Daily Archives: December 25, 2016

Schoolgirl, 10, with autism and ADHD stuns the internet with rendition of Hallelujah which has been watched 3 million times around the world

Kayleigh Rogers, 10, performed Leonard’s Cohen’s classic hit for her Christmas concert at Killard House School in Donaghadee, Northern Ireland

Her headteacher Colin Millar told Newsbeat: ‘She’d be a very quiet little girl, but when she sings, she just opens up.

‘She gets so much confidence from the singing. All my kids have talents, as well as barriers, and this is hers.’

Thousands have praised Kayleigh, who normally sings at her Presbyterian church, on social media.

She has autism and ADHD, which results in learning delays with literacy and numeracy

Her performance with her school choir has been enjoyed by stunned viewers from the UK, Australia, America and Japan

Source

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A Christmas Devotion from Charles Spurgeon

“Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” — Isaiah 7:14

Let us today go down to Bethlehem, and in company with wondering shepherds and adoring Magi, let us see him who was born King of the Jews, for we by faith can claim an interest in him, and can sing, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.” Jesus is Jehovah incarnate, our Lord and our God, and yet our brother and friend; let us adore and admire. Let us notice at the very first glance his miraculous conception.

It was a thing unheard of before, and unparalleled since, that a virgin should conceive and bear a Son. The first promise ran thus, “The seed of the woman,” not the offspring of the man. Since venturous woman led the way in the sin which brought forth Paradise lost, she, and she alone, ushers in the Regainer of Paradise.

Our Saviour, although truly man, was as to his human nature the Holy One of God. Let us reverently bow before the holy Child whose innocence restores to manhood its ancient glory; and let us pray that he may be formed in us, the hope of glory. Fail not to note his humble parentage.

His mother has been described simply as “a virgin,” not a princess, or prophetess, nor a matron of large estate. True the blood of kings ran in her veins; nor was her mind a weak and untaught one, for she could sing most sweetly a song of praise; but yet how humble her position, how poor the man to whom she stood affianced, and how miserable the accommodation afforded to the new-born King!

Immanuel, God with us in our nature, in our sorrow, in our lifework, in our punishment, in our grave, and now with us, or rather we with him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and Second Advent splendour.

Source

December 25, 2016: Verse of the day

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The Nature of the Incarnation

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (1:14)

Verse 14 is the most concise biblical statement of the Incarnation, and therefore one of Scripture’s most significant verses. The four words with which it begins, the Word became flesh, express the reality that in the Incarnation God took on humanity; the infinite became finite; eternity entered time; the invisible became visible (cf. Col. 1:15); the Creator entered His creation. God revealed Himself to man in the creation (Rom. 1:18–21), the Old Testament Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20–21), and, supremely and most clearly, in Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:1–2). The record of His life and work, and its application and significance for the past, present, and future, is in the New Testament.

As noted in the discussion of 1:1 in chapter 1 of this volume, the concept of the Word was one rich in meaning for both Greeks and Jews. John here clearly stated what he implied earlier in the prologue: Jesus Christ, God’s final Word to mankind (Heb. 1:1–2), became flesh. Sarx (flesh) does not have here the negative moral connotation that it sometimes carries (e.g., Rom. 8:3–9; 13:14; Gal. 5:13, 16–17, 19; Eph. 2:3), but refers to man’s physical being (cf. Matt. 16:17; Rom. 1:3; 1 Cor. 1:26; 2 Cor. 5:16; Gal. 1:16; Eph. 5:29; Phil. 1:22). That He actually became flesh affirms Jesus’ full humanity.

