Friday, June 30, 2017

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 29, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 26, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 23, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/23-25/17 Devotion

Wahoo—it is almost Sunday. Richard Sibbes is the great Puritan doctor of sad souls. Here is his gospel remedy, taken from "The Bruised Reed." . . .

"Among other causes of discouragement, some are much vexed with scrup-les, even against the best duties; partly by disease of body, helped by Satan's malice in casting dust in their eyes in their way to heaven; and partly from some remainder of ignorance, which, like darkness, breeds fears-ignorance especially of this merciful disposition in [Christ], the persuasion of which would easily banish false fears. They conceive of Him as One on watch for all advantages against them, in which they may see how they wrong not only themselves but Christ's goodness.

"This scrupulosity, for the most part, is a sign of a godly soul, as some weeds are of a good soil. Therefore they are the more to be pitied, for it is a heavy affliction, and the ground of it in most is not so much from trouble of consci-ence as from a disordered imagination. The end of Christ's coming was to free us from all such groundless fears. There is still in some such ignorance of that comfortable condition we are in under the covenant of grace as to dis-courage them greatly."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thurs., 6/22/17 Devotion (Isa. 54:17)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 54:17, where the prophet wrote these great words:

" 'No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the ser-vants of the LORD, and their righteousness is from Me,' says the LORD."

God's servants may take great comfort from this divine promise. Satan and evil (religious) men form unholy alliances against God's ministers and church-es. And though they rage, and create a fuss, they are never successful. The reason for all this is because of the latter part of this verse: the saints' right-eousness is from God. If righteousness had anything to do with us sinners, then the devil and his horde would be welcome to have a hey-day with us. But, since our righteousness is from Christ alone, and is His gift of grace alone—all those of us who are in Jesus and His true church are safe.

Let us joyfully trust in Jesus and His gospel of grace today.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Justification is the very hinge and pillar of Chris-tianity.  An error about justification is dangerous, like a defect in a foundation.” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wed., 6/21/17 Devotion (Deut. 26:11)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 26:11, where we read this:

"So you shall rejoice in every good thing which the LORD your God has given to you and your house, you and the Levite and the stranger who is among you."

Do we understand that it is actually sinful for us not to be thankful for our tem-poral (this-world) blessings? Do we know that it is gross ingratitude to despise God's good gifts? Some people, imaging themselves to be too "spiritual" to appreciate anything temporal, look down their noses at the Lord's provisions to them.

God is not honored by thanklessness for "normal" gifts to us, (cf. 1 Tim. 4:1-5). Those who love Jesus, His gospel, and His church, will also rejoice in every *other* sweet thing He sends down to us from heaven. Let us give God praise and thanks for *all* His good provision.

[Puritan quote of the day: "[God] rewards His subjects in this life. He gives them inward peace and joy; a bunch of grapes by the way; and oft-times rich-es and honor.” —Thomas Watson, in, "A Body of Divinity"]

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tues., 6/20/17 Devotion (Isa. 52:7)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 52:7, where we find these great words:

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns!' "

When messengers from battlefields brought news of their nation's victory, they were a welcome sight, indeed. When God's pastors bring to His people tidings of Jesus' victory over sin, Satan, the world, and our old flesh—it is cause for great celebration. The cross and resurrection of our Savior Jesus is the sure sign that our "God reigns."

Let the church both enjoy the benefits of, and proclaim the truth of the Gospel of grace. As we do so, our lives, and even our "feet," will be very comely vis-ages.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you do not have a spirit to love God above your dearest earthly friends, and your most pleasant earthly enjoyments, the Scrip-tures are very plain and full that you are not true Christians.” —Jonathan Ed-wards, in his sermon entitled, "Hypocrites Deficient in the Duty of Prayer"]

Monday, June 19, 2017

Mon., 6/19/17 Devotion (Isa. 51:12a)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 51:12a, where we read these words:

"I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be
afraid . . . "

When God comforts His churched children, as He always does in the atone-ment given them in Christ, they (the believers) have no ground for fear (espe-cially of man). And the reason for this is because of *Who* it is that consoles and strengthens our hearts: it is not another fellow-sinner, nor an angel, nor anyone else—but God Himself.

When we rest, by faith, in Jesus' righteousness alone (as our own)—then, how can we justify fearing man or anything else? After all, if God is satisfied with us, in Christ, what does it matter what anyone else thinks?

[Puritan quote of the day: "If God delivers you from any of your sins, He must do such work as is greater than the making of heaven and earth.” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "Gospel Remission"]

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Thurs., 6/15/17 Devotion (Rev. 17:14b)

Today's encouragement comes from Revelation 17:14b, where we read these words:

" . . . and those who are with Him [Christ] are called, chosen, and faithful."

The Bible clearly teaches that God elects some (not all) people unto salvation—and that He then places them into His true church (cf. Eph. 1:3-6). But what is sometimes not emphasized enough is the fact that those who are truly chosen, and therefore really redeemed, *will be "faithful" and/or persevering* in this life.

