Friday, August 18, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/18-20/17 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it is almost Sunday! Here's Thomas Watson, to help get us ready for church. This comes from his "A Plea for the Godly" book:

"See how dearly God loves the righteous and how near to His heart they lie. They are more excellent. The word 'excellent' carries affection in it. Things we prize we love. The righteous are God's treasure, (Psalm 135:4); and where His treasure is there is His heart. They are God's delicious garden where He plants the flower of His love, They are the dearly-beloved of His soul. They are His darling. He engraves them upon the palms of His hands that they may be never out of His eye. He rejoices over them with joy and rests in His love.

'It is no ordinary affection that God bears to the righteous. The sun shining upon a burning glass sets on fire only the object that is near the glass. The beams of God's love are more intensely enflamed towards them who are near Him by grace; these have the strength and spirits of His love distilled, He loves them as He loves Christ. Indeed, in one sense, God's love to Christ and believers is not alike, for Christ is loved purely for His own sake but believers are loved for Christ's sake. Yet, in another sense, God the Father loves be-lievers as He loves Christ. It is the same love for the quality, the same for the unchangeableness of it. God will no more cease to love believers than He will to love Christ."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Thurs., 8/17/17 Devotion (Jer. 46:27b)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 46:27b, where we read these words:

" . . . Jacob shall return, have rest and be at ease; no one shall make him afraid."

Do we understand that there is nothing wrong with the faithful church being "at ease"? After all, we rest our souls in Jesus—trusting Him alone to do everything necessary to procure our right standing with God. We take a Sab-bath rest every Sunday. We rest from all works- and law-righteousness. And we have eternal rest in heaven throughout eternity.

Sloth and indolence is not being "at ease"; but true faith in the Redeemer *is*. Therefore, let us not feel guilty because we are feeling "at ease”; and are not "afraid" of anything. These (guilt) feelings belong to idolaters who trust in themselves, or something else. They are not the realm of those who repose their souls in Christ alone.

[Puritan quote of the day: "For the bent and desires of the will carry the whole man with it.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "Glorious Freedom"]

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wed., 8/16/17 Devotion (Jer. 44:18)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 44:18, where we read these words:

"But since we stopped burning incense to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been con-sumed by the sword and by famine."

A major reason people commit idolatry is because of a serious misunder-standing of the source of blessing. Jeremiah had condemned this idolatrous worship of Ishtar, "the queen of heaven”—but the people would not risk the truth of the prophet's words, as over against an alleged stock of provision (coming from the worship of the false goddess).

It is always wiser for us to choose to worship the true God (through Christ alone), and to get by with hardly anything, and end up forgiven and free—than to commit idolatry, have our "needs" met, and end up in hell.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The happiness of angels as well as of men con-sists very much in beholding the glory of God.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Wisdom of God"]

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tues., 8/15/17 Devotion (1 Sam. 5:3a)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 5:3a, where we read these words:

"And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Da-gon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of the LORD."

This account (above) is part of the story of when the Philistines put the ark of the Lord in the temple of their false god Dagon. While the two objects were set there next to each other, Dagon fell down from his pedestal, and had to give homage to the Lord (through the ark's presence). The poor idol could do nothing, except collapse, and break off its head and hands (see v. 4).

So it is with all idols (or false gods)—be they the primitive type of the Phili-stines; or the "sophisticated" style of false believers: they all end up having to fall down and give honor to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God. Let us be thankful for this fact; and let us be sure to abhor all our own idols.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is, I say, natural to think, but it is not natural to think of God; this is proper to a saint.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godliness"]

Monday, August 14, 2017

Mon., 8/14/17 Devotion (Rom. 4:2-3)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 4:2 & 3, where we read these amazing words:

"For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' "

Religious people often like to boast (at least within themselves) about how good they are. But Abraham knew better. He understood that all his faithful deeds—like being willing to sacrifice his son Isaac—were not the *cause* of his right standing with God, but were, rather, the *results* of his being justified by faith in Christ.

