Daily Archives: February 1, 2018

February 1 Joy and Godliness

“I rejoice and share my joy with you all” (Phil. 2:17).

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True joy is directly related to godly living.

Philippians is often called the epistle of joy, and rightly so because the believer’s joy is its major theme. Paul loved the Philippian Christians, and they loved him. When they learned that he had been imprisoned for preaching the gospel, they were deeply concerned.

Paul wrote to alleviate their fears and to encourage their joy. Of his own circumstances he said, “Even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. And you too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me” (Phil. 2:17–18).

Often a Jewish animal sacrifice was accompanied by a libation or drink offering (see, e.g., Num. 15:1–10). The animal was the greater sacrifice, the libation the lesser. Drawing from that picture, Paul placed greater significance on the faith and spiritual well-being of his readers than on his own life. To suffer for Christ’s sake brought him joy, and he wanted the Philippians to understand that perspective and to rejoice with him.

He also wanted them to understand that joy doesn’t operate in a vacuum. It’s directly related to godly living. Christ is its source, obedience its sustenance. We see this in David’s cry of repentance: “Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation” (Ps. 51:12). Paul knew the joy of the Lord because he trusted Christ and obeyed His will.

The scarcity of joy and godliness in the world today makes it imperative that Christians manifest those characteristics. As we do, others will see our good works and will glorify our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16).

This month we will highlight various aspects of joy and godliness from Philippians 1:1–11 and Colossians 1:9–12. I pray that you will be eager to learn from God’s Word and will willingly obey what you learn, for therein is “joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask the Holy Spirit to use our daily studies to strengthen your joy and to increase your godliness. ✧ Seek to emulate Paul’s attitude of preferring others to yourself—a key element in joyful living.

For Further Study: Read the book of Philippians, noting each reference to joy. ✧ What brought joy to Paul? ✧ On what or whom do you rely for joy?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 44). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

FEBRUARY 1 GOD’S BOUNDLESS POWER IS ALL AROUND US

And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ….

EPHESIANS 1:19, 20

God is spirit and His universe is basically spiritual!

Scientists change their beliefs radically from time to time and I do not want to quote them in confirmation of Christian truth, but there does appear to be a startling parallel between the atomic theory of matter and the biblical concept of the Eternal Word as the source and support of all created things.

Could it be that, as certain mystics have insisted, all things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, are in reality but the goings forth of the power of God?

Whatever God is He is infinitely. In Him lies all the power there is; any power at work anywhere is His. Even the power to do evil must first have come from Him since there is no other source from which it could come.

Lucifer, son of the morning, when he lifted up himself against the Most High, had only the abilities he had received from God. These he misused to become the devil he is.

I am well aware that this kind of teaching raises certain very difficult questions, but we should never retreat before truth simply because we cannot explain it. The fact of sin introduces a confusing element into our thinking about God and the universe and requires that we suspend judgment on many things. The wise man will note that the things we cannot understand have nothing to do with our salvation.

We are saved by the truth we know, and true Christians know that the boundless power of our infinite God is all around us, preserving us and keeping us unto salvation ready to be revealed.[1]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

February 1, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Virgin Birth Consummated

And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took her as his wife, and kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus. (1:24–25)

That Joseph arose from his sleep indicates that the revelatory dream had come to him while he slept (cf. v. 20). Such unique, direct communication from God was used on other occasions to reveal Scripture (see Gen. 20:3; 31:10–11; Num. 12:6; 1 Kings 3:5; Job 33:14–16). It should be noted that all six New Testament occurrences of onar (“to dream”) are in Matthew and concern the Lord Jesus Christ (see 1:20; 2:12–13, 19, 22; 27:19).

We know nothing of Joseph’s reaction, except that he immediately obeyed, doing as the angel of the Lord commanded him. We can imagine how great his feelings of amazement, relief, and gratitude must have been. Not only would he be able to take his beloved Mary as his wife with honor and righteousness, but he would be given care of God’s own Son while He was growing up.

That fact alone would indicate the depth of Joseph’s godliness. It is inconceivable that God would entrust His Son into a family where the father was not totally committed and faithful to Him.

