Friday, December 29, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/29-31/17 Devotion

Praise God—it is almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, from his great work, "The Art of Divine Contentment":

"What it is then to learn Christ?

"To learn Christ is to be made like Christ, to have the divine characters of His holiness engraven upon our hearts: 'We all with open face, beholding as in a glass [mirror] the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image,' (2 Cor. 3:18). There is a metamorphosis made; a sinner, viewing Christ's image in the [mirror] of the gospel, is transformed into that image. Never did any man look upon Christ with a spiritual eye, but he went away quite changed. A true saint is a divine landscape picture, where all the rare beauties of Christ are lively portrayed and drawn forth. He has the same spirit, the same judgment, the same will, with Jesus Christ."

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Thurs., 12/28/17 Devotion (Rev. 19:6b)

Today's encouragement comes from Revelation 19:6b, where we read these words:

"Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!"

Are we not glad that this statement above is true—today? It does not say, "The Lord *will* reign someday”; or, “Christ's reign means everything goes smoothly and without a hitch." The reign of our Messiah—between His resur-rection and the great judgment day—is a rule from the midst of a redeemed church, which (in its militant state) finds itself in a fallen world.

Let us not be too moved by wars and rumors of wars, and by international in-trigue and upheaval. Over all these things our Lord God Omnipotent reigns.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You have a good God, a good Christ, and a good gospel.” —Obadiah Sedgwick, in, "The Anatomy of Secret Sins"]

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Wed., 12/27/17 Devotion (2 Chron. 32:1a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 32:1a, where we read these words:

"After [King Hezekiah's] deeds of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and entered Judah . . . "

Notice here that it appears that Hezekiah's many faithful acts were "reward-ed" with the world's strongest man (politically and militarily) coming to Jeru-salem, to destroy it. Sometimes it seems that the people made righteous in Jesus' blood, and who are walking by faith in Him, are the ones who get the worst trials in this life. That may well be; but it is no cause for alarm for us, and neither should we be discouraged by it.

Later in this very chapter, at v. 20, Hezekiah and the Prophet Isaiah prayed together; and the Lord delivered Judah from all Sennacherib's threats, (de-stroying his army). That is a splendid biblical example of how the state (He-zekiah) and the church (Isaiah) are to minister together, in this world.

[Puritan quote of the day: "They have armies on their side, and strength and powers of the world on their side; but we have truth and God on our side!”
—Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Tues., 12/26/17 Devotion (Jn. 16:33)

Today's encouragement comes from John 16:33, where we read these words, uttered by our Lord Jesus:

"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

This is a beautiful verse (above). Christ seals the peace of His people; and then He gives them the assurance of His absolute and unwavering victory (in and through them—even in this world). "Tribulation" is a "shaking" dynamic. It is not a pleasant experience. But, even in the midst of undergoing it, we are to be of "good cheer," because Jesus, in His blood atonement and glorious resurrection, has forever secured the church's triumph over the world (in which we undergo our troubles).

Therefore, let us not be discouraged, but greatly heartened, in Jesus. Even our worst feelings and experiences are redeemed and sanctified, by the King and Head of the church: our Lord Jesus Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If the church is beautiful beyond all other of the children of men, how beautiful is Jesus Christ, from whom the church derives all its comeliness?” —Thomas Vincent, in, "The True Christian's Love to the Unseen Christ"]

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Thurs. 12/21/17 Devotion (Zech. 8:2)

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

"Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘I am zealous for Zion with great zeal; with great fervor I am zealous for her.’ "

God is not zealous about very many things. Our Lord Jesus Christ's ministry saw Him pass by many things with relative indifference. But He *was* ex-tremely zealous for God's "house," (see Jn. 2:17). The church, the redeemed people of God, matter to Him.

Our problem is largely that we do not value what God treasures. Let us re-adjust our priority schema, so as to love what Christ loves, enjoy what He en-joys, and live for what He lives for. We will never regret doing so.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Where there is love to God, there is grieving for our sins of unkindness against Him.” —Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wed., 12/20/17 Devotion (Rev. 11:15)

Today's encouragement comes from Revelation 11:15, which says this:

"Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’ "

These words remind us Handel's "Messiah," where the great musician quotes this verse. Jesus Christ's life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and ses-sion in heaven (where He sits and rules heaven and earth as the Great King), is a great source of comfort and joy for the saints. We sing about Him and His reign in this season of Advent.

It is sweet that we do not have to “wait” for Jesus to govern in some future time. He *already* “rules the world, with truth and grace.” Let us be His cheerful and wiling servants—the faithful members of His holy church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "You cannot honor your Father in heaven unless you honor your earthly parents.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Ten Command-ments"]

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Tues., 12/19/17 Devotion (Zech. 6:12b)

Today's encouragement comes from Zechariah 6:12b, where we read these words:

"Thus says the LORD of hosts, saying: 'Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, and He shall build the temple of the LORD.’ "

Jesus is the "Branch." Ever since His resurrection, ascension, and the pour-ing-out of the blessed Holy Spirit (at Pentecost) on the church, His gospel and church kingdom have been "branch[ing] out" all over the globe. The Lord Jesus is "build[ing] the temple" every Sunday, as He edifies His church; and, indeed everyday, as He abides with each individual believer.

Let us be thankful for the work of The "Branch"; and let us derive all of our nourishment and fruitfulness from Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "'Israel sighed by reason of their bondage,' (Ex. 2:23); but sinners are willing to be slaves, they will not take their freedom; they kiss their fetters.” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Monday, December 18, 2017

Mon., 12/18/17 Devotion (2 Chron. 21:20a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 21:20a, where we read these words:

"He [King Jehoram of Judah] was thirty-two years old when he became king. He reigned in Jerusalem eight years and, to no one’s sorrow, departed [died]."