Ginomai (became) does not mean that Christ ceased being the eternal Word when He became a man. Though God is immutable, pure eternal “being” and not “becoming” as all His creatures are, in the Incarnation the unchangeable (Heb. 13:8) God did become fully man, yet remained fully God. He entered the realm of those who are time and space creatures and experienced life as it is for those He created. In the words of the fifth-century church father Cyril of Alexandria,

We do not … assert that there was any change in the nature of the Word when it became flesh, or that it was transformed into an entire man, consisting of soul and body; but we say that the Word, in a manner indescribable and inconceivable, united personally … to himself flesh animated with a reasonable soul, and thus became man and was called the Son of man.… The natures which were brought together to form a true unity were different; but out of both is one Christ and one Son. We do not mean that the difference of the natures is annihilated by reason of this union; but rather that the Deity and Manhood, by their inexpressible and inexplicable concurrence into unity, have produced for us the one Lord and Son Jesus Christ. (cited in Bettenson, Documents, 47)

No wonder Paul wrote of the Incarnation,

By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:
He who was revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory. (1 Tim. 3:16)

Charles Wesley also captured the wonder of the Incarnation in his majestic hymn “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing”:

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
Hail th’ incarnate Deity!
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.

Some found the Incarnation so utterly beyond human reason to comprehend that they refused to accept it. The heretical group known as the Docetists (from dokeō; “to seem,” or “to appear”), accepting the dualism of matter and spirit so prevalent in Greek philosophy at that time, held that matter was evil, and spirit was good. Accordingly, they argued that Christ could not have had a material (and hence evil) body. They taught instead either that His body was a phantom, or an apparition, or that the divine Christ spirit descended upon the mere man Jesus at His baptism, then left Him before His crucifixion. Cerinthus, John’s opponent at Ephesus, was a Docetist. John strongly opposed Docetism, which undermines not only the incarnation of Christ, but also His resurrection and substitutionary atonement. As noted earlier in this chapter, in his first epistle he warned,

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. (1 John 4:1–3)

John was so horrified by Cerinthus’s heresy that, as the early church historian Eusebius records,

John the apostle once entered a bath to wash; but ascertaining Cerinthus was within, he leaped out of the place, and fled from the door, not enduring to enter under the same roof with him, and exhorted those with him to do the same, saying, “let us flee, lest the bath fall in, as long as Cerinthus, that enemy of the truth, is within.” (Ecclesiastical History, book III, chap. XXVIII)

The eternal Son not only became man; He also dwelt among men for thirty-three years. Dwelt translates a form of the verb skēnoō, which literally means “to live in a tent.” Jesus Christ’s humanity was not a mere appearance. He took on all the essential attributes of humanity and was “made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7), “since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). As the writer of Hebrews goes on to explain, “He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17). And He pitched His tent among us.

In the Old Testament, God tented with Israel through His glorious presence in the tabernacle (Ex. 40:34–35) and later in the temple (1 Kings 8:10–11), and revealed Himself in some pre-incarnate appearances of Christ (e.g., Gen. 16:7–14; Ex. 3:2; Josh. 5:13–15; Judg. 2:1–4; 6:11–24; 13:3–23; Dan. 3:25; 10:5–6; Zech. 1:11–21). Throughout eternity, God will again tent with His redeemed and glorified people:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell [skēnoō] among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:3–4; cf. 12:12; 13:6)

Though Jesus manifested God’s divine glory during His earthly life with a clarity never before seen, it was still veiled by His human flesh. Peter, James, and John saw a physical manifestation of Jesus’ heavenly glory at the transfiguration, when “His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light” (Matt. 17:2; cf. 2 Peter 1:16–18). That was a preview of the unveiled glory to be seen at His return (Matt. 24:29–30; 25:31; Rev. 19:11–16) and the fullness of His heavenly glory as the only Light of the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:23). But the disciples saw Jesus manifest God’s holy nature primarily by displaying divine attributes, such as truth, wisdom, love, grace, knowledge, power, and holiness.

