Friday, June 23, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/23-25/17 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday. Richard Sibbes is the great Puritan doctor of sad souls. Here is his gospel remedy, taken from "The Bruised Reed." . . .

"Among other causes of discouragement, some are much vexed with scrup-les, even against the best duties; partly by disease of body, helped by Satan's malice in casting dust in their eyes in their way to heaven; and partly from some remainder of ignorance, which, like darkness, breeds fears-ignorance especially of this merciful disposition in [Christ], the persuasion of which would easily banish false fears. They conceive of Him as One on watch for all advantages against them, in which they may see how they wrong not only themselves but Christ's goodness.

"This scrupulosity, for the most part, is a sign of a godly soul, as some weeds are of a good soil. Therefore they are the more to be pitied, for it is a heavy affliction, and the ground of it in most is not so much from trouble of consci-ence as from a disordered imagination. The end of Christ's coming was to free us from all such groundless fears. There is still in some such ignorance of that comfortable condition we are in under the covenant of grace as to dis-courage them greatly."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thurs., 6/22/17 Devotion (Isa. 54:17)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 54:17, where the prophet wrote these great words:

" 'No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the ser-vants of the LORD, and their righteousness is from Me,' says the LORD."

God's servants may take great comfort from this divine promise. Satan and evil (religious) men form unholy alliances against God's ministers and church-es. And though they rage, and create a fuss, they are never successful. The reason for all this is because of the latter part of this verse: the saints' right-eousness is from God. If righteousness had anything to do with us sinners, then the devil and his horde would be welcome to have a hey-day with us. But, since our righteousness is from Christ alone, and is His gift of grace alone—all those of us who are in Jesus and His true church are safe.

Let us joyfully trust in Jesus and His gospel of grace today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Justification is the very hinge and pillar of Chris-tianity.  An error about justification is dangerous, like a defect in a foundation.” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wed., 6/21/17 Devotion (Deut. 26:11)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 26:11, where we read this:

"So you shall rejoice in every good thing which the LORD your God has given to you and your house, you and the Levite and the stranger who is among you."

Do we understand that it is actually sinful for us not to be thankful for our tem-poral (this-world) blessings? Do we know that it is gross ingratitude to despise God's good gifts? Some people, imaging themselves to be too "spiritual" to appreciate anything temporal, look down their noses at the Lord's provisions to them.

God is not honored by thanklessness for "normal" gifts to us, (cf. 1 Tim. 4:1-5). Those who love Jesus, His gospel, and His church, will also rejoice in every *other* sweet thing He sends down to us from heaven. Let us give God praise and thanks for *all* His good provision.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[God] rewards His subjects in this life. He gives them inward peace and joy; a bunch of grapes by the way; and oft-times rich-es and honor.” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tues., 6/20/17 Devotion (Isa. 52:7)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 52:7, where we find these great words:

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns!' "

When messengers from battlefields brought news of their nation's victory, they were a welcome sight, indeed. When God's pastors bring to His people tidings of Jesus' victory over sin, Satan, the world, and our old flesh—it is cause for great celebration. The cross and resurrection of our Savior Jesus is the sure sign that our "God reigns."

Let the church both enjoy the benefits of, and proclaim the truth of the Gospel of grace. As we do so, our lives, and even our "feet," will be very comely vis-ages.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you do not have a spirit to love God above your dearest earthly friends, and your most pleasant earthly enjoyments, the Scrip-tures are very plain and full that you are not true Christians.” —Jonathan Ed-wards, in his sermon entitled, "Hypocrites Deficient in the Duty of Prayer"]

Monday, June 19, 2017

Mon., 6/19/17 Devotion (Isa. 51:12a)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 51:12a, where we read these words:

"I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be
afraid . . . "

When God comforts His churched children, as He always does in the atone-ment given them in Christ, they (the believers) have no ground for fear (espe-cially of man). And the reason for this is because of *Who* it is that consoles and strengthens our hearts: it is not another fellow-sinner, nor an angel, nor anyone else—but God Himself.

When we rest, by faith, in Jesus' righteousness alone (as our own)—then, how can we justify fearing man or anything else? After all, if God is satisfied with us, in Christ, what does it matter what anyone else thinks?

[Puritan quote of the day: "If God delivers you from any of your sins, He must do such work as is greater than the making of heaven and earth.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Thurs., 6/15/17 Devotion (Rev. 17:14b)

Today's encouragement comes from Revelation 17:14b, where we read these words:

" . . . and those who are with Him [Christ] are called, chosen, and faithful."

The Bible clearly teaches that God elects some (not all) people unto salvation—and that He then places them into His true church (cf. Eph. 1:3-6). But what is sometimes not emphasized enough is the fact that those who are truly chosen, and therefore really redeemed, *will be "faithful" and/or persevering* in this life.

In other words, there is no such thing as an unfaithful "chosen" person. If we *are* chosen, by grace, we *will be* faithful in Christ and His church. Some people (hypocrites) have a false assurance in this regard. They believe in the doctrine—but they do not possess the goods. Let us be true Christian church-men: acknowledging that we are chosen, and showing it by being faithful.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Going to hear a sermon in jest has proved some men's conversion in earnest.” —John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wed., 6/14/17 Devotion (Isa. 46:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 46:5, which says this:

"To whom will you liken Me, and make Me equal and compare Me, that we should be alike?"

The incomparability of God is a major theme in Isaiah, and in the rest of the Bible. Compared to the Lord, the entire created universe, with all its vastness and abundance, is nothing. Compared to the Triune God of the Christian reli-gion, an idol is a farce, at best. Isaiah makes fun of how idolaters carve out their god from a block of wood, and then burn up the rest of the timber in the fireplace, (see Isa. 44:15-17).

It is astounding that this incomparable God would unite Himself to mankind, in the incarnation of The Second Person of the Trinity. May we stand in awe of the church's God, and give Him all the glory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you have left off calling upon God, it is time for you to leave off hoping and flattering yourselves with an imagination that you are the children of God.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "Hypocrites De-ficient in the Duty of Prayer"]

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Thurs., 6/8/17 Devotion (Deut. 12:30b, 31a)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 12:30b & 31a, where we read these words:

" . . . do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way . . . "

This is a very "relevant" Scripture (above), because many (if not most) con-gregations today *do* the very thing we are told not to do (here). They look at the sinful, idol-worshipping society in which we live, and they ask, "How do the people worship their gods? Let us design our services around their ways, so as to be 'relevant'."