To me, this is one of the most comical texts in all the Bible. (But it is also very tragic.) Jehoram finally "kicks the bucket," after suffering grievously in his body, because of all his flagrant rebellion against the Lord, and his unrepent-ed-of sins—and nobody is sad about it. Instead, if anything, the people of Ju-dah are relieved.

Some lives leave nothing but shame behind them, after the person is gone. The memory of the godly churchman, however, always brings joy to the saints, and glory to God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Never think to be kings when you die, and slaves while you live. The crown of glory is for conquerors, not for captives.” —Tho-mas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Friday, December 15, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 12/15-17/17 Devotion

Hooray—it is almost Sunday! Here are good words from the esteemed Thom-as Watson, from his book, "The Ten Commandments":

"Faith in Christ is acceptable to God because it is a self-denying grace; it makes a man go out of himself, renounce all self-righteousness, and wholly rely on Christ for justification. It is very humble; it confesses its own indigence [poverty], and lives wholly upon Christ. As the bee sucks sweetness from the flower, so faith sucks all its strength and comfort from Christ.

"Faith is a grace acceptable to God, because by faith we present a righteous-ness to Him which best pleases Him; we bring the righteousness of Christ in-to court, which is called the righteousness of God, (2 Cor. 5:21). To bring Christ's righteousness, is to bring Benjamin with us. A believer may say, 'Lord, it is not the righteousness of Adam, or of the angels, but of Christ who is God-Man, that I bring before thee.' The Lord cannot but smell a sweet sa-vor in Christ's righteousness."

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Thurs., 12/14/17 Devotion (Jn. 4:22)

Today's encouragement comes from John 4:22, where we find our Lord Jesus saying these words:

"You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews."

This is a very bold and highly politically-incorrect assertion our blessed Messi-ah makes here. He is basically teaching that all who worship false gods (or even misguided concoctions of the true God—as was the case with the Sa-maritan to whom Jesus spoke these words) were blind in their devotion, and did not know their deity. Then, Christ has the audacity to affirm that "salvation is of the Jews." It does not come from any other ethnicity—because the Per-son of salvation (Jesus) came from the Jews.

Do we have this kind of faith-confidence in the Son of God; or are we reduced to saying silly things like, "All roads lead to heaven"? Let us follow our Mas-ter's lead; and let us do it with love and grace, as His holy church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A heartless, drooping, and discouraging life and walk is very unbecoming the gospel of Christ.” —James Durham, in, "The Un-searchable Riches Of Christ"]

Monday, December 4, 2017

Mon., 12/4/17 Devotion (2 Chron. 3:8a)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Chronicles 3:8a, where we read these words:

"And he [Solomon] made the Most Holy Place. . . . "

What a remarkable statement (above). A fallen man, a sinner, would “make" the earthly most holy place—in the very pattern of what Jesus entered into for His church in heaven. God honors us, by giving us such amazing privileges. Think of it: Mary, a fallen soul, bears the sinless Christ Child. We, depraved sinners (in ourselves), become the vessels of the Blessed Holy Spirit, (see 2 Cor. 4:7).

The redeemed church—even now—is nestled in the very heart of the Holy Trinity, in that God's children are *in* the Son of God, who is now both God and man. The worship offered by regenerated churchmen here on earth is perfectly received by God, in Jesus, in glory (heaven).

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is not how much we do, but how much we love.” —Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thurs.-Sabbath, 11/30-12/3/17 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday! We *get* to return to church, to worship God! In order to help us get ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Body of Di-vinity" book:

"Why was Jesus Christ made flesh?

"The 'causa prima,' and impulsive cause, was free grace. It was love in God the Father to send Christ, and love in Christ that He came to be incarnate. Love was the intrinsic motive. Christ is God-Man, because He is a lover of man. Christ came out of pity and indulgence to us: 'non merita nostra, sed misera nostra,' Augustine. 'Not our deserts, but our misery, made Christ take flesh.' Christ's taking flesh was a plot of free grace, and a pure design of love. God Himself, though Almighty, was overcome with love. Christ Incarnate is nothing but love covered with flesh. As Christ's assuming our human nature was a masterpiece of wisdom, so it was a monument of free grace."

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Wed., 11/29/17 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 one's soul is a very blessed thing. God does not only "add," or "drip" His good gifts onto His beloved churchmen (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 Christ, the Prince of Peace, we have grace and peace. The more we know Him, the greater the levels of these blessings we enjoy—though they often come through trouble and difficulty.

[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"]

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Tues., 11/28/17 Devotion (Lk. 12:1b)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 12:1b, where we find the Savior saying these words:

" . . . He [Christ] began to say to His disciples first of all, 'Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.' "

Our Redeemer prioritized this teaching (re. the pharisees and their hypocrisy) because He knew that it could, and would destroy His followers if it was not addressed head-on. The pharisees' "leaven," (or teaching) is dangerous, be-cause it seeks to seduce the soul into smug self-righteousness.

Christ's worst opponents (by far) were the pharisees—the very ones who were the most religious and devout. Jesus reserved His harshest words for them; and He warns us (even today) to watch out for their doctrinal poison, (which, like the snakes the Lord compared them to, comes from their lips).

