An Alternate Choice
I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first.
Before God sent His Son to earth, God’s design was to reach the world through Israel, but Israel was unbelieving. Their unbelief is described in a parable about a king who arranged a wedding feast for his son and called for his invited guests (Israel). When the guests refused to come—some were indifferent and others hostile—the king said to his servants, “Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding” (Matt. 22:9). Jesus used this parable to describe apostate Israel, who refused their Messiah and forfeited the celebration planned for them.
God then gave the invitation to another group: the Gentiles. God chose a small group of people gathered on a hillside in Galilee and a few other disciples in Jerusalem to reach the lost world. Through them He would do the work that the nation of Israel had refused to do, and we are called to continue that work.
||Threats to Humility: Doctrine and Hypocrisy
“Walk … with all humility.”
Avoid pride in your position, intelligence, or spirituality.
Years ago, when my children were young, my son Mark told my youngest child, Melinda, to take something out of the room. She said, “You’re not my boss.” Mark replied, “Dad is the boss of Mom, Mom is the boss of Matt, Matt is the boss of Marcy, Marcy is the boss of me, and I am the boss of you.” So Melinda obeyed. After that, Melinda decided she was the boss of the dog, and the dog was boss of nobody. No one wants to be on the bottom rung of the ladder!
Everyone holds a certain position in life, and everyone is tempted to take advantage of it. Look at Herod in Acts 12:21–22: “Herod, having put on his royal apparel … began delivering an address to them. And the people kept crying out, ‘The voice of a god and not of a man!’ ” He loved the attention. What happened? “Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died” (v. 23).
Intellectual pride can also be a stumbling block. It’s easy for Christians to think their theology is perfect and they have all the answers. But the more I study the Bible, the more I realize how little I know. I feel like a child who fills a pail in the ocean. My learning is only a small bucket of water compared to the vast sea of knowledge. I know very little, and I’m still learning.
The worst type of pride is external spirituality without internal holiness. Jesus reserved His greatest condemnations for those who had such pride: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matt. 23:27–28). You may look spiritual on the outside, going to church and acting “Christianly,” but your heart may be full of sin.
Suggestions for Prayer: Examine your heart, and confess any pride in your position, intelligence, or spirituality.
For Further Study: Read in Daniel 5 about what happened to a king who took pride in his position. Notice how God humbled him. Such sin wasn’t trivial to God; it shouldn’t be to us either.
GOD IS INEFFABLE
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
—1 Corinthians 2:11
We can best conceive of God by conceiving of what He is not. We can always know what God is not, but we can never know quite what God is…. The greatness of God’s mind leaves all our soaring thoughts behind. God is ineffable (incapable of being expressed in words), inconceivable and unimaginable….
As I said, we are driven to the use of negative statements when speaking about God. When we speak of the self-existence of God, we say God has no origin. When we speak of God’s eternity, we say God has no beginning. When we speak of the immutability of God, we say God has no change. When we speak of the infinity of God, we say that God has no limits. When we speak of the omniscience of God, we say that God has no teachers and cannot learn….
Well now, the Scripture takes this negative method too. Scripture says the Lord “fainteth not, neither is weary” (Isaiah 40:28) and that He “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2). It says, “I am the LORD, I change not” (Malachi 3:6). It says, “with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37)…. AOGII107, 109-110
Teach me, Lord, that I might know all of You that I can within the limits of my humanity. I await the day when I will more completely know who You are. Amen.
The Nature of Persecution
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.—Matt. 5:10–12
Our Lord’s teaching on the beatitudes climaxes with this great and sobering truth: those who faithfully live according to the first seven beatitudes are guaranteed at some point to experience the eighth. Godliness generates hostility and antagonism from the world. Holy people are singularly blessed, but they pay a price for it.
However, persecution is one of the surest and most tangible evidences of salvation. If we never experience ridicule, criticism, or rejection because of our faith, we have reason to examine the genuineness of it. “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me” (Phil. 1:29–30).
To live a redeemed life to its fullest is to invite and expect resentment and reaction from the world. When Christians are not persecuted in some way by society, it generally means they are reflecting rather than confronting that society. And when we please the world, we can be sure that we grieve the Lord (cf. James 4:4; 1 John 2:15–17). Make sure you are living apart from the world and its allurements.
|How do you experience persecution in your life, perhaps at work, within your family (including parents and in-laws), or among the various people you routinely associate with? How do you typically respond to it—if not directly, at least in the thoughts you entertain?
