Wednesday, May 31, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 26, 2017

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 25, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 22, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 19, 2017

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

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

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

Thursday, May 18, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

[Puritan quote of the day: "Let us pray that God will preserve pure ordinances and powerful preaching among us. Idolatry came in at first by the want [lack] of good preaching.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Ten Commandments"]

Monday, May 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 12, 2017

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 11, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 8, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 5, 2017

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 4, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 1, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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