[Puritan quote of the day: "God does not bring His people into troubles, and leave them there.” —Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Monday, November 27, 2017

Mon., 11/27/17 Devotion (Mic. 2:7b)

Today's encouragement comes from Micah 2:7b, where we read these few words:

" . . . Is the Spirit of the LORD restricted? . . . "

This is a good question (above). Is the Spirit of the Lord restricted? The an-swer, of course, is, “No.” No matter how sinful, difficult, trying, excruciating, scary, or threatening anything in the fallen world is (or may seem to be), it is not stronger than God. Sometimes even true believers are tempted to think that something may be able to thwart the inevitable advance of King Jesus, His gospel, and His church—but, in fact, nothing can.

This should be a real encouragement for every sincere Christian churchman today: The Spirit of God is not (in anyway) “restricted.” This means that He is free and able to answer our faith-filled and God-honoring prayers and peti-tions—all in and through our Risen Lord and glorified High Priest Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A good Christian is not a grave to bury God's mer-cies, but a temple to sing His praises.” —Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Friday, November 24, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/24-26/17 Devotion

Praise God: Sunday is almost here! To help get us ready for this special day in church, here is Thomas Watson, from his "A Body of Divinity" book:

"All believers are alike justified. Justification does not apply to some more than to others. Though there are degrees in grace, yet not in justification; one is not justified more than another; the weakest believer is as perfectly justified as the strongest. Mary Magdalene is as much justified as the Virgin Mary. This may be a cordial [comfort] to a weak believer. Though you have but a drachm [small bit] of faith, you are as truly justified as he who is of the highest stature in Christ."

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thurs., 11/23/17 Devotion (Lk. 7:50)

Happy Thanksgiving Day, all you American Christians.  Enjoy your Puritan holiday.

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 7:50, where we find our Savior saying this:

"Then He [Christ] said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you. Go in
peace.' "

We are not only saved by grace through faith in Christ alone, (plus nothing)—but we also derive all our peace from Him as well. The woman Jesus had spoken these words to was a "sinner," (see v. 37).

The self-righteous pharisees had condemned her; but the blessed Messiah had encouraged her. Why? Because He (Christ) had forgiven her all her sins, and had set her on a new and free path of grace in Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We can never love God as He deserves. As God's punishing us is less than we deserve (Ezra 9:13), so our loving Him is less than He deserves.” —Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Wed., 11/22/17 Devotion (1 Chron. 17:2)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 17:2, where we read these words:

"Then Nathan said to David, 'Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.' "

Sincere, regenerate Christian churchmen, those who are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone, are not under law. Instead, they are under grace, (see Rom. 6:14). Therefore, those saints, being filled with the Holy Spirit, are free to do whatever they want to do. And this is because everything they de-sire to do will be in accord with the Triune God that they love in and through Jesus Christ. They love this God because He has forgiven them all their sins, and has made them perfectly free.

It does not so much matter to God what we do—so long as it is done in faith for the glory of Christ. Therefore, you who are faithful to Jesus and to your church vows—do what you want. It will only please God. Unbelieving religious people will hate you for your freedom; but you are not beholden to them, but rather to the God who has set you at perfect liberty in His Son.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Now it is only faith that shows a man the end and the issue of all his troubles.” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Down-cast"]

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tues., 11/21/17 Devotion (Lk. 5:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 5:8, where we read these words:

"When Simon Peter saw it [the miraculous catch of fish], he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!' "

Here is an irony: Peter knew himself to be a sinner, and so he implores his Redeemer to "depart from [him]." Thankfully, Christ did *not* do as Peter suggested. If our Lord Jesus "departed" from us every time we sinned, we would never have Him near us, ever.

True humility—which Peter was only to learn later on—is not demonstrated in seeking Christ's "departure" because of the commission of sins. Rather, it is begging His abiding with us still, despite those sins. [Peter does, however, do three things very well here (in the verse above): he worships Christ, he con-fesses his own sinfulness, and he calls Jesus "Lord."]

[Puritan quote of the day: "There are no sins God's people are more subject to than unbelief and impatience.” —Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Monday, November 20, 2017

Mon. 11/20/17 Devotion (Lk. 4:20)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 4:20, where we read these words:

"Then He [Jesus] closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him."

In this world, the best time for the people of God to collectively gaze upon Jesus intently is in church on Sunday—especially during the sermon, the sacrament, and prayer. In today's text (above), the Lord Jesus is keeping the old now-abrogated Sabbath (Saturday). The citizens of Nazareth are, too. They have heard the written Word of God read (by Christ), and now the Mes-siah is about to expound on it, through preaching. As He does so, the con-gregants are all locked-in on the Redeemer.

This is a good pattern for all who would be Christ's followers today. Let *us* "fix our eyes on Jesus," (as per Heb. 12:2a). Then, upon leaving church, let us love and follow the Savior, (rather than seek to throw Him off a cliff, as the Nazarenes had hoped to do).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ is called grace. He is the grace of God clothed with man's nature.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, November 17, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/18-20/17 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it is almost Sunday! In order to help us get ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his book, entitled, "The Ten Command-ments":

"The Sabbath Day is for our interest; it promotes holiness in us. The business of week-days makes us forgetful of God and our souls. The Sabbath brings Him back to our remembrance. When the falling dust of the world has clog-ged the wheels of our affections, that they can scarce move towards God, the Sabbath comes, and oils the wheels of our affections, and they move swiftly on.