Once a church sets out to be "relevant" to the culture with regard to its wor-ship service, that congregation has instantly become "irrelevant," (especially to God Himself). We are to look to heaven, and get our instructions from above; rather than looking to earth, to do as all the rest of the heathen. The faithful church sets the standard for the culture, and invites sinners to come up to a life of dignity and worth (in Jesus).

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a greater mercy to descend from praying par-ents than from the loins of nobles.” —John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Provi-dence"]

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tues., 6/6/17 Devotion (Isa. 38:17)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 38:17, where we read these neat words:

"Indeed it was for my own peace that I had great bitterness; but You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back."

These are the words of the faithful king Hezekiah, after he was told that God would prolong his life. What I like about this verse is the tension between life in sin and struggle (the law, if you will); and life in grace and peace in Christ (the gospel, if you will).

*That* is precisely where all the regenerate live. We should face this fact head-on; and then we should determine, by grace, to live in faith, not despair-ing of the difficulties that are sure to be ours down here. In Christ we always gain the victory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Thus it is said of a true godly man that he stirs himself up against the hypocrite, that he holds on his way and grows stronger and stronger (Job 17:8-9).” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Monday, June 5, 2017

Mon., 6/5/17 Devotion (Ps. 92:13-14)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 92:13 & 14, where we read these words:

"Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing . . . "

We just enjoyed our Sabbath worship and rest yesterday. If indeed we *are* "planted in the house of the Lord," then we are primed to live a full life: from at least the moment of our baptisms (by the Spirit and water), till our deaths. Furthermore, we will be "fruitful," not spiritually barren. Our lives will develop more and more Christlikeness all the time.

Where are *we* "planted" today? If it is in any soil other than God's house, we will wither and die.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Observe the happy condition of every child of God. All things work for his good, the best and worst things.” —Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Friday, June 2, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/2-4/17 Devotion

As we prepare for Sunday's church worship, let us allow these words of Jon-athan Edwards, from his sermon entitled, "A Warning to Professors of Reli-gion," to bless our hearts:

"When we are in attendance on the ordinances of divine worship, we are in the special presence of God. When persons come and attend on the ordin-ances of God, they are said to come before God, and to come into His pres-ence. Jer. 7:10: 'Come and stand before Me, in this house which is called by My Name.' Ps. 100:2: 'Come before His presence with singing.'

"In diving ordinances, person have immediate [interaction] with God, either in applying to Him (as in prayer and singing praises), or in receiving from him, waiting solemnly and immediately on Him for spiritual good (as in hearing the Word), or in both applying to God and receiving from Him (as in the sacra-ments [baptism and the Lord's Supper])."

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Thurs., 6/1/17 Devotion (Isa. 33:14a)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 33:14a, where we read these words:

"The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness has seized the hypocrites . . . "

The context of the phrase (above) is that the Old Covenant church would be tested and tried in the furnace of affliction. The sincere believers would sub-mit to this, and would come out more purified. The unbelieving hypocrites—who were still in the outward covenant—would *not* do well at all. They would be fearful; and they would prove to be false.

True Christians oftentimes also experience fear; but we are able, by grace, to undergo God's "proving grounds." A hypocrite will never willingly suffer any-thing for the Lord or the true religion. Real believers—though not enjoying it—are always, in the end, willing to do whatever their Savior requires of them.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who belongs to the Jerusalem above speaks the language of Canaan.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godli-ness"]

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wed., 5/31/17 Devotion (Deut. 4:39)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 4:39, which says this:

"Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the LORD Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other."

Are we facing fearful trials and difficult hardships today? Then, let us soak up verses like the one above. By faith in Jesus, let us "know" "this day" (and not some time in the future); and let us take it to “heart”—that there is only one God; and that He rules in heaven, and on earth.

Since this *is* the case—and all faithful churched Christians know that it is—then, what do we have to worry about? God has heaven covered; and God has the earth covered. His enemies are active here on earth—there is no doubt about that—but the Lord is the King, and He will crush them, after He has used them up for His glory. Therefore, let us rest in The Triune God *to-day*; and take a lot of heart in our holy (and true) faith in The Christ of the one true religion.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Satan puts good names on sin . . . “ —Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godliness"]

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tues., 5/30/17 Devotion (Ps. 85:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 85:6, which says this:

"Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?"

God's people tend to fall asleep, spiritually. From time to time we need to be awakened, and renewed (or revived) in our holy faith—which will then re-kindle our love for Christ. We should humbly ask God to do this: corporately, as His church; and individually, for our own souls. The revived heart is enam-ored with God, filled with true and (often) inexpressible joy, and is in a lively state of willing obedience—all as a result of an unfeigned and zealous love for Jesus.

God can fan into flame even a very small spark. Do we have the life of Christ in us? Then, we may be assured: God can revive us again.

[Puritan quote of the day: "All the riches of the world, or the honors and plea-sure of it, all the learning, the power, and the policy of the world, all the world-ly titles and distinctions cannot make the sinful creature happy or do him any good.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "Christ is the Christian's All"]

Friday, May 26, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/26-28/17 Devotion

Yippee—it is almost Sunday! Here is Richard Sibbes, from his, "The Bruised Reed" book. . . .

"Truth is truth, and error, error, and that which is unlawful is unlawful, whether men think so or not. God has put an eternal difference between light and darkness, good and ill, which no creature's conceit can alter; and therefore no man's judgment is the measure of things further than it agrees to truth stamp-ed upon things themselves by God. For this reason, because a wise man's judgment agrees to the truth of things, a wise man may in some sense be said to be the measure of things, and the judgment of one holy wise man to be preferred before a thousand others. Such men usually are immovable as the sun in its course, because they think, and speak and live by rule. A Joshua and his house will serve God (Josh. 24:15), whatsoever others do, and will run a course contrary to the world, because their judgments lead them a contrary way. . . .

"Satan, 'the prince of this world', is judged by the gospel, and the Spirit ac-companying it. His lies are discovered, his enterprises laid open. Therefore when the gospel was spread the oracles ceased, Satan fell from heaven like lightning (Luke 10:18). Men were translated out of his kingdom into Christ's. Where prevailing is by lies, discovery is victory: 'they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men,' (2 Tim. 3:9). So that manifesta-tion of error gives a stop to it, for none will willingly be deceived. Let truth have full scope without check or restraint, and let Satan and his instruments do their worst, they shall not prevail, as Jerome says of the Pelagians in his time: 'The discovery of your opinions is the vanquishing of them, your blas-phemies appear at the first blush.' "

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Thurs., 5/25/17 Devotion (1 Jn. 4:16a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 John 4:16a, where we read these few words:

"And we have known and believed the love that God has for us . . . "

It is a big deal for Christians in the true church to know and believe that God loves us. This is especially true, since in our natural state of sin we hated God. But now, as we are in Jesus, we are loved by Him; and we love Him (cf. v. 10a). Now, because we recognize that we are loved by God, and we actu-ally believe the incredible fact of this truth—we cannot do enough for Christ. God's love now "compels" us, (2 Cor. 5:14), to a lively obedience.

