March 9, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

March 9

The Thrill of Grace

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.

John 1:16

 

Is the experience of God’s grace in your life a thrilling thing? It is for me! Just thinking about the fact that God, by His own sovereign plan, decided to be gracious to me is overwhelming.

He poured out His grace on me. He forgave all my sins. He granted me the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He gave me an understanding of His Word. He called me to spiritual ministry. Every day He gives me a rich communion with the saints, and I relish being a part of His redeemed people. He enables me to see the world as His handiwork. I am His child, and He loves me in a personal way.

There is nothing greater than receiving grace upon grace. I pray that is your experience.[1]


March 9 Honor for the Humble

“Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”

James 4:10

✧✧✧

God graciously bestows every spiritual blessing on the humble.

Those who are scripturally humble will recognize their unworthiness when they come before God. They will be like the prophet Isaiah who, in seeing God, cursed himself: “Woe is me, for I am ruined [damned]! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:5). Whenever you see who God really is—infinitely holy, sovereign, mighty, majestic, and glorious—all you can see about yourself is your own sin.

Every time Isaiah or any other person in the Old Testament came face to face with the reality of God’s holy presence, he was overwhelmed with fear. A sinner in the presence of a holy God is overpowered by his sense of exposed sinfulness and has every reason to fear. It was the same in the New Testament, such as when the disciples were afraid after Jesus stilled the storm on the Sea of Galilee: “And they became very much afraid and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?’ ” (Mark 4:41). If we are humble before the true God, we’ll have the same response.

But God does not leave us bowed down in awe or cowering in fear. James promises us that the Lord will exalt the humble. And if we are humble in spirit and saved by grace, we will be sanctified and ultimately glorified. The apostle Paul summarizes this so well in Ephesians 2:4–7, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God today for His holiness and His sovereign control over all things, especially how He is leading you to spiritual maturity.

For Further Study: Read Isaiah 6. What is the focal point of God’s nature in this chapter? ✧ What could help you to be as willing as Isaiah was to serve God (v. 8)?[2]


MARCH 9

THE ABILITY TO WONDER

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

—Psalm 8:3-4

God made the world; it is a beautiful thing and something to venerate. It’s a great loss—a tragic loss—that we’ve suffered in the last generation. We have lost the ability to wonder. We know so everlasting much and we’re so sure of ourselves. But David stood and wondered in the presence of God’s creation; he raised his eyes and said, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4). And Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel and all the rest of them stood and wondered in the presence of God Almighty’s creation….

The footprints of God are everywhere about us. And while we can’t see Him, we can see His luminous trail like a bird that sings while hidden in a tree. As Middleton said, “The bird sings darkling.” We can’t see the bird, but we can hear her sing. God sings among His branches and sings in His universe. You and I cannot gaze upon Him, for no man can see God and live. But we can hear Him sing His song of creation and redemption. And we can feel the pressure of His breath upon us as we move through the world. We’ll never see things rightly till we see them as the garments of God. SAT104-105

I’ll watch for Your footprints, God. I’ll listen for Your song and be sensitive to Your breath. I will stand in wonder at what I see. Amen. [3]


March 9

Results of Obtaining Holiness

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.—Matt. 5:8

The great blessing of those who are pure in heart is “they shall see God.” Notice that it is only “they”—the pure in heart—who shall see God. Intimate knowledge of and fellowship with God is reserved for the pure.

When our hearts are purified at salvation, we begin to live in the presence of God. We begin to see and comprehend Him with our new spiritual eyes. Like Moses, who saw God’s glory and asked to see more (Ex. 33:18), the one who is purified by Jesus Christ sees again and again the glory of God.

To see God was the greatest hope of the Old Testament saints. Like Moses, David wanted to see more of God: “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?” (Ps. 42:1–2).

Purity of heart cleanses the eyes of the soul so that God becomes visible. One sign of an impure heart is ignorance, because sin obscures the truth (John 3:19–20). Other signs of an impure heart are self-centeredness (Rev. 3:17), pleasure in sin (2 Tim. 3:4), unbelief (Heb. 3:12), and hatred for purity (Mic. 3:2). But if you belong to God, you will exchange all of those things for integrity and purity.