"God has appointed the Sabbath for this end. On this day the thoughts rise to heaven, the tongue speaks of God, and is as the pen of a ready writer, the eyes drop tears, and the soul burns in love. The heart, which all the week was frozen, on the Sabbath melts with the word. The Sabbath is a friend to [the true] religion; it files off the rust of our graces; it is a spiritual jubilee, wherein the soul is set to converse with its Maker."

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thurs., 11/16/17 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—more than anything else—that pleases God. It is by faith that we in the true church 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 are not the conduit that brings us to the One (Christ), who saves us. Therefore, today, 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, we have nothing to worry about. If not, we have plenty of cause for concern.

[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"]

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wed., 11/15/17 Devotion (1 Chron. 5:20b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Chronicles 5:20b, which says this:

" . . . For [the Israelites] cried out to God in the battle. He [God] heeded their prayer, because they put their trust in Him."

Here is a practical way for all of us sincere Christians to live. We are embroil-ed in a battle everyday. The struggle is inevitable. In the midst of it, we are privileged to be able to cry out to God (and pray). The Lord hears us, His true church; and He answers our prayer, and delivers us. And, why? Because we are good people? No; but because (by grace) we put our "trust in Him."

Today, let us take the war to the devil. Let us put him on the defensive. But we must not enter the fray without faith, (and resulting prayer). Let us employ our faith in Christ by crying out to God for help. He *will* hear every one of our heartfelt petitions.

[Puritan quote of the day: "They who will not confess their sin as David did, that they may be pardoned, shall confess their sin as Achan did, that they may be stoned.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tues., 11/14/17 Devotion (Heb. 9:12)

Today's encouragement comes from Hebrews 9:12, where we read these words:

"Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood [Christ] enter-ed the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption."

Jesus Christ did not resort to anything short of the shedding of His own pre-cious blood, to procure the atonement (for His own elect church) that would perfectly assuage the righteous wrath of God. Jesus bore all the hell, damna-tion, and torment that the redeemed would have had to shoulder themselves. Now, because of His finished work, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (Rom. 8:1).

This ultimate sacrifice occurred once—never to be repeated again, (as the in-ferior sacrifices had to be in the Old Covenant). If we are children of such grace, let us marvel that our Lord is such a God of love.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Never wonder, then, or be offended to see so many fall off from God. Few men have choice spirits.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Monday, November 13, 2017

Mon., 11/13/17 Devotion (Ps. 126:3)

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

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

If we are regenerated Christian churchman, then one thing is absolutely true of us: the Lord has done great things for us. To be given Jesus Christ, His righteousness, and His Spirit; to be placed into His church, and to be the re-cipient of His many tender mercies and gentle benevolences—is to be bles-sed, indeed.

Flowing from these (most important) spiritual blessings are numerous tem-poral benefits, as well: family, country, health, sustenance, material goods, and even recreational enjoyments. All God's people have much *more* to be thankful for than any of us could ever adequately enumerate. Let us recog-nize this—especially in these trying times—and give God proper gratitude.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A heartless, drooping, and discouraging life and walk is very unbecoming the gospel of Christ.” —James Durham, in, "The Un-searchable Riches of Christ"]

Friday, November 10, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/10-12/17 Devotion

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

“Despising the simple 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 9, 2017

Thurs., 11/9/17 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 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 heard and received with faith and repentance—none of Josiah's marvelous reforms 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 want [lack] of good preaching.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Ten Commandments"]

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Wed., 11/8/17 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."

These highly-politically-incorrect verses (above) are often ignored or abused. David hated God’s enemies precisely because he (David) loved his God so much. Christians are to emulate David’s attitude in the way our Heavenly Father would have us do so: we are to *both* love *and* hate His foes at the same time. We hate them for their detestation of our Savior, His church, and His gospel; but we love them because they are created in the image of God, (and we sincerely desire their eternal salvation in Christ). At one time all of us regenerated churchmen were adamant haters of God. Now, we love Him in Christ.

It is not good enough for us to use the old unbiblical adage: "Love the sinner/
Hate the sin." God would have us get much more personal and passionate than that—even as He Himself does.

[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"]

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tues., 11/7/17 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 today, in this world? 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 word that we do "not see." Unbelievers are blind (spir-itually). They see nothing but the dark interiors of their own spiritual eyelids. 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"]

Monday, November 6, 2017

Mon., 11/6/17 Devotion (Ps. 135:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 135:6, where we read these words:

"Whatever the LORD pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places."

The truth of this verse (above) cuts both ways, from our experiential point of view. At once, we are glad that our God is strong, and that He is sovereign. But, on the other hand, some of the things that He allows to happen do not always please us, (and they even go counter to our explicit and fervent pray-ers).

But, in the end, we realize that we are better off trusting the Lord in all situa-tions; and that resting in His governance of the church and the world is the best way to go. God knows all things—and that, with perfection. He knows what will most benefit Christ's church. Let us love and praise our King, the One who does *all* things well.

[Puritan quote of the day: "There are two sorts of wicked persons in the world: one sort count it their heaven and happiness to domineer over others. . . . The other sort will sell their liberty, their reason, and everything for even a poor thing, so they may get anything that they value in the world.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Friday, November 3, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 11/3-5/17 Devotion

Yippee—it is almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here are words from Thomas Watson's, "The Lord's Prayer" book:

"True faith is wrought by the ministry of the word. 'Faith comes by hearing,' (Rom. 10:17). Peter let down the net of his ministry, and at one draught caught three thousand souls. Let us examine how our faith was wrought. Did God in the ministry of the word humble us? Did He break up the fallow ground of our heart, and then cast in the seed of faith? A good sign; but, if you know not how you came by your faith, suspect yourselves; as we suspect men to have stolen goods, when they know not how they came by them.

