Ready to Suffer
Since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind.
1 Peter 4:1
One of the blessings of being a Christian is our identification with Christ and its resulting privileges. However, just so we won’t take those blessings for granted, assuming that they will result in our being loved and respected by the world, God also allows us to suffer. In fact, the apostle Peter in his first epistle clearly shows that those most blessed in the faith suffer the most.
The Christian life is a call to glory through a journey of suffering. That’s because those in Christ are inevitably at odds with their culture and society. All Satan–energized systems are actively at odds with the things of Christ. The apostle John said a person can’t love both God and the world (1 John 2:15), and James said, “Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).
|March 5||The Nearness of God|
“He will draw near to you.”
God will come near to the truly humble, who have by faith sought to be close to Him.
One of the greatest promises in the Bible is that God responds to the humble and draws near to them. Such people will yearn for a closeness to God by which they can know Him, love Him, learn His Word, praise Him, pray to Him, and fellowship with Him. In summary, the humble will be true worshipers, those who “worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:23).
John 4:23 concludes with the statement, “for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.” This strongly implies that God wants to have a relationship with the humble, which means He will respond to us. This idea of the Lord reaching out to us and responding to our humble obedience is also found in the Old Testament, when David instructed Solomon: “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever” (1 Chron. 28:9).
The principle of God’s drawing near to the humble is illustrated by Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11–32). First, the prodigal son manifests humility and repentance: “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (vv. 18–19). Next, his behavior pictures a longing to draw near to God: “he got up and came to his father” (v. 20). Finally, there is the picture of God drawing near to us: “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him, and kissed him” (v. 20).
You might not find yourself in the same predicament as the prodigal son did, but you will experience the same response from God if you have humbly drawn near to Him in faith and worshiped Him in spirit and in truth.
Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that God would help you be a true worshiper of Him.
For Further Study: Read and meditate on Psalm 40. What things did David find true about God’s nearness?
A ROYAL DISPLAY
In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.
A new rich mine would be opened in our consciousness if we could learn to recognize God in nature as well as in grace. For the God of nature is also the God of grace….
Because sin has injured us so deeply, and because the whole transaction of repentance and deliverance from the guilt and power of iniquity makes such a mighty impression upon us emotionally, we naturally tend to appreciate the work of God in redemption more than in nature. But everything God does is praiseworthy and deserves our deepest admiration. Whether He is making or redeeming a world, He is perfect in all His doings and glorious in all His goings forth….
If we miss seeing God in His works we deprive ourselves of the sight of a royal display of wisdom and power so elevating, so ennobling, so awe-inspiring as to make all attempts at description futile. Such a sight the angels behold day and night forever and ask nothing more to make them perpetually satisfied. OGM145-147
Lord, I so often look at the grandeur and the infinite variety of Your creation, and I bow in worship before the great Creator. Thank You for providing this natural world for us as a glimpse of Your majestic nature. Amen. 
What Results from Mercy?
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.—Matt. 5:7
When we are merciful and we receive mercy, we experience God’s cycle of mercy. God is merciful to us by saving us through Christ; in obedience we are merciful to others; and God in faithfulness gives us even more mercy, pouring out blessing for our needs and withholding severe chastening for our sin.
But only those who are merciful qualify to receive mercy. David said of the Lord, “With the kind You show Yourself kind” (2 Sam. 22:26). Yet James says, “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy” (James 2:13). The emphatic truth is that God will respond with chastening for an unforgiving disciple.
Jesus is not speaking, however, of our mercy gaining us salvation. We cannot earn salvation by being merciful. We must be saved by God’s mercy before we can truly be merciful. We cannot work our way into heaven even by a lifetime of merciful deeds, any more than by good works of any sort. God does not give mercy for merit; He gives mercy in grace. He gives mercy because it is needed, not because it is earned.
