Applying the Principles
Grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.
Spiritual growth is simply a matter of applying scriptural principles, but there are many who believe only spiritual giants experience a great increase in faith.
I have read about mystics who knelt and prayed for eight to ten hours, wearing holes in the wood floors. I have read about Robert Murray McCheyne, who would soil the pages of his Bible and the wood of his pulpit with great floods of tears. And I have read Power Through Prayer by E. M. Bounds, who spent countless hours in prayer. As I learned about these people, all I could think of was that I could never reach that level. But God uses each of us in different ways.
Spiritual growth is not some mystical achievement for a select few on a higher spiritual plane. Rather, it is simply a matter of glorifying God by confessing sin, trusting Him, bearing fruit, praising Him, obeying and proclaiming His Word, praying, and leading others to Christ. Those are the qualities every Christian needs in order to mature. When you focus on them, the Spirit of God will change you into the image of Christ, from one level of glory to the next.
|February 27||God’s Glory|
“The heavens are telling of the glory of God, and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.”
God’s glory is the radiance of all He is.
In Isaiah’s vision of Heaven, angels called out, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isa. 6:3). What exactly is the glory of God? It encompasses all that He is, the radiance of His attri butes and divine nature.
Moses said to God, “I pray Thee, show me Thy glory!” (Ex. 33:18), and the Lord answered, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion” (v. 19). Moses was not allowed to see God’s face, which is the essence of His being: “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” (v.20). But Moses was allowed to see God’s back, which represents the afterglow of His glory.
Perhaps God’s afterglow is like the radiance of the sun. We only see the light that comes off the sun. If we got too close to it, we would be consumed. If the sun is so brilliant, what must God be like? His glory seen in creation is only a dim reflection of His character.
God displayed His glory many times in Scripture. He represented Himself as a great white cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night as He led Israel through the wilderness (Ex. 13:21). After the Tabernacle was built, “the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Ex. 40:34). Years later, He filled the temple in a similar way (1 Kings 8:10–11). This manifestation of God’s glory served as the focal point of worship for Israel.
God takes His glory very seriously. He said, “I will not give My glory to another” (Isa. 42:8). We must not steal God’s glory by becoming proud and taking credit for the good things He has done. Instead of taking God’s glory, say with David, “I will give thanks to Thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and will glorify Thy name forever” (Ps. 86:12).
Suggestions for Prayer: Praise God for His glory and majesty.
For Further Study: Read Daniel 4, the story of a powerful man who did not give God the glory. What characterized Nebuchadnezzar in verses 30 and 37?
THE COMMON MAN AND THE COMMON GOD
I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works. And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and I will declare thy greatness.
We also seem to have gotten away from the concept of majesty altogether. This is the age of the common man and along with the common man has come the common god….
The modern Christian has lost a sense of worship along with the concept of majesty, and of course, reverence as well. He has lost his ability to withdraw inwardly and commune in the secret place with God in the shrine of his own hidden spirit. It is this that makes Christianity, and we have all but lost it. Added numbers, yes, but lost fear. Multiplied schools, yes, but lost awareness of the invisible. Tons of literature being poured out, of course, but no consciousness of the divine Presence. Better communication, certainly, but nothing to communicate. Evangelistic organizations, yes, but the concept of majesty and worship and reverence has almost left us. AOG180-181
Oh, God, restore to Your Church a sense of majesty, worship and reverence that sends us to our secret closets in awe. Amen. 
Spiritual Hunger’s Second Object—Sanctification
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.—Matt. 5:6
For the Christian, the object of hungering and thirsting is growth in sanctification, which is a crucial mark of the genuine believer. No one who follows Christ attains complete sanctification until heaven, and to claim otherwise would be the height of presumption. Thus saints in this life always need to strive for more holiness, which will be seen in their lives through obedience to the Word. Paul prayed that the Philippian believers might “abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that [they] may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:9–10).
The Greek grammar Matthew used in quoting Jesus indicates that righteousness is the unqualified and unlimited object of “hunger and thirst.” Our Lord is describing people who earnestly desire all the righteousness there is (cf. Matt. 5:48; 1 Peter 1:15–16).
In the original text the definite article appears before “righteousness,” which means that Jesus is not speaking of just any general righteousness, but the righteousness—the true one that comes from God. In fact, it is the Father’s very own righteousness that the Son also possesses.