"True faith is at first small, like a grain of mustard-seed; it is full of doubts and fears; it is smoking flax: it smokes with desire, but does not flame with com-fort. It is so small that a Christian can hardly discern whether he has faith or not.

"True faith is joined with sanctity. . . . Though faith does but touch Christ, it fetches a healing virtue from Him. Justifying faith does that in a spiritual sense which miraculous faith does; it removes the mountains of sin, and casts them into the sea of Christ's blood."

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Thurs., 11/2/17 Devotion (Hos. 8:14a)

Today's encouragement comes from Hosea 8:14a, where we read these words:

"For Israel has forgotten his Maker, and has built temples . . . "

At first glance, this is a strange couplet (above). Israel *forgets* God; and then goes out and *builds temples*. Here, we see the incurable religiosity of all people everywhere. Just because sinners choose to dishonor the True God, this does absolutely nothing to alleviate their need to worship *some* god, of some sort.

Let us seek to keep in mind that every lost soul we talk to today—be they al-legedly as "irreligious" as they want to pretend to be—are diligently about building temples for their false deities. We also would be in this predicament, except that God has miraculously and sovereignly brought us to Himself, and placed us in Jesus, and His church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He that enjoys much of God in this life carries heaven about him. . . . The enjoyment of God's sweet presence here is an earnest of our enjoying Him in heaven.” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Di-vinity"]

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Wed., 11/1/17 Devotion (Ps. 121:2)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 121:2, where we read these words:

"My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth."

On the face of it, this is a rather audacious statement for anyone to make: "*My* help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." But the sin-cere Christian churchman has not only the right, but even the responsibility to assert such a claim. God's making of heaven and earth was a pretty signifi-cant accomplishment; but His making of even one redeemed believer from the slime pit of fallen humanity, is infinitely *more* remarkable.

Why would such a powerful God allow His servants to have any need for "help" at all? So as to keep us near to Him; and to remind us that His strength is made perfect in our weakness, (2 Cor. 12:9a).

[Puritan quote of the day: "God calls for no more from you than He is willing to give unto you.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tues., 10/31/17 Devotion (2 Ki. 13:23)

Happy Reformation Day—as today we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the start of that great work of God’s Spirit in His church and the world!

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

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

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

Let us in the church never abuse or take for granted this most-blessed pri-vilege. Instead, let us make sure that our hearts are full of love for God—blessing and thanking Him for His kindness and generosity to us (in Christ).

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

Monday, October 30, 2017

Mon., 10/30/17 Devotion (2 Tim. 2:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Paul's words to the young pastor Timo-thy, as they are found in 2 Timothy 2:1:

"You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."

Notice that Paul does not tell Timothy to be strong in the law, or himself, or in his position, or in religion (in general). Instead, he is to be strong in "the grace that is in Christ Jesus." This is not just *any* grace, (and it is not "common" grace). Rather, it is redemptive and regenerative grace. It is resurrection grace.

Paul's admonition is not only for pastors. All Christians must be strong in this blessed grace that is found in Jesus alone. If we seek to gain strength from anything or anyone else, our religious lives will show themselves (in weak-ness). If we are strong in Christ's grace, we will shine for God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Those whose hearts follow hard after the Lord have the right hand of God upholding them.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gos-pel Worship"]

Friday, October 27, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/27-29/17 Devotion

Yes! Sunday is almost here! So as to help prepare us for church worship, here are some good words from Thomas Watson's great little book, entitled, "The Doctrine of Repentance":

"This resolution [to leave sin] must be built upon the strength of Christ more than our own. It must be a humble resolution. As David, when he went against Goliath put off his presumptuous confidence as well as his armor—'I come to you in the name of the Lord,' (1 Sam. 17:45)—so we must go out against our Goliath-lusts in the strength of Christ. . . . Being conscious of our own inability to leave sin, let us get Christ to be bound with us and engage His strength for the mortifying of corruption."

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Thurs., 10/26/17 Devotion (2 Ki. 7:9a)

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

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

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

So is it the case with the gospel. We churchmen who, by grace, feed on Christ and His goodness every Lord’s Day and even throughout the week, ought to have compassion and concern for those who do not. What do we have to offer them? The Person of Jesus Christ, His atonement, forgiveness, and salvation. We are all by nature spiritual lepers, before we are converted to being the children of the great King.

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

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Wed., 10/25/17 Devotion (2 Ki. 6:33b)

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

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

Many people fail in their religion because of impatience. Here, the king of Is-rael is right: God sent the trouble with which they were dealing. But he was wrong, in thinking that it was futile to "wait for the LORD any longer." Little did he know that in the very next chapter God would bring about a great and mir-aculous deliverance.

If we are almost at the ends of our ropes today, and we are tempted to give up on God—let us be sure not to do this. The Lord is always faithful to His church; and all alternatives to Christ only lead to much worse disasters (in this world, and in the one to come).

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

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tues., 10/24/17 Devotion (Dan. 9:18b)

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

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

If we had to approach God, and present our petitions to Him based on our righteous deeds, we would never come to the Lord, ever. Besides that, we would have no basis for our prayers, because we do not possess any right-eous deeds that can save us, or even recommend us to God. Daniel, a true believer, understood this gospel truth, (see above).

We come to God on the basis of Christ's righteousness, which is imputed to us churched saints, by sovereign grace. This is the ground on which we properly approach God. The Lord will hear the prayers of those who come to Him bearing Jesus in the arms of faith. But He disregards all other petitions.

