Service as Worship
Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
When many people think of worship, they envision stained–glass windows and pipe organs. But in the Bible, the same word that is used to describe worship also means service.
The greatest worship you ever render to God is to serve Him. For Paul, service meant a total commitment.
Paul wrote to Timothy, “I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience” (2 Tim. 1:3). Paul was saying that you could look deep inside him and see that he served God with his entire being. Paul’s service was an act of worship. It was deep, genuine, and honest. That is the real measure of true spirituality. The only way to serve God is with total commitment.
|January 22||Christ’s Patient Example|
“Walk … with patience.”
Jesus is our greatest example of patience in all that He endured to purchase our redemption.
Paul tells us here that the worthy walk is one of patience, and once again we see that Jesus modeled it for us. Throughout the Gospels, He repeatedly demonstrated the three aspects of patience we explored in the last lesson.
First, He endured negative circumstances. Before He came into the world, He was with the Father in the glory of Heaven, where the angels praised and worshiped Him continually. He left a place of total perfection and love and went to a place where He was mocked, hated, rejected, blasphemed, and crucified. He “endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2) even though He had the power to escape it.
Jesus also coped with difficult people. The night before His crucifixion, after three years of teaching about love and servanthood, His disciples were arguing about which of them was the greatest (Luke 22:24). Jesus didn’t give up on them, however. More than that, He prayed for those who spit on Him and mocked Him at the cross: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (23:34). He wanted His murderers to be forgiven so they could be with Him in Heaven forever.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, just hours before He was nailed to the cross, Jesus showed His willingness to accept the Father’s plan. He prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). He was able to endure unimaginable suffering because He knew it was God’s will.
We should be very thankful for Christ’s “perfect patience” (1 Tim. 1:16), because our sin has offended Him time and time again. He could have sent us to Hell the first moment we sinned, but His Spirit patiently drew us to repentance. Because of His patience, we must commit ourselves to follow His perfect example.
Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that God would daily give you strength to be patient in all things, just as Christ was.
For Further Study: Hebrews 12:3 tells us to “consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.” Christ’s example of patience encourages us to endure when we suffer. Find other demonstrations of His patience in the Gospels, and consider how His example can affect your attitude during trials.
CURIOUS TO KNOW GOD
And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.
In what I have to say I may not be joined by any ground swell of public opinion, but I have a charge to make against the Church. We are not consciously aware of God in our midst. We do not seem to sense the tragedy of having almost completely lost the awareness of His presence.
I do not say that to condemn. I say it with a grieving spirit. I pray that the churches in this day may yet reap the joys and fruits of gracious revival and the deep inward awareness of God’s presence.
Revival and blessing come to the Church when we stop looking at a picture of God and look at God Himself. Revival comes when, no longer satisfied just to know about a God in history, we meet the conditions of finding Him in living, personal experience….
Modern mankind can go everywhere, do everything and be completely curious about the universe. But only a rare person now and then is curious enough to want to know God. MMG121-122, 127
Lord, increase my curiosity and help me to know You so intimately that I am especially, specifically, consciously aware of Your Presence throughout the day. Help me to know You that intimately. Amen. 
Satan Revealed as a Liar
[The devil] said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”—Matt. 4:9
Satan’s promises for better things, obtained more quickly and in a “preferred” manner to God’s plan, are actually counterfeit offers. He always wraps them in claims that seem easier, less expensive, and far less burdensome. After all, that’s the savvy way to success, he reasons. Our adversary’s argument is essentially just a form of the old “end justifies the means” concept.
But Satan has been a liar from the beginning of redemptive history. With his third temptation of Jesus he was actually just seeking to buy Christ’s soul and His permanent allegiance. The cost for the Lord, had He accepted the offer of the world’s kingdoms, would have been devastating beyond measure.
Similarly for us, Satan’s price is always far more than we are led to believe—and the goods always unfathomably fall short of what we had expected. Thankfully, Jesus in His omniscience and infinite wisdom recognized these truths and did not succumb to the final temptation in the wilderness. Had He accepted Satan’s sinister offer, Christ would have disqualified Himself as both Savior and King. Instead of redeeming the world, He would have joined it; instead of inheriting it, He would have lost both it and us.
|If coming in the front door doesn’t work, our enemy has no qualms about executing the sneak attack, catching us off guard and by surprise. How seriously are you taking the call to be on the alert at all times, resisting Satan’s temptations and boldly obeying God’s will? Trust Christ for both radar and resistance.
|January 22||Praying for Believers|
“For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you, and your love for all the saints, I do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers” (Eph. 1:15–16).