There is nothing more despicable in the world, or in the eyes of God, than a self-, or works-righteousness person. These people despise and disdain the work of Christ, and believe themselves good enough to satisfy an absolutely holy God on their own. On the great Judgment Day, *only* those clothed with Jesus' righteousness, apprehended by faith alone, will stand.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Every man is as his God is. If you would know whether a man is a godly man or not, you must inquire what his god is like.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon entitled, "A truly Godly man prefers God before all others"]

Friday, August 11, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/11-13/17 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his book, entitled, "The Ten Commandments":

"True faith is grounded upon knowledge. Knowledge carries the torch before faith. There is a knowledge of Christ's glorious excellencies, (Php. 3:8). He is made up of all love and beauty. True faith is a judicious intelligent grace, it knows Whom it believes, and why it believes. Faith is seated as well in the understanding as in the will. It has an eye to see Christ, as well as a wing to fly to Him. Such therefore as are veiled in ignorance, or have only an implicit faith to believe as the church believes, have no true and genuine faith.

"Faith lives in a broken heart. 'The father cried out with tears, "Lord, I be-lieve," ' (Mark 9:24). True faith is always in a heart bruised for sin. They, therefore, whose hearts were never touched for sin, have no faith. If a phy-sician should tell us there was an herb that would help us against all infec-tions, but it always grows in a watery place; if we should see a herb like it in color, leaf, smell, blossom, but growing upon a rock, we should conclude that it was the wrong herb. So saving faith always grows in a heart humbled for sin, in a weeping eye and a tearful conscience. If, therefore, there be a show of faith, but it grows upon the rock of a hard impenitent heart, it is not the true faith."

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Thurs., 8/10/17 Devotion (Acts 28:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 28:6, where these words are found:

"However, they were expecting that [Paul] would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god."

Behold the amazing fickleness of religious man. In v. 4, the natives thought Paul was a murderer. Two verses later, they think he is a god. There is a les-son here: it is the weakness of the flesh to automatically run to wild extremes, in the evaluation of people. The truth is that even the redeemed of the Lord operate in the "middle," "gray area," where our new natures in Christ struggle against our old natures in Adam.

Let us be wary of either exalting or demeaning God's people. Only Christ is 100% perfect in every way.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Zeal quickens the pursuit after glory. Zeal, encoun-tering difficulty, is emboldened by opposition and tramples upon danger.”
—Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Wed., 8/9/17 Devotion (Acts 27:31)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 27:31, where we read these words:

"Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, 'Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.' "

What Paul says (above) regarding the merchant ship he and many others were sailing on, God would say to all professing Christians: "Unless you stay in the ship (of Christ as His church), you cannot be saved." Why would any-body want to "jump ship"? Because of persecution, trial, fiery furnaces of af-fliction, cowardice, etc.

The good ship of Jesus sails over the sea of judgment today, as Noah's ark did in the book of Genesis. Let all God's true children stay faithful in Christ and His church—and enjoy the ride, even when it gets bumpy.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Not one of all [God's] true soldiers was ever left to perish on the field of battle.” —Thomas Jones, in the preface of Isaac Am-brose's, "The Christian Warrior"]

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Tues., 8/8/17 Devotion (Acts 26:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Paul's words, as they are found in Acts 26:8:

"Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?"

Authentic Christianity is all about resurrection life, at every turn. The faith of believers is built on the objective historical fact of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. And the current experience of regeneration (resulting in justifi-cation, etc.) is the fruit of the soul's resurrection with Jesus (even now). If we take resurrection out of any aspect of our faith, we have nothing left.

All resurrection (or Spirit-filled) living is miraculous; but, as Paul avers above, it is not impossible, or irrational. What struggles do we have today? Let us, by faith, go to the resurrected Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is not so much the sins we have committed that so provoke and grieve Christ as that we refuse the [medicine] of repentance which He prescribes.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Repentance"]

Monday, August 7, 2017

Mon., 8/7/17 Devotion (Ps. 8:1)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 8:1, where David wrote this:

"O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, who have set Your glory above the heavens!"

