Daily Archives: January 2, 2017

What is the Gospel?

Unfathomable Grace

Law or Gospel — Which comes first?

Sometimes in life, the question is posed to us, “Which do you want first — the bad news or the good news?”

In response to this question, some choose to hear the good news first. It appears they desire to be thoroughly overwhelmed with the positive before getting their dose of the negative.

Others choose differently. They would rather hear the bad news first, get it out of the way, and put behind them their wonder and worry. Then, after processing the ramifications of the bad news, they hope to soothe the pain an end the conversation on a good note with positive vibes.

Well, Scripture does not offer us options. The Bible makes the choice for us, and it chooses to present the negative before the positive. The Bible declares bad news before declaring good news. It first presents the holy, wise, beneficial and condemning Law, then it publishes…

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Not recommended teachers/authors/speakers

Early in 2016, Michelle Lesley compiled a list of women teachers, speakers and authors that should be avoided like the plague. In October she added several women to the list (here). There’s no guessing necessary as to why Michelle doesn’t recommend certain high profile Christians because she includes examples of their flawed teaching; likewise, she names some of the wolves those on the list choose to partner with. Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, Victoria Osteen and Christine Caine, to name a few.  The Bible urges believers to do their homework (Acts 17:11) for the reason that “false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction (2 Peter 2:1).

Now take a look at Michelle’s list…

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‘Pope Francis’ Urges: ‘Let Us Entrust the New Year to Mary’

The mother of Jesus was a sinner just like all human beings born into this world. Therefore she needed Jesus Christ as a Savior.  The Bible says nothing about Mary ascending to heaven or having an exalted role there. Yet the pope of Rome urges Catholics to entrust her with the new year “so that peace and mercy may grow throughout the world.” We believe that the mother of Jesus should be held in high esteem, but she is not worthy of our worship or adoration.  So with this in mind, following is Christian News Network’s report:

The leader of Roman Catholicism, Jorge Bergoglio, also known as “Pope Francis,” observed the feast of “the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God” on New Year’s Day, urging followers to “entrust the new year to Mary.”

“Let us entrust the new year to Mary, Mother of God, so that peace and mercy may grow throughout the world,” he Tweeted on Sunday, generating over 33,000 likes and 11,000 shares.

The feast “coincides with the octave-day of Christmas” on the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, and was initially the feast of the Circumcision of Christ until being replaced in 1974 by Pope John VI. The “mother of God” concept, however, can be traced back as early as the Council of Ephesus in 431.

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See our Research Paper on Roman Catholicism

Transgenderism: “A Mental Disorder” Says a Top Psychiatrist From Johns Hopkins

Absolute Truth from the Word of God


Our Left Wing government is attempting to push transgenderism down our throats; making those of us who do not accept this aberrant behavior as normal, ‘transgenderphobes.’ Now, a top psychiatrist from Johns Hopkins is telling us the truth about what he terms is a mental disorder.

From CNSnews.com

Dr. Paul R. McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, said that transgenderism is a “mental disorder” that merits treatment, that sex change is “biologically impossible,” and that people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder.

Dr. McHugh, the author of six books and at least 125 peer-reviewed medical articles, made his remarks in a recent commentary in the Wall Street Journal, where he explained that transgender surgery is not the solution for people who suffer a “disorder of ‘assumption’” – the notion that their maleness or…

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The “Grievous Sin” of Neglecting the Church (Ames)

The Reformed Reader

The Marrow of Theology by [Ames, William] The Lord Jesus has a special love and care for his church (Eph. 1:22-23, 5:25ff).  He is the good Shepherd who carefully watches over his flock (Ps. 23) and unselfishly gave up his life to save her (Jn. 10:11).  He loves his bride (the church) so much that he promised to build her up, beautify her, sanctify her, protect her, and preserve her unto the end (Mt. 16:18, Eph. 5:27, etc.).  For these reasons Christians should be quick to identify with the church, love her, support her, and pray for her.  We find Christ’s blessings in his church.  William Ames wrote well on this:

“Since the ordinances of Christ always have God’s blessing joined with them, various promises of God are made to the church about the presence of Christ (Mt. 18:20, 1 Cor. 5:4).  So in a special way he is said to live and walk in the churches (Rev…

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Saying No to Church = Divorcing Christ from His Bride (Murray)

“We cannot think of Christ properly apart from the church.  All the offices he exercises as head over all things, he exercises on behalf of the church.  If we think of the church apart from Christ, or transfer to the church prerogatives that belong only to Christ, then we are guilty of idolatry.  But if we think of Christ apart from the church, then we are guilty of a dismemberment that severs what God has joined together.  We are divorcing Christ from his only bride.”

