Focusing on God’s Glory
I have set the Lord always before me.
Everything exists for the purpose of glorifying God. The Westminster Shorter Catechism of the seventeenth century begins by stating that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” The vastness of space and all therein glorifies God.
In Isaiah 43:20, God says, “The beast of the field will honor Me.”
The angels who appeared at the birth of Christ said, “Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14).
Scripture explains that you exist to give God glory. May you follow the lead of David and set the Lord always before you.
|February 2||The Essence of Idolatry|
“You thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you, and state the case in order before your eyes.”
Idolatry is more than worshiping some inanimate object; it is having an unworthy conception of God.
Western society, with all its culture and scientific knowledge, is in the same satanic trap that governs the life of an aborigine bowing down to a rock. We all have our gods. Many worship the god of materialism—getting more stuff is their highest pursuit. Others worship the gods of sex or entertainment. Of course, behind all of this is the worship of self.
However, the essence of idolatry is possessing thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. It may be creating a god, but it also may be making the true God into something He isn’t, or thinking something about God that is untrue.
God said to the wicked in Psalm 50:21, “You thought that I was just like you.” That’s precisely what some have imagined about God. They have portrayed God after their own sinful mental image of Him. Careless Christians can do this also.
In The Knowledge of the Holy A. W. Tozer writes, “The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason, the gravest question before the church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.”
As we learn about God this month, ask Him to remove misconceptions you may have about Him. Be diligent to learn what God says about Himself and not what you or others think He is like.
Suggestions for Prayer: Praise God that He is the only God. ✧ Pray for forgiveness if you have been more committed to any other god or if you think thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.
For Further Study: The ancient Greeks had hundreds of gods. Just for good measure the Athenians built an altar to the unknown god. Read Acts 17:16–34. How did Paul approach those who worshiped false gods? ✧ How can you use Paul’s example as you witness to unbelievers today?
GOD IS RIGHT
And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last.
Along with John, every redeemed human being needs the humility of spirit that can only be brought about by the manifest presence of God.
This mysterious yet gracious Presence is the air of life eternal. It is the music of existence, the poetry of the Christian life. It is the beauty and wonder of being one of Christ’s own—a sinner born again, regenerated, created anew to bring glory to God. To know this Presence is the most desirable state imaginable for anyone. To live surrounded by this sense of God is not only beautiful and desirable, but it is imperative!
Know that our living Lord is unspeakably pure. He is sinless, spotless, immaculate, stainless. In His person is an absolute fullness of purity that our words can never express. This fact alone changes our entire human and moral situation and outlook. We can always be sure of the most important of all positives: God is God and God is right. He is in control. Because He is God, He will never change!
I repeat: God is right—always. That statement is the basis of all we are thinking about God. JAF092
Lord, I bow at Your feet and acknowledge Your sovereignty. I know You will do what is best for me because You are always right. Amen. 
James and John—Raw Recruits
Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.—Matt. 4:21–22
When Jesus first called James and John, they were unrefined, tough fishermen by trade. The Holy Spirit had already drawn them to faith in the Savior (John 1:35–51; 2:11), but now Jesus summoned them to work as evangelists in spreading His gospel. Like Peter and Andrew, they did not hesitate to leave the fishing business, which for James and John meant leaving the fishing to their father to follow Jesus right away.
These disciples lacked formal education and likely didn’t have much religious training either, nor was their spiritual perception noticeably apparent. They showed no more ability to fully understand Jesus’ teaching than any of the others, even when He taught in parables. They often demonstrated only slight potential for dependability, much less for greatness.
Jesus’ disciples were probably not all such raw recruits as James and John (or Peter and Andrew), but Jesus did not choose any of the Twelve from the Jewish elite religious leaders (cf. 1 Cor. 1:26–29). That omission undoubtedly caused many of those men—the scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, priests, and rabbis—to reject the Lord and Savior. They could not fathom how someone who was not an official Jewish leader Himself and who chose no leaders to be among His closest associates could possibly be the Messiah.
Paul was the only apostle who had been a Jewish leader, and of course he was not among the original Twelve but considered himself “one untimely born,” exceptionally called to be an apostle (cf. 1 Cor. 15:8–10). As with everyone who believes, God’s call came by His exceeding grace.
|Jesus had purpose for calling the ones He did into His ministry, just as He has purpose for calling you. If you’re failing to see the value He has placed on you, let the fishermen’s story encourage you today. He has more in mind for you than you can imagine—if you’ll just keep following.|
SHARING GOD’S NATURE
Precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.