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

Monday, October 23, 2017

Mon., 10/23/17 Devotion (Ps. 116:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 116:1, where we read these words:

"I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my supplications."

Among many other reasons, here is yet another one that explains the saints’ love for God: He hears our prayers. Precisely *what* prayers does God "hear," in the covenantal sense? (After all, He knows the things religious peo-ple all over the world are babbling out all the time.) God hears prayers that are made through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. These are the only prayers God hears.

But even these petitions should be sincere and earnest. The Lord hearkens to prayers that come from the heart. He answers those people who *really* want to be heard. God pays no attention to prayers offered from self-, law-, or works-righteousness; but He does hear those that are "soaked," as it were, in the blood righteousness of Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Although to true religion there must indeed be something else besides affection, yet true religion consists so much in the af-fections that there can be no true religion without them.” —Jonathan Ed-wards, in, "A Treatise Concerning the Religious Affections"]

Friday, October 20, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/20-22/17 Devotion

Yippee—it is almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here are words from Thomas Watson's, "The Lord's Prayer" book:

"True faith is wrought by the ministry of the word. 'Faith comes by hearing,' (Rom. 10:17). Peter let down the net of his ministry, and at one [fell swoop] caught three thousand souls. Let us examine how our faith was wrought. Did God in the ministry of the word humble us? Did He break up the fallow ground of our heart, and then cast in the seed of faith? A good sign; but, if you know not how you came by your faith, suspect yourselves; as we suspect men to have stolen goods, when they know not how they came by them.

"True faith is at first small, like a grain of mustard-seed; it is full of doubts and fears; it is smoking flax: it smokes with desire, but does not flame with com-fort. It is so small that a Christian can hardly discern whether he has faith or not.

"True faith is joined with sanctity. . . . Though faith does but touch Christ, it fetches a healing virtue from Him. Justifying faith does that in a spiritual sense which miraculous faith does; it removes the mountains of sin, and casts them into the sea of Christ's blood."

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Thurs., 10/19/17 Devotion (1 Ki. 22:14)

Today’s encouragement comes from 1 Kings 22:14, where we read these words:

“But Micaiah said, 'As the LORD lives, what the LORD says to me, that I will speak.’ “ (ESV)

Faithful and truly-called church ministers of Christ’s gospel would literally rather die, than fail to deliver the message God lays on their hearts. Micaiah (above) was being encouraged to join the false prophets, and speak words that the wicked King Ahab wanted to hear. But Micaiah refused to do this. He was but one against 400 (false) prophets.

Even today, real pastors are urged to “fudge” on the truth, and to “tickle the ears” of sinners. Worse than that, they are pressured to “ease-up” on sin, and especially not to make it too “personal.” But God’s faithful servants do Christ, His church, and the world the most good (by far) when they are true to Jesus, and preach to people what they really need to hear.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Nothing in all the world can deliver from the fear of death but forgiveness of sin, and then this makes a man look on the Day of Judgment with comfort.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in a book of his sermons, en-titled, "Gospel Remission"]

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Wed., 10/18/17 Devotion (1 Ki. 21:3)

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

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

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

How about us who make up the true church today? Are we zealous to retain what God has given us, so that we will be fruitful and productive in the world; or are we willing to sell what is precious to God's enemies, and become just like them?

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

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

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

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

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

Daniel is speaking to Nebuchadnezzar here, and is explaining the Babylonian king's dream. The great "kingdom" that Daniel is referring to here, is the es-tablishment of, and the proliferation of the New Covenant Church, by the Lord Jesus Christ. This kingdom is currently set up on earth and in heaven; and it has “[broken] in[to] pieces" all other "kingdoms."

The earlier kingdoms that are now under Jesus’ and His church’s feet are the Babylonian one, the Grecian one, Medo-Persion one, and the Roman one. None of them could stand up to The Ultimate King Jesus. For this glorious fact, may all His church rejoice.

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

Monday, October 16, 2017

Mon., 10/16/17 Devotion (1 Thess. 2:4)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Thessalonians 2:4, where we read these words:

"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."

The ministers of the faithful church who are truly called by God are sent to speak to all people everywhere the gospel of Christ's grace. But they are to do so with their minds on God first. He is our principal “Audience.” What is it that *God* wants us to say? This is what must be preached. The faithful clergy do not poll the people, to determine what they want to hear. Instead, they "poll" the Lord, in order to know what He would have them proclaim.

This principle is then passed down to the entire church, wherein the people of God begin to think this way too. They begin to ask, "What is it that Christ would have me do, and say?" This is the way to be effective for Jesus in the world. Then, when God "tests our hearts," we pass with flying colors—be-cause of Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ is in the ship of His church; do not fear sink-ing. The church's anchor is cast in heaven. Do we not think that God loves His church, and takes as much care of it as we can?” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Art of Divine Contentment"]

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/13-15/17 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday! We *get* to go back to church. In order to help get us ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "The Happiness of Drawing Near to God" treatise. . . .

"Where we draw near to God.

"Answer. In the use of His ordinances. In the word we draw near to His Holy Oracle; in the sacrament we draw near to His table. In the one we hear His voice; in the other we have His kiss. Besides, we also in a special manner draw near to God in prayer. Prayer is the soul's private converse and fellow-ship with God. Prayer whispers in God's ears, Psalm 43:6: ‘My prayer came before Him, even into His ears.’ In prayer we draw so near to God that we ‘take hold of Him,’ (Isaiah 64:6). God draws near to us by His Spirit, and we draw near to Him in prayer.