No matter how dark and dreary things may be, or seem to be here below—God's glory, like the sun, is always shining above, never shrouded over with clouds of sin or misery. But, this truth would be of little comfort for us, in this life, if the Lord's name was not made to be "excellent" in "all the earth."

How can this be? God's name is excellent here, even in the midst of much sin, because Jesus has come here. He has, in His cross and resurrection, bridged the gap between heaven and earth, and has "united" them for the benefit of His faithful church.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion! Can we be God's servants and not His soldiers? Is not Christ's church on earth truly mili-tant?” —Isaac Ambrose, in, "The Christian Warrior"]

Friday, August 4, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/4-6/17 Devotion

Yippee—it is almost Sunday! In order to help us get ready for church, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book. . . .

"If God be a Spirit, then He is impassible; he is not capable of being hurt. Wicked men set up their banners, and bend their forces against God; they are said to fight against God, (Acts 5:39). But what will this fighting avail? What hurt can they do to the Deity? God is a Spirit, and therefore cannot receive any hurtful impression. Wicked men may imagine evil against the Lord. Na-hum 1:9: 'What do you imagine against the Lord?’ But God being a Spirit is impenetrable. The wicked may eclipse His glory, but cannot touch His es-sence.

"God can hurt His enemies, but they cannot hurt Him. Julian might throw up his dagger into the air against Heaven, but could not touch the Deity. God is a Spirit, invisible. How can the wicked with all their forces hurt Him, when they cannot see Him? Hence all the attempts of the wicked against God are fool-ish, and prove abortive. Psa. 2:2, 4: 'The kings of the earth set themselves against the Lord and against His anointed. He that sits in the heavens shall laugh.’ God is a Spirit, He can wound them, but they cannot touch Him."

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Thurs., 8/3/17 Devotion (Jer. 31:3)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 31:3, where these uplifting words are found:

"The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: 'Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.' "

Without this promise there would never be any hope for any of God's people. God's love for His church is not conjured-up in space and time; it is not a re-sult of anything "good" in us, that draws His attention. Instead, God's affection for His church is bound up in Christ; and it was firmly established before The Holy Trinity ever created anything. And based on this sovereign and gracious decree, God "draws" His children, irresistibly, to Himself, in Jesus, according to His perfect time and plan.

Let us be thankful that ours is a God of love. Without this love, there would be nothing to live for.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Sinner, the day you leave your sins and set upon a course of holiness, God will pardon all that is past. . . . The Lord never up-braids a penitent with former unkindnesses.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Mis-chief of Sin"]

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Wed., 8/2/17 Devotion (Jer. 29:4-5)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 29:4 & 5, where we read these words:

"Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit."

Instead of seeking to destroy the Babylonian culture to which the Judean cap-tives had been taken, Jeremiah, under God's direct inspiration, encourages them to build-up the Chaldean society. To many of the captives this instruc-tion must have grated against them: they would rather be terrorists in their enemies' land, than to be assets to it.

The same is true of the church today. We are the only rightful "owners" of the earth, under Jesus—and we are to be a blessing to every community in which we live—even if, for the present, there is the illusion that they have been usurped by the devil and his minions.

[Puritan quote of the day: "In all the comfortable providences of your lives, eye God as the Author or Donor of them.” —John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Tues., 8/1/17 Devotion (Acts 19:32)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 19:32, where we read these words:

"Some therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together."

Wherever the true gospel of Christ’s free grace is preached, one of three re-sults accrue: 1) solid belief in Jesus, leading to a healthy church life; 2) hypo-critical "belief," leading to eventual apostasy; or 3) (as here), plain old con-fusion.

Today, many professing Christians are thoroughly befuddled. Some have re-placed baptism, with a "christian" tee shirt, (or "christian perfume"). This is a sad state of affairs. Still, let us not lose heart. May every regenerated believer serve to help confused people, and bring them to the Savior, and into His strong churches (for their good).

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a preposterous course, instead of obeying the gospel, and studying to be found in Christ, to be inquisitive whether we were elected from eternity or not.” —William Lyford, in "The Instructed Christian"]

Monday, July 31, 2017

Mon., 7/31/17 Devotion (Acts 18:4)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 18:4, where we read these words:

"And [Paul] reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks."

