Catch the Tide
Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest.
All believers are responsible to have a passion for the lost. John Harper had such a passion. He was a newly called pastor to the great Moody Memorial Church in Chicago in the early 1900s, but in 1912 He was a passenger on the ill–fated voyage of the Titanic.
Four years later, a young Scotsman rose up in a meeting and said he was a survivor of the Titanic. As he drifted in the water on a piece of wood, he encountered a man who was afloat on a piece of wreckage. The man pleaded for the Scotsman to receive Christ. The young Scotsman refused. The tide brought the man around again, and he asked if the Scotsman was saved yet. Shortly after, the man disappeared into the water, and the Scotsman decided to trust Christ as Savior. At the meeting he identified the man as John Harper—the young Scotsman was John Harper’s last convert.
Can you be one of the John Harpers of this generation?
|March 25||Practical Humility|
“Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men.”
Real humility will have a forbearance that is gracious toward others and content with its own circumstances.
Some Greek words have various meanings that are hard to translate into just one English word. This is true of “forbearing” in today’s verse. It can refer to contentment, gentleness, generosity, or goodwill toward others. Some commentators say it means having leniency toward the faults and failures of others. Other scholars say it denotes someone who is patient and submissive toward injustice and mistreatment—one who doesn’t lash back in angry bitterness. It reminds us very much of what we have been considering for the past week—humility.
The humble believer trusts God and does not hold a grudge even though others have unfairly treated him, harmed him, or ruined his reputation. Such a person does not demand his rights. Instead, he will pattern his behavior after his Lord Jesus, who in supreme humility manifested God’s grace to us (Rom. 5:10).
If you are conscientiously following Christ, your behavior will go against the existentialism of modern society. Existentialism claims the right to do or say anything that makes one feel good. Today’s existentialist unbeliever has a twisted logic that says, “If something makes you feel good but hurts me, you can’t do it. But if something makes me feel good but hurts you, I can do it.”
Unhappily, many believers have been caught up in that kind of thinking. They don’t call it existentialism—self–esteem or positive thinking are the preferred terms—but the results are much the same. Such Christians do what satisfies their desires, often at the expense of other people. At its core, this kind of attitude is simply sinful self–love.
In contrast to such self–love, Philippians 4:5 exhorts us to exhibit humble forbearance and graciousness to others. Other Scriptures command us to love our enemies and show mercy to those who sin (Matt. 5:44; 1 Peter 4:8). Such qualities allowed the apostle Paul to say, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Phil. 4:11). God wants us to be just as humble and content with our circumstances.
Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Lord to help you remain content in the midst of all that happens to you today.
For Further Study: Read Jesus’ parable about mercy and compassion in Matthew 18:21–35. What parallels do you find between the parable and our study of forbearance? ✧ What kind of priority does Jesus give these issues?
OH GOD, THOU ART
And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
We must remember that the “attributes” of God are not component parts of the blessed Godhead nor elements out of which He is composed. A god who could be composed would not be God at all but the work of something or someone greater than he, great enough to compose him. We would then have a synthetic god made out of the pieces we call attributes, and the true God would be another being altogether, One indeed who is above all thought and all conceiving.
The Bible and Christian theology teach that God is an indivisible unity… from whom nothing can be taken and to whom nothing can be added. Mercy, for instance, immutability, eternity— these are but names which we have given to something which God has declared to be true of Himself. All the “of God” expressions in the Bible must be understood to mean not what God has but what God is in His undivided and indivisible unity. Even the word “nature” when applied to God should be understood as an accommodation to our human way of looking at things and not as an accurate description of anything true of the mysterious Godhead. God has said, “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3:14), and we can only repeat in reverence, “O God, Thou art.” POM086-087
Lord, it is because You are beyond all conceiving that I worship You in wonder and bow before You today. Amen. 
The Function of Salt
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.—Matt. 5:13
Salt has always been valuable in human society, often much more so than it is today. But the particular characteristics of salt that Jesus was referring to in this passage have resulted in various suggestions.
Some interpreters point out that salt is white and therefore represents purity. As the “pure in heart” (v. 8), Jesus’ disciples are to be pure before the world and are to be God’s means of helping purify the rest of the world.
Others emphasize the characteristic of flavor. Just as many foods are tasteless without salt, the world is drab and tasteless without the presence of Christians.
