Daily Archives: March 8, 2018

March 8 Confessing Your Sins

“I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed” (Dan. 9:4).

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Confession brings forgiveness and guards God’s character.

Confessing your sins means you agree with God that you have offended His holy character and are worthy of punishment and in need of forgiveness. That’s exactly what we see Daniel doing in verses 5–16. Verse 20 summarizes his prayer: “I was speaking and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God.”

Unlike some who suffer God’s chastening, Daniel didn’t shift the blame for Israel’s calamity. Instead he admitted that his people had willfully disobeyed God’s Word and ignored His prophets, thereby bringing judgment upon themselves. Once they were a nation blessed by God; now they were aliens and captives in a foreign land. God had kept His promise to curse them if they disobeyed Him (Deut. 28:15).

In verses 12–15 Daniel analyzes the consequences of Israel’s sin, which included her captivity and the guilt she bore for her arrogance and her reluctance to repent.

Verse 14 reflects perhaps the most important aspect of confession—Daniel’s affirmation that “the Lord our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done.” The Gentile nations knew that the Israelites were God’s chosen people. Surely the fall of Jerusalem raised questions about God’s character: What kind of God would stand idly by while His people are ravaged and His Temple plundered? What is the benefit of having a God like that? This, in effect, is Daniel’s response: “God is righteous in everything He does. We deserve this punishment, so don’t accuse Him of acting unjustly.”

Confession therefore serves a dual purpose: it brings forgiveness, and it frees God to chasten us without bringing accusations of inequity or injustice upon Himself.

Daniel’s prayer came at a special time in Israel’s history, but undoubtedly confession was a regular part of his life. That should be your pattern as well. Don’t wait until disaster strikes before you confess your sin. Make it a daily practice.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  ✧ If you have not developed a systematic approach to prayer, the ACTS format is a good way to start. ✧ Adoration—praising God.  ✧ Confession—confessing sin. ✧ Thanksgiving—expressing gratitude to God. ✧ Supplication—praying for others.

For Further Study: Read about David’s sin in 2 Samuel 11:1–12:25 and his confession in Psalm 51. What are the similarities and differences between David’s confession and Daniel’s?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 80). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

MARCH 8 A GREAT NEED AMONG US: MORE REVERENCE

Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

HEBREWS 12:28

The theory held in some churches seems to be that if the service is unplanned the Holy Spirit will work freely. Now that would be true if all the worshipers were reverent and Spirit-filled. But mostly there is neither order nor Spirit, just a routine prayer that is, except for minor variations, the same week after week, and a few songs that were never much to start with and have long ago lost all significance by meaningless repetition!

We of the nonliturgical churches tend to look with some disdain upon those churches that follow a carefully prescribed form of service, and certainly there must be a good deal in such services that has little or no meaning for the average participant—this not because it is carefully prescribed but because the average participant is what he is.

The liturgical service is at least beautiful, carefully worked out through the centuries to preserve a spirit of reverence among the worshipers. In many of our meetings there is scarcely a trace of reverent thought, no recognition of the unity of the body, little sense of the divine Presence, no moment of stillness, no solemnity, no wonder, no holy fear!

The whole Christian family stands desperately in need of a restoration of penitence, humility and tears. May God send them soon![1]


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

March 8, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

25 Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, he will bring me back and let me see both it and his dwelling place. 26 But if he says, ‘I have no pleasure in you,’ behold, here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him.”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Sa 15:25–26). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


15:25–26Carry the ark of God back into the city. David does not try to use the ark as some sort of “good luck charm,” in contrast to the attitude of the elders in 1 Sam. 4:3. Perhaps he realizes that Absalom’s rebellion is partly the result of his own sins (2 Sam. 12:10), and he does not know how far the Lord intends to punish him (let him do to me what seems good to him). His symbols of mourning and penitence and acceptance of malice (15:30; 16:10) are probably related to this. Since he also considers the rebellion wrong, however, he is willing to use prayer and the human opportunities God gives him (15:28, 31, 34; see Neh. 4:9).[1]


15:25Let the ark of God return The ark would have slowed David’s escape because it had to be handled in a specific, careful manner (see ch. 6).[2]