Jesus manifested the same essential glory as the Father, because as God they possess the same nature (10:30). Despite the claims of false teachers through the centuries, monogenēs (only begotten) does not imply that Jesus was created by God and thus not eternal. The term does not refer to a person’s origin, but describes him as unique, the only one of his kind. Thus Isaac could properly be called Abraham’s monogenēs (Heb. 11:17) even though Abraham had other sons, because Isaac alone was the son of the covenant. Monogenēs distinguishes Christ as the unique Son of God from believers, who are God’s sons in a different sense (1 John 3:2). B. F. Westcott writes, “Christ is the One and only Son, the One to whom the title belongs in a sense completely unique and singular, as distinguished from that in which there are many children of God (vv. 12f.)” (The Gospel According to St. John [Reprint; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978], 12). Jesus’ unique relationship to the Father is a major theme of John’s gospel (cf. 1:18; 3:35; 5:17–23, 26, 36–37; 6:27, 46, 57; 8:16, 18–19, 28, 38, 42, 54; 10:15, 17, 30, 36–38; 12:49–50; 14:6–13, 20–21, 23, 31; 15:9, 15, 23–24; 16:3, 15, 27–28, 32; 17:5, 21, 24–25; 20:21).

Jesus’ manifestation of the divine attributes revealed His essential glory as God’s Son, “for in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Col. 2:9). The two attributes most closely connected with salvation are grace and truth. Scripture teaches that salvation is wholly by believing God’s truth in the gospel, by which one receives His saving grace.

The Jerusalem Council declared, “But we believe that we [Jewish believers] are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they [Gentiles] also are” (Acts 15:11). Apollos “greatly helped those who had believed through grace” (Acts 18:27). Paul described the message he preached as “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). In Romans 3:24 he wrote that believers are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus,” while in Ephesians 1:7 he added, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.” Later in that same letter, Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8–9). He reminded Timothy that God “has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Tim. 1:9). That same “grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men” (Titus 2:11), with the result that believers “being justified by His grace … would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7).

There is no salvation grace except to those who believe the truth of the gospel message. Paul reminded the Ephesians, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:13). In Colossians 1:5 he defined the gospel as the “word of truth” (cf. James 1:18). Paul expressed to the Thessalonians his thankfulness that “God ha[d] chosen [them] from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13). People are saved when they “come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4; cf. 2 Tim. 2:25). On the other hand, “those who perish” will do so “because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved” (2 Thess. 2:10). Everyone will “be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness” (2 Thess. 2:12).

Jesus Christ was the full expression of God’s grace. All the necessary truth to save is available in Him. He was the full expression of God’s truth, which was only partially revealed in the Old Testament (cf. Col. 2:16–17). What was foreshadowed through prophecy, types, and pictures became substance realized in the person of Christ (cf. Heb. 1:1–2). Therefore He could declare, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.… If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 14:6; 8:31–32).

A vague belief in God apart from the truth about Christ will not result in salvation. As Jesus Himself warned, “Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). Those who think they are worshiping God, but are ignorant of or reject the fullness of the New Testament teaching about Christ, are deceived, because “he who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (John 5:23; cf. 15:23). In his first epistle John affirmed that “whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:23; cf. 2 John 9). Those who reject God’s full revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ will be eternally lost.

Summarizing the magnificence of this verse, Gerald L. Borchert writes,

In analyzing this crucial verse of the Prologue it becomes quickly apparent that this verse is like a great jewel with many facets that spreads it rays of implication into the various dimensions of Christology—the theology of Christ. As a summary of this verse it may be said that the evangelist recognized and bore witness to the fact that the characteristics ascribed only to God by the Old Testament were present in the incarnate Logos, God’s unique messenger to the world, who not only epitomized in person the awesome sense of God’s presence in their midst as a pilgrim people but also evidenced those stabilizing divine qualities God’s people had experienced repeatedly. (John 1–11, The New American Commentary [Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2002], 121–22. Italics in original.)

MacArthur New Testament Commentary

December 25, 2016: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

December 25 The Purpose of Christ’s Exaltation

“God highly exalted Him … to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:9, 11

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When the Son is glorified, so is the Father.

The purpose of Christ’s exaltation is to glorify God. Philippians 2:11 says Jesus will be acknowledged as Lord “to the glory of God the Father.” In Isaiah 45:5 God says, “I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God.” None can be compared to God. He does not ask anyone for advice. He knows all and does exactly what He wants to do. All His purposes come to pass.

In light of who God says He is, one might assume that it would be blasphemous for everyone to bow to Jesus Christ and confess Him as Lord. To so honor Christ would seem to put Him in competition with the Father.

