January 23, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

January 23

True Thanks

I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.

Romans 1:8

 

One thing we know about the apostle Paul: he had a thankful heart. In almost every one of his epistles, Paul expressed thanks for the people who would receive his message. Though he knew that each church needed correction, he didn’t just send instruction; he also sent a word of thanks. He was always able to see God’s purposes being accomplished. Paul expressed what is in the heart of all true servants of God—an attitude of gratitude.

Unfortunately, some people go through life dwelling on the negative. They refuse to be grateful for the good that God is doing in someone else’s life. If it isn’t happening to them, then they think it’s bad. Paul didn’t express his thanks by saying, “I’m so thankful for what God has done for me”; rather, he said, “I thank God for you.” He received as much joy from someone else’s success as he did from his own. May the same be true of you as well.[1]


January 23 The Effect of Patience

“Walk … with patience.”

Ephesians 4:1–2

✧✧✧

Patience is crucial to our testimony.

The virtues of Ephesians 4:2–3 enable the church of Jesus Christ to have a powerful witness. Many think the key to evangelism is following a specific course or method, but according to Jesus, the greatest way to get people to believe the gospel is through our love and unity (John 17:21). Though evangelistic methods are important, often they aren’t as effective as they could be because of the church’s poor reputation among unbelievers. If the church were full of people who had genuine humility, gentleness, and patience, others would be more inclined to listen to what we say.

Sir Henry Stanley traveled to Africa in 1872 to find Dr. David Livingstone, the famous missionary and explorer, who had lost contact with the European community. After finding him, Stanley spent several months with Livingstone, who by that time was an old man. Apparently Livingstone didn’t say much to Stanley about spiritual things—he just continued about his business with the Africans. Stanley observed that throughout the months he watched him, Livingstone’s habits, especially his patience, were beyond his comprehension. Stanley could not understand Livingstone’s sympathy for the pagan Africans, who had wronged Livingstone many times. For the sake of Christ and His gospel David Livingstone was patient, untiring, and eager. He spent himself for his Master.

In his account How I Found Livingstone, Stanley wrote, “His religion is not of the theoretical kind, but is a constant, earnest, sincere practice. It is neither demonstrative nor loud, but manifests itself in a quiet practical way, and is always at work…. In him religion exhibits its loveliest features; it governs his conduct not only towards his servants but towards the natives … and all who come in contact with him.”

I’m not suggesting that you never talk about the gospel. But realize that what you say will have far greater effect when you live in harmony with what the gospel teaches. If the world could see a clear picture of Jesus Christ through the unity of the church and its humble, gentle, and patient people, our evangelism would be sped along on wings!

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that you would live in a way that glorifies God and attracts others to the Savior.

For Further Study: Read Matthew 5:13–16. What did Christ mean by being salt and light in the world? ✧ Think of specific ways you can obey the command in verse 16.[2]


JANUARY 23

ACQUAINT THYSELF WITH GOD

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory.

—Psalm 24:9-10

When viewed from the perspective of eternity, the most critical need of this hour may well be that the Church should be brought back from her long Babylonian captivity and the name of God be glorified in her again as of old. Yet we must not think of the Church as an anonymous body, a mystical religious abstraction. We Christians are the Church and whatever we do is what the Church is doing. The matter, therefore, is for each of us a personal one. Any forward step in the Church must begin with the individual.

What can we plain Christians do to bring back the departed glory? Is there some secret we may learn? Is there a formula for personal revival we can apply to the present situation, to our own situation? The answer to these questions is yes….

The secret is an open one which the wayfaring man may read. It is simply the old and ever-new counsel: Acquaint thyself with God. To regain her lost power the Church must see heaven opened and have a transforming vision of God. KOH179-180

Lord, give me a glimpse of Your glory and then help me to live in the light of that glory, exhibiting a transformed life and representing a renewed Church. Amen. [3]


January 23

Christ Sovereignly Masters Satan

Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’ ”—Matt. 4:10

The devil’s final proposal was so outlandish and beyond the boundaries of God’s will that Jesus dismissed him with the terse, firm command, “Go, Satan!” Satan can wield his present power only by God’s permission; therefore he had no choice but to leave Christ’s presence. This last interaction is a prime example of our Lord’s sovereign mastery over the enemy.

If the Savior would not compromise on a mundane matter such as turning stones to bread, He certainly would not compromise on the major issue of worshiping and serving anyone besides the Father and the Father alone.

