Something of Eternal Value
I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established.
Some years ago, a young woman in our church who was a student at a local university said to me, “I learned a great lesson from one of your sermons on love. I always told myself that I loved the little girls in my fourth–grade Sunday school class. They all have small, frilly dresses and the cutest smiles.”
She went on to say, “One Saturday I was attending a football game at my school—something I do every Saturday—and the Lord convicted me about not adequately preparing my Sunday school lesson. Because I attended the games on Saturday, I was in the habit of teaching a lesson on Sunday morning that was very shallow and superficial. God pointed out that I didn’t really love those girls the way I thought I did because I made no sacrifice in my own life to give them something of eternal value.”
She ended our conversation by saying, “So from now on, I will not be attending any more football games until my lesson is completed and I feel I can impart to them something of eternal value.”
|January 27||Seeking Righteous Attitudes|
“I … entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
God is most concerned about who we are, because who we are determines what we do.
Now that we’ve looked in depth at Ephesians 4:1–3, let’s take a step back. These verses reveal a basic truth: the Christian life is not primarily about what we do but who we are. When Paul teaches about the worthy walk, about how we live each day, he never discusses actions, only attitudes.
It is possible to have what I call “action fruit”—such as praise (Heb. 13:15), giving (Phil. 4:17), evangelism (Rom. 1:13), and other good works (Col. 1:10)—without “attitude fruit,” which is the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self–control” (Gal. 5:22–23). Plenty of people can do good deeds without inner righteousness. But that’s legalism; that’s the hypocrisy that the Bible speaks so much about. The right path to true spirituality is to have proper attitudes first. The Holy Spirit works through our attitudes to produce right actions.
Unfortunately, many Christians miss this point. To them, being a Christian is primarily a list of do’s—going to church, putting money in the offering, carrying a Bible—and don’ts—not cursing, not drinking, not murdering. They see external behavior as the fact of Christianity instead of the manifestation of it. They don’t cultivate the inner graces.
Of course, God wants us to live righteous lives. But to those with merely external actions, Jesus said, “Woe to you … hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self–indulgence…. First clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also” (Matt. 23:25–26).
Don’t let yourself become a slave to external religion. Make sure you do your good works out of love for God and others, as part of the overflow of the spiritual fruit in your life.
Suggestions for Prayer: If you see hypocrisy in yourself, ask God to purge it. Pray for and diligently seek attitude fruit.
For Further Study: Jesus warned about internal sinfulness in Matthew 5:21–22, 27–30 and external righteousness in 6:1–18 and 7:1–5. How is Proverbs 4:23 an antidote to those?
NOT MERE WORDS ALONE
The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.
Thanks to our splendid Bible societies and to other effective agencies for the dissemination of the Word, there are today many millions of people who hold “right opinions,” probably more than ever before in the history of the Church. Yet I wonder if there was ever a time when true spiritual worship was at a lower ebb.
Sound Bible exposition is an imperative must in the Church of the Living God. Without it no church can be a New Testament church in any strict meaning of that term. But exposition may be carried on in such a way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatever. For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts. POG009
Lord, as I study Your Word may I not merely read the words on the page but personally experience their truths, that I may know You and genuinely delight in Your presence. Amen. 
The Lord’s Ministry All According to Plan
He withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea.—Matt. 4:12b–13a
Nothing was accidental or happenstance about Jesus’ earthly ministry. He did not go from Judea to Galilee because Herod or the Jewish leaders forced Him to or because He had nowhere else to go. He left Judea because His work there was finished for the time being. And He came to Galilee because that was the next place, according to the Father’s plan, for Him to minister.
Humanly speaking, Jesus left the lower Jordan region for Galilee because of the Jewish leaders (cf. John 4:1, 3). His close association with John the Baptist as well as His growing number of followers had caused the scribes and Pharisees to hate Jesus as much or more than they hated John. Jesus was not afraid of their hatred but removed Himself from the leaders’ immediate influence because it was not yet time for them to fully turn their wrath on Him.
The Lord by no means avoided the Jewish leaders permanently, for at the appropriate, foreordained time, He faced them without flinching and denounced them far more harshly than John the Baptist ever did (cf. Matt. 23:1–36). Jesus was simply forever safe from wicked human schemes and devices. He knew He would die, but it would be according to the will of His Father, not that of His earthly enemies (cf. John 10:17–18). He also knew He would rise from the dead, all according to the divine plan.
|Can Christians live with the same kind of bold assurance that Jesus did, fearlessly walking through life at the Spirit’s direction? If the worst that could happen would only put us that much closer to Jesus, what reason do we have for fear? Why not resolve to follow Jesus’ example?
|January 27||Trusting in God’s Power|
“I pray that … you may know … the surpassing greatness of [God’s] power toward us who believe” (Eph. 1:18–19).