15:25 Carry the ark of God back. David clearly resists any magical understanding of the ark’s power (contrast the elders of Israel, 1 Sam. 4:3). Rather, he casts himself on the Lord’s mercy.[3]


15:25 King David remembered the attempt during the days of Samuel to use the ark as a fetish to force God’s intervention (cf. 1 Sam. 4:3). He also knew the futility of such an enterprise. Furthermore, David recognized that the providence of God ultimately controlled all of history. David’s success was a matter of finding favor in the eyes of God.[4]


15:25–26 David determined that the ark of God properly belonged in Jerusalem, God’s city. It would remain there, and it was up to God to either restore David to his throne in Jerusalem or not. The king was content to leave the matter in God’s hands.[5]


[1] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 567). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (2 Sa 15:25). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 448). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[4] 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., 2 Sa 15:25). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5] Beyer, B. E. (2017). 2 Samuel. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 482). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

MARCH 8 WE KNOW WHAT WE BELIEVE

If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled…not moved away from the hope of the gospel.

Colossians 1:23

The hope of the Christian Church still lies in the purity of her theology—that is, her beliefs about God and man and their relation to each other.

It is a fact that positive beliefs are not popular these days. I sense that the modern efforts to popularize the Christian faith have been extremely damaging to that faith. The purpose has been to simplify truth for the masses by using the language of the masses instead of the language of the Church. It has not succeeded but has added to rather than diminished religious confusion.

A mistaken desire to maintain a spirit of tolerance among all races and religions has produced a breed of Janus-like Christians with built-in swivels, remarkable only for their ability to turn in any direction gracefully!

Our Christian beliefs have been revealed by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the sacred Scriptures. Everything there is clear-cut and accurate. We dare not be less than accurate in our treatment of anything so precious!

Lord, Your Word is sacred and true, even though so many people disregard and disrespect it today. I pray that there will be an explosion of interest in the Bible during this generation.[1]


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

40 Days to the Cross: Week Three – Thursday

Confession: Psalm 38:21–22

Do not forsake me, O Yahweh.

O my God, do not be far from me.

Hurry to help me,

O Lord, my salvation.

Reading: Mark 12:28–37

And one of the scribes came up and heard them debating. When he saw that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God from your whole heart and from your whole soul and from your whole mind and from your whole strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “That is true, Teacher. You have said correctly that he is one and there is no other except him. And to love him from your whole heart and from your whole understanding and from your whole strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And Jesus, when he saw that he had answered thoughtfully, said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to put a question to him any longer.

And continuing, Jesus said while teaching in the temple courts, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is David’s son? David himself said by the Holy Spirit,

‘The Lord said to my Lord,

“Sit at my right hand,

until I put your enemies

under your feet.” ’

David himself calls him ‘Lord,’ and how is he his son?” And the large crowd was listening to him gladly.

Reflection

Love for God is the first and greatest commandment and the next is love towards our neighbor. The Lord taught that the entire law and the prophets hang upon these two commandments. He did not Himself bring down [from heaven] any other commandment greater than this one, but renewed this very same one to His disciples when He enjoined them to love God with all their heart and others as themselves.

Paul, in like manner, declares that “love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Rom 13:10 nrsv) And [he declares] that when all other things have been destroyed, “faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13 nrsv). Apart from the love of God, knowledge avails nothing—nor the understanding of mysteries, nor faith, nor prophecy.… For we do never cease from loving God; but in proportion as we continue to contemplate Him, so much the more do we love Him.

—Irenaeus of Lyons

Irenaeus Against Heresies

Response

In Mark 12:28–37, Jesus references two commandments given to the Israelites immediately following the Ten Commandments of Deuteronomy 5. How does the commandment to love the Lord your God with all your heart sum up the other Ten Commandments? Does your life demonstrate this love?[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

March 8 The Way to Holiness

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.—Matt. 5:8

Throughout the history of the church, many have thought the best way to achieve spiritual purity and holiness is by living apart from the normal cares and distractions of the world and devoting oneself entirely to meditation and prayer. The problem with sin, however, is not primarily the world around us but the worldliness within us, which we cannot escape by living in isolation from other people.

But God always provides for what He demands, and He has provided ways for us to live purely. First, we must realize that we are unable to live a single holy moment without the Lord’s guidance and power. “Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin’?” (Prov. 20:9). The obvious answer is, “No one.” Cleansing begins with recognition of weakness, which in turn reaches out for the strength of God.

