are for-given, and our life is atoned for.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Now there is more of God in His word than in all His works of creation and providence.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Worship"]

Monday, October 10, 2016

Mon., 10/10/16 Devotion (Php. 4:6-7)

Today's encouragement comes from Paul's great words, as they are found in Philippians 4:6 & 7:

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Because the Lord is "at hand," (v. 5), the church is urged to "be anxious for nothing," but rather to pray. We believers in Christ often find it hardest to pray, at the very moment we most need to. Let this not discourage us too much. God is gracious; He hears the groans of the hearts of His children. The Lord gives us a calm in the midst of ours storms; and solace in times of our great-est struggles.

Let us not hesitate to bring any and all of our burdens to our good God today, in prayer.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Inward grace is wrought by outward means; the preaching of the Word is the engine that God uses to work grace; it is called 'the rod of HIs strength,' (Ps. 110:2).” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Beauty of Grace"]

Friday, October 7, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/7-9/16 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it is almost Sunday! We *get* to go back to church! In order to help get us ready, here is the Puritan pastor Jeremiah Burroughs, from his, "Gospel Remission" book. . . .

"When God comes to pardon sin, it is such a mercy as comes from the foun-tain of God's everlasting love. Other mercies do not. Where this is not pre-sent, you cannot have evidence of God's eternal love. If God gives you health of body, good voyages at sea, and good [success] in respect of the world, you cannot draw arguments from hence that God bears eternal love to your soul. But when He comes to pardon your sins, it is a certain evidence that God has set His love on you from all eternity.

"If there were a chain let down from heaven and you could take hold but of one link that would certainly bring you there, both ends would come together. In Romans 8:30, there is a chain of many links let down, and if you can catch hold of the link of justification, you may certainly catch hold of predestination, for all hang together. If you are justified, then know for certain that you are a predestined man or woman whom God has set His heart upon from all eter-nity to do good. And this is a great happiness for a poor creature while he lives in this world, to know that God has set His heart upon him from all eter-nity to do him good. And, indeed, we can never be at rest until we come to this."

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Thurs., 10/6/16 Devotion (Ps. 90:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 90:15, where we read these words, from this Psalm of Moses:

"Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us, the years in which we have seen evil."

There is a very real sense in which the persevering churched Christian may hope, and even lay some claim to this Mosaic notion that God will bless our days, commensurate with the years we have had to suffer (in whatever form). Oftentimes this blessing occurs in *this* life down here. If not, it will definitely happen in the world to come.

The main point is that it is a good thing to be "glad" in the Lord. There is no-thing wrong with this; and we should actually *seek* to be happy in Jesus—at all turns. We all "see" plenty of "evil." What we also need is an overwhelming counter-balance of good. This is found by us in Jesus alone.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Repentance unravels sin and makes it as if it had never been.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Wed., 10/5/16 Devotion (Eph. 5:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Ephesians 5:1 & 2, where we read these wonderful words:

"Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma."

It is an amazing thing, to be commanded to "be imitators of God." How can anybody imitate the perfect, holy, righteous, powerful, and good God? There is only one way: by being His offspring. This is what the children of God *are*: the spiritual "descendants" of the one, only, and true Deity Himself.  We are adopted into the church of God through faith in Jesus (the Father's "natural" Son).

And ours is a perfectly good Heavenly Father. He has provided atonement for the souls of all His children; and He loves them supremely, and wonderfully.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[God] has sent forth His messengers, and appoint-ed ministers in His church, to be subordinate lights, to shine with the com-munications of His light, and to reflect the beams of His glory on the souls of men.” —Jonathan Edwards, from his sermon, "The True Excellency of a Gos-pel Minister"]

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tues., 10/4/16 Devotion (Ezek. 37:4-5)

Today's encouragement comes from Ezekiel 37:4 & 5, where these words are found:

"Again He [God] said to me, 'Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, "O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: 'Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live.' " ' "

Behold the amazing power of the preached word of the gospel of Christ's grace. God brings life to the valley of dry bones through the agency of His proclaimed (prophesied) word. What an odd way to get the job done. We would have expected almost anything other than this.

Today, as it has always been, there are many false and futile substitutes for preaching, all claiming to be able to make dry bones live. Let us not fall for any of them. Let the true and faithful church (rather) listen to the word of God, as it is proclaimed from sound pulpits.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who thinks anything less than God will suffice [for satisfaction in life] does not understand the soul; and he who wants any-thing more than God does not understand God.” —Richard Alleine, in, "Heav-en Opened"]

Monday, October 3, 2016

Mon., 10/3/16 Devotion (Eph. 3:21)

Today's encouragement comes from Ephesians 3:21, where we read these words:

" . . . to Him [God] be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

God will get His greatest levels of glory in and through His church—more than anywhere else. The reason for this, is that the redeemed (who make it up) are the recipients of His most amazing and marvelous grace. We are given the very best of heaven, even while we are here on the earth. And this most won-derful gift is that of the Son of God Himself.

Let us build our lives around Christ. If we will do this, we will find ourselves to be God’s holy church. Let us do all this by grace, through faith in Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If [God] brings any beginnings of grace to truth, the victory is already gotten.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]