March 11, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

March 11

The Motive of the Church

To Him be glory in the church.

Ephesians 3:21

 

If you were to survey a group of people and ask them to name the primary purpose of the church, you would probably get a variety of answers.

Some might suggest that the church is a place to form friendships with godly people. It’s where believers strengthen each other in faith and where love is cultivated and shared.

Others might suggest that the mission of the church is teaching the Word, training believers for various responsibilities, and instructing children and young people with the purpose of helping them mature in Christ.

Still others might say that another purpose of the church is to praise God. The church is a community of praise that exalts God for who He is and what He has done. Some would suggest that since praise is the central activity of heaven, it must also be the primary responsibility of those on earth.

But as important as fellowship, teaching, and praise are, the primary motive of the church is to glorify God. The apostle Paul described salvation as being “to the praise of the glory of his grace”(Eph. 1:6).[1]


March 11 Understanding Who We Are

“Walk … with all humility.”

Ephesians 4:1–2

✧✧✧

The first step to humility is understanding our sinfulness.

I’ll never forget a meeting I had at my house with some seminary students. One student asked me, very seriously, “John, how did you finally overcome pride?” I said jokingly, “Well, it was two years ago when I finally licked it, and it’s never been a problem since then. It’s so wonderful to be constantly humble.” Of course, I have not completely overcome pride; it’s a battle I face every day. Satan makes sure we always struggle with it.

Overcoming pride in even one area is difficult, but Ephesians 4:2 requires “all humility.” Having some humility isn’t enough. We must have total, complete humility in every relationship, every attitude, and every act.

So we all have a lot of work to do. But where do we start? How can we become humble?

Humility begins with self–awareness. We need to look at ourselves honestly. We can mask who we really are and convince ourselves that we’re something wonderful. But we are sinners and need to confess our sins daily before God (cf. 1 John 1:9). Even Paul called himself the foremost of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15) and realized he had not yet reached the goal of Christlikeness (Phil. 3:12–14). Whenever you’re tempted to be proud, remember you haven’t arrived yet spiritually.

And don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others. Paul said, “We are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding” (2 Cor. 10:12). If we’re to be honest with ourselves and with God, we need to evaluate ourselves by an outside standard—God’s standard. Humility starts when we take off the rose–colored glasses of self–love so we can see ourselves as unworthy sinners. We must recognize our faults and confess our sins daily.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Confess any known sins to God, and ask for help in overcoming them. ✧ Ask God to keep you from comparing yourself to others instead of to His perfect standard.

For Further Study: Many consider Paul to be the greatest Christian who ever lived, but he viewed himself very differently. Read 1 Timothy 1:12–17. How did he see himself? ✧ As he saw his sinfulness, what was his response to God?[2]


MARCH 11

GOD MADE COLOR

And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.

—Psalm 89:5

Some people are afraid of color. They think that spirituality consists in being drab. But God made color! He made all shades of colors. Look at the sunset—what is it, just something scientific? Do you think that God splashed the lovely, beautiful sky with rose, cerise, blue and white and wasn’t smiling when He did that? Is that just an accident of nature, scientifically explained? Then you’ve got too much learning for your own good! Go empty your head and get your heart filled and you’ll be better off. The Holy Spirit wrote 150 psalms and in those psalms He celebrates the wonders of God’s creation….

We ought to stop thinking like scientists and think like psalmists.

This infinite God is enjoying Himself. Somebody is having a good time in heaven and earth and sea and sky. Somebody is painting the sky. Somebody is making trees to grow where only gashes were a year ago. Somebody is causing the ice to melt out of the river and the fish to swim and the birds to sing and lay their blue eggs and build their nests and hatch their young. Somebody’s running the universe. AOG011-013

Indeed, Lord, the heavens shall praise Your wonders! Thank You for running the universe with beauty, variety, intricacy and color. Amen. [3]


March 11

The Great Enemy of Peace

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.—Matt. 5:9

The great enemy of peace is sin. Sin separates people from God and causes disharmony and enmity with Him. To talk of peace without establishing the need for repentance from sin is foolish. The corrupt religious leaders of ancient Israel proclaimed, “Peace, peace,” but there was no peace, because they and the rest of the people were not “ashamed because of the abomination they had done” (Jer. 8:11–12).

To be an effective peacemaker, you must recognize that any conflict is the result of sin. If you separate conflicting parties from each other but don’t confront their sin, at best you will create only a temporary truce. You can’t circumvent sin; it is the source of every conflict.

