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"]

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Wed., 9/13/17 Devotion (2 Sam. 8:6b, 14b)

Today's encouragement comes from a collation of 2 Samuel 8, vv. 6b & 14b, where we read this refrain:

"The LORD preserved David wherever he went. . . . And the LORD preserved David wherever he went."

The Holy Spirit is certainly making a point here. David, the man subject to lots of dangers in his military exploits, and in his being the target of many schem-ing enemies—is preserved by the God who loved him. So it is with every faithful Christian churchman: the way may be tough, the cross is always hard; but the Lord is good, tender, loving, gentle, and kind.

Let us not lose heart, if we belong to Christ. Our victory is sure; and our safe-ty is sealed by God Himself.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Our victory will be further realized as the new man immediately springs to action, and cheerfully fights against lust the moment it appears.” —John Owen, in, "The Mortification of Sin"]

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tues., 9/12/17 Devotion (Ps. 56:3)

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

"Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You."

David was honest enough to admit that at some times he was "afraid." His resolve here, by grace, was to turn his fear into an opportunity to exercise his faith in Christ. This is a very wise thing to do. Is there anything we can do, to prevent fearful events from coming into our lives? No. But we can make the best of them, by trusting God, through them.

After all, it is relatively "easy" to get on with life, when everything is going smoothly. The challenge is when things do not accord with what we conceive of as our "comfort zone." *That* is the time for us to demonstrate genuine faith in Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "What Satan did in tempting man to fall is made an occasion of the contrary to what he intended in that it gave occasion for God to glorify Himself all the more, and gives occasion for the elect being brought to higher happiness.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Wisdom of God"]

Monday, September 11, 2017

Mon., 9/11/17 Devotion (1 Cor. 16:2)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Corinthians 16:2, which says this:

"On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come."

Sunday is not only the day of worship and rest—it is also the day when we of-fer our financial resources to God (during the church’s worship services). More good is done by the "widow's mite” being placed in the faithful church's offering plate on the Lord's Day, than is done by billions of dollars being given away by unbelievers throughout the rest of the week.

It is a privilege to give back to God what is rightfully His. The Lord does not need anything from us; but He honors us by bestowing on us the opportunity to "co-labor" with Him in the furtherance of the gospel of grace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Take heed that you do not rest in external purity, but seek purity of heart in the ways of God's appointment. Seek it in a con-stant and diligent attendance on all God's ordinances [means of Grace].”
—Jonathan Edwards, in, "Altogether Lovely"]

Friday, September 8, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/8-10/17 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday! Here is Thomas Watson, from his, "A Divine Cordial" book:

"Afflictions work for good, as they are the means of making us happy. 'Happy is the man whom God corrects,' (Job 5:17). What politician or moralist ever placed happiness in the cross? Job does. 'Happy is the man whom God cor-rects.' It may be said, 'How do afflictions make us happy?' We reply that, be-ing sanctified, they bring us nearer to God.

"The moon in the full is furthest off from the sun: so are many further off from God in the full moon of prosperity. Afflictions bring them nearer to God. The magnet of mercy does not draw us so near to God as the cords of affliction. When Absalom set Joab's corn on fire, then he came running to Absalom, (2 Sam. 14:30). When God sets our worldly comforts on fire, then we run to Him, and make our peace with Him. When the prodigal was pinched with want, then he returned home to his father, (Luke 15:13). When the dove could not find any rest for the sole of her foot, then she flew to the ark. When God brings a deluge of affliction upon us, then we fly to the ark of Christ. Thus af-fliction makes us happy, in bringing us nearer to God. Faith can make use of the waters of affliction, to swim faster to Christ."

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Thurs., 9/7/17 Devotion (Ps. 49:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 49:5, where we read these words:

"Why should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity at my heels surrounds me?"

