Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wed., 11/30/16 Devotion (2 Pet. 2:19b)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Peter 2:19b, where we read these words:

" . . . for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bon-dage."

All of us are in "service" and "bondage" to someone. The way to know who this being is, is to ask oneself, "About whom do I most often think? About whom am I practically obsessed?" The answer to these queries reveals our master.

When the master is another fallen human being (be they good or bad), or a demon, then this is a miserable bondage. When the Master is the King of glory, the Lord Jesus Christ, then this is a liberating "bondage." When the master is self or the flesh, then this is torturous labor. But when the Master is God Himself, then this is sweet service. Let all Christ's faithful churchmen gladly serve under His banner today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Lord, let the [magnet] of Your Spirit draw my heart upward. Lord, dig the earth out of my heart; teach me how to possess the world, and not love it; how to hold it in my hand, and not let it get into my heart.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Ten Commandments"]

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tues., 11/29/16 Devotion (2 Pet. 1:2)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Peter 1:2, where we find these won-derful words:

"Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord . . . "

To have grace and peace *multiplied* to our souls is a very blessed thing. God does not only "add," or "drip" His good gifts onto His churched children (a little at a time)—but He multiplies them. And notice how He does this: in our knowledge of Him, and of His Son Jesus.

If we know God in and through Christ, we will have grace and peace. The more we know Him, the greater the levels of these things we will enjoy—though they come accompanied with trouble and difficulty. No matter what challenges we face today, let us take encouragement from our Father's abundant provisions of "grace and peace" in our Lord Jesus Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Upon this reconciliation with God, you and God come to have common friends and common enemies.” —Jeremiah Bur-roughs, in, "Gospel Reconciliation"]

Monday, November 28, 2016

Mon., 11/28/16 Devotion (Lk. 12:32)

Today's encouragement comes from the lips of our Savior, as these words are found in Luke 12:32:

"Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

There are several gems to be gleaned from this one verse. 1) God's churched children need not fear, (because He has given us everything—even a king-dom). 2) Littleness of size is not to be construed as a negative. (To be in God's "little" flock is better than being in the devil's "big" herd, headed for the slaughter.) 3) The Lord is not compelled to be good to us—He is desirous and willing to be. And 4) The kingdom is among us, in the church, with Jesus as the Head.

Let us be encouraged and strengthened by these gospel truths today. God is very good to His true and dear people.

[Puritan quote of the day: "When a gracious soul trades with God, and sends his ship of prayer to heaven, he never fails of having sweet and rich return.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Reconciliation"]

Friday, November 25, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/25-27/16 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 etern-ity 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 eternity to do him good. And, indeed, we can never be at rest until we come to this."

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Wed., 11/23/16 Devotion (Lk. 7:50b)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 7:50b, where we read these words of our Blessed Savior Jesus:

" . . . Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."

These few words (above) provide the church everything we need. Our faith (which is personal, "Your") "has" (past tense) "saved [us]." Because of this, we may, in full confidence in Christ, "Go in peace." Believers do not need to debate whether or not our sins are forgiven; and whether or not God is at peace with us. Instead, we alone have the blessed privilege of knowing that God is fully satisfied with us—since Jesus bore our sins for us, His beloved church.

The fallen world in which we live provides us plenty of opposition and warfare; but our sin's conflict with God no longer exists. For this most amazing peace, which is greater than anything the world could ever know, let us always give our Lord thanks.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Oh, what a comfort and privilege is this to you! Oh, you believing soul. Though you were never so wicked and abominable be-fore, yet I tell you from God this day, in whose presence you stand, that He will never remember your sin any more.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tues., 11/22/16 Devotion (Lk. 6:35c)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 6:35c, where we read these words from the lips of our Lord Jesus Christ:

" . . . For He [God] is kind to the unthankful and evil."

Our Savior (quoted above) is expounding on the fact that believers are to be good to our enemies. He then shows us that His own Father is that way, to *His* foes. God's kindness to the unrepentant and unbelieving in no way ne-gates His righteous judgment of them—but it does speak of His insatiable benevolence to *all* of His creation.