In what appears on the surface to be the antithesis of the seventh beatitude, Jesus says, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34). His meaning is clear: the peace He brings is not peace at any price. The sword Christ uses is His Word—the sword of truth and righteousness. Like the surgeon’s scalpel, it must cut before it heals, because peace cannot exist where sin remains.

To be a peacemaker you must live a holy life and call others to embrace the gospel of holiness.

ASK YOURSELF
How have you seen sin decimate and destroy relationships? How has your own sin contributed to whatever strain exists between you and another person? If you have not yet repented of a sin that has caused distance between you and someone else, choose repentance today. If others need correction, ask for the Lord’s grace and supply in seeking it.[4]

MARCH 11

THE GREAT PHYSICIAN

When Jesus saw him…he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

John 5:6

 

If you are a discouraged and defeated Christian believer, you may have accepted the rationalization that your condition is “normal for all Christians.”

You may now be content with the position that the progressive, victorious Christian life may be suitable for a few Christians—but not for you! You have been to Bible conferences; you have been to the altar—but the blessings are for someone else.

Now, that attitude on the part of Christian believers is neither modesty nor meekness. It is a chronic discouragement resulting from unbelief. It is rather like those who have been sick for so long that they no longer believe they can get well.

Jesus is still saying, as He said to the man lying by the gate at the Jerusalem pool, “Do you want to be made whole?” (see John 5:6). Jesus made him whole—because of his desire! His need was great, but he had never lapsed into that state of chronic discouragement.

 

Thank You, Lord, that a victorious Christian life can be the norm—even in the midst of this chaotic, malevolent world. Fill me anew with Your Spirit, and shine through me today.[5]


March 11 Praying for God’s Glory

“O Lord, in accordance with all Thy righteous acts, let now Thine anger and Thy wrath turn away from Thy city Jerusalem, Thy holy mountain; for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Thy people have become a reproach to all those around us. So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Thy servant and to his supplications, and for Thy sake, O Lord, let Thy face shine on Thy desolate sanctuary.

“O my God, incline Thine ear and hear! Open Thine eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Thy name; for we are not presenting our supplications before Thee on account of any merits of our own but on account of Thy great compassion. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Thine own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Thy city and Thy people are called by Thy name” (Dan. 9:16–19).

✧✧✧

God’s glory must be the ultimate goal of every prayer request we make.

Someone once said, “Show me your redeemed life and I might believe in your Redeemer.” That’s a fair request! As Christians, we are Christ’s ambassadors to a dying world. With His Spirit in our hearts and His Word in our hands, we are to speak His truth in love and live a life that lends credibility to what we say.

When we fail to do that, we dishonor God and provide ammunition for those who seek to discredit His work. That was certainly true of Israel. They were God’s chosen people, and yet His name was blasphemed among the Gentiles because of Israel’s unbelief and disobedience (Rom. 2:24).

Daniel knew Israel didn’t deserve mercy, but he asked God to forgive and restore them to their homeland for His own name’s sake. Therein would He be glorified.

When you pray according to God’s will, fervently confessing your sins and interceding for others, you’re following in the godly tradition of Daniel and every other saint who sought God’s glory above all else. May it be so today!

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Pray for the nation of Israel, that God might redeem many Jewish people for His name’s sake (cf. Rom. 10:1).

For Further Study: Read Ezekiel 36:16–38. ✧ Why did God scatter Israel? Why will He regather her? ✧ How will the Gentile nations react to her regathering?[6]


MARCH 11

ANTICIPATION OF HEAVEN: MORE THAN ESCHATOLOGY

But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

HEBREWS 11:16

We have come to a wretched emphasis in the Christian church, so that when we talk about the future we talk about “eschatology” instead of heaven!

We must confess that Christians are living too much in the “present now”—and the anticipation of better things to come has almost died out of the church of Christ.

We find ourselves so well-situated now, that we don’t really need any tomorrow’s heaven. We don’t need to hope—we have everything well enough now!

In this kind of emphasis, the fact remains that the true Christian is one who is kind of sick of this world. When God works a miracle within the human breast, heaven becomes the Christian’s home immediately, and he is drawn to it as the bird is drawn in the springtime to fly north.

The Christian does have a homeland, and the fact that we are not anticipating it and looking forward to it with any pleasure is a serious mark of something that is wrong with us.

When I find someone who is settled down too snugly into this world and its system, I am forced to doubt whether he has ever truly been born again.

Actually, it is true that all of the Christians I meet who really amount to something for God are those very much out of key with their age—very, very much out of tune with their generation! Remember, you are on earth and God is in heaven so don’t be afraid to dream high spiritual dreams, believing what your Bible says.[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 84). 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. 79). 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. 83). 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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