The psalmist asks a good question here (above). Is fear the proper response to "days of evil"? Is cowering in dread what God requires of HIs churchmen when "iniquity" "surrounds" us? Indeed, no. Instead, faith and resulting faith-fulness is to be employed. Faith in Christ says, " 'The days of evil' will not in-timidate me, or overwhelm me."

Despite the fact that the days are challenging, the reality is that Christ's church is still expanding, and the gospel is always spending out over the whole world. No matter whether things look promising, or foreboding—the faithful church has cause to glory in Jesus, and trust in our Sovereign God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The true God perfectly knows the circumstances of everyone who prays to Him throughout the world.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Most High a Prayer-Hearing God"]

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Wed., 9/6/17 Devotion (Ps. 48:9)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 48:9, where we read these words:

"We have thought, O God, on Your lovingkindness, in the midst of Your temple."

Thinking on God's lovingkindness is a great thing to do. It is particularly good to do this in His "temple," (church). When we consider that we could well have been left out in the cold of sin and death—it is a wonder that any of us are brought into the embraces and kindnesses of God's love and forgiveness, in and through Jesus Christ alone.

Let us take time today to bless God for His goodness to us, in Christ. Sinners who are not grateful to God show, by their lack of thankfulness, that they are not true beneficiaries of His saving grace.

[Puritan quote of the day: "A man full of grace has Christ in his heart, and the world under his feet; grace humbles, yet elevates.” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon entitled, "The Beauty Of Grace"]

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Tues., 9/5/17 Devotion (Ps. 46:1-2a)

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

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear . . . "

Christian fearlessness is never a result of perceived safety or security. In-stead, it is the result of God being "present" with us. The Lord "refuges" His true churchmen by cleansing their souls from sin by the blood of Christ. This, then, becomes the source of our strength.

Let all God's children be strong in the Lord. There is no sense in imagining that there will be a "trouble-free" existence here—but with our Christ in our midst we have nothing to fear.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Ministers should study [work] to promote God's glory. God has entrusted them with two of the most precious things: His truth, and the souls of His people.” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Monday, September 4, 2017

Mon., 9/4/17 Devotion (Ezek. 7:27c)

Today's encouragement comes from Ezekiel 7:27c, where we read these words:

" . . . And according to what they deserve I will judge them; then they shall know that I am the LORD!"

God always judges "according to what [people] deserve.” Every sin gets ex-actly what it deserves: death. Everyone who goes to hell will receive precisely what they deserve—nothing more, nothing less. But thankfully, the Lord metes out death for sin in another way, as well. . . .

. . . And that is the way of gospel “substitution.” Regenerate churchmen *also* deserve death and hell—but Jesus bore it all for them (us) on the cross, and they (we) were spared. If this is *our* situation by grace through faith in Christ alone, then we have great cause to praise God for His amazing love and mercy.

[Puritan quote of the day: "God is doing a great work in the world, but God's ends are to make His people sweeter, like preserves, and preserve them for a longer time, and make them be more lasting in the world.” —Christopher Love, in, "The Dejected Soul's Cure"]

Friday, September 1, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 9/1-3/17 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday! We *get* to go back to church again! In order to help us get ready for worship, here is the great Puritan pastor Richard Sib-bes, from his "The Bruised Reed" book. . . .

"The sighs of a bruised heart carry in them a report, both of our affection to Christ, and of His care to us. The eyes of our souls cannot be towards Him unless He has cast a gracious look upon us first. The least love we have to Him is but a reflection of His love first shining upon us. As Christ did, in His example to us, whatever He charges us to do, so He suffered in His own Person whatever He calls us to suffer, so that He might the better learn to relieve and pity us in our sufferings. In His desertion in the garden and on the cross He was content to be without that unspeakable solace which the pre-sence of His Father gave, both to bear the wrath of the Lord for a time for us, and likewise to know the better how to comfort us in our greatest extremities.