EXCEPT YE REPENT
The rest of the men…repented not.
There are many compelling lessons to be drawn from the Scriptures, and one of the clearest is that sinful and rebellious people can never be forced into repentance.
The same act that may cause one person to repent and believe will cause others to hate and despise God!
The same Bible sermon that brings the person to tearful submission at an altar of prayer will send others out with pride and a resolve to have their own human way.
Students of the Scriptures are aware that the Old Testament prophets and the writing apostles of New Testament times foresaw and proclaimed God’s coming day of judgment—the consummate settling of accounts between the Sovereign God and His rebellious and sinful creation.
How desperately we would like to believe that in the face of coming judgment, all lost men and women will cry out to God, but such will not be the case: “The rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands…” (Revelation 9:20).
Lord, I pray today that a massive number of people who do not yet know You will turn away from their sin and receive new life in Jesus Christ.
||Hallowing God’s Name
“Hallowed be Thy name” (Matt. 6:9).
God is holy and deserves your highest respect and your humble obedience.
To most people the word hallowed elicits thoughts of Halloween, ivy-covered walls, or starchy religious traditions. But those are all far from its Biblical meaning. “Hallowed” in Matthew 6:9 translates a Greek word that means “holy.” When Christ said, “Hallowed be Thy name,” He was saying in effect, “May Your name be regarded as holy.” When you hallow God’s name, you set it apart from everything common and give Him the place He deserves in your life.
Throughout Scripture, holiness is attributed to persons or things that are consecrated to God’s service. The Sabbath day, for example, was to be kept “holy”—set apart from the other days (Ex. 20:8). The Israelite priests were to be considered “holy” because they rendered special service to the Lord (Lev. 21:8). As believers in Christ, we are to be “holy” because we belong to God (1 Peter 1:15).
Holiness also speaks of moral excellence and purity. God is called “the Holy One” (1 Peter 1:15) not only because He is set apart from His creation, but also because He is pure and sinless in His character. That’s why Isaiah pronounced a curse on himself when he saw the Lord and heard the angels crying out, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isa. 6:3–5). He was overcome with a sense of his own human sinfulness in the presence of a holy God.
Such a God deserves your highest respect and reverence. He is your gracious and loving Father, but He is also the sovereign, majestic God of the universe. Consequently, you must guard against thinking of Him as a buddy or addressing Him flippantly.
Additionally, He deserves your humble obedience. You hallow His name only when your life is marked by righteousness and moral excellence.
May that be true of you today, and may you seek to honor Him in all that you do!
Suggestions for Prayer: Always approach God with a sense of respect and reverence. ✧ Think of specific ways you can hallow His name today. Ask Him for the grace to do so.
For Further Study: Read each of these verses, noting the specific ways you can glorify God: Joshua 7:19; Psalm 50:23; John 15:8; Romans 15:5–6; 1 Corinthians 6:20; Philippians 2:9–11; and 2 Thessalonians 3:1.
TRUTH ADDRESSES ITSELF TO THE TOTAL MAN
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
The Bible is, among other things, a book of revealed truth. That is, certain facts are revealed that could not be discovered by the most brilliant mind. These facts are of such a nature as to be past finding out.
These are facts that were hidden behind a veil, and until certain men who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost took away that veil no mortal man could know them.
The lifting of the veil of unknowing from undiscoverable things we call divine revelation.
What is generally overlooked among humankind is that truth as set forth in the Christian Scriptures is a moral thing; it is not addressed to the intellect only, but to the will also. It addresses itself to the total man, and its obligations cannot be discharged by grasping it mentally.
Truth engages the citadel of the human heart and is not satisfied until it has conquered everything there. The will must come forth and surrender its sword. It must stand at attention to receive orders, and those orders it must joyfully obey. Short of this any knowledge of Christian truth is inadequate and unavailing.
Bible exposition without moral application raises no opposition. It is only when the hearer is made to understand that truth is in conflict with his heart that resistance sets in. As long as people can hear orthodox truth divorced from life they will attend and support churches and institutions without objection!
 MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 89). 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. 84). 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. 88). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.