"The 'modus,' or manner of our drawing near to God. God's special residence is in Heaven and we draw near to God, not by the feet of our bodies, but with our souls. The affections are the feet of the soul; by these we move towards God. David drew near to God in his desires, Psalm 73:25: ‘There is none up-on earth that I desire beside You.’  He did shoot his heart into Heaven by pi-ous prayers. Spirits may have fellowship at a distance."

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Thurs., 10/12/17 Devotion (Col. 2:9-10)

Today's encouragement comes from Colossians 2:9 & 10, which says this:

"For in Him [Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power."

Regenerated baptized churched Christians are *already* "complete in [Jesus]." We do not have to wait for some future event, to be made whole, full, or satisfied. Believers' “completion" is a *past* reality, sealed at the cross and resurrection of Jesus, and applied to the hearts of the saints in time and space.

Maybe today we are *feeling* less than complete. If we are in Christ, we *are* complete—even though we may not sense it. Our "completion" can be in no one *other* than Jesus. If we are trying to find it in another person, a saint, an angel, or any other practice, being, or doctrine—then we are certain to be dis-appointed. But not so with Christ: He has secured His church's fullness *al-ready*; and for all times to come.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Some set their bags of money always before them, others set the fear of men always before them, but a wise Christian will set God, judgment, and eternity always before him.” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "God's Anatomy upon Man's Heart"]

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Wed., 10/11/17 Devotion (1 Ki. 14:8b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Kings 14:8b, where we read these words:

" . . . and yet you [Jeroboam] have not been as My servant David, who kept My commandments and who followed Me with all his heart, to do only what was right in My eyes."

Ahijah the prophet is speaking these words to Jeroboam, the idolatrous king of Israel. What made David so "perfect" in God's sight? After all, did he not commit the murder of Uriah, and did he not commit adultery with Bathsheba? David was justified in God's sight, because he (David), in brokenness, contri-tion, faith, and repentance, cast himself entirely on Jesus Christ. David pos-sessed Christ’s righteousness; and, because of this, he was perfect in God’s eyes.

And so it is with all faithful Christian churchmen today. We who are accounted as righteous are so because we have Jesus' righteousness fully and legally imputed to our hearts by faith. Because of this, in fact, we "follow the Lord will all [our] heart”—despite the fact that we have all kinds of imperfections and sins.  When we sin, we repent; and love God all the more.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[Abraham] looked up to the goodness of God in Himself and in His promise, not as it appeared to sense.” —Jeremiah Bur-roughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tues., 10/10/17 Devotion (Php. 4:6-7)

Today's encouragement comes from Philippians 4:6 & 7, where we read these great words:

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

Anxiety gives way to peace, when we Christian church members bring our troubles to Christ, once again assuring ourselves that we are in right relation to God, on the basis of Jesus' work alone (apprehended by faith). A lot of people pray, and are yet not relieved of their anxieties, because they are not trusting in Christ alone. (They add something else to the mix.)

God will never give true and settled peace to anyone, except those in His church who trust in Jesus' blood (plus nothing). Let us be numbered among the few (and the humble), [to work off of a Marine expression].

[Puritan quote of the day: "Those who converse much with God have shining hearts and shining conversations [lives].” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in "Hope"]

Monday, October 9, 2017

Mon., 10/9/17 Devotion (Ps. 94:19)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 94:19, where we read these words:

"In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul."

This verse describes life in the real world. The sincere Christian churchman does indeed have "anxieties"; but he or she also has abundant "comforts" in Christ. False forms of Christianity argue that these two are incompatible. The Scripture, on the other hand, affirms that both consternation *and* consola-tion co-exist, even in the true children of God.

Our Savior Himself had "anxieties." Do we recall His time in the Garden of Gethsemane? But our comforts in Christ outweigh our troubles in a fallen world. Let us thank God for this.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a vain thing to think that true religion can be maintained, and have the liberty of it, without some difference of opinion among us.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Hope"]

Friday, October 6, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 10/6-8/17 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it is almost Sunday. We *get* to go back to church again, on The Lord's Day. In order to help us get ready, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book. . . .

"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, (Psa 8:3); redemption is the work of His arm, (Luke 1:51).

“ 'Having obtained eternal redemption for us,’ (Heb 9:12). Christ's purchasing redemption for us implies that our sins mortgaged and sold us. Had there not been some kind of mortgaging there had been no need of redemption. When we were thus mortgaged, and sold by sin, Christ purchased our redemption. He had the best right to redeem us, for He is our kinsman. The Hebrew word for Redeemer, 'Goel,' signifies a kinsman, one that is near in blood. In the old law the nearest kinsman was to redeem his brother’s land, (Ruth 4:4). Thus Christ being near akin to us, 'Flesh of our flesh,’ is the fittest to redeem us."

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Thurs., 10/5/17 Devotion (Eph. 5:1-2)

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Wed., 10/4/17 Devotion (Ezek. 37:4-5)

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

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

Let us behold the amazing power of the preached word of God—as the gos-pel of grace is proclaimed in the Lord Jesus Christ. God brought life to the valley of dry bones through the agency of His prophet’s preaching. The Lord still does this very same thing every Sunday, from faithful pulpits. What an odd way to gain glory. Non-regenerate people never comprehend the primacy of preaching.

Today—just as it has always been—there are many false and futile substi-tutes for preaching, all claiming to be able to make dry bones live. The faithful in Christ will never fall for any of them. They would rather listen to the word of God, as it is proclaimed in the true church.