The New Covenant Sabbath (which is Sunday), much like the Old Covenant Sabbath (which was Saturday), is still the first and foremost day on which everyone must be "persuaded" that Jesus is the Christ. The *place* where this happens is the church, (and, even more-specifically, the pulpit).

Once we have done our due diligence there, we are in a position to bring the gospel into the marketplace, the "Areopagus" (if you will). *Every* believer needs to be "re-convinced" of the truth of the Christian faith every Sunday. This is because we are weak, and given to doubt and unbelief. Once we are re-energized, we are ready to be effective in God's world.

[Puritan quote of the day: "David committed many sins, but especially those two of adultery and murder, and yet God pardoned Him. But Saul committed far less sins than those and yet God cast him off forever.” —Jeremiah Bur-roughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Friday, July 28, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/28-30/17 Devotion

Wahoo—Sunday is almost here! In order to get us ready for church worship, here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Body of Divinity" book.  (He is dealing with Justification here.) . . .

"By justification we enjoy peace in our conscience; a richer jewel than any prince wears in his crown. 'Being justified by faith, we have peace with God,' (Rom 5:1). Peace can sweeten all our afflictions; it turns our water into wine. How happy is a justified person who has the power of God to guard him, and the peace of God to comfort him! Peace flowing from justification is an anti-dote against the fear of death and hell. 'It is God that justifies, who is he that condemns?' (Rom 8:33, 34). Therefore seek this justification by Christ. This privilege is obtained by believing in Christ. 'By Him [Christ] all that believe are justified,' (Acts 13:39). 'Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood,' (Rom 3:25). Faith unites us to Christ; and having union with His person we partake of His merits, and the glorious salvation which comes by Him.

"Use three: Comfort to the justified. (1.) It is comfort in case of failings. Alas! how defective are the godly! they come short in every duty; but though believ-ers should be humbled under their defects, they should not despond. They are not to be justified by their duties or graces, but by the righteousness of Christ. Their duties are mixed with sin, but that righteousness which justifies them is a perfect righteousness."

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Thurs., 7/27/17 Devotion (Mk. 9:14-15)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 9:14 & 15, which says this:

"And when [Jesus] came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them. Immediately, when they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him [Jesus], greeted Him."

These two verses well-illustrate a basic principle of life: where Jesus is not, people dispute and argue. Where Jesus is, people gather as one around Him. The disciples were pretty much helpless and punchless, as they tried to get something done (in Christ's absence).

And notice how suddenly the disciples lost their "star power," once the Messi-ah came on the scene. The church is God's only "colony" on earth—but we are only effective as Jesus is at the heart of everything we do.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God's will will be done upon us whether we do His will or not. There is no such thing as frustrating the Almighty.” —Jonathan Ed-wards, in his sermon entitled, "God Does What He Pleases"]

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wed., 7/26/17 Devotion (Mk. 8:36-37)

Today's encouragement comes from the lips of Jesus, as these words are recorded in Mark 8:36 & 37:

"For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"

These are brilliant Messianic questions. The soul, being more valuable than all the non-rational creation put together, cannot be redeemed easily, and no amount of substitute "good" can make up for its worth. Still, the Fall of man has so beaten out man's brains (as it were), that sinners prefer to sell their souls for a pittance (of sin).

May all God's true churchmen know better; and may we value our souls, and the souls of others—and seek their welfare (in the blood atonement of Jesus).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Men must first overcome God before they can overcome the church.” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "Comfort for the Church"]

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tues., 7/25/17 Devotion (Judg. 8:34)

Today's encouragement comes from Judges 8:34, where we read these words:

"Thus the children of Israel did not remember the LORD their God, who had delivered them from the hands of all their enemies on every side."

Every time we sincere Christians sin, we "forget" the Lord. The fact that God has cleansed our souls from sin, death, misery, and hell is forgotten. The fact that God has made us, His children, regal sons and daughters of glory is for-gotten. -The fact that the Lord has taught us that sin leads not to happiness, but to slavery is forgotten.

