You cannot bear those who are evil.
We should be so consumed with God’s glory that we hurt when He is dishonored. That was certainly the attitude of David when he said, “Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me” (Ps. 69:9). David was deeply hurt when God was dishonored.
As a father, I understand what David was saying. If you hurt someone in my family, you hurt me. Often I have cried for someone I love whose heart was broken. When you identify with God in that way, you will care about His honor much more than about what happens to you.
|February 8||Becoming Holy|
“But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ ”
1 Peter 1:15–16
God requires holiness and in Christ provides us the means to attain it.
As we have learned, God is holy, and absolute holiness is the standard for anyone who wishes to be in His presence. “God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4). In the same way, men who reject God are sent “into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).
How then can anyone become holy? There’s only one way: through faith in Jesus Christ. It is through Christ’s sacrifice for us that God can credit holiness to our account (2 Cor. 5:21). First Corinthians 6:11 says, “But you were washed, but you were sanctified [made holy], but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.” We are now called saints, and the Greek word for this in Scripture actually means “holy ones.”
So, by God’s grace we are positionally holy. By contrast, however, we are too often unholy in practice. But the Bible says, “Be holy yourselves also in all your behavior” (1 Peter 1:15) and “Let every one who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness” (2 Tim. 2:19). We need to be separate from the way the world lives. We need to let others know there is a difference in how Christians live.
When we live holy lives, we will have peace. “There is no peace … for the wicked” (Isa. 57:21), but God “disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness” (Heb. 12:10). And that discipline “yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (v. 11). If you lack peace, you may well have let sin come between you and God. If so, follow David’s example in Psalm 51:9–10 and pray for a clean heart. You should also spend time with those who lead holy lives (Prov. 13:20; compare 1 Cor. 15:33).
Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God again that He has made you positionally holy in Christ. ✧ Confess any sins you are aware of, and pray that you would live righteously today.
For Further Study: Answer the following questions, based on 2 Corinthians 5:14–21: What did Christ do for us on the cross? ✧ What happened to us when we were saved? ✧ How should we live as a result?
MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE MET GOD
This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.
These are elements that are always the same among men and women who have had a personal meeting with God.
First, these great souls always have a compelling sense of God Himself, of His person and of His presence. While others would want to spend their time talking about a variety of things, these godly men and women, touched by their knowledge of God, want to talk about Him. They are drawn away from a variety of mundane topics because of the importance of their spiritual discoveries.
Second, it is plain that the details and the significance of their personal experiences remain sharp and clear with true spiritual meaning….
The third element is the permanent and life-changing nature of a true encounter with God. The experience may have been brief, but the results will be evident in the life of the person touched as long as he or she lives. MMG016-017
Lord, may I too experience You in a way that overwhelms me with a clear sense of Your presence and changes my life so I never want to stop speaking of You. Amen. 
Sermon on the Mount’s Significance
When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.—Matt. 5:1
The gospel of the kingdom’s foundational truth (contained in the Sermon on the Mount) has had an impact for two thousand years on all who read and hear it. At least five reasons come to mind as to why Jesus’ greatest of sermons is so important.
First, the Sermon demonstrates the necessity of the new birth. In order for us to recognize our sin, Jesus made a fuller, clearer presentation of the law, followed by His offer of salvation. Jesus’ message here clarifies the reasons for sin’s curse and shows that we have no righteousness of our own to survive God’s scrutiny. Only those who have a new nature through Christ can meet the law’s demands. By no other way but saving faith can we have righteous attitudes as well as actions and be fully right with God.
Second, the Sermon points all listeners to their dependence on Christ’s enabling power to meet God’s standards.
Third, Jesus’ message gives us the Father’s pattern for true happiness and peace (cf. John 14:27; Phil. 4:7). It provides the real pathway to the believer’s sanctification.
Next, the principles in the Sermon on the Mount are some of the greatest scriptural resources for evangelism. If you as a Christian personify these truths, your life will attract others to the Lord.