Second, we must stay in God’s Word. It is impossible to stay in God’s will apart from His Word. Jesus said, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:3).

Third, it is essential to be controlled by and walking in the will and way of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:16 says, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”

Fourth, we must pray. We cannot stay in God’s will or understand and obey His Word unless we stay near Him. With David we cry, “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Ps. 51:10).

Begin to pursue the right ways to develop holiness in your life.

ASK YOURSELF

How is impurity showing itself most visibly in your heart—or perhaps disguising itself most subtly? Realize afresh that holy living is impossible outside of a living, active relationship with Christ and the ongoing enablement of the Holy Spirit. Commit yourself to surrendering all to follow Him in righteousness.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 76). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

March 8 A Living Hope

His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope.

1 Peter 1:3

When God saved you and transformed you, He gave you “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away” (1 Pet. 1:4). As a result, Christians can live in the hope of that eternal inheritance.

Why is this hope important? Unbelievers do not trust Him, so they cannot hope in Him. But as a believer, you have seen that God has been faithful in your past and present and that gives you the hope that He will be faithful in the future. And that gives Him glory.

Simply put, God is glorified when you trust Him. He’s glorified when you believe Him. And He is glorified when you hope in His future promise. The God who has given you such a great salvation is worthy of your hope.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 81). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

MARCH 8 THE WONDERS OF CREATION

Behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.

—Isaiah 40:26

If you will really give yourself to study, you will discover that the Old Testament is a marvelous rhapsody on the natural creation. Start with Moses, and when you get beyond the Levitical order you will find him soaring in his acute consciousness of the presence of God in all of creation.

Go on to the book of Job and in the closing sections you will be amazed at the sublimity of the language describing the world around us.

Then go on to the Psalms and you will find David literally dancing with ecstatic delight as he gazes out upon the wonders of God’s world.

Begin reading in Isaiah and you will find the loftiest imagery. It is neither fanciful nor flighty but a presentation of the wonders of creation as the prophet observed them.

These men, who were some of the holiest and godliest men of that ancient time, revealed in their writings that they were intensely in love with every natural beauty around them. But always they saw nature as the handiwork of an all-powerful, all-wise, glorious Creator. WHT043

Lord, I desire to glory in Your creation, not for nature’s sake but because it is the work of a majestic Creator. I bow in wonder before Your mighty hand. Amen.[1]


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

March 8 Realizing the Need for Seriousness

“Let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom.”

James 4:9b

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The humble individual will come to see that sin is not a laughing matter.

Humor has always had a place in popular culture. But in recent decades a more worldly side to humor has emerged. Situation comedies dominate the list of top–rated TV shows, but many are far from what’s really best for people to view. The shows’ contents so often pander to the immoral and tend to put down scriptural values. Meanwhile, the world also runs headlong after activities that stress fun and self–indulgence. Most people just want to enjoy life and not take anything too seriously.

God’s Word acknowledges that there is a proper time and place for joy and laughter: “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Eccles. 3:4). The psalmist tells of one appropriate time for laughter and happiness: “When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with joyful shouting” (Ps. 126:1–2).

But the Lord requires that anyone who would have a relationship with Him must begin on a sober, serious, humble note. In today’s Scripture, James urges sinners to exchange worldly laughter and frivolity for godly mourning and gloom over their sin. The laughter spoken of here is the kind that indicates a leisurely indulging in human desires and pleasures. It pictures people who give no serious thought to God, to life, death, sin, judgment, or God’s demands for holiness. Without mincing words, it is the laughter of fools who reject God, not that of the humble who pursue Him.

James’s message is that saving faith and proper humility consist of a serious, heartfelt separation from the folly of worldliness as well as a genuine sorrow over sin. If these characteristics are present in your life, it is fairly safe evidence that you are one of the humble (see 1 John 2:15–17).

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Suggestions for Prayer: Seek forgiveness for any thoughts and actions that have kept you from a serious attitude in your walk with God.

For Further Study: Read 1 John 2:15–17. Think of several examples under each of the categories of worldliness in verse 16. Which of these are problems for you? ✧ What steps can you take, with God’s help, to overcome them?[1]


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