Let us who by grace are known by God through faith in the Lord Jesus *not* be "unthankful," or "evil." Instead, let us be filled with gratitude and love. If our perfectly holy and righteous God can be "kind" to evil men who hate Him—then certainly *we* sinner/saints can do the same, by His sovereign grace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Faith is a mighty work of the Spirit of God in the soul that causes the soul to roll and cast itself on the free grace of God in Christ, venturing itself and all its hopes for good and happiness on Him.”
—Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Monday, November 21, 2016

Mon., 11/21/16 Devotion (Jas. 3:2a)

Today's encouragement comes from James 3:2a, where we read these words:

"For we all stumble in many things. . . . "

This gentle reminder (above) is helpful for us today (and everyday). First of all, it makes us be more gracious, kind, forgiving, forbearing, and understand-ing toward other sinners; and secondly, it humbles us—so that we do not trust in ourselves.

The simple reality is that we are all flawed sinners, fallen in Adam. There is no way we can totally avoid doing untoward things from time to time. On top of that, it is our very nature to sin. Only the grace of Christ, who provides us His new and perfect nature, allows us to have any success at all. Let us "cut each other a bunch of slack” today—as we realize we are "in this boat to-gether."

[Puritan quote of the day: "Justification admits of no degrees. No, not in heav-en—you are not more justified there than you are here. You are now as per-fectly justified as ever and as accepted of Christ as ever.” —Jeremiah Bur-roughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Friday, November 18, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/18-20/16 Devotion

Hallelujah—it almost Sunday again! We *get* to go back to church. Here is Richard Sibbes, from his, "The Bruised Reed" book. . . .

“Despising the means of mercy.

"Lastly, they carry themselves very unkindly towards Christ who stumble at His low stooping to us in His government and ordinances—that are ashamed of the simplicity of the gospel, that count preaching foolishness. They, out of the pride of their heart, think that they may do well enough without the help of the Word and sacraments, and think Christ did not take enough dignity upon Him; and therefore they will mend the matter with their own devices so that they may give better satisfaction to flesh and blood . . .

"What greater unthankfulness can there be than to despise any help that Christ in mercy has provided for us? In the days of His flesh the proud Phari-sees took offense at His familiar conversing with sinful men, though He only did so as a physician to heal their souls. What defenses was Paul driven to make for himself, for his plainness in unfolding the gospel? The more Christ, in Himself and in His servants, shall descend to exalt us, the more we should, with all humility and readiness, entertain that love and magnify the goodness of God, that has put the great work of our salvation, and laid the government, upon so gentle a Savior as will carry Himself so mildly in all things wherein He is to deal between God and us, and us and God. The lower Christ comes down to us, the higher let us lift Him up in our hearts. So will all those do that have ever found the experience of Christ's work in their hearts."

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thurs., 11/1716 Devotion (1 Chron. 9:13b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 9:13b, where we read these words:

" . . . They were very able men for the work of the service of the house of God."

The church should always be served by "very able men [and women]." The clergy, the ruling eldership, the diaconate, and the church’s various ministries should be comprised of people of faith, humility, character, and intelligence. They should be the leaders of their churches, their families, their commun-ities, and their world.

Why? Because those who do "the work of the service of the house of God" do the most important work in all of God's universe. This is not labor to be done by worldlings and reprobates. Let us pray that the Lord would raise up a gen-eration of servants who are outstanding in their ministrations to Christ's church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The Holy Ghost is content to dwell in smoky, offen-sive souls.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Wed., 11/16/18 Devotion (Heb. 11:6a)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 11:6a, where we read these words:

"But without faith it is impossible to please [God] . . . "

These (above) are some of the most cogent words in all the Bible. It is faith that pleases God. It is by faith that we apprehend Christ, salvation, and all the benefits of the covenant of grace. Nothing else can replace faith: not love, not works, not mercy, not kindness, not prayer, and not religious activity and duty.

All of these aforementioned virtues, (love, kindness, etc.), will inevitably flow from a heart endued with true faith in Jesus. But they do not, and cannot connect us to the One who redeems us. Only faith does that. Therefore, to-day, it matters little how well or badly we are doing at almost anything. All that really matters is this: are we placing *all* our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, or not? If we are, then we have nothing to worry about.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The human nature of Christ is yet in being. He still continues, and will continue to all eternity, to be both God and man.” —Jona-than Edwards, in his sermon, "True Saints are Present with the Lord"]

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Tues., 11/15/16 Devotion (Ps. 149:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 149:6, where we read these words:

"Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand . . . "

Note how the faithful Christian is at once a worshipper of God, and a soldier fighting under Christ's banner. There is no way to please God without praising Him. And there is nothing to praise Him for, unless the saints sees God's enemies fall under them. (These include sin, the flesh, the world, the devil, and the devil's agents—human and demonic.)