2 Peter 1:4
Our heavenly Father disciplines us for our own good, “that we might be partakers of his holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). God’s motives are always loving!
I have known people who seemed to be terrified by God’s loving desire that we should reflect His own holiness and goodness. As God’s faithful children, we should be attracted to holiness, for holiness is Godlikeness—likeness to God!
God encourages every Christian believer to follow after holiness. We know who we are and we know who God is. He does not ask us to be God and He does not ask us to produce the holiness that only He Himself knows. Only God is holy absolutely: All other beings can be holy only in relative degrees.
Actually, it is amazing and wonderful that God should promise us the privilege of sharing in His nature. He remembers we were made of dust. So He tells us what is in His being as He thinks of us: “It is My desire that you grow in grace and in the knowledge of Me. I want you to be more like Jesus, My eternal Son, every day you live!”
Lord, thank You for allowing us to share in Your divine nature. I want to become even more like You, but I need Your Spirit’s help and encouragement.
|February 2||Joy versus Happiness|
“Rejoice in the Lord” (Phil. 3:1).
Happiness is related to circumstances; joy is a gift from God.
Not long ago it was common to see bumper stickers proclaiming every conceivable source for happiness. One said, “Happiness is being married.” Another countered, “Happiness is being single.” One cynical sticker read, “Happiness is impossible!”
For most people happiness is possible, but it’s also fickle, shallow, and fleeting. As the word itself implies, happiness is associated with happenings, happenstance, luck, and fortune. If circumstances are favorable, you’re happy; if not, you’re unhappy.
Christian joy, however, is directly related to God and is the firm confidence that all is well, regardless of your circumstances.
In Philippians 3:1 Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord” (emphasis added). The Lord is both the source and object of Christian joy. Knowing Him brings joy that transcends temporal circumstances. Obeying Him brings peace and assurance.
Joy is God’s gift to every believer. It is the fruit that His Spirit produces within you (Gal. 5:22) from the moment you receive the gospel (John 15:11). This joy increases as you study and obey God’s Word (1 John 1:4).
Even severe trials needn’t rob you of your joy. James 1:2 says you should be joyful when you encounter various trials because trials produce spiritual endurance and maturity. They also prove that your faith is genuine, and a proven faith is the source of great joy (1 Peter 1:6–8).
You live in a world corrupted by sin. But your hope is in a living God, not in a dying world. He is “able to keep you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (Jude 24). That’s your assurance of future glory and eternal joy! Until that time, don’t neglect His Word, despise trials, or lose sight of your eternal reward. These are key ingredients of your present joy.
Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord for any difficult circumstances you might be facing. Ask Him for continued grace to see them through His perspective and to not lose heart (Gal. 6:9). ✧ Be aware of any sinful attitudes or actions on your part that might diminish your joy. Confess them immediately.
For Further Study: Read Acts 16:11–40. ✧ What difficulties did Paul and Silas face in founding the Philippian church? ✧ How did God use their difficulties for His glory?
FAITH MUST REST IN THE ADEQUACY OF CHRIST
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
1 CORINTHIANS 1:25
Science and philosophy are more arrogant and bigoted than religion could ever possibly be, and still they try to brand evangelical Christians as bigots.
But I have never taken my Bible and gone into the laboratory and tried to tell the scientist how to conduct his experiments, and I would thank him if he didn’t bring his test tube into the holy place and tell me how to conduct mine!
The scientist has nothing he can tell me about Jesus Christ, our Lord. There is nothing he can add, and I do not need to appeal to him.
Studying the philosophers may clarify my thinking and may help me broaden my outlook, but it is not necessary to my salvation. I have studied Plato and the rest of them from the time I was knee-high to a rubber worker in Akron, Ohio. But I have never found that Plato added anything, finally, to what Jesus Christ has said.
You know what Jesus said: “I am the Light that lighteth every man. I am the Bread that feedeth every man. I am the One who came from the heart of the Father, and I am the Eternal Word which was in the beginning with God, and which was and is God, and that’s who I am.”
So, we are assured in the Word that it is Jesus only and He is enough! It is not Jesus plus a lot of other religions. It is not Jesus plus a lot of other philosophies. He is the Eternal Word, and so we must listen to Him!
 MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 45). 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. 41). 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. 45). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.