ASK YOURSELF
How have you “seen” God during long stretches of faithful, obedient living? If this is not your current experience, don’t you long to return to this kind of lifestyle—to the daily joys of animated, refreshing, ongoing interaction with your Lord and Savior? Take steps toward a fresh start with Him today.[4]

MARCH 9

“AUTOMATIC” SAINTS?

Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest.

2 Corinthians 4:10

 

Not everyone agrees with me that full qualification for eternity is not instant or automatic or painless.

I can only hope that you are wise enough, desirous enough and spiritual enough to face up to the truth that every day is another day of spiritual preparation, another day of testing and discipline with our heavenly destination in mind.

I hope too that you may begin to understand why many evangelical churches are in such a mess. It has become popular to preach a painless Christianity and automatic saintliness. It has become a part of our “instant” culture—“just pour a little water on it, stir mildly, pick up a gospel tract, and you are on your Christian way!”

“Lo,” we are told, “this is Bible Christianity!”

“It is nothing of the sort!”

To depend upon that kind of a formula is to experience only the outer fringe, the edge of what Christianity really is. For when the new birth is real and the wonder of regeneration has taken place, then comes the lifetime of preparation with the guidance of the Holy Spirit!

 

Dear Lord, I’m not interested in putting on a religious façade for people to see. I want to make progress in becoming more like You today.[5]


March 9 Praying for Others

“We have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly, and rebelled, even turning aside from Thy commandments and ordinances. … We have not listened to Thy servants the prophets. … Open shame belongs to us, O Lord … because we have sinned against Thee. … Indeed all Israel has transgressed Thy law and turned aside, not obeying Thy voice. … Thy people have become a reproach to all those around us” (Dan. 9:5–16).

✧✧✧

Others should be the primary focus of your prayers.

In verses 5–16 Daniel identifies with his people and intercedes on their behalf. That’s a common practice in Scripture. For example, Moses interceded for the Israelites after they sinned by worshiping the golden calf (Ex. 32:11–13).

All Paul’s recorded prayers are intercessions. In Ephesians 6:18 he instructs us to “be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” In 1 Timothy 2:1–4 he says, “I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Similarly, the Lord’s prayers are replete with intercessions. Even when hanging in agony on the cross, He prayed for His persecutors: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

When God placed us into the Body of Christ, He made us dependent on one another. When one member suffers, all suffer with it; when one is honored, all rejoice with it (1 Cor. 12:26). That’s why Jesus instructed us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts. … And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:11–13, emphasis added).

Let your prayers reflect a corporate and selfless mentality that embraces the needs of others.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the people who have prayed for you over the years. Be aware of those for whom you should be praying. ✧ Sometimes the demands of prayer can seem overwhelming because there’s so much to pray for, but be faithful, knowing that your prayers are a delight to the Lord (Prov. 15:8).

For Further Study: Read John 17, noting how Jesus interceded for His disciples.[6]


MARCH 9

CHRIST ESTABLISHED TRUE VALUES FOR THE HUMAN RACE

So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

HEBREWS 9:28

The Christian faith engages the profoundest problems the human mind can entertain and solves them completely and simply by pointing to the Lamb of God!

The problems of origin and destiny have escaped the philosopher and the scientist, but the humblest follower of Christ knows the answer to both.

“In the beginning” found Christ there at the creation of all things, and “the world to come” will find Him there at their regeneration.

There is about the Christian faith a quiet dogmatism, a cheerful intolerance. It feels no need to appease its enemies or compromise with its detractors. Christ came from God, out of eternity, to report on the things He had seen and heard and to establish true values for the confused human race.

Then, He drew a line between this world and the world to come and said, in effect: “Choose ye this day.”

The choice is between an earthly house which we can at best inhabit but a little while and the house of the Lord where we may dwell forevermore.

The church is constantly being tempted to accept this world as her home, but toward the world to come we are all headed.

How unutterably wonderful that we Christians have one of our own kind to go ahead and prepare a place for us!

That place will be in a world divinely ordered, beyond death and parting, where there is nothing that can hurt or make afraid.[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 82). 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. 77). 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. 81). 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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