Has Almighty God delivered us from the hands of all our enemies, through the atonement wrought in Jesus’ blood—apprehended by us through faith alone? If so, then let us not forget this most-blessed gospel truth.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The enemies of [God's] church shall do His [God's] work; He [God] will play His game by their hand.” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "Comfort for the Church"]

Monday, July 24, 2017

Mon., 7/24/17 Devotion (Mk. 6:56c)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 6:56c, where we read these words:

" . . . And as many as touched Him [Jesus] were made well."

Every time a human being touches Jesus Christ in faith, there is healing. The entire key to the every person's life is to come into contact with Jesus the Savior. This is done by faith; and it is applied (practically) in prayer. True "wellness" requires "rubbing shoulders" with God—and this can only be done through contact with Christ the God-Man.

Therefore, let us boldly come to God, through Jesus, in faith-filled prayer. The Lord is always ready to heal and forgive. Jesus is the giver of life. May our hearts yearn to be with (and near) Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We would never go to God unless God came to us, such is the stoutness of our hearts.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Re-conciliation"]

Friday, July 21, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/21-23/17 Devotion

Yippee—it is almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, from, "A Body of Divin-ity":

"Go to Christ's blood for peace. Some go to fetch their peace from their own righteousness, not Christ’s. They go for peace to their holy life, not Christ's death. If conscience be troubled, they strive to quiet it with their duties. This is not the right way to peace. Duties must not be neglected, nor yet idolized. Look to the blood of sprinkling, (Heb. 12:24). That blood of Christ which paci-fied God, must pacify conscience. Christ's blood being sucked in by faith, gives peace. 'Being justified by faith, we have peace with God,' (Rom 5:1). No balm to cure a wounded conscience, but the blood of Christ."

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thurs., 7/20/17 Devotion (Jer. 16:19)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 16:19, where we read these words:

"O LORD, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come to You from the ends of the earth and say, 'Surely our fathers have inherited lies, worthlessness and unprofitable things.' "

Things were not going particularly well for Jeremiah, and certainly not for his countrymen. Still, the prophet found comfort and courage in his God. On top of this, he drew strength from the fact that though his generation might not be too stellar—there would indeed be people from all over the world who, in God's time, would cling to Jesus in the gospel of His grace.

Let all God's sincere churchmen—be we clergy or laity—trust in the Lord, and persevere; knowing that nothing done from genuine faith in Christ is insigni-ficant or vain, (cf. 1 Cor. 15:58).

[Puritan quote of the day: "But now Christ does that which we could not do, that is, fulfill the law for us. And He also does that which the law could not do, which was justify us.” —Obadiah Grew, in, "The Lord our Righteousness"]

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wed., 7/19/17 Devotion (Mk. 1:21-22)

Today's encouragement comes from Mark 1:21 & 22—verses which describe Christ's ministry:

"Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath [Jesus] entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at His teach-ing, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."

Jesus, being the perfect churchman, is in the synagogue on the Sabbath. He is teaching. What makes Christ's lesson particularly unique is the authority He demonstrated. The Messiah actually believed what He was saying, knew it was from God, and was willing to proclaim the gospel boldly and unasham-edly.

Unregenerate people cannot stand this kind of preaching and teaching; but the church’s true saints are comforted (and convicted) by it. Let us be those who hunger and thirst for Christ; and be grateful that He still raises up mini-sters who preach with divinely-granted authority.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Give a beast hay and he will follow you all over the field. Not to draw near to [God] who is our Benefactor is worse than brutish.” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "Drawing Near to God"]

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tues., 7/18/17 Devotion (Acts 5:38-39)

Today's encouragement comes from Acts 5:38 & 39, where we read these words:

"And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it--lest you even be found to fight against God."

Gamaliel, a highly-respected first-century rabbi, made this observation (above). He was absolutely right. When it comes to religion and the spiritual life—anything man-made is bound to fail. There is little sense in our giving it much of our time or attention. On the other hand, what is of (or from) God *is* of absolute importance. What the Lord does, cannot fail.

