March 21, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

March 21

Grieving Over Lost Souls

How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

Matthew 23:37

 

Jesus deeply cared for individuals. Our Lord brought Philip (John 1:43), Matthew (Matt. 9:9), and Peter and Andrew (Matt. 4:18–19) to faith with the call, “Follow Me.” In John 4, He met a woman at a well and brought her to salvation. In Luke 19, He found Zaccheus, a tax collector, whom He led to a confession of sin, repentance, and faith. In John 3, He taught Nicodemus about the new birth. In Mark 10, He led blind Bartimaeus to believe in Him. In Mark 5, Jesus healed a demon–possessed man in the country of the Gerasenes. And Luke 23 tells of His brief yet poignant encounter with the thief on the cross (vv. 40–43); before committing Himself to God, Christ rescued him from eternal hell.

Jesus’ heart grieved over the souls of lost men and women. In John 5:40, we see a glimpse of Christ’s passion when He said, “You are unwilling to come to Me that you may have life.” There’s a pensive quality to those words. Does your heart echo the affection of his speech?[1]


March 21 The Humility of Jesus’ Self–Emptying

“But emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond–servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”

Philippians 2:7

✧✧✧

As part of His humble descent from Heaven to earth, Jesus set aside the exercise of His divine privileges.

The next step in Jesus’ pattern of humility as He came to earth and lived among mankind was His emptying of Himself. But Scripture is clear that while on earth our Lord claimed to be God: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). At no time did He stop being God.

The Greek word for “emptied” gives us the theological term kenosis, the doctrine of Christ’s self–emptying. The kenosis basically reminds us of what we saw in yesterday’s lesson: Jesus’ humble refusal to cling to His advantages and privileges in Heaven. The Son of God, who has a right to everything and is fully satisfied within Himself, voluntarily emptied Himself.

We have already noted that Jesus did not empty Himself of His deity, but He did lay aside certain prerogatives. For one thing, He gave up His heavenly glory. That’s why, in anticipation of His return to the Father, Christ prayed, “Glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I ever had with Thee before the world was” (John 17:5).

Jesus also relinquished His independent authority and completely submitted Himself to the Father’s will: “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39).

During His time on earth, Christ also voluntarily limited the use and display of His divine attributes. One good illustration of this concerned His omniscience, His knowledge of all things. In teaching about the end–times and His second coming, Jesus said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matt. 24:36).

Jesus’ self–emptying demonstrates a wonderful aspect of the gospel. Unlike man–centered, works–oriented religions, the biblical gospel has God’s Son willingly yielding His privileges to sacrifice Himself for sinners like us.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that you would become more appreciative of the sacrificial humility Jesus Christ exercised on your behalf.

For Further Study: Scripture does not record a lot about Jesus’ boyhood. But the account we do have verifies His emptying. Read Luke 2:39–52. What does verse 47 imply about Jesus’ nature? ✧ How do verses 51–52 exemplify His emptying?[2]


MARCH 21

THE MYSTERY OF THE TRINITY

O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain.

—Psalm 104:1-2

God of our fathers, enthroned in light, how rich, how musical is the tongue of England! Yet when we attempt to speak forth Thy wonders, our words how poor they seem and our speech how unmelodious. When we consider the fearful mystery of Thy Triune Godhead we lay our hand upon our mouth. Before that burning bush we ask not to understand, but only that we may fitly adore Thee, One God in Persons Three. Amen.

To meditate on the three Persons of the Godhead is to walk in thought through the garden eastward in Eden and to tread on holy ground. Our sincerest effort to grasp the incomprehensible mystery of the Trinity must remain forever futile, and only by deepest reverence can it be saved from actual presumption….

“We think more loftily of God,” says Michael de Molinos, “by knowing that He is incomprehensible, and above our understanding, than by conceiving Him under any image, and creature beauty, according to our rude understanding.” KOH027, 030

My words, how poor they seem, yet I worship Your great mystery. Lord, accept the meditation of my heart as my expression of worship. Amen. [3]


March 21

Promise for the Persecuted

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.… 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

Jesus pronounces a double blessing on those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, which is for His own sake. The specific blessing promised is that “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29–30).

First, Jesus promises us blessings here and now. Not every believer is rewarded in this life with the things of this life. But every believer is rewarded in this life with the comfort, strength, and joy of His indwelling Lord. He is also blessed with the assurance that no service or sacrifice for the Lord will be in vain.

