He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.
If I could simplify the Christian life to one thing, it would be obedience. I don’t mean just external obedience but a spirit of obedience. It’s not like the little girl who defiantly continued to stand up after her father had told her many times to sit down. Finally her father said, “Sit down, or I’ll spank you.” She sat down but looked up and said, “I’m sitting down, but I’m standing up in my heart!” That’s obeying outwardly but disobeying in the heart. A Christian should be willing to obey.
One evidence of spiritual maturity is loving God enough to obey Him even when it is difficult. God is glorified when we willingly obey Him no matter what the cost. Each time we obey, we grow spiritually, and each time we disobey, we retard our growth.
|February 22||Being Merciful|
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
Since we have received mercy from God, we are obligated to show mercy to those with physical or spiritual needs.
Jesus demonstrated His mercy many times as He went about healing people and casting out demons. Two blind men cried out, “ ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’ … And moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight, and followed Him” (Matt. 20:30, 34). He was also deeply moved in spirit and wept when He saw the sorrow that Lazarus’s death caused (John 11:33–36).
His greatest mercy was shown, though, to those with spiritual needs. Not only did He heal a paralytic, but He forgave his sins (Luke 5:18–25). He also prayed for His executioners, saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
We can show mercy by our physical acts. John says, “But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:17–18).
We must also show mercy spiritually. Because we have experienced God’s mercy, we should have great concern for those who have not. We show spiritual mercy by proclaiming the saving gospel of Jesus Christ to the unsaved and by praying that God would show His mercy to them.
We also demonstrate spiritual mercy by lovingly confronting sinning Christians: “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourselves, lest you too be tempted” (Gal. 6:1). Sinning Christians bring reproach on Christ and His church and will fall under God’s discipline. In such cases it is wrong to say nothing and let the harm continue.
God has promised us in Matthew 5:7 that we will receive mercy from Him if we are merciful to others. If we have received unlimited mercy from our loving God, if we have been lifted from our poor, sinful, wretched state to become citizens of heaven, how can we withhold mercy from others?
Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that you would be sensitive to opportunities to show mercy today.
For Further Study: Read Matthew 23:37–39. What was Jerusalem’s condition in verse 37? ✧ How does that intensify the nature of Christ’s compassion and mercy toward His people?
I KNOW THE ONE WHO MADE THIS!
But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.
I just listened today while we had our dinner to a sonata by Beethoven and it was beautiful. But I suppose it would have been more wonderful if I could have shaken hands with the great Beethoven and said, “It’s an honor to shake your hand, sir. I consider you one of the greatest composers that ever lived—a genius!”… It would have been wonderful.
And so with Michaelangelo, the greatest artist of his day…. Perhaps he would have called me by my first name and I could have called him by his first name. I would introduce him to my friends and say, “I’d like to have you meet the great Michaelangelo.” That would have been better than knowing his works. I have seen his tremendous sculpture of Moses, but it would have been better if I could have seen the man himself.
So let men turn their telescopes on the heavens and their microscopes on the molecules. Let them probe and search and tabulate and name and find and discover. I can dare to say to them, “I know the One who made all this. I’m personally acquainted with the One who made it.” AOG081-082
I bow before You, great God, realizing the awesome privilege that is mine: the privilege of knowing You personally. Amen. 
Gentleness as Defined by Jesus
Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.—Matt. 5:5
In this verse, “gentle” (a word often rendered “meek” in other translations) means mild or soft. Looking ahead to His triumphal entry, the prophet hailed Christ this way: “Behold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey” (Matt. 21:5; cf. Zech. 9:9).
From Old Testament times, gentleness has been God’s way for mankind. The book of Job says God “sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety” (5:11; cf. Ps. 25:9). “Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3).
Gentleness does not connote weakness, but rather a way of utilizing all its resources and emotions appropriately (cf. Prov. 16:32; 25:28). The gentle person has died to self and therefore does not resort to violence to defend himself, knowing his person has nothing to commend before God. Gentleness is not cowardice, lack of conviction, or niceness. It is the spirit of Christ, who defended the Father’s glory, not His own, and left us an example: He “committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:22–23).