If we do not know and believe that God loves us, then we will inevitably show ourselves to be spiritually unfaithful—since we will seek our affection from idols. This is why it is imperative that Christians get a solid interest in Jesus’ gospel—so that we are the genuine objects of His love.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Such as think totally to ruin the church, must do it in a time when it is neither day nor night, for the Lord keeps [the church] by His providence night and day.” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wed., 5/24/17 Devotion (1 Jn. 3:8b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 John 3:8b, where the apostle wrote these words:

"For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil."

If the devil had not done his best to foul up the world—especially by tempting human beings to sin—there would have been no reason for the Son of God to appear, as a Redeemer. Though sin is to be abominated in all its forms, it is still the case that it made the way for God to demonstrate the full gamut of His wonderful characteristics—including love, forgiveness, atonement, mercy, grace, righteousness, justification, and patience.

Has the devil left some of his work on us in Christ's true church? Let us be encouraged: Jesus is in the sanctification process of destroying our sin; and building us up, in our growing love for Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If we love God, our hearts ache for the dishonor done to God by wicked men.” —Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tues., 5/23/17 Devotion (Ps. 77:13)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 77:13, where Asaph wrote these words:

"Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; who is so great a God as our God?"

God always operates from His sanctuary. The Old Covenant sanctuary was a type of heaven, (cf. Heb. 8:4-5). In the heavenly sanctuary today, the Son of God intercedes for His saints by virtue of His atoning death, (cf. Heb. 7:25). The gathered true church in Sunday worship constitutes the place of God's sanctuary, (cf. 1 Pet. 2:4-5). And finally, the individual hearts of the regener-ate are also the place of His sanctuary, (cf. 1 Cor. 3:16).

*From* God's sanctuary goes forth praise of Christ, and the evangelism of the world. Let us be thankful that the true God is the God of the sanctuary: the place of worship and rest.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Here is a pillar of support to every soul who has broken off sin and espoused holiness. This is an undoubted evidence that you are a true child of God.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Mischief of Sin"]

Monday, May 22, 2017

Mon., 5/22/17 Devotion (1 Jn. 1:10)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 John 1:10, where we read these words:

"If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him [God] a liar, and His word is not in us."

Sin is an insidious thing. If we acknowledge it, we must confess it and repent of it. If we do not acknowledge it, we sin even worse (by pretending it does not exist). The best thing to do, in confessing sin, is to be as honest with God as we possibly can be. This requires God's assistance.

Confession of sin usually has these two temptations attached to it: 1) to say things to God that we do not really mean (just to ease our conscience); or, 2) to confess things to God which (in themselves) are really not sin at all. Again: the key is candor. May the Lord help us know our hearts well enough, in order to make good confession to Him.

[Puritan quote of the week: "The eyes of our souls cannot be towards Him [God] unless He has cast a gracious look upon us first.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, May 19, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/19-21/17 Devotion

Yippee—it is almost Sunday!! We GET to go back to church, to worship God together. In order to help get us ready, here is the great Puritan Richard Sib-bes, from his excellent book, "The Bruised Reed." . . .

"Christ chose those to preach mercy who had felt most mercy, as Peter and Paul, that they might be examples of what they taught. Paul became all things to all men (1 Cor. 9:22), stooping unto them for their good. Christ came down from heaven and emptied Himself of majesty in tender love to souls. Shall we not come down from our high conceits to do any poor soul good? Shall man be proud after God has been humble? We see the ministers of Satan turn themselves into all shapes to 'make one proselyte' (Matt. 23:15). We see am-bitious men study accommodation of themselves to the humors of those by whom they hope to be raised; and shall not we study application of ourselves to Christ, by whom we hope to be advanced, nay, are already sitting with Him in heavenly places? After we are gained to Christ ourselves, we should labor to gain others to Christ. Holy ambition and covetousness will move us to put upon ourselves the disposition of Christ. But we must put off ourselves first."

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thurs., 5/18/17 Devotion (Ps. 71:16b)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 71:16b, where we read these words (of David):

" . . . I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only."

This little phrase (above) is a good reminder that the *only* human being who has any inherent "righteousness" is Christ alone. All of our righteousness is from Him. (We have no righteousness of our own—ever since Adam's fall.) When it comes to the greatest form of righteousness (i.e. justification before God), this is imputed to the churched Christian; and is received by faith in Jesus. When it comes to any form of "civil" righteousness (which cannot and does not save), any person may have it, but it is given as a token of God's "common" grace.

Let us who have received the gift of faith in Christ bless God that we possess *His* (Jesus') Own righteousness. This is the great advantage of the true church; and it is cause for great rejoicing.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The truth is, we should listen as much to the voice of God in the ministry of His Word as if the Lord should speak out of the clouds to us.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Worship"]

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wed., 5/17/17 Devotion (1 Pet. 4:19)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Peter 4:19, where we read these words:

"Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator."

Suffering is never pleasurable; but it can forward the genuine progress of the true church saints. It has a cleansing effect on our souls; and it draws us back to Christ. If we are going to have to suffer anyway, let us do so for doing good, or for insisting on God's ways. "Commit[ting our] souls" to God means that we do what is right, and leave the consequences with the Lord.

It is interesting that Peter refers to the Lord as a faithful "Creator," at the end of this verse—rather than a Redeemer. God's creation covers everything in the universe: those things that positively affect our obedience, and those things that "negatively" affect it.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Satan tempts to sin under a pretense of religion. He is most to be feared when he transforms himself into an angel of light.”
—Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tues., 5/16/17 Devotion (1 Pet. 3:8)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Peter 3:8, where we read these words:

"Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous . . . "

Sometimes, in the midst of all the struggle and spiritual warfare that is going on in us, and amongst us, we tend to forget some of the most basic tenets of Christianity. Peter is telling the church here to remember to love one another.

All of us—even the most experienced amongst us—are weak in many ways, and are given to all kinds of sins, failings, and annoyances. God would have us be gracious and patient with one another. After all: the Lord has treated us with *ultimate* kindness in Christ, even though we deserve none of it. Let us show those in His church forbearance and gentleness.