Next, there is also a millennial aspect to the kingdom blessing. When Christ establishes His thousand-year reign on earth, we will be co-regents with Him over that wonderful, renewed earth (Rev. 20:4).

Finally, there is the reward of the eternal kingdom, the blessing of all blessings of living forever in our Lord’s presence and enjoying it to the utmost. The ultimate fruit of kingdom life is eternal life.

ASK YOURSELF
How do we keep these blessings and promises before us when the fire of persecution really heats up? How have you experienced the favor and reward of God even in the midst of situations in which you felt unjustly abused and ridiculed?[4]

MARCH 21

POUR YOURSELF OUT

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.

John 16:13

 

Science declares that nature abhors a vacuum. It should be happy knowledge to us, then, that the same principle is true in the kingdom of God—when you empty yourself, God Almighty rushes in!

The Creator God who fills the universe and overflows into immensity can never be surrounded by that little thing we call our brain, our mind, our intellect. Never can we rise to face God by what we are and by what we know!

Only by love and faith are we lifted thus to know Him and adore Him!

What a happy hour it becomes when we are drawn out of ourselves, and into that vacuum rushes the blessed Presence.

How wonderful in our humanity to sense the reality of the Holy Spirit’s invitation: “Pour yourself out! Give yourself to Me! Empty yourself! Bring your empty earthen vessels! Come in meekness like a child!”

Drawn out of ourselves by the Holy Spirit of God—for who knows the things of God but the Holy Spirit?

We are delivered from ourselves when we finally seek God for Himself alone!

 

Yes, Lord, deliver me from myself today! Help me to live for You and for others.[5]


March 21 Responding to Christ’s Invitation

“Thy kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10).

✧✧✧

The only acceptable response to Christ’s offer of the Kingdom is to receive it, value it, and pursue it!

Many people who think they’re Kingdom citizens will someday be shocked to discover they aren’t. In Matthew 7:21 Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.” Some people think highly of the Kingdom but never receive the King. They call Jesus “Lord” but don’t do His will. Lip service won’t do. You must receive the King and His Kingdom (John 1:12).

You must also value the Kingdom. In Matthew 13:44 Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure.” In verses 45–46 He compares it to a pearl that was so valuable, a merchant sold all he had to purchase it. That’s the value of the Kingdom. It’s worth any sacrifice you have to make.

Finally, you must continually pursue the Kingdom. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus says, “Seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” In context He was discussing the basic necessities of life such as food and clothing, reminding His disciples that their Heavenly Father knew their needs and would supply them if they simply maintained the proper priorities. Unbelievers characteristically worry about meeting their own needs (v. 32), but believers are to be characterized by trusting in God and pursuing His Kingdom.

Christ offers His Kingdom to everyone (Matt. 28:19). The only acceptable response is to receive it, value it, and pursue it. Is that your response? Have you received the Kingdom? Is it precious to you? I trust it is. If so, rejoice and serve your King well today. Make His Kingdom your top priority. If not, turn from your sin and submit your life to Christ, who loves you and longs to receive you into His eternal Kingdom.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the heavenly citizenship you hold (Phil. 3:20–21). ✧ Ask Him to help you keep His priorities uppermost in your life.

For Further Study: Read Revelation 21–22. As you do, think of what eternity with Christ will be like. What aspects of eternity do you especially look forward to?[6]


MARCH 21

GOD BLESSES HIS CHILDREN FOR HOLY INTENTIONS

Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me….

JOHN 8:54

“Them that honour me I will honour,” said God once to a priest of Israel, and that ancient law of the kingdom stands today unchanged by the passing of time or the changes of dispensation. The whole Bible and every page of history proclaim the perpetuation of that law. “If any man serve me, him will my Father honour,” said our Lord Jesus, tying in the old with the new and revealing the essential unity of His ways with men.

It seems plain that almost any Bible character who honestly tried to glorify God in his earthly walk was so honored. See how God overlooked weaknesses and failures as He poured upon His servants grace and blessing untold. Let it be Abraham, Jacob, David, Daniel, Elijah or whom you will; honor followed honor as harvest the seed. The man of God set his heart to exalt God above all; God accepted his intention as fact and acted accordingly. Not perfection, but holy intention made the difference!

In our Lord Jesus Christ this law was seen in simple perfection. He sought not His own honor, but the honor of the God who sent Him.

“If I honour myself,” He said on one occasion, “my honour is nothing; it is my Father that honoureth me.” So far had the proud Pharisees departed from this law that they could not understand one who honored God at His own expense.[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 93). 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. 89). 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. 93). 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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