Monday, July 31, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 28, 2017

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 27, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 21, 2017

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

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

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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 14, 2017

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 13, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 10, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 7, 2017

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

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


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

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

Thursday, July 6, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 3, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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