Monday, March 27, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 24, 2017

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

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

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

"Let us ask it of God. He is the God of peace; He beats back the roaring lion; He stills the raging of conscience. If we could call all the angels out of heav-en, they could not speak peace without God. The stars cannot make day without the sun; none can make day in a dark deserted soul, but the Sun of Righteousness. As the wilderness cannot water itself, but remains dry and parched till the clouds drop their moisture, so our hearts cannot have peace till He infuse it, and drop it upon us by His Spirit. Therefore pray, 'Lord, You who are the God of peace, create peace; You who are the Prince of peace, command it. Give me that peace which may sweeten trouble, yea, even the bitter cup of death.’ "

Thursday, March 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 17, 2017

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

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

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

Thursday, March 16, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 13, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 10, 2017

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Thurs., 3/9/17 Devotion (Job 38:4a)

Today's encouragement comes from Job 38:4a, where we read these words:

"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? . . . "

Ouch. How would we like to have God say words like those (above) to us? To hear this would humble us right down to the dust. The reality is that the Lord *does* ask us this basic question every time we pretend that we know better than He does, or every time we complain about His providences (and the way they work) in our lives.

I know I did not exist when God "laid the foundations of the earth." Therefore, I have no right to counsel Him on how He ought to run His universe. This one thing is for sure: I could not do a better job than He can do. Let all of us faith-ful churchmen come to more implicitly trust our Heavenly Father, believing the best of Him always—especially given the love He has for us in Christ.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Are your sins high as heaven? The mercies of God are above the heavens.” —Isaac Ambrose, in, "The Christian Warrior"]

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wed., 3/8/17 Devotion (Ex. 19:8b, 9b)

Today's encouragement comes from Exodus 19:8b & 9b, where we read these words:

" . . . So Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD. . . . So Moses told the words of the people to the LORD."

We might be thinking, "Why did God have Moses do this? The Lord could hear what the people said—nothing escapes Him; He knows all things." True, but The LORD is a covenant God. In other words, He operates with His peo-ple through a Mediator (ultimately Jesus). When God deals with the rest of the world, He does not employ a Mediator; but when He communes with His church, He does.

We have no access to God without Jesus. No one comes to God "directly.” The True Deity may *only* be approached through a Perfect Intercessor (Jesus). Moses (here in Ex. 19) is a "type" of Christ. Outside of our Lord Jesus Christ there is virtually no way to the Almighty God.

[Puritan quote of the day: "This [true] God is joy in sadness, light in darkness, life in death, heaven in hell.” —Thomas Shepard, in, "The Sincere Convert"]

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Tues., 3/7/17 Devotion (2 Cor. 6:1)

Today's encouragement comes from the words of Paul, as they are found in 2 Corinthians 6:1:

"We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain."

How is the grace of God received "in vain”—even potentially by us, sincere Christians? It is "received in vain" when we forget that our justification before God is all wrapped up in Jesus. The previous verse, (2 Cor. 5:21), had taught us imputed righteousness and substitutionary atonement. But our flesh con-tinually recoils at such marvels, and seeks to regain its perverse "credibility" (even with God).

So, when we cease to look to Jesus alone for our redemption, (and we gaze upon ourselves or something else), we receive the grace of God "in vain." Is Christ our righteousness? Then let us look no further.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Christ is never really absent from such as love Him, but He may seem to be so sometimes.” —Thomas Vincent, in, "The True Christian's Love to the Unseen Christ"]

Monday, March 6, 2017

Mon., 3/6/17 Devotion (Lk. 20:38a)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 20:38a, where we read these words, uttered by Christ:

"For He [God] is not the God of the dead but of the living . . . "

Most people we will meet, work with, or speak to today are walking dead souls. They have no life, because they do not possess the Author of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ. These people exist, they can breathe air—but they are not alive in the most real and profound sense. The Lord is not their God, because they are dead. The true God is *only* the God of the living.

If we are alive in Christ today as His church, then these three principal truths will guide us, (and they will be no burden to us): 1) we will continue to believe in Jesus; 2) we will love Him; and 3) we will witness (spread) His life every-where we can.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Oh, how empty and insignificant are all other things without God!” —Thomas Watson, in his sermon, "Drawing Near to God"]

Friday, March 3, 2017

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

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

"Justification is 'inamissibilis'; it is a fixed permanent thing. It can never be lost. The Arminians hold an apostasy from justification; today justified, tomor-row unjustified; today a Peter, tomorrow a Judas; today a member of Christ, tomorrow a limb of Satan. This is a most uncomfortable doctrine. Justified persons may fall from degrees of grace, they may leave their first love, they may lose God's favor for a time, but not lose their justification. If they are justified they are elected; and they can no more fall from their justification than from their election. If they are justified they have union with Christ; and can a member of Christ be broken off? If one justified person may fall away from Christ, all may; and so Christ would be a head without a body.

"See from hence, that there is nothing within us that could justify, but some-thing without us; not any righteousness inherent, but imputed. We may as well look for a star in the earth as for justification in our own righteousness. [Heretics] say we are justified by works; but the apostle confutes it, for he says, 'Not of works, lest any man should boast,' (Eph. 2:9)."

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Thurs., 3/2/17 Devotion (2 Cor. 1:8)

Today's encouragement comes from 2 Corinthians 1:8, where we read these words:

"For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life."

Sometimes the pressure and stress on the faithful churchman's life can reach fever-pitch levels. It is astounding what a believer can endure—as he or she goes through the furnaces of affliction and suffering for Christ. At the same time, the only cause of our strength and perseverance is the grace of the Lord Jesus.

Fully commensurate with our pain and suffering is the joy and freedom of our release and resurrection in our Savior. Are we in a very hard way today? If so, let us remember that God has delivered us in the past. He is also actively de-livering us in the present; and He will deliver us in the future, (cf. vv. 9 & 10). Let us not lose heart—but rather press on in and with faith in Jesus.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Consider the company Christians keep. It is with the Father of glory. So Christians are indeed the excellent in the earth (Ps. 16:3).” —John Owen, in, "Communion with God"]

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Wed., 3/1/17 Devotion (Lk. 15:32)

Today's encouragement comes from Luke 15:32, where we read these words:

"It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found."

There are some very appropriate times to rejoice, and celebrate. At the top of this list is the salvation of a soul. The older brother (in this "Prodigal Son" nar-rative) refused to party with his father, because he (the older son) could not accept the concept of grace and forgiveness. At heart, he was all about works, and self-righteousness.

May we be very glad when the Lord calls sinners to Himself and puts them in-to His church, through the grace-filled gospel of Christ; and may we renew our own love for and amazement at the God who does such wonderful things.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Love to Jesus Christ and believing in Jesus Christ fills the souls with joy and glory in this life.” —Christopher Love, in his sermon on Gal. 5:17]