If we have received from a holy God unlimited mercy that cancels our unpayable debt of sin, it surely follows that we should be merciful to others.
|At several points along the way, we’ve paused to celebrate the immensity of our salvation. Here at the end of our look at mercy, let’s drop to our knees again in awe and thanksgiving, realizing the depths He has pulled us from and imagining the glories that await us—all because of His grace and love through Christ.|
LORD OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness.
1 Corinthians 1:30
In the midst of all the confusions of our day, it is important that we find out that Jesus Christ is the Lord of all righteousness and the Lord of all wisdom.
Righteousness is not a word easily acceptable to lost men and women in a lost world. Outside of the Word of God, there is no book or treatise that can give us a satisfying answer about righteousness, because the only One who is Lord of all righteousness is our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself. A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of His kingdom. He is the only One in all the universe who perfectly loved righteousness and hated iniquity.
Our great High Priest and Mediator is the righteous and Holy One—Jesus Christ, our risen Lord. He is not only righteous, He is the Lord of all righteousness!
Then, there is His wisdom. The sum total of the deep and eternal wisdom of the ages lies in Jesus Christ as a treasure hidden away. All the deep purposes of God reside in Him because His perfect wisdom enables Him to plan far ahead! Thus history itself becomes the slow development of His purposes.
Lord, I admit that my mind at times has difficulty wrapping around the concept of Your depth of wisdom and knowledge. I am humbled that You think of me, care for me, and love me.
|March 5||Praying According to God’s Will|
“The word of the Lord [came] to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem” (Dan. 9:2).
Effective prayer is always consistent with God’s will.
It is characteristic of God’s people to identify with God’s purposes and to conform their will to His. Learning to pray according to His will is a major step in that process because it drives you to the Word and demonstrates a humble, submissive heart.
Jesus emphasized the priority of God’s will when He said, “I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38). He accomplished that goal, saying to the Father, “I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do” (John 17:4). Even when facing the horror of the cross, Jesus didn’t waver. Instead He prayed, “Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42).
Jesus taught His disciples the same priority, instructing them to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9–10).
Daniel knew what it meant to pray according to God’s will. After reading the prophecy of a seventy-year Babylonian Captivity, he immediately accepted it as God’s will and began to pray for its fulfillment. His prayer wasn’t passive resignation to some act of fate beyond his control. It was active participation in God’s plan as revealed in Scripture. He wasn’t trying to change God’s will, but was doing everything he could to see it come to pass. That’s the essence of praying according to God’s will.
When you pray according to God’s will, you can be confident that He hears you and will grant your requests (1 John 5:14–15). Live in that confidence today!
Suggestions for Prayer: Be a diligent student of the Word so you will know God’s will. ✧ Ask God to reveal areas in which your will is not conformed to His. As He does, take immediate steps to deal with the situation.
For Further Study: Read Revelation 22:6–21, noting God’s will for Christ’s return and how we’re to respond to it.
CHRISTIANITY IS WHAT CHRIST SAYS IT IS
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
No one who knows what the New Testament is about will worry over the charge that Christianity is “otherworldly.”
Of course it is—and that is precisely where its power lies!
Christianity, which is faith in Christ, trust in His promises and obedience to His commandments, rests down squarely upon the Person of Christ.
What He is, what He did and what He is doing—these provide a full guarantee that the Christian’s hopes are valid.
Christianity is what Christ says it is. His power becomes operative toward us as we accept His words as final and yield our souls to believe and obey.
Christ is not on trial; He needs no character witnesses to establish His trustworthiness!
He came as the Eternal God in time’s low tabernacle. He stands before no human tribunal, but all men stand before Him now and shall stand for judgment at the last. Let any man bring the faith of Christ to the bar of man’s opinion, let him try to prove that the teachings of Christ are in harmony with this philosophy or that religion and he is in fact rejecting Christ while seeking to defend Him!
Let no one apologize for the powerful emphasis Christianity lays upon the basic doctrine of the world to come. When Christ arose from death and ascended into heaven He established forever three important facts, namely, that this world has been condemned to ultimate dissolution, that the human spirit persists beyond the grave and that there is indeed a world to come!
 MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 78). 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. 73). 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. 77). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.