March 2, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

March 2

A View to Obedience

Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.

Matthew 28:20

 

You cannot be a disciple apart from a life of obedience and a desire to follow Christ as Lord. One of the most important ways we obey is by teaching others to obey His commands.

Regarding the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, “He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things I said to you” (John 14:26). Through the Word of God, the Spirit has made that teaching available to every believer. And every believer is to submit himself to it in obedience.

Only a true convert will obey Christ. Only as you “present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Rom. 6:13) do you exhibit obedient faith.[1]


March 2 Coming under God’s Authority

“Submit therefore to God.”

James 4:7a

✧✧✧

The truly humble will submit to God’s authority.

Most people understand the basic requirements of military service. The first thing anyone experiences when he enlists is his rank within the chain of command under the commanding officer. Implicit in such lining up under the leadership of a superior is that the soldier, sailor, airman, or marine will obediently carry out all he is commanded to do.

However, the military is not the only context in which the concept of submission applies. James 4:7 uses the term “submit” in the far more important arena of our relationship to God. We are to submit to Him and come under the sovereign authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the basic requirement for anyone who would be humble before God. Since Scripture often uses military terms to describe our service to God (Phil. 2:25; 2 Tim. 2:3), it is appropriate to see ourselves as enlisting in God’s army, willingly obeying His commands, and following His leadership.

This kind of humble, willing submission to God’s authority is what Jesus meant when He told the disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). This concept of submission simply means doing God’s will from the heart, no matter what the cost.

The story of the rich young ruler provides a good measuring rod of our submissiveness to God. After the young man professed obedience to God’s law, Jesus tested him further by commanding him to “go and sell all you possess, and give it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Mark 10:21). At that point the young man was not willing to obey Jesus. Instead, “his face fell, and he went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property” (v. 22).

How would you have reacted? Would you have willingly obeyed Jesus’ command, or would you have allowed your pride to keep you from submitting to Him? If you have humbly lined up under God’s authority, the proper response is not difficult.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Lord to remind you throughout this day of your need to submit all you do to His authority.

For Further Study: Read the Acts 9:1–22 account of the apostle Paul’s conversion to Christ. What do you notice about his obedience and humility? ✧ What is noteworthy about Ananias’ behavior?[2]


MARCH  2

THE REDISCOVERY OF MAJESTY

For the LORD  your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward.

—Deuteronomy 10:17

Modern Christianity is simply not producing the kind of Christian who can appreciate or experience the life in the Spirit. The words, “Be still, and know that I am God,” mean next to nothing to the self-confident, bustling worshiper….

This loss of the concept of majesty has come just when the forces of religion are making dramatic gains and the churches are more prosperous than at any time within the past several hundred years. But the alarming thing is that our gains are mostly external and our losses wholly internal; and since it is the quality of our religion that is affected by internal conditions, it may be that our supposed gains are but losses spread over a wider field….

The decline of the knowledge of the holy has brought on our troubles. A rediscovery of the majesty of God will go a long way toward curing them. It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate. If we would bring back spiritual power to our lives, we must begin to think of God more nearly as He is. KOHVIII

Lord, we’ve forgotten how to be still and witness Your majesty. May I rediscover You in a way that affects my entire life. Amen. [3]


March 2

Mercy and Justice

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.—Matt. 5:7

The relationship of mercy and justice is a confusing one because on the surface they seem the exact opposite. Justice gives exactly what is deserved; mercy gives less punishment and more help than is deserved. So the great question is: How can God be both just and merciful at the same time? The truth is God does not show mercy without punishing sin. For Him to offer mercy without punishment would negate His justice.

Mercy that ignores sin is false mercy and is all too common today. Some think it is unloving and unkind to hold people responsible for their sins. That is what is known as cheap grace—which is neither merciful nor just, nor does it offer punishment or pardon for sin. Because it overlooks sin, it leaves sin untouched and unforgiven. The one who relies on this sort of mercy is left in his sin.

The good news of the gospel, however, is that Christ paid the penalty for all sins so that God might be merciful to all sinners. On the cross Jesus satisfied God’s justice. And when a person trusts in His sacrifice, God opens the floodgates of His mercy. God did not gloss over sin and compromise justice. The good news is that in the shedding of Christ’s blood, He satisfied His justice, forgave sin, fulfilled righteousness, and made His mercy available. There is never an excuse for sin, but there is always a remedy.