Some people today believe they can be a Christian without being part of a church.  I know of people who call themselves Christians yet purposely do not associate with a local church fellowship.  This is an unbiblical attitude that results in an unbiblical lifestyle.  Hebrews 10 talks about not forsaking the assembly, and 1 John says that people who went out from the Christian group were really not part of the group (Heb 10:25 & 1 John 2:19).  John Murray gave a good reminder of the tight bond between Christ and his bride, the church:

“We cannot think of Christ properly apart from the church.  All the offices he exercises as head over all things, he exercises on behalf of the church.  If we think of the church apart from Christ, or transfer to the church prerogatives that belong only to Christ, then we are guilty of idolatry.  But if we think of Christ apart from the church, then we are guilty of a dismemberment that severs what God has joined together.  We are divorcing Christ from his only bride.  The central doctrine of the Christian faith should remind us of the evil of such divorce, for this doctrine is that ‘Christ loved the church and gave himself up for it’ (Eph. 5:25).”

Since Christ loved his church that much, so should his followers!  True, the church is not perfect.  But Christ didn’t run away from it or forsake it, instead he loved the church and died for it!  So the Christian must not run away from the church or forsake it, but love it, pray for it, and join with it – out of love for and obedience to Christ.

John Murray, Collected Writings of John Murray Volume 1, p. 238.

Rev. Shane Lems is a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and serves as pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Hammond, Wis. This article appeared on his blog and is used with permission.

The post Saying No to Church = Divorcing Christ from His Bride (Murray) appeared first on The Aquila Report.

TD Jakes still peddling Modalism heresy

Chris Rosebrough from ‘Fighting For the Faith’ recently exposed clear evidence that TD Jakes is not a Christian. On his program Rosebrough played  the latest audio of TD Jakes peddling the heresy of Modalism, a heresy condemned by the early church for denying the Trinity. To peddle Modalism is to peddle a different deity and a different gospel.

Matt Slick from  Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry describes Modalism as “probably the most common theological error concerning the nature of God.  It is a denial of the Trinity. Modalism states that God is a single person who, throughout biblical history, has revealed Himself in three modes or forms. Thus, God is a single person who first manifested himself in the mode of the Father in Old Testament times. At the incarnation, the mode was the Son; and after Jesus’ ascension, the mode is the Holy Spirit. These modes are consecutive and…

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CultureWatch: Hardened Hearts and the Judgment of God

Now here is a topic most people would rather not discuss – and I include many pastors and church leaders here as well, not just pagans. But I must discuss it nonetheless. It is about the hardness of heart that comes due to sin, and the warnings about it as found in Scripture.

There are numerous passages that speak to this, so we had better pay close attention. One of the key texts is Hebrews 3:13 which says, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

Now it is quite apparent by the context that this warning is given to believers. Verses 12-14 reads:

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.

hard-heart-2It is not my intention here to enter into the big debate about whether believers can lose their salvation, or are eternally secure, and so on. So please wait till I write a few rather longish articles on those quite complex and detailed debates before sending in your views on this thanks!

In the meantime I can recommend one book edited by Herbert Bateman on this and other passages in Hebrews called, Four Views on the Warning Passages in Hebrews (Kregel. 2007).

But if even believers are warned about the dangers of a hardened heart, how much more then are non-Christians at risk in this? And that is the focus of what I want to speak about here. The Bible says much about sin-hardened sinners and what a dangerous place that is to be in.

A key passage on this is Romans 1:18-32. Some of the scariest words of Scripture are found in verses 24, 26, 28: “God gave them over”. Sinners who continue in sin, continue to shake their fist at God, and continue to reject the truth are eventually given over by God.

Let me look at one further set of passages. Since I have again just finished reading through the book of Revelation, let me cite a few passages from there about this very issue. They are quite frightening passages indeed. They speak about God’s just judgment being poured out on the earth, and the reactions of non-believers.

