March 22, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

March 22

The Model of Witnessing

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

1 Corinthians 11:1

 

Christ is the perfect model to imitate in witnessing to others. First, He was available. Although there were times when He left the crowds, Jesus was regularly among the people, even when He was busy.

Second, He wasn’t partial. Often Jesus was with common people, lepers, prostitutes, and tax collectors—those belonging to the lower classes socially and morally. But He also helped a Roman centurion, a man of dignity and stature (Matt. 8:5–13), and ministered to wealthy Jairus, whose daughter needed a miracle (Mark 5:22–24, 35–43). Jesus reflected the mind of God, who is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).

Third, He was sensitive to the pain of others. In Mark 5, a lady with a hemorrhage for twelve years reached out and touched Christ’s garment. Jesus asked, “Who touched My garments?” (v. 30) out of concern for her.

Last, He secured a public confession from those who believed in Him, such as the blind man (John 9:1–41), and the Samaritan leper (Luke 17:11–19).

Follow Christ’s example as you witness to others.[1]


March 22 The Humility of Jesus’ Servanthood

“Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond–servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”

Philippians 2:6–7

✧✧✧

Jesus is the role model of the suffering servant.

Jesus not only gave up His divine privileges when He emptied Himself, but He also became a servant. For us, this is the next phase in His supreme example of humility. Paul’s phrase “the form of a bond–servant” can also be translated “the essence of a slave.” Christ’s servanthood was not just external—it extended to the essential, down–to–earth role of a bond–slave doing the will of His Father.

We would expect Jesus, the God–man, to be a servant only in the truest fashion. His servitude was not performed like a stage player putting on and taking off the costume of a servant. Jesus truly became a servant. He perfectly fulfilled everything Isaiah predicted about Him (52:13–14). Jesus was the Messiah who was a suffering servant.

Christ’s entire earthly ministry is the yardstick by which we can measure servanthood. As God, He owned everything; as the servant, He had to borrow everything: a place to be born, a boat in which to cross the Sea of Galilee and preach from, a donkey (itself a symbol of humility and servitude) to ride into Jerusalem for His triumphal entry, a room to celebrate His final Passover in, and a grave to be buried in.

Our Savior acknowledged His role as a servant very simply: “I am among you as the one who serves” (Luke 22:27). And it was all done with love, with consistency, with humility, without the pretense of outward form.

As we continue to look to our Lord Jesus as the role model of humility, the challenge for us is to follow His attitude and practice. Paul instructs those who would be servants of Christ, “Let love be without hypocrisy…. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:9–11).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank and praise the Lord that Jesus was such a humble but willing servant on your behalf.

For Further Study: Isaiah 52:13–53:12 is known as the Suffering Servant passage. As you read it, write down the various ways it describes Jesus’ suffering. ✧ How is His humility in evidence?[2]


MARCH 22

INFINITE EXCELLENCE

Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.

—Psalm 148:13

I once heard Dr. George D. Watson, one of the great Bible teachers of his generation, point out that men can have two kinds of love for God—the love of gratitude or the love of excellence. He urged that we go on from gratefulness to a love of God just because He is God and because of the excellence of His character.

Unfortunately, God’s children rarely go beyond the boundaries of gratitude. I seldom hear anyone in worshipful prayer admiring and praising God for His eternal excellence.

Many of us are strictly “Santa Claus” Christians. We think of God as putting up the Christmas tree and putting our gifts underneath. That is only an elementary kind of love.

We need to go on. We need to know the blessing of worshiping in the presence of God without thought of wanting to rush out again. We need to be delighted in the presence of utter, infinite excellence. WHT087

Lord, quiet my heart and minister to my spirit. I’ll take time to unhurriedly meditate on Your infinite excellence and worship You without asking for a thing! Amen. [3]


March 22

Posture for Gladness

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. 5:12

The Christian’s response to persecution and affliction should not be to retreat and hide. Jesus told us we are the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matt. 5:13–14). For our salt to flavor the earth and our light to lighten the world, we must be active in the world. The gospel is not given to be hidden but to enlighten. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (v. 16).

When we become Christ’s salt and light, our salt will sting the world’s open wounds of sin, and our light will irritate its eyes that are accustomed to darkness. But even when our salt and light are resented, rejected, and thrown back into our face, we should “rejoice, and be glad.”

The meaning of “be glad” is to exult, to rejoice greatly, to be overjoyed. Jesus used the imperative mood, thus commanding us to be glad. Not to be glad when we suffer for Christ’s sake is to be untrusting and disobedient.

The world can take away a great deal from God’s people, but it cannot take away their joy and their happiness. When people attack us for Christ’s sake, they are really attacking Him (cf. Gal. 6:17; Col. 1:24). And their attacks can do us no more permanent damage than they can do to Him.