In other words, there is no such thing as an unfaithful "chosen" person. If we *are* chosen, by grace, we *will be* faithful in Christ and His church. Some people (hypocrites) have a false assurance in this regard. They believe in the doctrine—but they do not possess the goods. Let us be true Christian church-men: acknowledging that we are chosen, and showing it by being faithful.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Going to hear a sermon in jest has proved some men's conversion in earnest.” —John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Providence"]

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wed., 6/14/17 Devotion (Isa. 46:5)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 46:5, which says this:

"To whom will you liken Me, and make Me equal and compare Me, that we should be alike?"

The incomparability of God is a major theme in Isaiah, and in the rest of the Bible. Compared to the Lord, the entire created universe, with all its vastness and abundance, is nothing. Compared to the Triune God of the Christian reli-gion, an idol is a farce, at best. Isaiah makes fun of how idolaters carve out their god from a block of wood, and then burn up the rest of the timber in the fireplace, (see Isa. 44:15-17).

It is astounding that this incomparable God would unite Himself to mankind, in the incarnation of The Second Person of the Trinity. May we stand in awe of the church's God, and give Him all the glory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "If you have left off calling upon God, it is time for you to leave off hoping and flattering yourselves with an imagination that you are the children of God.” —Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon, "Hypocrites De-ficient in the Duty of Prayer"]

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Thurs., 6/8/17 Devotion (Deut. 12:30b, 31a)

Today's encouragement comes from Deuteronomy 12:30b & 31a, where we read these words:

" . . . do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way . . . "

This is a very "relevant" Scripture (above), because many (if not most) con-gregations today *do* the very thing we are told not to do (here). They look at the sinful, idol-worshipping society in which we live, and they ask, "How do the people worship their gods? Let us design our services around their ways, so as to be 'relevant'."

Once a church sets out to be "relevant" to the culture with regard to its wor-ship service, that congregation has instantly become "irrelevant," (especially to God Himself). We are to look to heaven, and get our instructions from above; rather than looking to earth, to do as all the rest of the heathen. The faithful church sets the standard for the culture, and invites sinners to come up to a life of dignity and worth (in Jesus).

[Puritan quote of the day: "It is a greater mercy to descend from praying par-ents than from the loins of nobles.” —John Flavel, in, "The Mystery of Provi-dence"]

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tues., 6/6/17 Devotion (Isa. 38:17)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 38:17, where we read these neat words:

"Indeed it was for my own peace that I had great bitterness; but You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back."

These are the words of the faithful king Hezekiah, after he was told that God would prolong his life. What I like about this verse is the tension between life in sin and struggle (the law, if you will); and life in grace and peace in Christ (the gospel, if you will).

*That* is precisely where all the regenerate live. We should face this fact head-on; and then we should determine, by grace, to live in faith, not despair-ing of the difficulties that are sure to be ours down here. In Christ we always gain the victory.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Thus it is said of a true godly man that he stirs himself up against the hypocrite, that he holds on his way and grows stronger and stronger (Job 17:8-9).” —Jeremiah Burroughs, in, "The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit"]

Monday, June 5, 2017

Mon., 6/5/17 Devotion (Ps. 92:13-14)

Today's encouragement comes from Psalm 92:13 & 14, where we read these words:

"Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing . . . "

We just enjoyed our Sabbath worship and rest yesterday. If indeed we *are* "planted in the house of the Lord," then we are primed to live a full life: from at least the moment of our baptisms (by the Spirit and water), till our deaths. Furthermore, we will be "fruitful," not spiritually barren. Our lives will develop more and more Christlikeness all the time.

Where are *we* "planted" today? If it is in any soil other than God's house, we will wither and die.

[Puritan quote of the day: "Observe the happy condition of every child of God. All things work for his good, the best and worst things.” —Thomas Watson, in, "All Things for Good"]

Friday, June 2, 2017

Fri.-Sabbath, 6/2-4/17 Devotion

As we prepare for Sunday's church worship, let us allow these words of Jon-athan Edwards, from his sermon entitled, "A Warning to Professors of Reli-gion," to bless our hearts:

"When we are in attendance on the ordinances of divine worship, we are in the special presence of God. When persons come and attend on the ordin-ances of God, they are said to come before God, and to come into His pres-ence. Jer. 7:10: 'Come and stand before Me, in this house which is called by My Name.' Ps. 100:2: 'Come before His presence with singing.'

"In diving ordinances, person have immediate [interaction] with God, either in applying to Him (as in prayer and singing praises), or in receiving from him, waiting solemnly and immediately on Him for spiritual good (as in hearing the Word), or in both applying to God and receiving from Him (as in the sacra-ments [baptism and the Lord's Supper])."

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Thurs., 6/1/17 Devotion (Isa. 33:14a)

Today's encouragement comes from Isaiah 33:14a, where we read these words:

"The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness has seized the hypocrites . . . "

The context of the phrase (above) is that the Old Covenant church would be tested and tried in the furnace of affliction. The sincere believers would sub-mit to this, and would come out more purified. The unbelieving hypocrites—who were still in the outward covenant—would *not* do well at all. They would be fearful; and they would prove to be false.

True Christians oftentimes also experience fear; but we are able, by grace, to undergo God's "proving grounds." A hypocrite will never willingly suffer any-thing for the Lord or the true religion. Real believers—though not enjoying it—are always, in the end, willing to do whatever their Savior requires of them.

[Puritan quote of the day: "He who belongs to the Jerusalem above speaks the language of Canaan.” —Thomas Watson, in, "The Great Gain of Godli-ness"]