But the mystery of the Trinity is that when the Son is glorified, the Father is glorified. Perfect glory given to the Son is perfect glory given to the Father. John 5:23 says the Father has given all judgment to the Son “that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” That’s why the Father said of Jesus, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; hear Him!” (Matt. 17:5). When you believe in Jesus Christ and confess Him as Lord, you exalt not only the Son but also the Father. There is no competition within the Trinity. The Father is exalted by what He accomplishes in the Son. They are one.

What a joy to know that our confessing of Jesus as Lord glorifies God. Let’s continue to glorify Him as Lord by bearing spiritual fruit in our lives (see John 15:8).

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Suggestions for Prayer: Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). Whatever you ask in Christ’s name, do so by acknowledging His sovereignty and desiring that God be glorified.

For Further Study: What do Romans 9:5, 1 Corinthians 15:28, and John 13:31–32 show about the glory of the Father and the Son?[1]


December 25

Why Was Jesus Born?

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

Mark 10:45

Here’s a side to the Christmas story that isn’t often told: those soft little hands, fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, were made so that nails might be driven through them. Those baby feet, pink and unable to walk, would one day walk up a dusty hill to be nailed to a cross. That sweet infant’s head with sparkling eyes and eager mouth was formed so that someday men might force a crown of thorns onto it. That tender body, warm and soft, wrapped in swaddling clothes, would one day be ripped open by a spear.

Jesus was born to die.

Don’t think I’m trying to put a damper on your Christmas spirit. Far from it—for Jesus’ death, though devised and carried out by men with evil intentions, was in no sense a tragedy. In fact, it represents the greatest victory over evil anyone has ever accomplished.[2]


DECEMBER 25

THOU ART WORTHY

And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.

—Revelation 5:9

Did you ever stop to think about the rapture? It’s going to be something that’s never happened before. You might be walking around on the street and hear the sound of the trumpet—and suddenly you’re transformed! You won’t know what to do or how to act. And the people lying in their graves, what’ll they do? I know what they’ll do—they’ll sing! There’s going to be singing at the consummation, on that great day!

“Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us” (Revelation 5:9)—that’s the theme of the new song. The theme of the new song isn’t “I am”; it’s “Thou art.” Notice the difference! When you look at the old hymnody of Wesley, Montgomery and Watts, it was “Thou art, O God, Thou art.” But when you look at the modern hymns, it is “I am, I am, I am.” It makes me sick to my stomach. Occasionally a good hymn with testimonies is all right, but we’ve overdone it. The song of the ransomed is going to be “Thou are worthy, O God.” AOG014

I long for that day, Lord, when I can join in the singing. I await Your return, Lord Jesus. Amen. [3]


December 25

Entering the Kingdom from Different Circumstances

He goes and sells all that he has and buys that field … and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.—Matt. 13:44b, 46

There is no preset formula for turning from sin and by faith embracing Christ’s kingdom. A person does not have to perform certain rituals to become a Christian, and he or she can come from a variety of circumstances. In each parable referred to here, a man finds something of huge value and sacrifices all to possess it. But in the first parable the man was not even looking for anything, certainly not a valuable treasure. He came upon it quite by accident. In tending to his normal business, the man was working in a field or perhaps passing through on a trip. Finding the treasure was the furthest thing from his plans.

Similarly, people often encounter the gospel while pursuing their daily activities. As they are busily occupied with their job, family, or schooling, they hear a sermon, read a book, listen to a CD, or have a believer witness to them. Through the Spirit’s gracious power they realize the gospel’s infinite value and are drawn into God’s kingdom.

In contrast, the second parable portrays a man whose career was searching for a valuable commodity, which he eventually found. He’s the seeker who looks many places for life’s meaning. When not finding that which satisfies, he nevertheless perseveres, believing the truth can be found. He is like the Ethiopian whom Philip directed to Christ (Acts 8:26–39), or the God-fearing Cornelius who found salvation (Acts 10).

Whether “by accident” or deliberately, all who are in the right place can and do find God’s priceless kingdom.