No matter how bad the judgments, these sinners refuse to repent, but dig their heels in even further, cursing God. Consider a few of these texts:

Revelation 9:20-21 The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.

Revelation 16:8-11 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him. The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.

Revelation 16:21 From the sky huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, fell on people. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.

Those are some pretty heavy duty passages. They depict all too well what happens when the human heart is hardened in sin and rebellion. Instead of allowing a bit of the fear of God to touch their hearts, they are so hardened that these terrible judgments simply harden them even further.

We do read about one other case of judgment in which hardening is not mentioned (nor is repentance). In Rev. 11:13 we read: “At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.”

Scholars differ on two issues which arise here: is this real repentance and conversion in 11:13, and do these judgments contain within them a final offer of repentance, or are they simply retributive in nature? As to the first question, one can compare Nebuchadnezzer’s response in Daniel 4.

For example in v. 34 we read: “At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.” Does that indicate an expression of genuine repentance and faith? It could be.

So too with Rev. 11:13. The survivors were terrified and gave glory to God. Does that mean that real repentance took place? Some scholars say no to both cases. And was the judgment dished out simply an act of punishment or was a real offer of repentance included? There is variance of opinion on this matter as well.

However we line up on these questions, the main issue of hardened hearts must still be dealt with. As Robert Mounce remarks, “Once the heart is set in its hostility toward God not even the scourge of death will lead men to repentance.” Or as Robert Wall comments, “The world’s resistance to God’s reign and to God’s transforming grace found in Christ is constant and pervasive.”

J. Ramsey Michaels says this about Rev. 9:20-21:

For the first time, John gives full attention to the human response to these divine judgments. He has mentioned the human response twice before, but only in passing, as a way of dramatizing the severity of the judgments themselves, first in 6:15-17, where people hid in caves and cried out to the mountains to fall on them, and second in 9:6, where they desired death but did not find it. This time the human response is in spite of the severity of the judgment, not because of it. The point is made twice (vv. 20, 21) that these terrible judgments did not bring about repentance or a change of heart among those who were not killed.

Such callous hardness of heart is just so amazing to consider. But we do know that at the end of the day all men will bow the knee to God and give him glory: some will do so willingly while some will do it only under duress. As Philippians 2:9-11 puts it,

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

We have a chance now to repent and give glory to God while God offers mercy and pardon. But a day is coming when he will only offer strict justice and judgment. Then too men will bow the knee, even if it is unwillingly. Plenty could be said about all this in general, and the frightening phrase of God ‘giving them over,’ but by way of summation and exhortation, I very much like what R. C. Sproul has to say about this:

The worst thing that can happen to sinners is to be allowed to go on sinning without any divine restraints. At the end of the New Testament, in the book of Revelation when the description of the last judgment is set forth, God says, “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still” (Rev. 22:11). God gives people over to what they want. He abandons them to their sinful impulses and removes his restraints, saying in essence, “If you want to sin, go ahead and sin.” This is what theologians call “judicial abandonment.” God, in dispensing his just judgment, abandons the impenitent sinner forever.

He goes on to say this:

We hear all the time about God’s infinite grace and mercy. I cringe when I hear it. God’s mercy is infinite insofar as it is mercy bestowed upon us by a Being who is infinite, but when the term infinite is used to describe his mercy rather than his person, I have problems with it because the Bible makes very clear that there is a limit to God’s mercy. There is a limit to his grace, and he is determined not to pour out his mercy on impenitent people forever. There is a time, as the Old Testament repeatedly reports, particularly in the book of the prophet Jeremiah, that God stops being gracious with people, and he gives them over to their sin.

The time is now my friends. Take up the offer now of grace and forgiveness obtained through repentance and faith before it is too late.

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January 2, 2017: Verse of the day


God has always been sovereign over His creation; however, in John’s visions of the time of the end, God takes charge of the kingdoms of the world by setting His Messiah over them as king. This means the end of suffering for the people of God, the end of the kingdoms of the world, and the arrival of justice.

Faithlife Study Bible

January 2, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

January 2

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.[1]

January 2 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.”

Ephesians 4:1


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?[2]



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. [3]

January 2

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.[4]



In the beginning was the Word…and the Word was God.

John 1:1

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.[5]

January 2  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?[6]



But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.


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!”[7]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 13). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

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

[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. 10). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

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

[6] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 14). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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