Are we fighting "alongside" Christ, as His faithful churchmen; or, are we fight-ing against Him, futilely hoping to overthrow His work? There are no other options.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A godly man has many signal experiences of God's favor to him, and experience breeds hope.” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "The Sacred Anchor"]

Monday, July 17, 2017

Mon., 7/17/17 Devotion (Josh. 24:15c)

Today's encouragement comes from Joshua 24:15c, where we read these words:

" . . . But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

No matter what other people choose to do, God's true Christian churchmen must choose to serve Christ wholeheartedly. The Fall of man into sin has left us all with the deplorable disease of "man-pleasing"; and of mindlessly fol-lowing whatever new "gods" or theological fads that happen to come along.

The sincere believer must be more thoughtful and intelligent than that. If the world likes something, we ought to look askance at it, with a level of suspi-cion. This is not because we are paranoid—rather, it is because we have come to learn that idolatry is subtle, and easily slipped into.

[Puritan quote of the day: "To the extent that we give way to our will in sin-ning, to that extent we set ourselves at a distance from comfort.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, July 14, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 7/14-16/17 Devotion

Hip, hip, hooray—it is almost Sunday! In order to help get us ready for the church's worship of God, on the Lord's Day, here is the amazing Thomas Watson, from his "A Divine Cordial" book:

"If it be God's purpose that saves, then it is not free will. The Pelagians are strenuous asserters of free will. They tell us that a man has an innate power to effect his own conversion; but this text [Eph. 1:11] confutes it. Our calling is 'according to God's purpose.' The Scripture plucks up the root of free will: 'It is not of him that wills,' (Rom. 9:16). All depends upon the purpose of God. When the prisoner is cast [bound] at the bar [judgment], there is no saving him, unless the king has a purpose to save him. God's purpose is His prero-gative royal.

"If it is God's purpose that saves, then it is not merit. Bellarmine holds that good works do expiate sin and merit glory; but the text says that we are called according to God's purpose, and there is a parallel Scripture: 'Who has saved us, and called us, not according to our works, but according to His own pur-pose and grace,' (2 Tim. 1:9). There is no such thing as merit. Our best works have in them both defection and infection, and so are but glittering sins; therefore if we are called and justified, it is God's purpose that brings it to pass."

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Thurs., 7/13/17 Devotion (Ps. 149:6)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 149:6, which says this:

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

It is interesting how the Spirit-filled Christian churchman is both a joyful singer of praise to God, and a valiant soldier for Him. In fact, until or unless we take up Christ's spiritual arms, we are no adorers of God at all, (despite all pro-tests to the contrary).

Worshippers are warriors, fighting under the banner of the Prince of Peace. Our mission is to conquer the world for our Redeemer—starting in our own hearts, where Jesus is enthroned. From there, the faithful church is to be re-vived in Christ. And from there, the fertile ground of the unconverted nations are to be brought to The Messiah.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Oh, let us strive to keep God among us! What is the glory of a nation but the presence of God in His Word and ordinances?” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "Comfort for the Church"]

Monday, July 10, 2017

Mon., 7/10/17 Devotion (Jer. 6:16a)

Today's encouragement comes from Jeremiah 6:16a, where we read these words:

"Thus says the LORD: 'Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls.' "

Sometimes we hear silly people say things like this, "We cannot go back to the old days and ways—we have moved beyond them." These people are wrong (and foolish). True life is only found in the "old paths,” which all point us to our Lord Jesus Christ. There is nothing new under the sun. All "new" paths are simply old deceits of the devil.

There is more than enough good doctrine in the good creeds and confessions of the church, to more than satisfy us for generations to come. Let us be en-lightened: let us return to our Reformation and Puritan glory (in Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "The fear of God will make one avoid those sins which can neither be heard nor seen by men.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godliness"]

Friday, July 7, 2017

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

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday again! We *get* to go to church and worship God! In order to help us get ready, here is the great Puritan pastor Richard Sibbes, from his amazing, "The Bruised Reed" classic. . . .