We know nothing else of Joseph’s life except his taking the infant Jesus to the Temple for dedication (Luke 2:22–33), his taking Mary and Jesus into Egypt to protect Him from Herod’s bloody edict and the return (Matt. 2:13–23), and his taking his family to the Passover in Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve (Luke 2:42–52). We have no idea when Joseph died, but it could have been well before Jesus began His public ministry. Obviously it was before Jesus’ crucifixion, because from the cross Jesus gave his mother into the care of John (John 19:26).

Apparently the marriage ceremony, when Joseph took her as his wife, was held soon after the angel’s announcement. But he kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son. Matthew makes it clear that she remained a virgin until she gave birth, implying that normal marital relations began after that time. The fact that Jesus’ brothers and sisters are spoken of numerous times in the gospels (Matt. 12:46; 13:55–56; Mark 6:3; etc.) prove that Mary did not remain a virgin perpetually, as some claim.

As a final act of obedience to God’s instruction through the angel, Joseph called His name Jesus, indicating that He was to be the Savior (cf. v. 21).

The supernatural birth of Jesus is the only way to account for the life that He lived. A skeptic who denied the virgin birth once asked a Christian, “If I told you that child over there was born without a human father, would you believe me?” The believer replied, “Yes, if he lived as Jesus lived.” The greatest outward evidence of Jesus’ supernatural birth and deity is His life.[1]


1:24–25. The dream that had begun for Joseph in verse 20 ends in these verses with him waking and choosing to obey everything the angel had told him to do. This fine man had learned to “trust and obey.”[2]


24, 25. The story is concluded as follows: Rising from sleep Joseph did as the angel of the Lord had directed him, and took his wife into his home, but had no sexual relations with her until she had given birth to a son; and he named him Jesus.

The meaning of the words “took his wife into his home” becomes clear when this expression is compared with verse 18: “before they had begun to live together.” See on that verse and also on verse 20. Though Joseph and Mary were now together in the same home, they had no sexual relations with each other until Mary had given birth to Jesus. Why this was so is not related. Could this decision have been motivated by the couple’s high regard for that which had been conceived? Or did they abstain to be able to refute every allegation that Joseph himself was the father of the child? Whatever it was that prompted the couple to refrain from having sexual intercourse, there is every reason to suppose that after the child’s birth the abstention did not continue. This conclusion cannot be based merely upon the negative plus “until.” That wording does not always introduce an event (in this case: she gave birth to a son) whereby the earlier situation (the couple had no sexual relations) is reversed (they now begin to have sexual relations). Nevertheless, it is also true that frequently, in such cases, a complete reversal in the situation is suggested. Each case must be judged on its own merits. In the present instance the case against Mary’s perpetual virginity is strengthened by these considerations: a. According to both the Old and the New Testament sexual intercourse for married couples is divinely approved (Gen. 1:28; 9:1; 24:60; Prov. 5:18; Ps. 127:3; 1 Cor. 7:5, 9). Of course, even here, as in all things, self-control should be exercised. Incontinence is definitely condemned (1 Cor. 7:5; Gal. 5:22, 23). But no special sanctity attaches to total abstention or celibacy. b. We are definitely told that Jesus had brothers and sisters, evidently together with him members of one family (Matt. 12:46, 47; Mark 3:31, 32; 6:3; Luke 8:19, 20; John 2:12; 7:3, 5, 10; Acts 1:14). c. Luke 2:7 informs us that Jesus was Mary’s “firstborn.” Though in and by itself this third argument may not be sufficient to prove that Jesus had uterine brothers, in connection with arguments a. and b. the evidence becomes conclusive. The burden of proof rests entirely on those who deny that after Christ’s birth Joseph and Mary entered into all the relationships commonly associated with marriage.

Joseph, having risen from sleep, did exactly as the angel had directed him. Not only did he take his wife home with him but when the child was born he named him Jesus. Of course, in doing this, Joseph and Mary acted in perfect harmony (cf. Luke 1:31, 38).[3]


1:24 As a result of the angel’s intervention, Joseph abandoned his plan to divorce Mary. He continued to recognize their betrothal until Jesus’ birth, after which he married her.