ASK YOURSELF
What is true of God’s mercy should be true of ours. Rather than simply letting people get away with abuse, mistreatment, or destructive habits, we must realize that for mercy to truly be merciful, it must lead others toward health and holiness. Mercy is tougher than we think. How then might it look in practice?[4]

MARCH 2

THE GODHEAD—FOREVER ONE

Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.

Luke 23:46

 

When Christ Jesus died on that unholy, fly-infested cross for mankind, He never divided the Godhead! We are assured from the earliest church fathers that the Father in heaven, His eternal Son, and the Holy Ghost are forever One—inseparable, indivisible—and can never be anything else.

Not all of Nero’s swords could ever cut down through the substance of the Godhead to cut off the Father from the Son.

It was Mary’s son who cried out, “Why hast Thou forsaken me?” It was the human body which God had given Him. It was the sacrifice that cried—the lamb about to die! The Son of Man knew himself forsaken. God dumped that vast, filthy, slimy mass of human sin on the soul of the Savior—and then backed away.

Believe it that the ancient and timeless Deity was never separated. He was still in the bosom of the Father when He cried, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit!” (Luke 23:46).

Little wonder that we are amazed and marvel every day at the wonder of the ancient theology of the Christian Church!

 

Lord, sometimes Your nature is a mystery to my limited thinking. But how grateful I am that You were willing to bear my sin—and that of the whole human race—on the cross of Calvary.[5]


March 2 Unlimited Prayer

“Men ought always to pray” (Luke 18:1, kjv).

✧✧✧

Prayer should never be limited to certain times, places, or circumstances.

As a child I was taught to pray with my head bowed, eyes closed, and hands folded. Even as a young man I thought that was the only acceptable mode of prayer.

In my seminary days I sang in a quartet that traveled to various churches throughout the United States. The first time I traveled with them we had a prayer meeting in the car, and the driver prayed with his eyes open. All of us were glad he did, but I wondered if God really heard his prayer.

I have since learned that praying with my eyes closed is a helpful way to avoid distractions, but it isn’t mandated in Scripture—nor are most of the other limitations people often place on prayer. For example, some people want to limit prayer to a certain posture, but Scripture tells of people praying while standing, sitting, kneeling, looking upward, bowing down, and lifting up their hands.

Some try to limit prayer to certain times of the day, such as morning or evening. But in the Bible people prayed at all times: morning, evening, three times a day, before meals, after meals, at bedtime, at midnight, day and night, in their youth, in their old age, when troubled, and when joyful.

Similarly, Scripture places no limits on the place or circumstances of prayer. It tells of people praying in a cave, in a closet, in a garden, on a mountainside, by a river, by the sea, in the street, in the Temple, in bed, at home, in the stomach of a fish, in battle, on a housetop, in a prison, in the wilderness, and on a cross.

The point is clear: there is no specific correct mode or kind of prayer, and prayer isn’t limited by your location or circumstances. You are to pray always. That includes any kind of prayer, on any subject, at any time of the day or night.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Make a list of your current plans, thoughts, and concerns. Have you made each of them a matter of prayer? Commit yourself to sharing every aspect of your life with God.

For Further Study: Read Psalm 136. Note how the Lord is intimately involved in the lives of His people.[6]


MARCH 2

JESUS CHRIST IS EVERY MAN’S CONTEMPORARY

Be still, and know that I am God….”

PSALM 46:10

Our fathers had much to say about stillness, and by stillness they meant the absence of motion or the absence of noise, or both. They felt that they must be still for at least a part of the day, or that day would be wasted!

God can be known in the tumult if His providence has for the time placed us there, but He is known best in the silence. So they held, and so the sacred Scriptures declare. Inward assurance comes out of the stillness. We must be still to know!

There has hardly been another time in the history of the world when stillness was needed more than it is today, and there has surely not been another time when there was so little of it or when it was so hard to find. Christ is every man’s contemporary. His presence and His power are offered to us in this time of mad activity and mechanical noises as certainly as to fishermen on the quiet lake of Galilee or to shepherds on the plains of Judea. The only condition is that we get still enough to hear His voice and that we believe and heed what we hear.

As we draw nearer to the ancient Source of our being we find that we are no longer learned or ignorant, modern or old-fashioned, crude or cultured: in that awesome Presence we are just men and women. Artificial distinctions fade away. Thousands of years of education disappear in a moment and we stand again where Adam and Eve stood after the Fall, where Cain stood, and Abel, outside the Garden, frightened and undone and fugitive from the terror of the broken law, desperately in need of a Saviour![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 75). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[3] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[4] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 70). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[5] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[6] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 74). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[7] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

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