Examples of Passion
He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.
It was said that John Wesley did more for England than her armies and navies. He lived meagerly, having given away thousands of dollars in his lifetime. Abused and maligned, he left his reputation and soul in the hands of God. It has been estimated he traveled 225 thousand miles on foot and horseback and preached twenty–four hundred sermons. Much of the established church despised him, but he brought fire into her cold heart. He had the reputation of being out of breath pursuing souls.
Ordained at twenty–two, George Whitefield began preaching with tremendous eloquence and effect. His power came from his passion for souls, and he used every one of his God–given abilities to lead men to Christ. He crossed the Atlantic thirteen times and preached thousands of sermons. His gravestone reads that he was a soldier of the cross, humble, devout, and ardent, preferring the honor of Christ to his own interest, reputation, or life.
Though these men are wonderful examples, the perfect example of One with passion for the lost is Christ.
|March 20||No Pride of Position|
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.”
Christ’s coming to earth is the supreme example to us of humility.
We can usually identify with what someone else has experienced when we have gone through the same thing. Even if we haven’t been through what the other person has, we can perhaps relate because we might someday have a similar experience.
However, it is much harder to comprehend what Christ experienced when He stooped from His lofty position at the right hand of God to come to earth as a man. We’ll never understand the magnitude of that descent because we never were and never will be God. Nevertheless, today’s passage presents, as a pattern for us, Jesus’ attitude in coming to this world.
As a Spirit–filled believer (Eph. 1:3–5, 13), the Lord has lifted you out of your sin and given you the privilege of being His adopted child. He thereby allows you to recognize and appreciate a little more what humility is all about. Like Jesus, you will have to descend from an exalted level when you reach out in humility to those who don’t know Him.
Jesus further set the standard for us when He did not view His high position “a thing to be grasped.” Loftiness of calling should never be something we clench as a prized personal possession to exploit for our own benefit. That is the attitude we would expect to see in worldly people of influence. But it should not characterize those who claim to follow Jesus’ standard.
In contrast, if you are Christ’s disciple you will see more and more of His humility in your life. That will occur as you continually exercise a selfless attitude toward the privileges and possessions He has given you. By not clinging to these benefits, you will truly exemplify Jesus’ attitude and more effectively serve others: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor” (Rom. 12:10).
Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that, starting today, God would grant you more and more of a Philippians 2:5–6 attitude.
For Further Study: As Ephesians 1 spells out, you have much to be thankful for as a child of God. Read the entire chapter, and list the many spiritual benefits Paul describes. Try memorizing several verses that are particularly striking to you.
TRUTH FOR THE HEART
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
The doctrine of the Trinity is truth for the heart. The spirit of man alone can enter through the veil and penetrate into that Holy of Holies. “Let me seek Thee in longing,” pleaded Anselm, “let me long for Thee in seeking; let me find Thee in love, and love Thee in finding.”
Christ did not hesitate to use the plural form when speaking of Himself along with the Father and the Spirit. “We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” Yet again He said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). It is most important that we think of God as Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the Substance. Only so may we think rightly of God and in a manner worthy of Him and of our own souls….
The authors of the Athanasian Creed spelled out with great care the relation of the three Persons to each other, filling in the gaps in human thought as far as they were able while staying within the bounds of the inspirited Word. “In this Trinity,” runs the Creed, “nothing is before or after, nothing is greater or less: but all three Persons coeternal, together and equal.” KOH032, 034
With my mind I struggle, Lord, but with my heart I rest. I am awed by Your Trinity in unity, and I long to know You not through reason but through love and faith. Amen. 
Foreseeing False Accusations
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.—Matt. 5:11
Faithfulness to Christ will bring enemies of the gospel who will “falsely say all kinds of evil against” us. Whereas “insults” are abusive words said to our faces, these “evil” things are primarily abusive words said behind our backs.
Jesus’ critics said of Him, “Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (Matt. 11:19). If the world said that of the sinless Christ, what things can His followers expect to be called and accused of?
Slander behind our backs is harder to take, partly because it is harder to defend against than direct accusations. It has opportunity to spread and be believed before we have a chance to correct it. Those who slander us can do much harm to our reputations before we’re even aware that we’ve been slandered.
We can’t help regret being slandered, but we shouldn’t grieve about it. Instead, we should count ourselves blessed, as our Lord assures us we will be, when the slander is “because of Me.” We have no surer evidence of the Lord’s blessing than to be cursed for His sake. It should not seriously bother us when men’s curses fall on the head that Christ has eternally blessed.