[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 want [lack] of good preaching.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Ten Commandments"]

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mon., 5/15/17 Devotion (Ps. 66:12b)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 66:12b, where we read these words:

"We went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich ful-fillment."

Only those who persevere through the trials of life get the benefit of "rich ful-fillment" at the end of them. This principle is true at both the micro- and macro-levels of life. When testings and temptations are endured (in Christ), they give way to rest and satisfaction later. After the devil left Jesus, angels came and ministered to Him (in Matt. 4:11).

The spoils of Christ's victory for His church do *not* go to "prima donna" spirits. Instead, they are the sole possession of those brave hearts that are willing, by grace, to take on the flesh, the world, and the devil—and defeat them (through sincere faith in the Redeemer).

[Puritan quote of the day: "True religion in a state is as a main pillar of a house and the post of a tent that upholds all.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, May 12, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/12-14/17 Devotion

Wahoo—Sunday, the New Covenant Sabbath, the day we commemorate Christ's resurrection, is just around the corner! In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his book entitled, "The Godly Man's Picture":

"The test of a [sea] pilot is seen in a storm; so the test of a Christian is seen in affliction. That man has the right art of navigation who, when the boisterous winds blow from heaven, steers the ship of his soul wisely, and does not dash upon the rock of impatience. A Christian should always maintain decorum, not behaving himself in an unseemly manner or disguising himself with intemper-ate passion when the hand of God lies upon him.

"Patience adorns suffering. Affliction in Scripture is compared to a net: 'You brought us into the net,' (Psa. 66:11). Some have escaped the devil's net, yet the Lord allows them to be taken in the net of affliction. But they must not be 'as a wild bull in a net,' (Isa. 51:20), kicking and flinging against their Maker, but lie patiently till God breaks the net and makes a way for their escape."

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Thurs., 5/11/17 Devotion (Jas. 3:17)

Today's encouragement comes from James 3:17, which says this:

"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, will-ing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypo-crisy."

The world's "wisdom" is full of frenetic activity—trying to fill up space, and to keep one's mind off of the important things of life. We see a lot of this in to-day's religious expressions, especially in many inferior forms of Christianity. But God's wisdom is different. It starts in the heart, and gets established there, as the foundation of everything that will be expressed by that life: in word, or in action.

We can tell, whether we are operating on God's wisdom, or that of the world's. If it is of God, it will be very tranquil, and serene; and yet strong and pure. If it is the world's, it will simply wear us out, as we expend energy for no other purpose, but to seek to assuage our guilt.

[Puritan quote of the day: "I cannot but think that to make large confessions of sin, and yet with a senseless dead heart, is a high degree of taking the name of God in vain.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wed., 5/10/17 Devotion (Ps. 56:3-4)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 56, vv. 3 & 4, where David wrote these words:

"Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), in God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?"

God's children are, from time-to-time, afraid. David had his problems; and un-doubtedly, we have ours. It is precisely at the exact moment of fear, however, that we are most able to strengthen ourselves in God's grace, and trust Him. This trust, then, has the effect of turning fear away from us. After that, a re-newed sense of confidence arises in our hearts, which allows us to say, "What can flesh do to me?"

Let us not be undone by fear. Instead, we should turn it on its head; and use it for our own advantage. Let us see it as a fresh opportunity to trust God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Purity of heart is the jewel which is hung only upon the elect. As chastity distinguishes a virtuous woman from a harlot, so the true saint is distinguished from the hypocrite by his heart-purity.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Beatitudes"]

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Tues., 5/9/17 Devotion (Ps. 55:16)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 55:16, where we read these words:

"As for me, I will call upon God, and the LORD shall save me."

David makes a personal assertion here. No matter what other people choose to do with their troubles—he, at least, will bring his to the Lord. David believed that simply "calling upon God" would be enough to secure His help. This is why he wrote, "The Lord shall save me."

May all God's Christian churchmen call upon Him, in trouble or in pleasure. Let us recognize that the Lord is good; and that He alone is able to meet all of our needs—be they profound or mundane.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Those who would annihilate the ministry try to pull the stars out of Christ's hand.” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "God's Ana-tomy upon Man's Heart"]

Monday, May 8, 2017

Mon., 5/8/17 Devotion (Heb. 13:20-21)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 13:20 & 21, which says this:

"Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting cove-nant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for-ever and ever. Amen."

What a great benedictory prayer this is (above). Let us note how God puts a *comprehensive* blessing on His church. The Lord does not cut us short in anything with regard to His Son's resurrection. Instead, we get ALL of those benefits now, as we grow into our understanding of them, day by day.

Let us recognize this: that no matter what we struggle with down here, there is NOTHING so powerful, that our participation in Jesus and His resurrection cannot conquer it.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The mercies of God have a melting influence upon the soul; they dissolve it in love to God. God's judgments make us fear Him, His mercies make us love Him.” —Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Friday, May 5, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 5/5-7/17 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday! We get to go to church again! Here is Thomas Watson, from his, "The Happiness of Drawing Near to God" book. . . .

"A gracious soul cannot but draw near to God, because of the intimate rela-tionship between God and him. God is a Father, Isa. 64:8: ‘Doubtless You are our father.’ Does not the child delight to draw near to his father? There is no father like God for love; His children shall never want; He has land enough to give to all his heirs. God loves his children so entirely, that He will never dis-inherit them. How then can believers keep away from their Father? They do not know how to be long out of His presence.

"A gracious soul cannot but draw near to God, because he has found so much sweetness and contentment in it. While he has drawn near to God, he has drawn virtue from Him. Never did Jonathan taste so much sweetness when he dipped his rod in the honey-comb, (1 Sam. 14:27)—as the soul finds in communion with God. In drawing near to God a Christian's heart has been warmed and melted; the Lord has kindled His sacrifice from Heaven. In his approaches to God, he has had the blessings of the Spirit, the incomes of God's love, the previews of glory: God has given him a ‘bunch of grapes’ by the way; he has ‘tasted that the Lord is good.' No wonder then he is so fre-quent in his approaches to the divine majesty; he has found the comfort of drawing near to God."

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Thurs., 5/4/17 Devotion (Num. 11:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 11:1a, where these sobering words are found:

"Now when the people complained, it displeased the LORD; for the LORD heard it, and His anger was aroused. . . . "

There is an acceptable (even proper) way to "complain" to God (cf. Ps. 142:2); and then there is this unacceptable and improper way to do it, (as seen all throughout Num., ch. 11). The people "craved"; they wanted their way; they "wept all over" Moses; they insisted that they be granted their de-sires. God's answer was to give them exactly what they wanted, and then to afflict many of them with death, (see vv. 33-34).