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

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Tues., 10/3/17 Devotion (Eph. 3:21)

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

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

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

Let us build our lives around Christ. If we will do this, we will find ourselves building our lives around His church. Let us do all this by grace, through faith in Jesus.

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

Monday, October 2, 2017

Mon., 10/2/17 Devotion (Eph. 2:8-9)

Today's encouragement comes from Ephesians 2:8 & 9, where we find these remarkable words:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of your-selves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

We sinners are not saved by anything we do. This truth is extremely hard to accept, because we are so geared in our natural flesh to believe the exact op-posite. After the Fall of man in the Garden, works went out the window, (but our memory of them has never left us).

To seek to be redeemed by works, or to supposedly sustain a relationship with God through works is a great affront to Christ and the gospel. If we could be saved by what we do, why would God the Father send His precious Son to die on a cruel cross for helpless sinners? Let us be grateful that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus. This pleases God; and it brings us the best of everything.

[Puritan quote of the day: "To be rich in goods and rich in goodness is a hap-py condition.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Friday, September 29, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/29-10/1/17 Devotion

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

"See then what an encouragement here is to become godly. All things shall work for good. Oh, that this may induce the world to fall in love with [the true] religion! Can there be a greater magnet to piety? Can anything more prevail with us to be good, than this; all things shall work for our good? [The true] re-ligion is the true philosopher’s stone that turns everything into gold.

"Take the sourest part of [the true] religion, the suffering part, and there is comfort in it. God sweetens suffering with joy; He candies our wormwood with sugar. Oh, how may this bribe us to godliness! 'Acquaint now yourself with God, and be at peace; thereby good shall come unto you,' (Job 22:21). No man did ever come off a loser by his acquaintance with God. By this, good shall come unto you, abundance of good, the sweet distillations of grace, the hidden manna, yes, everything shall work for good. Oh, then get acquaint-ance with God, espouse His interest."

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Thurs., 9/28/17 Devotion (Ps. 79:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 79:1, where we read these words:

"O God, the nations have come into Your inheritance; Your holy temple they have defiled; they have laid Jerusalem in heaps."

In this particular Psalm (79), Asaph, the author, is bemoaning the fact that the "nations have come into [God's] inheritance." The reason? Because they came at that time to destroy the temple, and to lay waste the promised land of old. But in the New Covenant, the blessed promise is that the Gentile nations would enter into Christ and His church—not to destroy; but to beautify it.

Many of the other Psalms (like Ps. 22:27) actually speak of this happening. Most of us reading this devotion today are the fulfillment of this promise and prophecy. We, the ones who used to be of the idol-worshipping peoples, are now the true children of Abraham, by faith in Jesus. For this blessed fact, we will forever give God praise.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Surely God deals familiarly with men; His conde-scensions to His own clay are astonishing.” —John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Wed., 9/27/17 Devotion (Ps. 78:38a, 39a)

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 18, 2017

Mon., 9/18/17 Devotion (2 Cor. 7:4c, 5c)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 7:4c & 5c, where we read these words:

" . . . I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation. . . . Outside were conflicts, inside were fears."

It is helpful for us to read of the Apostle Paul's experiences. We can see (above) that even he, the stalwart of faith and strength, was "fearful" at times. But even more than this, he could find a way (in Christ) to be "joyful" in "tri-bulation."

All of us true Christian believers are capable of enduring a whole lot more than we could ever imagine that we could. There is valor within that will never come to the fore unless it is put through the fire (of afflictions). Still, none of us look forward to these troubles. The only thing we like is the Christlike char-acter that develops in us (which brings us much peace, stability, and happi-ness).

[Puritan quote of the day: "People [become] distracted from coming to God by their own self-imposed spiritual disciplines.” —John Owen, in, "Sin and Temp-tation”]

Friday, September 15, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/15-17/17 Devotion

Yippee—Sunday is almost here! Here is Thomas Watson, in "The Happiness of Drawing Near to God":

"To draw near to God is our peace. The only thing which breaks our peace is, when we do not keep close to God. But what harmony, yea Heaven is in the soul when it draws nigh to God! Psalm 119:165: ‘Great peace have they which love thy law.’ This peace, like pearl in broth, is cordial. David drew near to God, for He was ‘ever with him,’ (Psalm 139:17). And this made his pillow soft when he went to sleep—Psalm 4:8: ‘I will lay me down in peace.’ . . . O that sweet serenity which drops as honey upon the soul while it is drawing near to God! How comfortable it is to draw near to the sun! And how sweet is it to approach nigh to the Sun of Righteousness.

"To draw near to God is our riches. It is good drawing near to a gold mine. If we draw near to God, He will enrich us with promises, and divine consola-tions. He will enrich us with the ‘pearl of great price.' He will reward us as a King, yea as a God. He will give His land and jewels to us. He will give us the spring flowers of joy here, and the harvest of glory hereafter."

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Thurs., 9/14/17 Devotion (2 Cor. 3:5-6a)

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

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

What has God given us to do, in this life? Are we content with our assign-ments? Are they a bit "less glamorous" than we would have desired? The suf-ficient Lord supplies His saints with all the resources we need, in order to ful-fill our God-given roles on earth. The church's ministry, which cannot be done in the flesh, is totally dependent upon the grace of Christ.

Let us not be discouraged, if we are faithful in our spheres. Instead, we have cause to thank God that He has equipped us, and honored us with His seal of love in Jesus and His church.

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