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"]