January 20, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

January 20

Why God Saves

That grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 4:15

Many people think the main reason God saves people is so that He can keep them out of hell, or so that they can experience His love or lead happy lives. But all those reasons are secondary.

God saves people because it is an affront to His holy name that someone should live in rebellion against Him. That people experience salvation is not the main issue with God—it is His glory that is at stake.

The apostle Paul said of Jesus, “God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9–11). Salvation is for God’s glory.

God is glorified when people believe His gospel, love His Son, and accept His diagnosis of their greatest need, which is forgiveness of sin. You certainly benefit from God’s provision of salvation, but you exist for the glory of God.[1]


January 20 Are You Gentle?

“Walk … with all … gentleness.”

Ephesians 4:1–2

✧✧✧

To become more gentle, begin by looking closely at your attitudes.

We’ve determined that gentleness is essential for those who want to walk worthy. How can you tell if you’re gentle? I’ll give you some practical questions so you can evaluate yourself honestly.

First of all, are you self–controlled? Do you rule your own spirit (Prov. 16:32), or does your temper often flare up? When someone accuses you of something, do you immediately defend yourself, or are you more inclined to consider whether there’s any truth in what’s being said?

Second, are you infuriated only when God is dishonored? Do you get angry about sin or when God’s Word is perverted by false teachers?

Next, do you always seek to make peace? Gentle people are peacemakers. Ephesians 4:3 says they are “diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” If someone falls into sin, do you condemn or gossip about that person? Galatians 6:1 instructs us to restore sinning brothers “in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Gossip and condemnation divide believers; forgiveness and restoration unite them. Gentle people don’t start fights; they end them.

Fourth, do you accept criticism without retaliation? Whether the criticism is right or wrong, you shouldn’t strike back. In fact, you can thank your critics, because criticism can show you your weaknesses and help you grow.

Finally, do you have the right attitude toward the unsaved? Peter says, “Always [be] ready to make a defense to every one who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15). If we’re persecuted, it’s easy for us to think, They can’t treat me like that—I’m a child of God. But God wants us to approach the unsaved with gentleness, realizing that God reached out to us with gentleness before we were saved (Titus 3:3–7).

Consider carefully your answers to these questions, and commit yourself to being characterized by gentleness. Remember that “a gentle and quiet spirit … is precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:4).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: If any of these questions have pointed out deficiencies in your gentleness, ask God to strengthen those areas.

For Further Study: Paul was often criticized by those who wanted to usurp his authority over the church. Study Paul’s response to such people in 2 Timothy 2:24–26. ✧ Think about this passage’s application to events in your life.[2]


JANUARY 20

THE BUSINESS OF THE CHURCH IS GOD

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

—John 17:3

The Church is born out of the gospel and that gospel has to do with God and man’s relation to God. Christianity engages to bring God into human life, to make men right with God, to give them a heart knowledge of God, to teach them to love and obey God and ultimately to restore in them the lost image of God in full and everlasting perfection.

Our Lord, in defining eternal life, summed up the supreme goal of human existence: “That they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” And Paul revealed the one overpowering interest of his life when he wrote “That I may know him.”

The business of the Church is God. She is purest when most engaged with God and she is astray just so far as she follows other interests, no matter how “religious” or humanitarian they may be. SOS079-080

Lord, may I make You my business today, and may the lost image of Your perfection be revealed to me in all its fullness. Amen. [3]


January 20

Satan Tests Jesus’ Ultimate Allegiance

Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain.—Matt. 4:8a

Satan’s final temptation was a last-ditch effort to corrupt and derail Christ and His saving mission. The greatest of all adversaries sought to complete a sinister bargain in which extremely attractive and enticing possessions were offered to Jesus in exchange for His subservience to Satan.

The location (“a very high mountain”) where Satan took Jesus no doubt allowed them to have a comprehensive view of the earth for hundreds of miles in every direction. But their vantage point was clearly spiritual and supernatural as well. They would have seen the power and dominance of Rome, the glories of Egypt, and the splendor of various Greek city-states. All the wonders of the ancient world, including the magnificence of Jerusalem, would have been included.

As the King of kings, Jesus already had the rights to own and govern all the world’s kingdoms, but Satan tried to twist that reality for his own purposes. He wanted Jesus to leap ahead of God’s promised plan and reign as a king before it was fully time to do so—and at the unthinkable cost of worshiping him. If our enemy can tempt Jesus to be impatient and impulsive and grasp things prematurely, that is all the more reason for us to be on guard against such attacks.