Because salt stings when placed on a wound, some interpreters believe Jesus meant to illustrate that Christians are to sting the world, prick its conscience, and thus make it uncomfortable in the presence of God’s gospel.
Salt also creates thirst. So others believe God intends for His people to live before the world in such a way that others will be made aware of their spiritual dehydration.
While all of these interpretations are reasonable, it’s likely Jesus was primarily referring to salt as a preservative. Christians are a preserving influence in the world; they retard moral and spiritual spoilage. As God’s children and as temples of His Holy Spirit, we represent God’s presence in the earth. We are the salt that prevents the entire earth from degenerating even faster than it already is.
|In what ways are you and your church personifying the various properties of salt, whether by words, actions, or outreaches? Think very specifically. Which of these examples are proving to be the most effective at this, and why?|
CONVICTION AND PAIN
Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
I consider it a good sign that some people are still asking questions like these in our churches: “What should happen in a genuine conversion to Christ?” and “What should a man or woman feel in the transaction of the new birth?”
If I am asked, my answer is this: “There ought to be a real and genuine cry of pain!”
That is why I am not impressed with the kind of evangelism that tries to invite people into the fellowship of God by signing a card. There should be a birth within, a birth from above. There should be the terror of seeing ourselves in violent contrast to the holy, holy God!
Unless we come into this place of conviction and pain concerning our sin, I am not sure how deep and real our repentance will ever be.
The man whom God will use must be undone, humble and pliable. He must be, like the astonished Isaiah, a man who has seen the King in His beauty!
Lord, I pray that many unbelieving people in hard-to-reach nations will realize their need for a Savior and will call upon Your holy name for their salvation.
|March 25||Appreciating God’s Gifts|
“Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11).
God is the source of every good gift.
God has given us everything good to enjoy, including rain to make things grow, minerals to make the soil fertile, animals for food and clothing, and energy for industry and transportation. Everything we have is from Him, and we are to be thankful for it all.
Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matt. 7:11). James 1:17 says, “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.” Paul added, “Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude: for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:4–5).
Sadly, unbelievers don’t acknowledge God’s goodness, though they benefit from it every day. They attribute His providential care to luck or fate and His gracious provisions to nature or false gods. They do not honor Him as God or give Him thanks (Rom. 1:21).
The great Puritan writer Thomas Watson wrote: “If all be a gift, see the odious ingratitude of men who sin against their giver! God feeds them, and they fight against him; he gives them bread, and they give him affronts. How unworthy is this! Should we not cry shame of him who had a friend always feeding him with money, and yet he should betray and injure him? Thus ungratefully do sinners deal with God; they not only forget his mercies, but abuse them. ‘When I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery [Jer. 5:7].’ Oh, how horrid is it to sin against a bountiful God!—to strike the hands that relieve us!” (The Lord’s Prayer [London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1972], p. 197).
How sad to see such ingratitude, and yet how thrilling to know that the infinite God cares for us and supplies our every need. Don’t ever take His provisions for granted! Look to Him daily, and receive His gifts with a thankful heart.
Suggestions for Prayer: Be generous with your praise for God’s abundant blessings.
For Further Study: Read Genesis 1:29–31, noting the variety of foods God created for your enjoyment.
CONCEPT OF THE TRINITY: INFINITE LOVE POURED OUT
Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ….
1 PETER 1:2
We are surely aware that as human beings we can never know all of the Godhead. If we were capable of knowing all of the Godhead perfectly, we would be equal to the Godhead.
The early fathers in the church, in illustrating the trinity, pointed out that God the eternal Father is an infinite God, and that He is love. The very nature of love is to give itself but the Father could not give His love fully to anyone not fully equal to Himself. Thus we have the revelation of the Son Who is equal to the Father and of the eternal Father pouring out His love into the Son, Who could contain it, because the Son is equal with the Father!
Further, those ancient wise men reasoned, if the Father were to pour out His love on the Son, a medium of communication equal both to the Father and to the Son would be required, and this was the Holy Ghost! So we have their concept of the Trinity—the ancient Father in the fullness of His love pouring Himself through the Holy Ghost, Who is in being equal to Him, into the Son Who is in being equal to the Spirit and to the Father!
Thus, all that man can know of God and His love in this life is revealed in Jesus Christ.
 MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 97). 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. 93). 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. 97). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.