Let us be careful about what we earnestly long for; and of what we "demand" of God. If we are not satisfied with His church’s “ordinary” means of grace, and insist on something more “exotic”—then we may get what we want, but then pay dearly for it in the end.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Hence we learn that a life of holiness is the pleas-antest life in this world, because in such a life we have the imperfect begin-nings of a blessed and endless sight of God.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Pure in Heart Blessed"]

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Wed., 5/3/17 Devotion (Ps. 46:1-2)

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

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea . . . "

Nations come and go; but Christ and His church remain forever. In times of distress and apostasy, it is easy to get nervous and unsettled. The words of this Psalm (above) are comforting to the true saints. What we know and are familiar with may indeed "be removed," and "the mountains [may] be carried into the midst of the seas”—but still our God remains with us in Christ, through it all.

In days of real and palpable "trouble," and significant international upheaval, let us find our strength in the One who is our "very present help." He will sus-tain us, His church, no matter whatever else befalls us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Whether we have comfort or not, both are for our good.” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Tues., 5/2/17 Devotion (Heb. 7:16)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 7:16, where we read these words:

"[Christ] has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life."

Because Jesus Christ always lives, His church may rest secure in His (Christ's) eternal priesthood. Under the Old Covenant, the priests came and went—as they, like everyone else, died. But now that Jesus has been incar-nated, crucified, and risen from the dead—He is at the right hand of the Fa-ther, always making intercession for His church, through His blood atonement for us.

Whereas *all* non-Christian religions and life-philosophies have no choice but to depend on dead people, who cannot help them at all—the Christian believ-er depends on One who can never die. Let us approach our Messiah with confidence—knowing that He has provided everything for us, and that He has "the power of an endless life."

[Puritan quote of the day: "God is a tender Father, and He would have all the love of His children.” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Monday, May 1, 2017

Mon., 5/1/17 Devotion (Heb. 6:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 6:15, where we read these great words:

"And so, after he [Abraham] had patiently endured, he obtained the promise."

The most important practical fruit of sincere and saving faith in Jesus, in this world, is perseverance. Without endurance to the end, even love has no cre-dibility. It is not easy to stretch-out all the way to the finish line, and to con-clude the race well. But, if we are to please God, and be satisfied in our souls, we must do this.

So, are we finding it difficult to faithfully persist in Christ, His gospel, and His church in any area of our lives today? If so, then let us be like our spiritual father (Abraham); and, by grace, put all our trust in Jesus. Just when it seems that our strength is gone—God, in Christ, will carry us all the way through this life, to heaven itself.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If civility were sufficient to salvation, Christ need not have died.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wed., 4/26/17 Devotion (Ps. 37:4)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 37:4, where David wrote this:

"Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart."

The reason God can give anything and everything that is desired, by a hum-ble, Spirit-filled, loving, and faithful Christian churchman is because there is perfect harmony between God's will, and this believer's will. Those who de-light in Christ seek their fulfillment and their pleasure in Him alone. And be-cause they love God, they only want from Him those things that glorify the Lord, and build up Christ's church.

We will never delight in God so long as we love our sin. But, when we forsake our sin, and cleave to Christ—we never ever regret it. God will be no man's debtor; He will fill us with His delights. If we delight ourselves in Jesus, we may do whatever we want to—because what we do will please God, since it is in harmony with His gospel word.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[God's] glory is much promoted by the preaching of the word, which is His engine whereby He converts souls.” —Thomas Wat-son, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tues., 4/25/17 Devotion (Ps. 36:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 36:8, where these great words are found:

"They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures."

God is not against our pleasure. In fact, He is really for it. The true Christian churchman must go through many trials; but this in no way diminishes the fact that he or she enjoys the greatest, and most satisfying delights—in this world. A professing Christian who always hangs one's head is telling the faithless world that he does not have a very good God.

If we do not avail ourselves of Jesus, and His provisions as they are meted-out in and through His church and her preaching of the gospel, we will know nothing of what David speaks above.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Get contentment into the sling of your heart, and with this sacred stone you may both defy the world and conquer it.” —Thom-as Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Monday, April 24, 2017

Mon., 4/24/17 Devotion (Num. 1:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from Numbers 1:1a, which says this:

"Now the LORD spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of meeting, on the first day of the second month . . . "

Maybe we feel like we are in the "Wilderness of Sinai”—wandering around for years, with no apparent direction. If so, and assuming that we are faithful churchmen, let us not despair. Like Moses, we also have the "tabernacle of meeting." We are privileged to bring our sacrifices of praise to the Triune God every Lord's Day, the first day of the week.

Jesus, the anchor of our souls, will keep us tethered to Himself, no matter how difficult things may get here. God still speaks to His children today. Let us be sure to hear His voice.

[Puritan quote of the day: "But plain dealers will always be approved in the end; and the time is at hand when you will confess that they were your best friends.” —Richard Baxter, in the dedication of "The Reformed Pastor"]

Friday, April 21, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/21-23/17 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it is almost Sunday! We GET to go back to church! In order to help get us ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his "Beatitudes" book. . . .

"Consider Who it is that we have engaged ourselves to in baptism. There we took our press-money [money paid to those enlisted in service]. We solemnly vowed that we would be true to Christ's interest and fight it out under His ban-ner to the death. And how often have we in the blessed Supper taken the oath of allegiance to Jesus Christ that we would be His liege-servants and that death should not part us!

"Now if when being called to it, we refuse to suffer persecution for His name, Christ will bring our baptism as an indictment against us. Christ is called 'the Captain of our salvation,' (Hebrews 2:10). We have listed ourselves by name under this Captain. Now if, for fear, we shall fly from our colors, it is perjury in the highest degree, and how shall we be able to look Christ in the face an-other day? That oath which is not kept inviolably shall be punished infallibly. Where does the 'flying roll' of curses light, but in the house of him that 'swears falsely,' (Zechariah 5:4)?"

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Thurs., 4/20/17 Devotion (Ps. 31:14-15a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 31:14 & 15a, where we read these words:

"But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in Your hand . . . "

This perspective of David (above) is very liberating. Instead of wringing our hands in worry and uncertainty, and concern over whatever the future holds—the wise churchman leaves his or her life completely in God's hands, by faith in Christ. Where *others* are certain to wrap themselves around the axle of the anxieties of the world, and try to draw us into their faithlessness—the sincere believer resists this (natural and easy) tendency.

