A Slave for Christ
Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ.
1 Corinthians 4:1
The apostle Paul was a “servant” of Christ. It was a role he chose out of love, not fear.
There were perhaps millions of slaves in the Roman Empire. For the most part, they were treated not as persons but as objects. If a master wanted to kill a slave, he could do so without fear of punishment. Though it was a negative term to the Romans, the word slave meant dignity, honor, and respect to the Hebrews, and the Greeks considered it a term of humility. As a servant of Christ, then, Paul paradoxically finds himself both exalted and debased. This is the ambivalence every representative of Jesus Christ must face.
When I think of the honor I’ve been given to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, I am sometimes overwhelmed. There is no higher calling in life than to proclaim the gospel from the pulpit and to be able to teach the Word of God under the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet there is also a paradox that requires a minister of Christ to realize he does not deserve to minister. He must have the proper perspective of being an unworthy slave who has the incomprehensible privilege of proclaiming the gospel.
||Becoming What You Are
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.”
The Christian life is simply becoming what Christ has already made you.
Suppose immediately after you were saved, the Lord stamped your forehead with the words, “Watch me. I’m a child of God.” How would that affect your lifestyle?
We may not have a physical mark like that, but we do bear the name of Christ in this world. When we first put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, we became part of His family (Gal. 4:1–7). He “freely bestowed” His grace on us (Eph. 1:6). He “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (1:3). And we have a rich, glorious inheritance in heaven (1:18). As God’s children, we indeed have many rights, honors, and privileges, but He expects us to behave like His children. Just as a child honors his father by obeying him, we honor God by walking worthy of Him. Our actions must be actions He would approve. Our desires must be His desires. Our goals and objectives must be His goals and objectives.
One of my seminary professors once told me that the whole Christian life is simply becoming what you are. Because you are a child of God, you need to act like a child of God. In fact, the root of the Greek word translated “worthy” in Ephesians 4:1 speaks of equalization and balance. There ought to be perfect harmony between who you are and how you live. We lapse in our commitment to Christ when we fail to live that way.
Remember, though, that our obedience to God must not be a conformity to rules and regulations out of fear or legalistic pride. It is instead a conformity to righteousness out of gratitude and a deep love for Christ. Our desire to be worthy children is a result of understanding and appreciating all He has done for us.
Philippians 1:27 says, “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” In other words, match your conduct to the gospel. The exalted reality of the gospel demands an exalted lifestyle.
Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Lord to help you act like His child.
For Further Study: Read 1 John 2:6. Christ is our supreme example of the worthy walk. ✧ Find examples in the Gospels where He demonstrates His commitment to the Father. ✧ How can you follow His example today?
Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
— Jeremiah 1:6
In theology there is no “Oh!” and this is a significant if not an ominous thing. Theology seeks to reduce what may be known of God to intellectual terms, and as long as the intellect can comprehend, it can find words to express itself. When God Himself appears before the mind—awesome, vast and incomprehensible—then the mind sinks into silence and the heart cries out “O Lord God!” There is the difference between theological knowledge and spiritual experience, the difference between knowing God by hearsay and knowing Him by acquaintance. And the difference is not verbal merely; it is real and serious and vital.
We Christians should watch lest we lose the “Oh!” from our hearts….
When we become too glib in prayer we are most surely talking to ourselves. When the calm listing of requests and the courteous giving of proper thanks take the place of the burdened prayer that finds utterance difficult, we should beware the next step, for our direction is surely down whether we know it or not. BAM085-087
Lord, don’t ever let me lose the “Oh!” from my heart. May I truly experience You so that my knowledge of You will inspire my cries of admiration. Amen. 
Jesus’ Purposeful Baptism
Then Jesus arrived … coming to John, to be baptized by him.—Matt. 3:13 a, b
In the original text of this passage, the wording “to be baptized” emphasizes purpose in this momentous appearance by the Lord Jesus. But it was extremely difficult for John the Baptist to understand why the God-Man would need to be baptized.
John’s baptism was for the confession of sin and repentance (3:2, 6, 11), but Jesus as the Lamb of God (John 1:29) had no need for such a baptism. It is hard to see why One who would take away sin would need to submit Himself to a ceremony that symbolizes death to sin and rising to spiritual life.
Because John knew so well that Jesus was the sinless Messiah, come to fulfill God’s redemptive purpose, he “tried to prevent Him” (Matt. 3:14). The Greek pronouns in John’s statement “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” are all in the emphatic position, underscoring his strong bewilderment over the situation. This was not a direct refusal, as Peter might have given (cf. Matt. 16:22), but the Baptist no doubt misunderstood Jesus’ request, thinking He could not possibly intend to undergo baptism.