Because we as believers cannot possibly have our longing for godliness satisfied during our earthly lives, we must continually hunger and thirst until the glorious day when we receive the complete clothing of Jesus Christ’s righteousness.
|Not on Sunday morning but on Tuesday afternoon, on Thursday morning, on Friday night in front of the television—are you hungering for “all the righteousness there is”? Does the call of Christ’s holiness register at off times of day?|
THE END OF THE AGE
All these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be?
2 Peter 3:11
Everywhere around us we are experiencing a great new wave of humanity’s interest in spiritism and devil worship. I must take this as one of the signs that God’s age of grace and mercy is approaching the end point. It tells us that the time may be near when God proclaims: “I have seen enough of mankind’s sin and rebellion. It is time for the trumpets of judgment to sound!”
If we are willing to add the appeals from the book of Revelation to the weight of the other Scriptures, we discover God saying to us that the earth on which we live is not self-explanatory and certainly not self-sufficient.
Although the earth on which we spin is largely populated by a rebel race, it had a divine origin. Now God is about to enforce His claim upon it and judge those who are usurpers. He is saying that there is another and better world, another kingdom, that is always keeping an eye on the world we inhabit!
Lord, help me to be sensitive to the spiritual realm that coexists with the physical world. Thank You that You are still on the throne of this universe and that You are the One who holds all things together.
|February 27||Attaining Spiritual Stability|
“… strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience” (Col. 1:11).
God always empowers you to do what He commands you to do.
An alarming number of Christians seem to lack spiritual stability. Many are “carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Eph. 4:14). Others lack moral purity. Many are driven by their emotions rather than sound thinking. Increasingly, therapists and psychologists are replacing pastors and Biblical teachers as the heroes of the faith. While we still proclaim a sovereign, all-powerful God, our conduct often belies our creed.
Despite our inconsistencies, the power for spiritual stability is ours in Christ as we allow the knowledge of His will to control our lives. Paul describes the working of that power in Colossians 1:11. There the Greek words translated “strengthened” and “power” speak of inherent power that gives one the ability to do something.
The phrase “according to” indicates that the power for spiritual stability is proportional to God’s abundant supply—and that supply is inexhaustible! The literal Greek says you are being “empowered with all power according to the might of His glory.” That thought is akin to Philippians 2:12–13, where Paul says that the power for working out your salvation comes from God, “who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
In Colossians 1:11 the result of God’s enabling is “the attaining of all steadfastness and patience.” “Steadfastness” speaks of endurance regarding people; “patience” speaks of endurance regarding things or circumstances. When you are steadfast and patient, you are spiritually stable. Your responses are Biblical, thoughtful, and calculated—not worldly, emotional, or uncontrolled. You bear up under trials because you understand God’s purposes and trust His promises.
Paul said, “Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10). That is possible when you trust God and rely on the infinite power that is yours in Christ.
Suggestions for Prayer: Perhaps you know someone who is struggling with spiritual instability. Pray for him or her, and ask God to use you as a source of encouragement.
For Further Study: Psalm 18 is a psalm of victory that David wrote after God delivered him from Saul. Read it, then answer these questions: ✧ What characteristics of God did David mention? ✧ How might those characteristics apply to situations you are facing?
TEST YOUR CONDUCT: WHAT ARE YOUR MOTIVES?
But ye denied the Holy One…And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead;…
ACTS 3:14, 15
The test by which all conduct must finally be judged is motive.
As water cannot rise higher than its source, so the moral quality in an act can never be higher than the motive that inspires it. For this reason, no act that arises from an evil motive can be good, even though some good may appear to come out of it.
Every deed done out of anger or spite, for instance, will be found at last to have been done for the enemy and against the Kingdom of God!
In this matter of motive, as in so many other things, the Pharisees afford us clear examples.
They remain the world’s most dismal religious failures, not because of doctrinal error nor because they were careless or lukewarm, nor because they were outwardly persons of dissolute life.
Their whole trouble lay in the quality of their religious motives. They prayed, but they prayed to be heard of men. They gave generously to the service of the temple, but they sometimes did it to escape their duty toward their parents, and this was an evil. They judged sin and stood against it when found in others, but this they did from self-righteousness and hardness of heart. That this is not a small matter may be gathered from the fact that those orthodox and proper religionists went on in their blindness until at last they crucified the Lord of glory with no inkling of the gravity of their crime!
 MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 70). 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. 66). 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. 70). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.