"God sees fit that we should taste of that cup of which His Son drank so deep, that we might feel a little what sin is, and what His Son's love was. But our comfort is that Christ drank the dregs of the cup for us, and will comfort us, so that our spirits may not utterly fail under that little taste of His dis-pleasure which we may feel. He became not only a man but a curse, a man of sorrows, for us. He was broken that we should not be broken; He was troubled, that we should not be desperately troubled; He became a curse, that we should not be accursed. Whatever may be wished for in an all suffi-cient Comforter is all to be found in Christ."

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Thurs., 8/31/17 Devotion (Ps. 39:7)

Today's encouragement comes from the words of Psalm 39:7, which say this:

"And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You."

In vv. 4-6, David had surveyed his life, and determined that there was not really that much to it, especially from a timeframe perspective. Now, it is as if he says to God, "In light of the brevity of my existence, what does it all amount to? What am I here for?" And the answer, by grace, is, "I am here for You, Lord. You are the only One I hope in."

What do we "wait for"? If it is for anything less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself we are wasting our lives, and our days. Let us put our hope in Him. Let us "wait" for Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "True [gospel] mourning begins in the love of God, and ends in the hatred of sin.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Beatitudes"]

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Wed., 8/30/17 Devotion (1 Sam. 23:14)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 23:14, where we read these words:

"And David stayed in strongholds in the wilderness, and remained in the mountains in the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand."

The devil, and his human minions seek the Lord's true churchmen "every day"; but thankfully, our Father does not allow us to be delivered into their hands. There are times when it is appropriate for us to hide in God's "strong-holds"; and there are other times when we have to go on the offensive, and put the devil to flight (cf. Jas. 4:7).

In any case, there is never a permanent reprieve from this spiritual dynamic down here in this world. All the time, we believers are to be watchful and dili-gent.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The fragrance of the graces of God's Spirit in His people, which is delightful to God and His saints, puts wicked men into a rage.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Tues., 8/29/17 Devotion (1 Sam. 22:23)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 22:23, where we read these words (of David):

"Stay with me; do not fear. For he who seeks my life seeks your life, but with me you shall be safe."

The Lord Jesus might say these very same words to all His sincere church-men. We live in a dangerous world—surrounded by many perils and fears. But there is no need to be discouraged, nor afraid, so long as we are with the King. He protects His Own.

As we stray from the Redeemer, we increase our uncertainly and confusion. As we abide with Christ, by faith, we enjoy His sweet presence, and we ex-perience many seasons of comfort and joy, (though sometimes with hardship and difficulty).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Godly sorrow shows itself to be ingenuous [real/
sincere] because when a Christian knows that he is out of the gun-shot of hell and shall never be damned, yet still he grieves for sinning against that free grace which has pardoned him.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Doctrine of Re-pentance"]

Mon., 8/28/17 Devotion (Ps. 36:8)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 36:8, where we read these words:

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

Such is the state (above) of all God's sincere Christian churchmen—who rest all their hopes for redemption and forgiveness in the Lord Jesus Christ (alone). They are given a lot: abundant satisfaction from God's fullness of His house (church). On top of this, they drink daily of the Water of Life (Christ). He is God's "River" of "pleasures."

Is the faithful life easy? No. Are there struggles that accrue to it, that even the unregenerate do not have to deal with? Yes. But, in the full scope of things, the true believer has a very wonderful life and inheritance (in Christ).

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let us assure ourselves that God's grace, even in this imperfect state, is stronger than man's free will in the state of original per-fection.” —Richard Sibbes, in, "The Bruised Reed"]

Friday, August 25, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 8/25-27/17 Devotion

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


"Preachers should take heed likewise that they hide not their meaning in dark speeches, speaking in the clouds. Truth fears nothing so much as conceal-ment, and desires nothing so much as clearly to be laid open to the view of all. When it is most unadorned, it is most lovely and powerful. Our blessed Saviour, as He took our nature upon Him, so He took upon Him our familiar manner of speech, which was part of His voluntary abasement [condescen-sion]. Paul was a profound man, yet he became as a nurse to the weaker sort (1 Thess. 2:7).