So, if we are in Christ as His church, let us go into your daily lives lifting up thanks to God, and the sword of the Spirit against His foes (and ours).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The Church is a body to whom the whole world is beholden. It should be the joy of the earth, for it is the security of the whole earth.” —Nathaniel Vincent, in, "A Discourse concerning Love"]

Monday, November 14, 2016

Mon., 11/14/16 Devotion (Ps. 147:11)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 147:11, which says this:

"The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy."

God created the world, in order to enjoy it. The Holy Trinity always experienc-es perfect and unremitted bliss. God is never perturbed. But, if it may be said that the Lord's pleasure may be "added to," (and I think it *can* be said, [in a certain sense]), then those who "fear Him" are the ones that achieve this re-markable privileged status.

Do we fear the Lord—through our faith in Jesus, as His beloved church? If so, then let us take great comfort. God not only delights in us, He also cherishes us very dearly and tenderly.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If once you come to receive the mercy of God in and through Christ Jesus, then that mercy will be the greatest opposer of your lusts and sin as anything can be in the world.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, a book of his sermons, entitled, "Gospel Remission"]

Friday, November 11, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/11-13/16 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday, the Lord's Day! We GET to go to church again. In order to help us prepare for worship, here is Richard Sibbes, from his, "The Bruised Reed" book. . . .

“Overcoming Discouragements . . .

"Suffering brings discouragements, because of our impatience. 'Alas!,' we lament, 'I shall never get through such a trial.' But if God brings us into the trial He will be with us in the trial; and at length bring us out, more refined. We shall lose nothing but dross (Zech. 13:9). From our own strength we cannot bear the least trouble, but by the Spirit's assistance we can bear the greatest. The Spirit will add His shoulders to help us to bear our infirmities. The Lord will give His hand to lift us up (Psa. 37:24). 'You have heard of the patience of Job,' says James (James 5:11). We have heard of his impatience too, but it pleased God mercifully to overlook that. . . . And, to come to the matter we are now about, the Sacrament [of The Lord's Supper] it was ordained not for angels, but for men; and not for perfect men, but for weak men . . . "

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Thurs., 11/10/16 Devotion (2 Ki. 23:7)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Kings 23:7, which says this:

"Then [Josiah] tore down the ritual booths of the perverted persons that were in the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the wooden image."

This is a providential text, given what is going on even in our world today. When Josiah, the good king of Judah, was taking out the garbage of idolatry from the temple of the Lord—he also included on his trash heap the "pervert-ed persons." These were sodomites that had entered the house of God, and who had polluted it with their pagan rituals.

Today, as the house of the church gets purified—not only does heresy have to go, and all forms of works-righteousness, etc.—but also the "perverted persons" have got to be expelled. This does not mean that they are not wel-come to come and hear the gospel; but it does mean that—barring faith and repentance—they can have no part in the life of the body of Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is nothing in the world more uneasy than the heart of a wicked man made to listen to spiritual instruction . . . “ —Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Wed., 11/9/16 Devotion (2 Ki. 22:8)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Kings 22:8, where we read these words:

"Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, 'I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.' And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it."

This blessed incident (recorded above) led to the great reforms, revival, and reformation of the Old Covenant church—largely led by the good and faithful Judean King Josiah. The "book" that was "found" was probably a scroll of the Book of Deuteronomy.

When the church discovers (or re-discovers) the Bible—sometimes, very good things happen. And note God's order: the clergyman finds the Scripture. He then passes its goods along to the magistrate (Shaphan), who himself ends up making sure that King Josiah hears it read. Had God's Word not been received with faith and repentance—none of Josiah's marvelous re-forms would have taken place at all.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let us pray that God will preserve pure ordinances and powerful preaching among us. Idolatry came in at first by the lack of good preaching.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Ten Commandments"]

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Tues., 11/8/16 Devotion (Ps. 139:21-22)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 139:21 & 22, where we read these words:

"Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my ene-mies."