What is *our* outlook today: one of dark and dismal gloom; or one of hopeful grace (in Jesus)? Easter (as is also true of every Sunday) reminds us that our Redeemer lives, and that we have cause for both hope and rejoicing.

[Puritan quote of the day: "All the church's pangs help forward her deliver-ance.” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wed., 4/19/17 Devotion (2 Tim. 2:8)

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

"Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel."

Why would Paul have to remind Timothy that Jesus was raised from the dead? Because, every time he (or we) fall into fear and unbelief—we have, essentially, forgotten this most-important truth. And note that Christ is "of the seed of David." In other words, He is one of us. He understands our weak-nesses; and He has gone ahead of us, in His resurrection.

May we, today, not forget that our Savior—unlike all the false "gods" of all the world's false religions—*is* alive, even right now. Therefore, let us appeal to Him for help, in prayer.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Morality shoots short of heaven. It is only nature refined. A moral man is but old Adam dressed in fine clothes.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tues., 4/18/17 Devotion (Ps. 28:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 28:1, where David wrote these words:

"To You I will cry, O LORD my Rock: do not be silent to me, lest, if You are silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit."

God wants us, His children, to make urgent pleas to Him; and to ask Him to hear our prayers, and respond to them. It could seem odd to us who believe that God is sovereign, and knows all things, and does all things well, that He would want us to ask Him to "not be silent" to us.

But such is the personal nature of the God that we serve through our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. He expects us to be honest with Him; and for us to ad-dress the world, and even our prayers to Him, with heart-felt realism, (and not a sanctified "stoicism").

[Puritan quote of the day: "When you read in the historical parts of Scripture an account of the sins of which others have been guilty, reflect on yourselves as you go along, and inquire whether you do not in some degree live in the same or like practices.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Necessity of Self-Examination"]

Monday, April 17, 2017

Mon., 4/17/17 Dévotion (Ps. 27:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 27:1, where David wrote these great words:

"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"

Life in a fallen world contains many fearful moments, events, and even peo-ple. But the believing churchman need not be overwhelmed by any of these. And the way we overcome the fear of man, is through our greater fear of God. It was only because the Lord *was* David's "light and salvation," and "the strength of [his] life”—that he was able to conquer subordinate "fears."

Are we feeling unsettled today? Let us recognize that Christ is our love, and our fear. With this perspective, we cannot be intimidated.

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

Friday, April 14, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/14-16/17 Devotion

Yippee—Sunday—Easter Sunday, no less—is *just about* here! In order to get us ready for the church's Sabbath worship of God, here is the incompar-able Thomas Watson, from "A Divine Cordial," (or, "All things for Good"):

"We love a saint, though he has many personal failings. There is no perfec-tion here. In some, rash anger prevails; in some, inconstancy; in some, too much love of the world. A saint in this life is like gold in the ore, much dross of infirmity cleaves to him, yet we love him for the grace that is in him. A saint is like a fair face with a scar: we love the beautiful face of holiness, though there be a scar in it. The best emerald has its blemishes, the brightest stars their twinklings, and the best of the saints have their failings. You that cannot love another because of his infirmities, how would you have God love you?"

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Thurs., 4/13/17 Devotion (Lev. 17:11b)

Today's encouragement comes from Leviticus 17:11b, where we read these words:

" . . . for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul."

This (above) is a cardinal doctrine of the True Religion. If any sinner is to be redeemed at all, it will not be via works, law, supererogation of saints, angels, being good, paying one's taxes, or not killing other people. If anyone is to have sins remitted, it must be through *blood* atonement.

. . . But not just *any* blood will do: it must be the blood of a perfect, sinless, righteous *human* Savior. Only Jesus meets this requirement. He is both God and man—and He is the *only* "Mediator between God and men," (as per 1 Tim. 2:5). The faith of regenerated churchmen is a bloody faith. There is no "sterile" salvation in God's economy. Let all the saints rejoice, that the "Lamb of God" (Jesus) has borne away our iniquities, in His bloody cross.

[Puritan quote of the day: "To read the word [of God] is a duty, but Satan sometimes puts men upon it when it is unseasonable. To read it at home when God's word is being preached, or the sacrament administered, is un-seasonable, yea, sinful . . . “ —Thomas Watson, in, "The Lord's Prayer"]

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wed., 4/12/17 Devotion (1 Tim. 1:15)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Timothy 1:15, where Paul wrote these great words:

"This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief."

Are we sinners today? Do we know ourselves to be such? If so, then there is hope for us. Jesus Christ does not save self-righteous non-sinners. Instead, He redeems hopelessly lost, messed-up wretches. People who think of them-selves as “good” do not need a Savior. These kinds of “good" people go to hell. Bad people, redeemed by Jesus' blood, and who end up loving Him, and being HIs true church, go to heaven.

So, let us remember why Christ came: to save sinners. Let us be glad for this wondrous fact.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Thus God is said in Scripture to impute righteous-ness to them who believe, not because they have this righteousness in them, but because He reckons it as theirs, and reckons them righteous by it.”
—Obadiah Grew, in, "The Lord our Righteousness"]

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tues., 4/11/17 Devotion (Ps. 18:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 18:1 & 2, where we read these words:

"I will love You, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."

When God does something overtly good for us—then, all of a sudden we are awakened from our spiritual slumber, and we give Him heartfelt praise and thanks. We then feel a bit ashamed, that we failed to praise our Lord in the same way when the "sun was not shining," so to speak.

But such is life. We are typically so overrun by our feelings and emotions, that it is hard for us to be rational in our faith walk. As we grow in gospel grace, let us always thank God for all things—because, in Jesus, the church is *always* supremely blessed.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Are your greatest sufferings comparable to the least spark of grace or beam of glory revealed in you or to you?” —Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Monday, April 10, 2017

Mon., 4/10/17 Devotion (2 Thess. 2:16-17)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Thessalonians 2:16 & 17, where we read these words:

"Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, com-fort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work."

In order for any of us to be effective Christians, we need to have a base of comfort (or security). Without this, we will never endeavor to act on our faith (through God-honoring deeds and words). This is why the Apostle Paul en-courages the church to know that they are loved by God; and that they have received hope and grace in Christ.

If we are in Jesus today, we are in a blessed position—whether we feel like we are, or not. May God make His face shine on us, Christ's church, today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A holy despair in ourselves is the ground of true hope.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, April 7, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 4/7-9/17 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday! We get to go to church! Here is Thomas Wat-son, from his "The Ten Commandments" book. . . .