"That spirit of mercy that was in Christ should move His servants to be con-tent to abase themselves for the good of the lowest. What made the kingdom of heaven 'suffer violence' (Matt. 11:12) after John the Baptist's time, but that comfortable truths were laid open with such plainness and evidence that the people were so affected with them as to offer a holy violence to obtain them?

"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, August 24, 2017

Thurs., 8/24/17 Devotion (Ps. 32:1-2)

Today's encouragement comes from the great words of David, as found in Psalm 32:1 & 2:

"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Bles-sed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit."

Are our sins forgiven in the blood atonement of Christ? If so, then we are truly blessed. The forgiven soul is a cleansed soul. It is not an experientially perf-ect soul—it still sins a lot, all the time. But the forgiven soul is a sincere soul. It no longer loves sin; in fact, it hates it. This is what is meant by the spirit having no deceit (above).

No amount of religion, devotion, activity, speech, knowledge, or spirituality can replace or make up for the pardoned soul. As we are forgiven in Jesus' blood, let us rejoice greatly in Him.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The beauties and excellencies of the Son of God will afford to all the saints inconceivable and eternal delights.” —Isaac Am-brose, in, "The Christian Warrior"]

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Wed., 8/23/17 Devotion (Ps. 31:14-15a)

Today's encouragement comes from David's Holy Spirit-inspired words of Psalm 31:14 & 15a:

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

Are we confused today about how to pray, or how to live? If so, here is a good and simple place to start. God is pleased with faith, no matter what the rest of our lives lack. He also likes to be "owned" by His faithful churchmen—so we ought to pray, "You are *my* God." If we are concerned about our future, or that of those we care for, it is helpful to recognize that our times are in God's hands.

Life is not all that complicated. Let us unclutter our souls; and love Christ to-day.

[Puritan quote of the day: "The gospel stands in no need of external evidenc-es of its truth and divinity. It carries its own light and evidence with it.” —Jon-athan Edwards, in his sermon, "The Wisdom of God"]

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tues., 8/22/17 Devotion (1 Sam. 14:45b)

Today's encouragement comes from 1 Samuel 14:45b, where we read these interesting words:

"As the LORD lives, not one hair of his [Jonathan's] head shall fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day."

The people of Israel are (here, above) saving Jonathan, Saul's son, from Saul's plan to kill him. The words they use in their defense of Jonathan are interesting: "he has worked with God this day." There is a legitimate sense in which Christians "work with God”—not only in the world, conquering His foes; but even in the sanctification process, whereby the new man in Christ "coop-erates" with The Spirit's work of growth in grace. Nonetheless, we NEVER work for our salvation, or right standing with God. That comes by grace through faith in Christ (alone).

In the proper sense, may all believers be found to be "working with God" to-day, as we fully trust in our blessed Redeemer.

[Puritan quote of the day: "We cannot of ourselves think a good thought (2 Cor. 3:5), but the Spirit elevates and fixes the heart on God.” —Thomas Wat-son, in, "The Great Gain of Godliness"]

Monday, August 21, 2017

Mon., 8/21/17 Devotion (Rom. 11:33)

Today's encouragement comes from Romans 11:33, where Paul wrote these words:

"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!"

Everything, without exception, that God has done, does, or will ever do is good. Everything that has ever occurred, in the entire history of creation, is designed to further His glory and the welfare of Christ's church. Do we be-lieve these Biblical doctrines? If so, it is because we are willing (by grace) to accept the wonder and amazement of Rom. 11:33—and we share in Paul's astonishment of how good and amazing God is.

Let us believe way beyond the little purview of the tiny terrain we see with the eyes of our flesh. God is better than we could ever imagine Him to be.

[Puritan quote of the day: "As He is God, all things are His own, and He has a right to dispose of them according to His own pleasure.” —Jonathan Ed-wards, in his sermon, "The Sovereignty of God"]

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"]