ASK YOURSELF
Timing is everything. And Jesus displayed an infallible sense of what to do—and when—in every situation. Is there anything in your own life that you’re trying to speed ahead with, whether God wants you slowing down or not? Find peace in His timing. It’s always perfect—more perfect than we think.[4]

JANUARY 20

GOD’S FAITHFUL VOICE

And take heed to yourselves…and cares of this life.

Luke 21:34

In a day when judgments are soon to come upon the earth, we are often warned by doctors that we eat too much—and that we worry too much. More of us suffer from mental illness than suffer from major physical illnesses.

In our self-centered lives, even those who are professing believers are prone to think they will hear the trumpets of woe in time to do something about all this. But at that time, it will be too late!

The voice of God is a quiet voice. The voice of God’s love and grace is constant—never strident, never compulsive. God has sent His messengers to every generation. He has spoken urgently and faithfully through His prophets, through the concerns of preachers and evangelists, even through the sweet voices of the gospel singers. Further, God has spoken through witnessing men and women: plain, sincere, loving men and women transformed by a spiritual birth which is from above.

This is the voice of God we hear in this day of grace—the voice of the Savior calling wandering sinners home.

 

Loving Father, I am humbled that You have called me, a hopeless sinner, to Yourself. Enable me to reach out today to someone who has been putting You off.[5]


January 20 Rejoicing in Assurance

“You were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance” (Eph. 1:13–14).

✧✧✧

The Holy Spirit is God’s first installment on your eternal inheritance.

The Holy Spirit’s ministry in your life is multifaceted and profound. Among other things, He brings salvation, conviction, guidance, and strength. He indwells and equips you for spiritual service and gives assurance of your salvation. He is your Helper and Advocate. He is the Spirit of promise who seals you until the day when your redemption will be fully realized (Eph. 4:30).

Sealing speaks of security, authenticity, ownership, and authority. Ancient kings, princes, and nobles placed their official seal on documents or other items to guarantee their inviolability. To break the seal was to incur the wrath of the sovereign whom it represented (cf. Dan. 6:17; Matt. 27:62–66).

A seal on a letter authenticated it as being from the hand of the one whose seal it bore. Legal documents such as property deeds and wills were often finalized with an official seal. Those who possessed the sealed decree of a king had the king’s delegated authority to act on that decree.

Each of those aspects of sealing is a picture of the Spirit’s ministry. He is God’s guarantee that your salvation is inviolable and that you are an authentic member of God’s Kingdom and family. You are His possession, having been purchased with His Son’s precious blood (1 Cor. 6:20). You are His ambassador and so have delegated authority to proclaim His message to a lost world (2 Cor. 5:20).

The Spirit is the “pledge” of your eternal inheritance (Eph. 1:14). The Greek word translated “pledge” in that verse (arrabōn) was used for a down payment or earnest money given to secure a purchase. Rejoice in the assurance that God, who cannot lie (Titus 1:2), has given you His Spirit as a guarantee that He will keep His promises.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Praise God for the security of your eternal inheritance. ✧ Praise the Spirit for His many ministries in your life. Be sensitive to His leading today, so that your ministry to others will be powerful and consistent with His will.

For Further Study: Read Esther 3, 8. What role did the king’s signet ring play in the decree of Haman (chapter 3)? The decree of Ahasuerus and Mordecai (chapter 8)?[6]


JANUARY 20

WISDOM: KNOWING THE TRUE FEAR OF THE LORD

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge….

PROVERBS 1:7

A truth fully taught in the Scriptures and verified in personal experience by countless numbers of holy men and women throughout the centuries might be condensed thus into a religious axiom:

“No one can know the true grace of God who has not first known the fear of God!”

The first announcement of God’s redemptive intention toward mankind was made to a man and a woman hiding in mortal fear from the presence of the Lord.

The Law of God was given to a man trembling in terror amid fire and smoke, quaking at the voice of thunder and sound of the divine trumpet.

Even the famous annunciation, “On earth peace, goodwill toward men,” was given to shepherds who were “sore afraid” by reason of the sudden overwhelming presence of the heavenly host.

The presence of the divine always brought fear to the hearts of sinful men, a terror having no relation to mere fear of bodily harm.

I do not believe that any lasting good can come from religious activities that do not root in this quality of creature-fear. The animal in us is very strong and altogether self-confident. Until it has been defeated God will not show Himself to the eyes of our faith.

It is sad but true that the love of God affects a carnal heart not at all; or if at all, then adversely, for the knowledge that God loves us may simply confirm us in our self-righteousness![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 31). 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. 28). 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. 32). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

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