1:25 The teaching that Mary remained a virgin all of her life is disproved by the consummation of their marriage mentioned in this verse. Other references which indicate that Mary had children by Joseph are Matthew 12:46; 13:55, 56; Mark 6:3; John 7:3, 5; Acts 1:14; 1 Corinthians 9:5; and Galatians 1:19.

In taking Mary as his wife, Joseph also took her Child as his adopted Son. This is how Jesus became legal heir to the throne of David. In obedience to the angelic visitor, he called the Baby’s name Jesus.

Thus the Messiah-King was born. The Eternal One entered time. The Omnipotent became a tiny Infant. The Lord of glory veiled that glory in a human body, and “in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9).[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Vol. 1, pp. 21–22). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Weber, S. K. (2000). Matthew (Vol. 1, p. 19). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 144–145). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1206). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

FEBRUARY 1 OUR GOD: ALL SUFFICIENT

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Genesis 1:1

Have we modern men and women never given thought or meditation concerning the eternal nature of God? Who are we to imagine that we are “bailing out” the living God when we drop a $10 bill in the Sunday offering plate?

Let us thank God for the reality of His causeless existence. Our God only is all-sufficient, uncreated, unborn, the living and eternal and self-existent God!

I refer often to the great worshiping heart of Frederick William Faber, who in these words celebrated his vision of God’s eternal self-existence:

Father! the sweetest, dearest Name,

That men or angels know!

Fountain of life, that had no fount

From which itself could flow.

Thy vastness is not young or old,

Thy life hath never grown;

No time can measure out Thy days,

No space can make Thy throne!

Dear Heavenly Father, my daily problems must seem so trivial to You, the eternal God. Yet You invite Your children to bring their cares and concerns to You. Praise be to God![1]


[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

February 1 Obeying Jesus’ Call

He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.—Matt. 4:19–20

Peter and Andrew obeyed Jesus’ call right away—“Immediately they left their nets and followed Him”—an indication of how determined they were to go with the Lord. The word “followed” carries the meaning of being committed to imitating the one he or she follows.

Past surveys have shown that 95 percent of all professing Christians have never led someone to faith in Jesus Christ. Too often they are like the reclusive, frugal man many years ago who accumulated 246 expensive violins in the attic of his house in Italy. Because he selfishly acquired and held on to those instruments, the world never heard the beautiful music the violins were intended to play. Many believers hide their light and store away the great treasure they possess as children of God. As a result, 95 percent of the world’s spiritual violins have not been played for others.

Evangelist D. L. Moody especially admired two similar paintings. The first depicted a person in the midst of a storm clinging with both hands to a cross firmly planted in a rock. The other picture also showed a person in a storm firmly grasping a cross. But in this one the man was reaching out with his other hand to rescue someone who was about to drown. Both paintings pictured a Christian valiantly holding on to Christ. But the second one portrayed the believer reaching out for another who was about to be lost. For us, as for D. L. Moody, the second picture should be the favorite.

ASK YOURSELF

Would “immediately” describe the way you travel to Jesus’ side when He calls? How quickly does His Word make its way from your conscious mind into conscious action?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 40). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

February 1 The Key to Spiritual Growth

Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

2 Peter 3:18

Spiritual growth is not mystical, sentimental, devotional, or psychological. It’s not the result of some clever secret or formula. It is simply matching your practice with your position.

As believers, our position in Christ is perfect: we are complete in Him (Col. 2:10); we have all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3); and we have received all spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3). But now we need to progress in our daily lives in a way that is commensurate with our exalted position.

Today’s verse provides the most important concept in understanding and experiencing spiritual growth. Giving glory to God is directly related to spiritual growth. Therefore, it is vital that we understand what it means to glorify Him.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 44). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

February 1, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

19:26 his wife … looked back. Lot’s wife paid the price of disregarding the angelic warning to flee without a backward glance (v. 17). In so doing, she became not only encased in salt, but a poignant example of disobedience producing unwanted reaction at judgment day (cf. Lk 17:29–32), even as her home cities became bywords of God’s judgment on sin (cf. Is 1:9; Ro 9:29; 2Pe 2:5, 6).[1]


19:26 Lot’s wife disregards the angel’s instruction not to look back (v. 17) and is transformed into a pillar of salt, engulfed perhaps in the fiery matter raining in molten lumps from the sky.[2]


19:26 a pillar of salt Lot’s wife disobeyed the command of the angels (Gen 19:17). The result of her hesitancy was inclusion in the judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah.