"HOW WE SHOULD THINK OF CHRIST

"When we think of Joseph, Daniel, John the Evangelist, we frame concep-tions of them with delight, as of mild and sweet persons. Much more when we think of Christ, we should conceive of Him as a mirror of all meekness. If the sweetness of all flowers were in one, how sweet must that flower be? In Christ all perfections of mercy and love meet. How great then must that mercy be that lodges in so gracious a heart? Whatever tenderness is scatter-ed in husband, father, brother, head, all is but a beam from Him; it is in Him in the most eminent manner. We are weak, but we are His; we are deformed, but yet carry His image upon us. A father looks not so much at the blemishes of his child as at his own nature in him; so Christ finds matter of love from that which is His own in us. He sees His own nature in us: we are diseased, but yet His members. Whoever neglected his own members because they were sick or weak? None ever hated his own flesh. Can the head forget the mem-bers? Can Christ forget Himself? We are His fullness, as He is ours. He was love itself clothed with man's nature, which He united so near to Himself, that He might communicate His goodness the more freely to us. And He took not our nature when it was at its best, but when it was abased, with all the natural and common infirmities it was subject to.

"Let us therefore abhor all suspicious thoughts, as either cast in or cherished by that damned spirit who, as he labored to divide between the Father and the Son by jealousies, by saying, 'If You be the Son of God' (Matt. 4:6), so his daily study is to divide between the Son and us by breeding false opinions in us of Christ, as if there were not such tender love in Him to such as we are. It was Satan's art from the beginning to discredit God with man, by calling God's love into question with our first father Adam. His success then makes him ready at that weapon still."

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Thurs., 7/6/17 Devotion (Matt. 16:4b)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 16:4b, where we read these few words:

" . . . And He [Jesus] left them [the Pharisees and Sadducees] and departed."

To have Jesus Christ "leave" someone is a sad and serious situation. The Messiah *does* sometimes "leave" people. In this Matthean text (above), it is the self-righteous Pharisees and Sadducees—who, though natural enemies of each other—became allies together against The Lord's Anointed One (Jesus).

Who are the people that Jesus *never* really ever "leaves," (even though sometimes they do not *feel* His closeness)? Humble believing churched Christians, who know themselves to be sinners, and who trust in Christ's blood atonement alone for the forgiveness of their sins. Let us be numbered among those Jesus would never "leave."

[Puritan quote of the day: "The more love a Christian receives from God, the more he sees himself a debtor to free grace, and the sense of his debt keeps his heart humble . . . “ —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Wed., 7/5/17 Devotion (Ps. 138:7a)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 138:7a, where we read these words:

"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You [God] will revive me . . . "

What a lovely phrase. This is a sweet encouragement for all faithful church-men who love Jesus, and who trust in His blood atonement alone for the for-giveness of their sins. God never promised a trouble-free life for His children. On the contrary, He made it clear that our problems would only be amplified after entering into Christ's kingdom.

But, with these trials comes the promise of “revival”—being heartened and in-spired by grace from heaven—all of which wipes out the fears and schemes of our fallen existences. Christ makes it all worth while.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The fear of God drives out all base fear. Carnal fear is an enemy to religion.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godli-ness"]

Monday, July 3, 2017

Mon., 7/3/17 Devotion (Josh. 5:12)

Today's encouragement comes from Joshua 5:12, where we read these words:

"Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year."

When we enter the promised land of life in Christ, His gospel, His church, and His means of grace—we no longer need, look for, desire, or hanker-after the "extraordinary" measures (that God sometimes uses, to get people's atten-tion). The Lord is more pleased with and honored by "ordinary” means of grace that feed us Jesus on The Lords Days: like preaching, the sacraments, and prayer.