Christ’s gentleness, however, did not mean He was passive in defending righteousness. He guarded the temple against the moneychangers (John 2:14–15), denounced the hypocritical religious leaders (Matt. 23:1–33), and warned the disobedient of judgment (Matt. 25:45–46). His gentleness was power completely surrendered to God’s control.
|What’s been your interpretation of “meekness” or “gentleness”? Is this a quality you value and aspire to? If gentleness was more a part of your demeanor, what benefits would you begin to see in your daily life?|
OUR INDIVIDUAL WORTH
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
Our lost race has always been prone to discount and reject the wonderful fact of the individual factor in the love of God. Far, far too many men and women in this world are convinced that God’s love for the world is just one big lump—and the individual is not involved.
We have only to look around us with serious observation to confirm the fact that the devil has been successful in planting his lie that no one cares for the individual person.
Even in nature around us, there appears to be very little individual concern. The burden of concern is always for the species.
But Jesus did not preach to the multitudes as though they were a faceless crowd. He preached to them as individuals, and with a knowledge of the burdens and the needs of each one. Our Savior did not come into the world to deal with statistics!
Each of us must come with full confidence that it is a personal word God has spoken to us in Christ, that “whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish.”
Lord, Your Word says that each of us is “fearfully and wonderfully made” and that You are concerned about the one lost sheep in a flock of a hundred. Thank You for purchasing my redemption by Your death and resurrection. I love You, Lord.
|February 22||Cultivating the Fruit of Righteousness|
“… having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:11).
Bearing spiritual fruit is the acid test of a true believer.
After facing life-threatening situations, people often say, “I saw my entire life flash before my eyes.” That’s the picture we get in Philippians 1:11.
“The fruit of righteousness” refers to what is produced in you as you operate in love, pursue excellence, and maintain your integrity. It includes every attitude and action consistent with God’s standard of what is right.
“Having been filled” speaks of something that happened in the past with continuing results. At your salvation the seed of righteousness was planted within you. It bears righteous fruit throughout your lifetime. On the day of Christ that fruit will confirm your salvation.
Fruitfulness has always been the acid test of true salvation. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31). When John the Baptist admonished his followers to “bring forth fruits in keeping with your repentance” (Luke 3:8), he was speaking of good deeds (vv. 10–14). Paul said we are God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). John said that all who profess Christ should live as He lived (cf. 1 John 2:6).
Bearing spiritual fruit is not something you can achieve on your own. It “comes through Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:11). Jesus Himself said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4–5).
You were redeemed to glorify God through righteous deeds. Make that your priority today.
Suggestions for Prayer: Psalm 71 is a psalm of praise to God for His righteousness and faithful provisions. Read it and meditate on its truths. Then praise God for His righteousness toward you. ✧ Ask for opportunities to demonstrate righteousness to others today.
For Further Study: Read Proverbs 11:1–9, 15:8–9, and 21:2–3, noting the characteristics and benefits of righteousness.
ONLY SERVANTS OF TRUTH CAN KNOW THE TRUTH
…So is every one that is born of the Spirit.
Only the servants of truth can ever know truth. You can fill your head full of knowledge but the day that you decide that you are going to obey God, it will get down into your heart. You shall know!
I once read a book about the inner life of a man who was a sharp intellectual. By his own admission, he stood outside and examined spiritual people from the outside but nothing ever reached him. And that’s possible!
You cannot argue around this. Read your Bible—any version you want—and if you are honest you will admit that it is either obedience or inward blindness. You can repeat the book of Romans word for word and still be blind inwardly. You can know the doctrine of justification by faith and take your stand with Luther and the Reformation and still be blind inwardly. For it is not the body of truth that enlightens: it is by the Spirit of truth. If you are willing to obey the Lord Jesus, He will illuminate your spirit, inwardly enlighten you; and the truth you have known will then be known spiritually, and power will begin to flow up and out and you will find yourself changed marvelously changed.
It is rewarding to believe in a Christianity that really changes men and women. In that great day of Christ’s coming, all that will matter is whether we have been inwardly illuminated, inwardly regenerated, inwardly purified!
The question is: do we really know Jesus in this way?
 MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 65). 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. 61). 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. 65). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.