The details of how Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt are not given. She may have been overcome by the fiery sulfurous debris sent to destroy Sodom. The narrative does not say how close she was to Sodom, or if she actually reached Zoar (vv. 22–23)—the specified location where Lot went to be out of the destruction’s range. Her transformation may have been an isolated supernatural act.[3]


19:26 Lot’s wife … looked back. Lot’s wife is a sobering lesson against vacillation when God’s judgment is at hand (Luke 17:28–37).[4]


19:26 Lot’s wife was exercising her personal desires and refusing to obey her husband or the lordship of Yahweh. She was more interested in material possessions than in spiritual truths.[5]


19:26 The command was clear, not to look back or linger (v. 17). Lot’s wife disobeyed and looked back. By implication, she was reluctant to leave. pillar of salt: Her destruction was sudden. Nothing was left of her but a mineral heap. Jesus referred to her in His teaching on the sudden destruction that will come in the last days. “Remember Lot’s wife,” Jesus warned (Luke 17:32).[6]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ge 19:26). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 84). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 19:26). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 41). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[5] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Ge 19:26). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] The NKJV Study Bible. (2007). (Ge 19:26). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

FEBRUARY 1 A LIVING PERSON IS PRESENT

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

—Hebrews 11:6

A loving Personality dominates the Bible, walking among the trees of the garden and breathing fragrance over every scene. Always a living Person is present, speaking, pleading, loving, working and manifesting Himself whenever and wherever His people have the receptivity necessary to receive the manifestation….

But why do the very ransomed children of God themselves know so little of that habitual, conscious communion with God which Scripture offers? The answer is because of our chronic unbelief. Faith enables our spiritual sense to function. Where faith is defective the result will be inward insensibility and numbness toward spiritual things. This is the condition of vast numbers of Christians today. No proof is necessary to support that statement. We have but to converse with the first Christian we meet or enter the first church we find open to acquire all the proof we need.

A spiritual kingdom lies all about us, enclosing us, embracing us, altogether within reach of our inner selves, waiting for us to recognize it. God Himself is here waiting our response to His presence. This eternal world will come alive to us the moment we begin to reckon upon its reality. POG048-050

Lord, give me faith to believe, to see, to know Your awesome Presence and bring Your spiritual kingdom alive in my life. Amen.[1]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

February 1 Pursuing the Knowledge of God

“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ.”

Philippians 3:8

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God’s greatest desire for us is that we seek diligently to know Him.

To know God and all that He has revealed about Himself is the highest pursuit of life. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Prov. 9:10). Such a realization should really be the starting point for all of life’s other pursuits.

As David gave his throne to his son Solomon, his primary counsel was that Solomon know God: “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever” (1 Chron. 28:9).

Knowing God not only determines the quality of one’s present life, but also the destiny of one’s life in eternity. Jesus says, “And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3). Eternal life is simply knowing God in an intimate way for the rest of eternity. It begins here on earth when we believe in Christ and partake of His very nature and life.

How can we know God? The Lord says, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13). Solomon teaches us, “For if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord, and discover the knowledge of God” (Prov. 2:3–5). This pursuit of God must be our top priority in life. Otherwise, it is so easy to be distracted by the pursuit of money, career success, personal power and prestige, or any earthly endeavor that demands our time and energy.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord that you know Him personally.

For Further Study: Read 2 Peter 1:1–11. What are the benefits to those who know God? ✧ What qualities should be evident in your life?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

January 31 Daily Help

SIMEON called Jesus the consolation of Israel; and so He was. Before His actual appearance, His name was the day-star; cheering the darkness, and prophetic of the rising sun. To Him they looked with the same hope which cheers the nightly watcher, when from the lonely castle-top he sees the fairest of the stars, and hails her as the usher of the morn. When He was on earth, He must have been the consolation of all those who were privileged to be His companions. Like children they would tell Him of their griefs, and consider Him as their Father.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 35). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.