All true lovers of God are also true haters of all angels and humans who hate God. One of the reasons the Lord is not well-loved by many professing Chris-tians is because they do not hate His enemies. Of course, hate is not our driving force. Regenerate Christians are first and foremost lovers: lovers of Christ, His church, His gospel, and the world God created (including unre-generate persons within it).

Therefore, we are to both love and hate at the same time—and sometimes, with regard to the same person. But to do so is simply to follow God’s lead: He loves the redeemed church, hates the reprobate, and (in a certain sense) both loves and hates those elect souls He will save, but has not yet done so.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who does not know the evil of sin as fully as he ought cannot hate it as much as he should.” —Nathaniel Vincent, in, "A Dis-course concerning Love"]

Monday, November 7, 2016

Mon., 11/7/16 Devotion (Heb. 2:9a)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 2:9a, where we read these few words:

"But we see Jesus . . . "

Even though there are many things spoken to us by God that believers do "not see," (at least yet)—that does not matter because we "see Jesus," as per this text (above). *How* do we see Him? By the eyes of faith. The hearts and souls of faithful church Christians behold Him all the time. We "see Jesus" on the cross; and we see Him risen from the dead.

Because believers "see Jesus," we can believe God for all the other things He teaches us in His written word that we do "not see." Unbelievers are blind (spiritually). They see nothing but the dark interiors of their own spiritual eye-lids. Let us look upon Jesus in church every Sunday; and, from there, throughout the week.

[Puritan quote of the day: "And though the Son of God is the Lord and keeper of the holy angels, yet He is not their Redeemer, as He is of His Church for whom He died.” —Nathaniel Vincent, in, "A Discourse concerning Love"]

Friday, November 4, 2016

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/4-6/16 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. . . .

“Why Christ’s Kingdom must prevail. . . .

"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, November 3, 2016

Thurs., 11/3/16 Devotion (Ps. 126:3)

[Congratulations, you Cubbie fans.  Today’s text must certainly resonate with you.]

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 126:3, where we read these great words:

"The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad."

God is so good to His children. He allows us to endure affliction, so as to make us better. Then, He gives us a glimpse of heaven, as we get clearer and clearer soul-visions of Jesus—and we are filled with exceeding levels of gladness and joy.

Let us often call this to mind: the Lord only has good in store for His beloved churchmen; and He delights to show us His grace, mercy, and joy. Even if we are not "on the top of the world" today, let us thank God for all the good things He has already done for us, in Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is not repentance, patience, love, prayer, or obe-dience that justifies us, but faith in Christ.” —Obadiah Grew, in, "The Lord our Righteousness"]

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Wed., 11/2/16 Devotion (Ps. 124:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 124:8, where David wrote these words:

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

True born-again churched Christians find their help in Christ alone. No one else can really and fully assist us. No matter where *others* go for their aid—the sincere child of God knows that his or her deepest and most profound needs must be met by The Lord (alone).

And this is a very wise and reasonable approach to life. After all: God "made heaven and earth." If The Lord has that much amazing power—then surely He can take care of the concerns of us, the people of His church. Is our help "in the name of the Lord" today?

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is very sinful to give way to vain thoughts at this time [of hearing preaching]; because, when we are hearing the word, we are in God's special presence.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Ten Command-ments"]

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Tues., 11/1/16 Devotion (2 Tim. 4:1-2a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Timothy 4:1 & 2a, where Paul wrote this, to the young minister:

"I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the
word! . . . "

God delights in His gospel (word) being preached from His faithful church pulpits. The Lord is more concerned that preaching takes place, than if any-one ever actually believes the message, or not. The preached word inhibits the spread and growth of heresy, (see vv. 3-4); it emboldens the minister for the endurance of afflictions, (v. 5); and it builds up the saints in the true church in their holy faith—all the while calling sinners to Christ.

Pray that your minister preach the word, and that he does not substitute this precious ordinance with entertainment, religious nonsense, and general stu-pidity. Pray that he takes on the world, the flesh, and the devil; and that he brings you the good news of peace, in Jesus' precious blood.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God bestows more goodness upon one godly man than upon all the ungodly in the world.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "Christians a Chosen Generation"]