The same divine power that created, sustains, and controls the universe secures your salvation.
God’s power is awesome! David wrote, “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Thine is the dominion, O Lord, and Thou dost exalt Thyself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from Thee, and Thou dost rule over all, and in Thy hand is power and might; and it lies in Thy hand to make great, and to strengthen everyone. Now therefore, our God, we thank Thee, and praise Thy glorious name” (1 Chron. 29:11–13).
In Ephesians 1:19 Paul focuses on one key feature of God’s power: His ability to secure the salvation of His people. And he prays for you to understand the surpassing greatness of that truth.
The Greek word translated “power” is dunamis, from which we get dynamite and dynamo. This power is active, dynamic, and compelling—and it is mightily at work on your behalf. You might not always sense it, but it’s there nonetheless.
Peter expresses the same thought in 1 Peter 1:5, where he says you are “protected by the power of God through faith” in Christ. In that verse “protected” means “to keep or guard” and reflects Peter’s confidence that salvation is inviolable.
The same limitless power that created, sustains, and controls the universe saved you and keeps you saved. That’s why Jesus said no one can snatch you out of the Father’s hand (John 10:29). Not even Satan has the power to do that. Paul confidently added that nothing therefore can separate you from God’s love (Rom. 8:38–39). That’s the confidence you should have as you live each day.
Suggestions for Prayer: Pray for greater spiritual enlightenment and a clearer understanding of your security in Christ. ✧ Nothing will rob you of your assurance quicker than unconfessed sin. If that has happened to you, confess it immediately and turn from it. Then ask God to restore to you the joy of your salvation.
For Further Study: Read 1 Chronicles 29:11–13. ✧ What prerogatives did David attribute to God (vv. 11–12)? ✧ What was David’s response to God’s power (v. 13)?
WE GET AROUND IT
If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
The lordship of Jesus is not quite forgotten among Christians, but it has been relegated to our hymnbook, where all responsibility toward it may be comfortably discharged in a glow of pleasant religious emotion.
The idea that the Man Christ Jesus has absolute and final authority over all its members in every detail of their lives is simply not accepted as true by the rank and file of evangelical Christians.
To avoid the necessity of either obeying or rejecting the plain instructions of our Lord in the New Testament, we take refuge in a liberal interpretation of them. We find ways to avoid the sharp point of obedience, comfort carnality and make the words of Christ of none effect. And the essence of it all is that “Christ simply could not have meant what He said.” Dare we admit that His teachings are accepted even theoretically only after they have been weakened by “interpretation”? Dare we confess that even in our public worship, the influence of the Lord is very small? We sing of Him and preach about Him, but He must not interfere!
Dear Lord, I have to admit that there have been times when I have conveniently ignored the clear instructions of Your Word. Help me to give someone a cup of cold water—in Your name—today.
KNOWING GOD: GOAL OF ALL CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE
Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation. For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness; neither shall evil dwell with thee.
PSALM 5:1, 4
Among Christians of all ages and of varying shades of doctrinal emphasis there has been fairly full agreement on one thing: they all believed that it was important that the Christian with serious spiritual aspirations should learn to meditate long and often on God!
Let a Christian insist upon rising above the poor average of current religious experience and he will soon come up against the need to know God Himself as the ultimate goal of all Christian doctrine.
Let him seek to explore the sacred wonders of the Triune Godhead and he will discover that sustained and intelligently directed meditation on the Person of God is imperative. To know God well he must think on Him unceasingly. Nothing that man has discovered about himself or God has revealed any shortcut to pure spirituality. It is still free, but tremendously costly!
Of course this presupposes at least a fair amount of sound theological knowledge. To seek God apart from His own self-disclosure in the inspired Scriptures is not only futile but dangerous. There must be also a knowledge of and complete trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Redeemer.
Christ is not one of many ways to approach God, nor is He the best of several ways; He is the only way, “the way, the truth and the life.”
To believe otherwise is to be something less than a Christian!
 MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 38). 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. 35). Chicago: Moody Publishers.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 39). 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.