Last, the life that is obedient to the Sermon’s teachings is the only one that truly pleases God—and that is the highest, noblest objective of the Christian life.
|Embarking on a devotional study of something as monumental as the Sermon on the Mount, you’re always sure to discover truths and insights you’ve never noticed before. Which one or two of the five statements above do you think you’re most ready to hear more about?|
WHO HEARS THE CALL OF GOD?
Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
Who can deny that there are certain persons who, though still unconverted, nevertheless differ from the crowd, marked out of God, stricken with an interior wound and susceptible to the call of God?
In the prayer of Jesus in John 17:11, He said: “Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me.” Surely no man is ever the same after God has laid His hand upon him. He will have certain marks, perhaps some not easy to detect.
First might be a deep reverence for divine things. A sense of the sacred must be present or there can be no receptivity to God and truth.
Another mark is great moral sensitivity. When God begins to work in a man to bring him to salvation, He makes him acutely sensitive to evil.
Another mark of the Spirit’s working is a mighty moral discontent. It does take a work of God in a man to sour him on the world and to turn him against himself; yet until this has happened he is psychologically unable to repent and believe!
Lord, I pray that Your Spirit will continue to make me sensitive to the “divine things” at work in this immoral world so that I may make a difference for Christ among my network of relationships.
|February 8||The Joy of Spiritual Unity|
“… to all the saints … including the overseers and deacons” (Phil. 1:1).
Faithful spiritual leaders are worthy of your appreciation and esteem.
Paul’s salutation includes the “overseers and deacons” at Philippi. That probably is not a reference to elders and deacons as we know them, but is a general reference to all the Philippian saints, including spiritual leaders (overseers) and those who followed (servants).
That implies unity and submission within the church, which brings joy to leaders and followers alike. Hebrews 13:17 emphasizes that point: “Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”
Spiritual leadership is a sacred responsibility. Leaders are to lead, feed, and guard the flock of God, which Christ “purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). They are accountable to God Himself for the faithful discharge of their duties.
You have a sacred responsibility as well: to obey and submit to your leaders. Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the outcome of their way of life, imitate their faith.” Paul adds in 1 Thessalonians 5:12–13, “Appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and … esteem them very highly in love because of their work.”
Sadly, our society encourages criticism and mistrust of anyone in authority. Verbal assaults and character assassinations are common. Many within the church have adopted that attitude toward their spiritual leaders, whom they view as functionaries or paid professionals. Consequently, many churches today are weak and ineffective from disunity and strife. Many pastors suffer untold grief from disobedient and ungrateful people.
You must never succumb to that mentality. Your leaders deserve your appreciation and esteem, not because they are exceptionally talented or have winsome personalities, but because of the sacred work God has called them to do.
Your godly attitude toward spiritual leaders will contribute immeasurably to unity and harmony within your church.
Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for your spiritual leaders. Pray for them and encourage them often.
For Further Study: Read 1 Corinthians 9:3–14. ✧ What right was Paul discussing? ✧ What illustrations did he use?
ENCOUNTER WITH GOD BRINGS WONDER AND AWE
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.
There is a point in true worship where the mind may cease to understand and goes over to a kind of delightful astonishment—probably to what Carlyle described as “transcendent wonder,” a degree of wonder without limit and beyond expression!
That kind of worship is found throughout the Bible (though it is only fair to say that the lesser degrees of worship are found there also).
Abraham fell on his face in holy wonderment as God spoke to him. Moses hid his face before the presence of God in the burning bush. Paul could hardly tell whether he was in or out of the body when he was allowed to see the unspeakable glories of the third heaven. When John saw Jesus walking among His churches, he fell at His feet as dead.
These were in unusual circumstances—but the spiritual content of the experiences is unchanging and is found alike wherever true believers are found. It is always true that an encounter with God brings wonderment and awe!
The pages of Christian biography are sweet with the testimonies of enraptured worshipers who met God in intimate experience and could find no words to express all they felt and saw and heard!
Christian hymnody takes us where the efforts of common prose break down, and brings the wings of poetic feeling to the aid of the wondering saint. Open an old hymnal and turn to the sections on worship and the divine perfections and you will see the part that wonder has played in worship through the centuries.
 MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 51). 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. 47). 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. 51). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.