The Incomparable Christ
He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
Jesus Christ is the most incomparable personality of all human history.
Socrates taught forty years, Plato fifty, and Aristotle forty. Jesus’ public ministry lasted less than three years, yet the influence of His life far outweighs the combined 130 years of the three greatest philosophers of all antiquity.
Jesus never painted a picture, yet some of the finest paintings of Raphael, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and many other artists found in Him their inspiration.
Jesus did not write poetry, but Dante, Milton, and scores of the world’s greatest poets have been inspired by Him like no other. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that the name of Jesus “is not so much written as ploughed into the history of this world.”
Jesus wrote no music, yet Haydn, Handel, Beethoven, Bach, Mendelssohn, and a myriad of others reached the highest perfection of melody in compositions about Him.
Jesus has affected human society like no other. The incomparable Christ is the good news. And what makes it such good news is that man is so undeserving but that God is so gracious.
|January 6||The Passion Fueling the Worthy Walk|
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.”
A passion for Christ is what compels us to live an exemplary life.
What do you think of when you hear the word beggar? You probably picture a haggard person in tattered clothes with an outstretched hand asking for money or food.
Would it surprise you to know that the apostle Paul was a beggar? He didn’t beg for money, though, but for people to follow Christ. The word translated “entreat” in this verse means “to call out to someone with intensity” or “to plead with someone.”
Paul pleaded with many people. He begged Herod Agrippa to hear the gospel (Acts 26:3). He told the church at Rome, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). To the Corinthians he said, “We beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20). When Paul was committed to some principle of divine truth, he implored people to respond. He didn’t approach the ministry with detachment or indifference.
Paul again feels compelled to beg in Ephesians 4:1: “I … entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.” He doesn’t just coldly say, “It is essential that you walk worthy.” He begs them. Why? Because when you don’t walk worthy, God is not glorified in your life, you are not fully blessed, the church cannot fully function, and therefore the world cannot see Jesus Christ for who He is. So much depends on our worthy walk. Paul pleads with us, to show how vital it is.
Paul’s passion demonstrates an important truth: while knowledge is necessary in the Christian life, it is our desire to be like Christ that compels us toward righteousness. And when we have that desire, it will be natural for us to beg those around us to follow Christ as well.
Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God to give you the heart of the apostle Paul who said, “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20).
For Further Study: Read Philippians 3:7–14. What characterized Paul’s zeal? ✧ Which of these characteristics do you lack? Look for ways to bolster them as you daily work through this book.
When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.
Pick at random a score of great saints whose lives and testimonies are widely known. Let them be Bible characters or well-known Christians of post-biblical times….
I venture to suggest that the one vital quality which they had in common was spiritual receptivity. Something in them was open to heaven, something which urged them Godward. Without attempting anything like a profound analysis, I shall say simply that they had spiritual awareness and that they went on to cultivate it until it became the biggest thing in their lives. They differed from the average person in that when they felt the inward longing they did something about it. They acquired the lifelong habit of spiritual response. They were not disobedient to the heavenly vision. As David put it neatly, “When thou saidst, Seek ye may face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek” (Psalm 27:8). POG062-063
Lord, give me open ears, a quiet mind, a receptive heart and a willingness to obey. I commit before You my desire to acquire a “lifelong habit of spiritual response.” Amen. 
The Holy Spirit Validates Jesus
The heavens were opened, and he [John] saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him.—Matt. 3:16b
About the supernatural sign that occurred at the conclusion of Jesus’ baptism, one commentator has suggested, “Just as the veil of the Temple was rent in twain to symbolize the perfect access of all men to God, so here the heavens are rent asunder to show how near God is to Jesus, and Jesus to God.”
But did Jesus really need an anointing from the Holy Spirit? When He came to earth, Jesus retained His full deity. In His complete humanity, however, He needed divine strengthening for ministry. Like any human being, Jesus experienced fatigue, hunger, sleepiness, and the like. Only the Holy Spirit could strengthen such humanness (cf. Matt. 4:1; Luke 4:14).
That the Spirit came upon Him at His baptism was a fulfillment of the prophet’s words, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners” (Isa. 61:1). It was also the sign God had given to John the Baptist so that he would know Jesus when he saw Him (John 1:33).