So rejoice in the privilege we have been given to be salt and light, no matter the reaction.

ASK YOURSELF
Gladness joins many of the other qualities that make up the beatitudes, character traits that are unnatural enough to be impossible without the Holy Spirit’s empowerment. So, what does it tell you when gladness bubbles up from within you? How can fear of persecution rival the joy of knowing that Christ is living and active in your heart?[4]

MARCH 22

GOD’S OVERCOMERS

These…have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Revelation 7:14

 

I insist that if we are burdened with genuine concern, we have the responsibility of examining the true spiritual condition of men and women within the church’s ranks.

We do live in a time of soft, easy Christianity. It is an era marked by a polite “nibbling” around the edges of the Word of God. There is a mind-set within present-day Christianity that supposes one should get into trouble or suffer embarrassment for Christ’s sake!

My brethren, what does it mean to be loyal to Jesus Christ? To confess that Jesus Himself is more important to us than anything else in the world?

Many find it hard to understand how large numbers of Christian believers could have died for their faith in our own generation! With a sense of distant admiration, we call them simple-hearted nationals. God calls them overcomers!

Professing Christians in our North American churches can hardly comprehend so costly a price for the faith we take for granted. Material prosperity and popular acceptance have sapped the vitality of our Christian witness!

 

Lord, I want to be counted among Your overcomers, and I pray especially for my brothers and sisters in Christ who profess Your name in antagonistic cultures.[5]


March 22 Praying with Commitment

“Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).

✧✧✧

Your prayers make a difference!

Matthew 6:10 literally says, “Whatever You wish to have happen, let it happen immediately. As Your will is done in Heaven, so let it be done on earth.” That’s a prayer of active commitment to God’s will.

Many people don’t pray like that because they don’t understand God’s character. They think their prayers don’t matter and that God will impose His will on them no matter what they do. They tend to pray with passive resignation, indifference, or resentment.

I remember praying such a prayer. After my freshman year in college, I was in a serious auto accident. The driver lost control of the car at about seventy-five miles per hour, and it rolled several times before coming to a stop. I was thrown clear of the vehicle and ended up sliding down the highway on my backside for about a hundred yards. I lost a lot of skin and had some third-degree burns and other injuries, but fortunately I didn’t break any bones.

I was conscious during the entire ordeal and vividly remember thinking, All right, God. If You’re going to fight this way, I give up! I can’t handle this! You see, I knew God was calling me into the ministry, but I’d been focusing my life in another direction.

I think God used that experience to get my attention, and my prayer of passive resignation soon turned to active commitment as He refined my heart and drew me to Himself.

Perhaps God has dealt severely with you, too. If so, it’s only because He loves you and wants to produce the fruit of righteousness in you (Heb. 12:11). Don’t despise His chastening, and don’t be fatalistic or resentful in your prayers. Godly prayers make a difference (James 5:16); so commit yourself to praying expectantly, knowing that God is gracious and wise and always responds for His glory and your highest good (Rom. 8:28).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  If you tend to pray with indifference, passive resignation, or resentment, ask God’s forgiveness. Study His character, and cultivate deep communion with Him through disciplined, trusting prayer.

For Further Study: Read Luke 18:1–8. ✧ Why did Jesus tell this parable? ✧ What principles do you see here that apply to your life?[6]


MARCH 22

GOD IS GLORIFIED IN OUR MORAL VICTORIES

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

ROMANS 8:6

In the Pauline epistles, the gravitational pull of the heart in one direction or another is called “the mind.” In the eighth chapter of Romans, for instance, when Paul refers to the “mind” he is referring to the sum of our dominant desires.

The mere intellect, then, is not the mind: the mind is intellect plus an emotional tug strong enough to determine action!

As Christians, our only safety lies in complete honesty. We must surrender our hearts to God so that we have no unholy desires, then let the Scriptures pronounce their judgment on a contemplated course. If the Scriptures condemn an object, we must accept that judgment and conform to it, no matter how we may for the moment feel about it.

To want a thing, or feel that we want it, and then to turn from it because we see that it is contrary to the will of God is to win a great battle on the way to spiritual mindedness.

To bring our desires to the cross and allow them to be nailed there with Christ is a good and a beautiful thing.

To be tempted and yet to glorify God in the midst of it is to honor Him where it counts. This is more pleasing to God than any amount of sheltered and untempted piety could ever be!

God is always glorified when He wins a moral victory over us, and we are always benefited, immeasurably and gloriously benefited!

The blood of Christ will cleanse not only actual sins but the very inward desires so that we will not want to sin. A blessed state indeed, and blessed are they that reach it![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 94). 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. 90). 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. 94). 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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