ASK YOURSELF
On this Christmas Day, celebrate the gift of salvation that has brought ultimate worth and value—and energy and excitement—into your life experience. Thank Him enthusiastically for seeking you with purpose and precision, even while you weren’t particularly looking for Him.[4]


December 25 Recovering Man’s Destiny

“We … see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for every one” (Heb. 2:9).

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Jesus Christ is the only One who could recover man’s destiny.

The ultimate curse of our lost destiny is death. God warned Adam that if he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would die (Gen. 2:17). In the restored Kingdom we will be elevated again over a redeemed earth. But the only way we could ever reign again as kings was to have the curse of sin removed, and the only way to remove it was to pay the penalty of sin, which is death (Rom. 6:23).

There’s just one problem: how can we reign if we are dead? We need to be raised from the dead, but we certainly can’t do that ourselves. That’s why God sent Jesus Christ.

To accomplish this great work for us, Jesus had to become a man. He Himself had to be made “for a little while lower than the angels.” To regain man’s dominion, He had to taste death for every man. Christ came to die for us because in His dying He could conquer death.

But He was also raised from the dead: “Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him” (Rom. 6:9). How does that help us? “If we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection” (v. 5).

The moment you put your faith in Christ, you were identified with Him. You died with Him on the cross, you were resurrected, and you began to walk in newness of life. You now are a joint-heir with Christ in His eternal Kingdom.

Christ tasted death for you and me so we could recover our lost destiny. Celebrate that glorious truth as you celebrate His birth today.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Before you do another thing today, praise your Heavenly Father for His wonderful plan of salvation.

For Further Study: Read Isaiah 2:2–4 and 11:6–9, noting the character of our future Kingdom.[5]


DECEMBER 25

THE HAPPY MORN

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour.

Luke 2:11

When we sing, “The Light of the world is Jesus,” there should be a glow on our faces that would make the world believe indeed that we really mean it!

The Incarnation meant something vast and beautiful for John Milton—and he celebrated the coming of Jesus into the world with one of the most beautiful and moving expressions ever written by a man:

This is the month, and this the happy morn,

Wherein the Son of Heaven’s eternal King,

Of wedded maid, and Virgin mother born,

Our great redemption from above did bring.

That glorious form, that Light insufferable,

And that far beaming blaze of majesty,

He laid aside, and here with us to be,

Forsook the courts of everlasting Day,

And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.

Oh! run; present them with thy humble ode,

And lay it lowly at His blessed feet,

Have thou the honor first thy Lord to greet

And join thy voices with the Angel quire,

From out His secret altar touched with hallowed fire!

Lord Jesus, I worship You today for choosing to put on mortal flesh for the sole purpose of redeeming mankind. I praise You for Your single-minded dedication to that most difficult task.[6]


DECEMBER 25

THE ROOT OF ALL THEOLOGY AND TRUTH

He came….

JOHN 1:11

“He came”—these two simple words are at the root of all theology and of all truth!

Before Christ came in the incarnation, there had been only the eternal past. Then from the time of creation, we have such hints as “In the beginning he was God” and “In him was light” and “all things were made by him” and “In him was life.”

Now it says, “He came!”

We are struck by the wonder of these simple words. All of the pity that God is capable of feeling, all of the mercy that God is capable of showing, and all of the redeeming love and grace that He could pour out of His divine being—all are at least suggested in the fact that Jesus came!

Then too, all of the hopes and longings and aspirations and dreams of immortality that lie in the human breast had their fulfillment in these two words, “He came!”

The message is more profound than all philosophy. It may be a superlative statement, but I believe it to be a balanced and accurate statement, to insist that the impact of these two words, understood in their high spiritual context, is wiser than all of man’s learning.

Because He is “the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” man’s long night of darkness is dispelled. We celebrate with Milton the delight that “This is the happy morn wherein the Son of heaven’s eternal king, of wedded maid and virgin mother born, our great redemption from above did bring!”[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 386). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[3] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[4] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 368). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[5] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 372). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[6] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[7] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.