Christ will finally inherit God’s kingdom in God’s perfect time, and we will inherit it with Him (Matt. 5:5; 25:34; Rom. 8:17). This glorious truth doesn’t mean God will not give us many good things in this life, because no one desires our happiness more than our heavenly Father. Jesus Himself later taught, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matt. 7:11). Knowing this, why should any of us want to settle for any of the cheap, fleeting substitutes of instant gratification that Satan offers?

ASK YOURSELF
What inspires you the most about Jesus’ reactions to Satan’s three temptations? What are the most convicting or compelling aspects of His testimony that would look good on you as well? Thank Him for His sturdy, steady faithfulness—and ask Him to grow the same in you.[4]


January 23 Comprehending What You Have

“[I pray] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Eph. 1:17).

✧✧✧

Your inheritance in Christ is so vast and profound that you cannot comprehend it apart from God’s enabling.

The late newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst invested a fortune in collecting great works of art. One day he read of an extremely valuable work that he determined to add to his collection. His agent searched the galleries of the world but to no avail. Finally, after many months of effort and at great expense, the agent found the prized artwork. It had been stored in one of Hearst’s own warehouses all along!

That story parallels Christians who are constantly searching for something more because they don’t understand what they already have in Christ. Since Paul knew that was a potential problem, he prayed for God to enable us to comprehend our spiritual riches.

“Spirit” in verse 17 refers to a disposition or attitude of humility, as in, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3). “Revelation” means knowledge that God imparts through His Word. “Wisdom” is the application of that knowledge to daily living. The combined effect is a humble attitude toward God’s Word that compels you to learn it and to integrate it into every aspect of your life.

On the human level, the fullness of your inheritance in Christ is incomprehensible. God’s Word reveals many of its benefits, and the Holy Spirit empowers you as you learn to live according to its principles, but much of it will remain a mystery in this life (1 John 3:2). Paul’s prayer is that you will understand as much as possible so that godly wisdom and revelation will govern all your attitudes and actions. Let that be your goal today.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the incomprehensible riches that are yours in Christ. ✧ Pray that you might always approach His Word with a submissive and teachable heart.

For Further Study: Reviewing God’s promises motivates praise and reminds us of His gracious provisions. Read the following passages, noting the promises they contain: Psalm 29:11; Isaiah 26:3; 41:10; Matthew 6:25–34; John 14:2–3, 13–14; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 1:3–4; Philippians 4:6–7; 1 John 1:9; 5:11–12; Revelation 21:3–4. ✧ Study your life. Does it demonstrate confidence in God’s promises?[5]


JANUARY 23

MAJESTY—AND MEEKNESS

I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works.

Psalm 145:5

 

When the prophets try to describe for me the attributes, the graces, the worthiness of the God who appeared to them and dealt with them, I feel that I can kneel down and follow their admonition: “He is thy Lord—worship thou Him!”

They described Him as radiantly beautiful and fair. They said that He was royal and that He was gracious. They described Him as a mysterious being, and yet they noted His meekness.

The meekness was His humanity. The majesty was His deity. You find them everlastingly united in Him. So meek that He nursed at His mother’s breast, cried like any baby and needed all the human care that every child needs.

But He was also God, and in His majesty He stood before Herod and before Pilate. When He returns, coming down from the sky, it will be in His majesty, the majesty of God; yet it will be in the majesty of the Man who is God!

This is our Lord Jesus Christ. Before His foes He stands in majesty. Before His friends, He stands in meekness!

 

Dear Lord, You are both my King and my Friend. Lead me through this day, O King, and pick me up when I stumble, dear Friend.[6]


JANUARY 23

OUR LORD THE OBJECT OF FAITH FOR SALVATION

…Preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is LORD of all).

ACTS 10:36

It is altogether doubtful whether any man can be saved who comes to Christ for His help but with no intention of obeying Him, for Christ’s saviourhood is forever united to His lordship.

Look at the apostle’s instruction and admonition:

“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved…for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13

There the Lord is the object of faith for salvation! And when the Philippian jailer asked the way to be saved, Paul replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Paul did not tell him to believe on the Saviour with the thought that he could later take up the matter of His lordship and settle it at his own convenience. To Paul there could be no division of offices. Christ must be Lord or He will not be Saviour!

There is no intention here to teach that our first saving contact with Christ brings perfect knowledge of all He is to us. The contrary is true. Ages upon ages will hardly be long enough to allow us to experience all the riches of His grace.

As we discover new meanings in His titles and make them ours we will grow in the knowledge of our Lord and the many forms of love He wears exalted on His throne![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 34). 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. 31). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[5] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 35). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

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

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