Are you prepared to accept the slander you might receive because you are a Christian?
|We can sometimes invite persecution by being unduly abrasive and difficult, so that others do not persecute us as much for our faith as for the tacky way we express it. How can we tell the difference? Are people being offended by Christ or just by us? There is certainly no blessing in being obnoxious.|
TELL THE WHOLE TRUTH
In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.
It is sad indeed to know that there are Christian leaders among us who are too timid to tell the people all the truth. They are now asking men and women to give to God only that which costs them nothing!
The contemporary moral climate does not favor a faith as tough and fibrous as that taught by our Lord and His apostles.
Christ calls men to carry His cross; we call them to have fun in His name!
He calls them to suffer; we call them to enjoy all the bourgeois comforts modern civilization affords!
He calls them to holiness; we call them to a cheap and tawdry happiness that would have been rejected with scorn by the least of the Stoic philosophers!
When will believers learn that to love righteousness it is necessary to hate sin? That to accept Christ it is necessary to reject self? That a friend of the world is an enemy of God? Let us not be shocked by the suggestion that there are disadvantages to the life in Christ!
O Lord, it is so hard for the human spirit to deny or reject itself. I pray that Your Spirit will take hold of the steering wheel of my will today.
|March 20||Building God’s Kingdom|
“Thy kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10).
Conversion to Christ involves three elements: invitation, repentance, and commitment.
Someday Christ will return to earth to reign in His Kingdom. In the meantime He rules in the hearts of those who love Him.
Before He ascended into Heaven, Jesus gave us a mandate to evangelize the lost and to teach them His Word (Matt. 28:19–20). When we do this, sinners are converted and are transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13). That’s how His Kingdom grows.
Conversion is a work of the Spirit in the heart of unbelievers. He uses a myriad of people and circumstances to accomplish that work, but common to every true conversion are three key elements: invitation, repentance, and commitment.
In Matthew 22:1–14 Jesus, by way of a parable, invites people to come into His Kingdom. As an evangelist, you too should not only present the gospel but are to invite others to respond to what they’ve heard.
In Mark 1:14–15 we read, “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” Repentance means to feel sorrow over your sin and to turn from it (2 Cor. 7:9–11).
True repentance results in a commitment to respond to the righteous demands of the gospel. In Mark 12:34 Jesus says to a wise scribe, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” The scribe had all the information necessary for entering the Kingdom. What he lacked was a commitment to act on what he knew. Luke 9:62 says, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” You might know everything about the Kingdom, but Christ’s rule is not established in your heart until you’ve made a complete commitment to it.
When you pray for Christ’s Kingdom to come, you are praying an evangelistic prayer that you take part in answering. Be faithful to proclaim the gospel, and make intercession for unbelievers a regular part of your prayers.
Suggestions for Prayer: Pray for unbelieving family and friends. ✧ Ask the Lord for the opportunity to share Christ with an unbeliever today.
For Further Study: Read John 4. ✧ How did Jesus broach the subject of salvation with the Samaritan woman? ✧ Did He extend an invitation to her? Explain. ✧ How did the townspeople react to her report about Jesus?
JESUS CHRIST: OUR CHIEF JOY AND DELIGHT
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous; and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.
I must agree with the psalmist, even in our modern day, that the joy of the Lord is still the strength of His people. I do believe that the sad world around us is attracted to spiritual sunshine—the genuine thing, that is!
Some churches train their greeters and ushers to smile, showing as many teeth as possible. But I can sense that kind of display—and when I am greeted by a man who is smiling because he has been trained to smile, I know I am shaking the flipper of a trained seal!
But when the warmth and delight and joy of the Holy Spirit are in a congregation and the folks are just spontaneously joyful and unable to hide the happy grin, the result is a wonderful influence upon others. Conversely, the reason we have to search for so many things to cheer us up is the fact that we are not really joyful and contentedly happy within!
I admit that we live in a gloomy world and that international affairs, nuclear rumors and threats, earthquakes and riots cause people to shake their heads in despair and say, “What’s the use?”
But we are Christians and Christians have every right to be the happiest people in the world! We do not have to look to other sources—for we look to the Word of God and discover how we can know the faithful God above and draw from His resources.
Why should the children of the King hang their heads and tote their own burdens, missing the mark about Christian victory? All this time the Holy Spirit has been wanting to make Jesus Christ our chief joy and delight!
 MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 92). 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. 88). 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. 92). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.