"But I fear I have no faith, it is so weak!

"If you have faith, though but in its infancy, be not discouraged. For, 1) A little faith is faith, as a spark of fire is fire. 2) A weak faith may lay hold on a strong Christ; as a weak hand can tie the knot in marriage as well as a strong one. She, in the gospel, who but touched Christ, fetched virtue from Him. 3) The promises are not made to strong faith, but to true. The promise does not say, 'he who has a giant faith, who can believe God's love through a frown, who can rejoice in affliction, who can work wonders, remove mountains, stop the mouth of lions, shall be saved’—but whosoever believes, be his faith never so small.

"A reed is but weak, especially when it is bruised; yet a promise is made to it. 'A bruised reed shall He not break,' (Matt. 12:20). 4) A weak faith may be fruitful. Weakest things multiply most. The vine is a weak plant, but it is fruit-ful. The thief on the cross, who was newly converted, was but weak in grace; but how many precious clusters grew upon that tender plant! He chided his fellow-thief. 'Do you not fear God?' (Luke 23:40). He judged himself, 'We in-deed suffer justly.' He believed in Christ, when he said, 'Lord.' He made a heavenly prayer, 'Remember me when You come into Your kingdom.' Weak Christians may have strong affections. How strong is the first love, which is after the first planting of faith! 5) The weakest believer is a member of Christ as well as the strongest; and the weakest member of the body mystic shall not perish. Christ will cut off rotten members, but not weak members. There-fore, Christian, be not discouraged. God, who would have us receive them that are weak in faith, will not Himself refuse them, (Rom. 14:1)."

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Thurs., 4/6/17 Devotion (Lev. 9:4b)

Today's encouragement comes from Leviticus 9:4b, where we read these few words:

" . . . For today the LORD will appear to you."

Every Lord's Day (Sunday), in the proper worship of the true church, God "ap-pears" to His people, and visits them, with His grace and mercy (in Christ). In Leviticus, ch. 9, God came to the people in their worship, (see vv. 23-24). But the Lord may also "appear" to His saints throughout the week—subordinate to Sabbath worship, but nonetheless every bit as really.

Are our hearts troubled today? Are we contrite and broken before God? Do we mourn our sins; and cry out for Jesus, and His grace? Then, God is cer-tainly near to us, visiting us, (cf. Ps. 34:18).

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who has God to be his God is so well content-ed with His condition that he does not much care whether he has anything else.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Wed., 4/5/17 Devotion (1 Thess. 2:4)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Thessalonians 2:4, where Paul wrote these words to the church:

"But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts."

Like Paul, faithful church ministers today are not so concerned about any fal-len human beings, as they are about pleasing their Sovereign Lord. God's under-shepherds know that they are of no good to man at all, unless they are first and foremost honoring to and properly-representing their Lord Jesus, who sent them out to preach.

The same could be said for any churched Christian. The believer's primary goal is to see Christ as the sole "audience" of all his or her worship and obe-dience. In this way (only) is effective ministry, and victorious living possible.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Indeed, sometimes grace is as a sleepy habit in the soul, like sap in the vine—not exerting its vigor, due to spiritual sloth or by reason of falling into some sin—but this is only for a while. The spring of grace will come, the flowers will appear, and the fig tree will put forth her green figs.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Monday, March 27, 2017

Mon., 3/27/17 Devotion (Php. 1:21)

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

"For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

The Apostle Paul's words here are highly-illuminating to us in the church to-day. Christ is to be our life. If anything else holds that place, we are practicing idolatry. If we could come to understand the nature of all things, we would clearly see that Jesus is the end all of everything.  Without Him, life is basic-ally boring and mundane. With Christ, everything makes sense; and living in Him is exciting.

For the redeemed Christian churchman dying is an added bonus. Instead of it taking anything away from us—we simply get a nearer and clearer vision of Jesus. In this regard, the true believer has it made. As we live here, we have our Messiah; and as we die—we only get a more intimate walk with Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There is no greater sign of a rotten heart than a fundamental unsteadfastness in the covenant of God.” —Richard Steele, in, "The Character of an Upright Man"]

Friday, March 24, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 3/24-26/17 Devotion

Yes! It is almost Sunday! We GET to go back to church. In order to help us get ready for worship, here is Thomas Watson, from his "A Body of Divinity" book. . . .

"What shall we do to attain [God's] blessed peace?

"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 heav-en, 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. As the wilderness cannot water itself, but remains dry and parched till the clouds drop their moisture, so our hearts cannot have peace till He infuse it, and drop it upon us by His Spirit. Therefore pray, 'Lord, You who are the God of peace, create peace; You who are the Prince of peace, command it. Give me that peace which may sweeten trouble, yea, even the bitter cup of death.’ "

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thurs., 3/23/17 Devotion (Prov. 10:22)

Today's encouragement comes from Proverbs 10:22, where we read these words:

"The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it."

It has been well-said that wealth is not the goal of wisdom, but that it some-times is the result of it (wisdom). When God chooses to bestow wealth (of whatever sort) on His churchmen there is a unique and singular blessing that attends it—and that is, that He "adds no sorrow with it."

The world's "wealth" is always, in every single case, accompanied with "sor-row," or trouble. Other sinners are clamoring to take it away from them; it causes them to lose sleep; and their minds are consumed with it (wealth). But not so with the wealth of Christ—it comes to His church without sorrow. Why is this? Partly because the faithful believer is just as happy to have it, or not to have it. He or she is indifferent to it. And why? Because the believer knows that Jesus alone is his (or her) only true and abiding wealth.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The church, in all the works of mercy, owns the hand of God.” —John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wed., 3/22/17 Devotion (Ex. 33:4a)

Today's encouragement comes from Exodus 33:4a, where we read these words:

"And when the people heard this bad news, they mourned . . . "

Bad news tends to make people sad, especially when it has to do with suffer-ing some of the natural consequences of their sin. But wherever there is bad news, there is also good news. In fact, the gospel of grace would not be news at all—let alone good news—if there was not sin and its resultant sadness in the world.

What makes the good news of Christ's atonement operative for us sinners, who would otherwise be swamped with nothing but horrible tidings of doom and damnation? Faith in Christ. And where does faith lead us? To love for God. And what does love result in? A happy walk with Christ, characterized by a hopeful present and future. This is the inheritance of the faithful and faith-filled church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[It would] not [be] worthwhile to live in a world devoid of God and Providence.” —John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Provi-dence"]

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tues., 3/21/17 Devotion (Eph. 1:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Paul's Holy Spirit-inspired words of Ephesians 1:5:

"Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, ac-cording to the good pleasure of His will."