Your love for other Christians is as much a mark of true faith as your love for God.
The Ephesian Christians demonstrated two important characteristics of genuine Christian faith: faith in the Lord Jesus and love for fellow believers.
“Faith in the Lord Jesus” implies both an affirmation of Christ’s deity and submission to His sovereignty. Because He is God, He is the Sovereign Lord, and therefore we must obey what He commands (John 14:15; 1 John 2:3–6).
Your “love for all the saints” is as much a mark of true faith as your love for God. John said, “The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now” (1 John 2:9). In that passage “light” is a metaphor for righteousness and truth, and “darkness” is a metaphor for sin and error. It is sinful and erroneous to claim you love God if you have no love for other believers. Those who love God will love fellow-believers as well.
If you love others, you will pray for them and will praise God for their spiritual progress—as Paul did for the Ephesians; and they will do the same for you. That’s a wonderful dynamic within the Body of Christ, one you must diligently pursue.
Suggestions for Prayer: If you haven’t done so already, start a prayer list of individuals for whom you will pray each day. List their names and some specific requests. Record answers to your prayers as you see God moving in their lives. ✧ Remember to thank God for their spiritual progress as well as praying for their needs. Let them know you are praying for them. That could be a source of great encouragement for them. ✧ If you are at odds with another believer, seek to reconcile immediately (Matt. 5:23–24), so your witness will be strong and the Lord’s name won’t suffer reproach.
For Further Study: Read Philippians 1:9–11 and Colossians 1:9–14. ✧ What requests and concerns did Paul express in his prayers? ✧ Do your prayers reflect Paul’s priorities? If not, what adjustments must you make to have a more Biblical pattern of prayer?
GUIDANCE IS BY THE SPIRIT
Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5
We can always trust the moving and the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives and experiences, but we cannot always trust our human leanings and our fleshly and carnal desires. That calls for another word of balance. We know that the emotional life is a proper and noble part of our total personality. But by its very nature, it is of secondary importance, for religion lies in the will, and so does righteousness.
God never intended that such a being as mankind should become the mere plaything of his or her feelings. The only good that God recognizes is the willed good. The only valid holiness is a willed holiness. That is why I am always a little suspicious of the overly bubbly Christian who talks too much about himself or herself—and not enough about Jesus. That is also why I am more than a little concerned about the professing Christian whose experience does not seem to have resulted in a true inner longing to be more like Jesus every day in thought, word and deed!
Dear Lord, today I want to be more like You in everything I do—what I say to my family and colleagues, how I react in difficult situations, and what I think about in my free time.
GETTING GLORY FOR GOD—OR FOR OURSELVES?
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
1 CORINTHIANS 10:31
I think that we ought to be mature enough to confess that many have been converted to Christ and have come into the church without wrestling with that basic human desire for honor and praise. As a result, some have actually spent a lifetime in religious work doing little more than getting glory for themselves!
Brethren, the glory can belong only to God! If we take the glory, God is being frustrated in the church.
The work of the ministry which the saints are to do will bring about the edifying of the Body of Christ—and this is not just in reference to the ordained ministry as we know it. It is the ministry of all Christians to have some share in the building up of the Body of Christ until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, with a measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Surely in this sense God desires to use the Body of Christ for doing His final work—His eternal work.
But Christian believers and Christian congregations must be thoroughly consecrated to Christ’s glory alone!
This means absolutely turning our backs on the modern insistence for human glory and recognition.
Natural gifts and talents are not enough in God’s work. The mighty Spirit of God must have freedom to animate and quicken with His overtones of creativity and blessing.
You can write it down as a fact: no matter what a man does, no matter how successful he seems to be, if the Holy Spirit is not the chief energizer of his activity, it will all fall apart when he dies!
 MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 33). 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. 30). Chicago: Moody Publishers.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 34). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
 Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.