Many religionists today—as has always been the case—are all consumed with what the world thinks is special. Let all God’s sincere churchmen enjoy Him in Jesus in the ways that He is most pleased to reveal Himself.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Feeling and freeness of spirit are often reserved until duty is discharged.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, June 30, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/30-7/2/17 Devotion

Yippee—it is almost Sunday, the Lord's Day, the day we especially (and cove-nantally) celebrate Jesus' resurrection! In order to help get us ready for church, here is the great Thomas Watson, from his "A Body of Divinity" book:

"As Christ being clothed with our flesh makes the human nature appear lovely to God, so He [Christ] makes the divine nature appear lovely to man. The pure Godhead is terrible to behold, we could not see it and live; but Christ clothing Himself with our flesh, makes the divine nature more amiable and de-lightful to us. We need not be afraid to look upon God through Christ's human nature.

"It was a custom of old among shepherds to clothe themselves with sheep-skins, to be more pleasing to the sheep; so Christ clothed Himself with our flesh, that the divine nature may be more pleasing to us. The human nature is a mirror, through which we may see the love and wisdom and glory of God clearly represented to us. Through the lantern of Christ's humanity we may behold the light of the Deity. Christ being incarnate makes the sight of the De-ity not formidable, but delightful to us."

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Thurs., 6/29/17 Devotion (Matt. 9:2)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 9:2, where we read these words:

"Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, 'Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.' "

Here is an interesting case, where our Lord Jesus saves a soul on the basis of the faith of others. Presumably, the paralytic man had no faith. He, like all of us in our fallen states, was dead in trespasses and sins. But the prayers of his believing friends were answered, and the paralyzed man was both saved, and healed.

This verse also encourages the church in her doctrine of covenant. Our little babies—for instance—who are united to the church in baptism also derive benefit from the faith of their parents (and the other fellow church members). Let us be encouraged to apply our faith to the benefit of others.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The more a man is humbled, truly humbled for sin, the more he is found in duty; the more a man is discouraged, the more his hands are weakened for duty.” —William Bridge, in, "A Lifting Up for the Downcast"]

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wed., 6/28/17 Devotion (Deut. 33:26-27a)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 33:26 & 27a, where we read these words:

"There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides the heavens to help you, and in His excellency on the clouds. The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."

What great love and provision the Lord God gives His beloved church! She is aided on every side; and she has God Himself, with all His "excellencies" and strength, to support her. This God is incomparable; and He is eternal. He is also active—seen in His riding the heavens, to help us.

May all the Lord's children draw encouragement from the fact that their Fath-er in heaven loves them so much. May they know the comforts that come from God's abiding with us here (in Jesus).

[Puritan quote of the day: "One subtle artifice of Satan is to bait his hook with religion.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godliness"]

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tues., 6/27/17 Devotion (Matt. 7:29)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 7:29, where we read these words:

" . . . for He [Jesus] taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."

All truly-called church ministers of the gospel are commanded to preach and teach "with all authority," as per this verse above, and Titus 2:15. Christ and His pastors (elders) are the ones on the earth uniquely vested with the auth-ority to teach the world the truth about the most important things—particularly those things that relate to the gospel of grace.

The scribes were weak, vacillating, and tentative. Jesus was strong, certain, and sure. True Christians actually long for authoritative preaching; false Christians cannot stand it. In truth, it is to the advantage of all people that the gospel of Jesus’ grace goes forth clearly and boldly.

[Puritan quote of the day: "But yet the greater instruments the Lord raises up for His glory, the greater service He calls them unto, the greater things may we hope He intends for His church.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excel-lency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Monday, June 26, 2017

Mon., 6/26/17 Devotion (Matt. 6:33)

Today's encouragement comes from Matthew 6:33, where we read these words:

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

People would get everything they needed, if they would first seek that which they refuse to look for (in their natural state): namely, Christ, in the context of His true church. All worry is a result of misplaced priorities. In Matt. 6, we are told not to worry about what we wear, or eat, etc. The Messiah promises us that, if we seek Him and His kingdom, all these things will all be added to us.

God is not cruel with us; He is kind to us. He knows the needs of His children; and He loves us enough to remind us of our greater (and more profound need): to seek Him in Christ alone.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We should not look at our services to God only as duties enjoined, but as high privileges, as dignities put upon us that we should glory in His service.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

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"]