All sinners need the repentance that baptism symbolizes, but many, such as the Jewish teachers and leaders of Jesus’ day, do not seek true repentance. Jesus, on the other hand, purposed to receive John’s baptism to show His complete obedience to God’s will.
|The same Jesus who walked with such resolve and determination throughout His own earthly life has a distinct and daily purpose for yours. What pieces of this plan are becoming clearer to you? Pray that He will continue to reveal … and that you will continue to follow.
IN THE BEGINNING
In the beginning was the Word…and the Word was God.
None of us can approach a consideration of the eternal nature and Person of Jesus Christ without sensing and confessing our human inadequacy in the face of the divine revelation.
John, in his Gospel, provides a beautiful portrait of the eternal Christ, starting with those stark, incredible words: “In the beginning!” My brethren, that is where we start with the understanding and the revelation of Christianity!
Many others have made a variety of claims, but only our Christ is the Christ of God. Certainly it was not Buddha and not Mohammed; not Joseph Smith, not Mrs. Eddy and not Father Divine! All of these and countless others like them had beginnings—but they all had their endings too.
What an incredible difference! Our Christian life commences with the eternal Son of God. This is our Lord Jesus Christ: the Word who was with the Father in the beginning; the Word who was God; and the Word who is God! This is the only one who can assure us: “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
Loving Heavenly Father, help me to live each day this year as a humble, grateful child of the eternal God.
|| Experiencing God’s Peace
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:2).
True peace is God’s gift to those who love and obey Him.
Throughout history mankind has sought peace through military alliances, balances of power, and leagues of nations. Yet lasting peace still remains an elusive dream. Even during times of relative peace, nations struggle with internal strife and crime.
The Bible says that man on his own cannot know peace because he is alienated from its source. But we need not despair. True peace is immediately available from God our Father (“the God of peace,” Rom. 15:33) and from the Lord Jesus Christ (the “Prince of Peace,” Isa. 9:6). It’s a gift of God’s grace to those who love and obey Jesus Christ.
The New Testament so clearly teaches the inextricable link between God’s grace and peace that “Grace to you and peace” became a common greeting in the early church. Grace is God’s great kindness toward those who are undeserving of His favor but who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. It is the fountain, and peace is the stream. As recipients of His grace, we have “peace with God” (Rom. 5:1); we are reconciled to Him through faith in His Son, and we will never experience His wrath. We also have the “peace of God” (Phil. 4:7, emphasis added)—the Spirit’s way of assuring us that God is in control even in the midst of difficult circumstances. That’s why Paul calls it the peace that “surpasses all comprehension” (Phil. 4:7).
The world’s peace is relative and fleeting because it is grounded in circumstances. God’s peace is absolute and eternal because it is grounded in His grace.
Does God’s peace reign in your heart, or have you allowed sin or difficult circumstances to diminish your devotion to Christ?
Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God that you have peace with Him through faith in Jesus Christ. ✧ Ask the Spirit to reveal any sin that might be hindering God’s peace from ruling in your heart. Be prepared to respond in confession and repentance. ✧ Ask for opportunities to demonstrate God’s peace to others today.
For Further Study: Read Philippians 4:6–7. ✧ What is God’s antidote for anxiety? ✧ How does God’s peace affect a believer’s heart and mind?
JESUS CHRIST IS ALL THAT THE GODHEAD IS
But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.
1 CORINTHIANS 1:30
I advise you not to listen to those who spend their time demeaning the person of Christ.
I advise you to look beyond the cloudiness of modern terms used by those who themselves are not sure who Jesus Christ was in reality.
You cannot trust the man who can only say, “I believe that God revealed Himself through Christ.” Find out what he really believes about the person of the incarnate Son of God!
You cannot trust the man who will only say that Christ reflected more of God than other men do. Neither can you trust those who teach that Jesus Christ was the supreme religious genius, having the ability to catch and reflect more of God than any other man.
All of these approaches are insults to the Person of Jesus Christ. He was and is and can never cease to be God, and when we find Him and know Him, we are back at the ancient fountain again.
Christ is all that the Godhead is!
This is the wonder, the great miracle—that by one swift, decisive, considered act of faith and prayer, our souls go back to the ancient fountain of our being, and we start over again!
It is in Jesus Christ Himself that we find our source, our satisfaction. I think this is what John Newton perceived in the miracle of the new birth, causing him to sing, “Now rest my long-divided heart, fixed on this blissful center—rest!”
 MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 13). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.
 MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
 MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 10). Chicago: Moody Publishers.
 Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 14). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.