Have we ever heartily (like Paul) thanked God for the gracious doctrines of predestination and election? Without this sovereign work of God no one would ever be saved, and we would all be forever bound to sin, death, and hell. Those who exalt human "free will" over the powerful gospel of Christ de-spise God, and His grace.

Let us recognize this humbling truth: unless the Lord had first come to us, in His mercy—there is no way, ever, that we would have come to Him in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The church is a distinct race that originally came from God. Other men are of the earth—they are of earthly derivation, the posterity of men—but the church is the posterity of God.” —Jonathan Ed-wards, in his sermon, "Christians a Chosen Generation"]

Monday, March 20, 2017

Mon., 3/20/17 Devotion (Gal. 6:14)

Today's encouragement comes from Galatians 6:14, which says this:

"But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."

When it is all said and done, the one thing we must always do is cling to Christ (and receive His blood atonement accomplished on the cross). On Sundays we celebrate—on the New Covenant Sabbaths—the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But without Christ's death, the resurrection would be meaningless. And with-out the resurrection, the cross would be empty and void. To the praise and honor of God, the church has *both* wonders to admire: that the Son of God would die for us unworthy sinners; and that He would come out of the tomb for the justification of us enormously-blessed believers.

[Puritan quote of the day: "True believers are saved even though they lack assurance.” —Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Friday, March 17, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 3/17-19/17 Devotion

Wahoo—Sunday is ALMOST here! May all true lovers of God enjoy it! Here is Thomas Watson, from "A Body of Divinity":

"Jesus Christ is the glorious purchaser of our redemption. The doctrine of re-demption by Jesus Christ is a glorious doctrine; it is the marrow and quintes-sence of the gospel, in which all a Christian’s comfort lies. Great was the work of creation, but greater the work of redemption. It cost more to redeem us than to make us; in the one there was but the speaking of a word, in the other the shedding of blood. The creation was but the work of God’s fingers, (Ps. 8:3). Redemption is the work of His arm, (Luke 1:51). 'Having obtained eternal redemption for us,’ (Heb 9:12)."

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Thurs., 3/16/17 Devotion (Gal. 2:21)

Today's encouragement comes from Galatians 2:21, where the Apostle Paul wrote these words:

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

This is a sweet verse, which beautifully wraps-up the entire message of the gospel. Paul, of all people, knew what it was like to seek to be justified by law; and he was always wary of falling back into that awful snare, after he was liberated by Christ and His gospel of grace.

Bottom line: if we can do *anything* at all, to attain our salvation—then clearly God made a huge mistake in sending His beloved Son to die a cruel death for us sinners on a Roman cross. (But we know that God makes no mistakes.)

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let us get humble hearts. Pride is the spring of disobedience.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Lord's Prayer"]

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wed., 3/15/17 Devotion (Jn. 5:24)

Today's encouragement comes from John 5:24, where our Lord Jesus Christ said this:

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has pass-ed from death into life."

Is it not amazing that it is in believing the gospel that we *hear* Christ's mini-sters preaching, and not in what we *do*, that secures the righteousness of Jesus to our souls? This is because we are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8); and faith comes by hearing (Rom. 10:17)—and not by doing.

The simplicity of this good news is a real stumbling block to many—especially to pharisaical religious people, who imagine themselves to put God into their debt, by their deeds.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Inasmuch as the righteousness of the second Adam [Christ] exceeds the first [Adam], so are you more happy, more holy in the second Adam than ever the first in himself was.” —Thomas Shepard, in, "The Sincere Convert"]

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tues., 3/14/17 Devotion (2 Cor. 13:8)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 13:8, where we read these words:

"For we can do nothing against the truth, but [only] for the truth."

Those Christian churchmen who are faithful in their rightful callings: be they as apostles (which are no more); or as ministers; or as other church officers; or as believing parishioners—cannot do anything "against the truth," but only "for" it.

How is this possible? Does this not seem preposterous? It *is* possible, and true because of the superintending work of God Himself, keeping His children in the fold, and in the faith. If we live by faith today, loving Christ as His faithful church—then let us do what we will. Whatever we do will please God (be-cause of Jesus' sacrifice); and it will forward the truth of the gospel.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Peter at one time believes and walks, at another time he doubts and sinks, (Matt. 14:30).” —Thomas Brooks, in, "Heaven on Earth"]

Monday, March 13, 2017

Mon., 3/13/17 Devotion (Job 42:1-3)

Today's encouragement comes from Job 42:1-3, where we read these words:

"Then Job answered the LORD and said: 'I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, "Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?" Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.' "

There are things about ourselves that we (ourselves) do not understand, which have a powerful impact on us. There are many things about God, and His providences towards us that we simply cannot grasp. But the key is to really and sincerely believe in the One who *does* fully comprehend all of these things: the Triune God.

When we are able to do this (through our faith in Christ), then we may live comfortably in Him; and we may accept, without a need to untangle it, what God has meted out to us.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Because faith looks at Christ in every duty, it touches the hem of His garment; and through Christ, both the person and the offering are accepted, (Eph. 1:6).” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Lord's Prayer"]

Friday, March 10, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 3/10-12/17 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book. . . .

"God's providence reaches to all places, persons, and occurrences. 1) To all places: 'Am I a God at hand, and not a God afar off?' (Jer 23:23). The dio-cese where Providence visits is very large; it reaches to heaven, earth, and sea. 'They that go down to the sea, see the wonders of God in the deep,' (Psa 107:23, 24). Now, that the sea, which [appears to be] higher than the earth, should not drown the earth, is a wonder of Providence. The prophet Jonah saw the wonders of God in the deep, when the very fish which de-voured him and swallowed him brought him safe to shore.

"2) God's providence reaches to all persons, especially the persons of the godly, who in a special manner are taken notice of. God takes care of every saint in particular, as if He had none else to care for. 'He cares for you,' (1 Pet 5:7), i.e., the elect in a special manner. 'The eye of the Lord is upon them that fear Him; to preserve them from death, and to keep them alive in famine,' (Psa 33:18, 19). God by His providential care shields off dangers from His people, and sets a life-guard of angels about them, (Psa 34:7). God's provi-dence keeps the very bones of the saints, (Psa 34:20). It bottles their tears, (Psa 56:8). It strengthens the saints in their weakness, (Heb 11:34). It sup-plies all their wants out of its alms basket, (Psa 23:5). Thus Providence won-derfully supplies the wants of the elect."