This anointing by the Holy Spirit was unique in several ways, including being the only New Testament instance in which the Holy Spirit appeared as a dove. Most important, however, this act not only empowered Jesus as the Son of Man for redemptive service, but it was a confirming sign to everyone present—and to us as well—that Jesus is indeed the Messiah.
|If Jesus was dependent on the Spirit’s empowering for effective service, how much more do we need His help and strengthening? In what ways are you making yourself fully open to the Holy Spirit’s power and direction? Pray that He will make you ever aware of your need for Him.|
YES, GOD LOVES US
We love him, because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19
If we are to have any satisfying and lasting understanding of life, it must be divinely given. It begins with the confession that it is indeed the God who has revealed Himself to us who is the central pillar bearing up the universe. Believing that, we then go on to acknowledge that we have discovered His great eternal purpose for men and women made in His own image.
I heard a brilliant Canadian author being interviewed on the radio concerning world conditions, and he said: “I confess that our biggest mistake is the fond belief that we humans are special pets of Almighty God and that God has a special fondness for us as people.”
We have a good answer: Man as he was originally created is God’s beloved. Man in that sense is the beloved of the universe. God said, “I have made man in My image and man is to be above all other creatures. Redeemed man is to be even above the angels in the heavens. He is to enter into My presence pardoned and unashamed, to worship Me and to look on My face while the ages roll on!” No wonder we believe that God is the only certain foundation!
Dear Lord, thank You for Your unconditional love for me. I pray that I will not act like a spoiled child but that my life will honor You in all my relationships.
|January 6||Identifying with Christ|
“God … has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3, emphasis added).
Christianity isn’t simply a belief system—it’s a whole new identity.
Many people mistakenly believe that one’s religious preference is irrelevant because all religions eventually lead to the same spiritual destination.
Such thinking is sheer folly, however, because Scripture declares that no one comes to God apart from Jesus (John 14:6). He is the only source of salvation (Acts 4:12) and the only One powerful enough to redeem us and hold us secure forever (John 10:28).
Every Christian shares a common supernatural union with Christ. Paul said, “The one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Cor. 6:17). We are in Him, and He is in us. His life flows through us by His Spirit, who indwells us (Rom. 8:9).
As a non-Christian, you were in bondage to evil (Rom. 3:10–12), enslaved to the will of Satan (1 John 5:19), under divine wrath (Rom. 1:18), spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1; 4:17–18), and without hope (Eph. 2:12). But at the moment of your salvation a dramatic change took place. You became a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), alive in Him (Eph. 2:5), enslaved to God (Rom. 6:22), and a recipient of divine grace (Eph. 2:8). When you came to Christ, you were “delivered … from the domain of darkness, and transferred … to the kingdom of [God’s] beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). You now possess His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21) and share in His eternal inheritance (Rom. 8:16–17).
All those blessings—and many more—are yours because you are in Christ. What a staggering reality! In a sense, what He is, you are. What He has, you have. Where He is, you are.
When the Father sees you, He sees you in Christ and blesses you accordingly. When others see you, do they see Christ in you? “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).
Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for His marvelous grace in taking you from spiritual death to spiritual life in Christ. ✧ Ask Him for wisdom and discernment to live this day for His good pleasure.
For Further Study: Read the book of Ephesians, noting every occurrence of the phrase “in Christ.” ✧ What has God accomplished in Christ? ✧ What blessings are yours in Christ?
THE BIBLE: MORE THAN A VOLUME OF FACTS
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
2 TIMOTHY 3:16
Charles G. Finney believed that Bible teaching without moral application could be worse than no teaching at all and could result in positive injury to the hearers. I used to feel that this might be an extreme position, but after years of observation have come around to it, or to a view almost identical with it.
There is scarcely anything so dull and meaningless as Bible doctrine taught for its own sake. Theology is a set of facts concerning God, man and the world. These facts may be and often are set forth as values in themselves; and there lies the snare both for the teacher and for the hearer.
The Bible is more than a volume of hitherto unknown facts about God, man and the universe. It is a book of exhortation based upon these facts. By far the greater portion of the book is devoted to an urgent effort to persuade people to alter their ways and bring their lives into harmony with the will of God as set forth in its pages. Actually, no man is better for knowing that God in the beginning created the heaven and the earth. The devil knows that, and so did Ahab and Judas Iscariot. No man is better for knowing that God so loved the world of men that He gave His only begotten Son to die for their redemption. In hell there are millions who know that.
Theological truth is useless until it is obeyed. The purpose behind all doctrine is to secure moral action!
 MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 17). 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. 14). 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. 18). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.