Category Archives: A. W. Tozer

March 23, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

March 23

Fishing for Men

Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.

Matthew 4:19

 

Fishermen in the first century used special tools for catching fish. One was a line and hook (Matt. 17:27). Another was a spear or possibly a type of harpoon (Job 41:26). A third was the dragnet (Matt. 13:47). It was sometimes over three hundred feet long and about eight feet wide. Fishermen buoyed up one side with corks and weighed down the other side with lead sinkers. Sometimes they stretched the net between two boats and rowed in a circle. They would then draw in ropes attached to the bottom of the net, trapping the fish (John 21:6).

In today’s verse, however, Jesus was referring to a casting net, which had a circular form (about fifteen feet in diameter) made of fine mesh and lead sinkers around the edge. Attaching a long piece of line to the center of the net, the fisherman would cast it into shallow water. He then would draw up the center of the net by its cord and wade into the water to secure the catch.

Just as the disciples caught a school of fish within the reaches of their circular net, the Lord wants His contemporary disciples to reach out to the men and women around us.[1]


March 23 Jesus’ Humble Identification with Sinners

“… Emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond–servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Philippians 2:7–8

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Except for sin, Jesus experienced the everyday things of a normal man; but He was often not appreciated as the God–man.

Jesus could understand what people around Him were dealing with because He lived under the same conditions. He can also identify with us today. It is true that He never married, never went to college, and never used a computer or a VCR. But He still has perfect knowledge about such things, and more. The point is, Christ knows firsthand about our basic physical and emotional needs because He actually lived and worked in a world affected by the Fall.

But there was one element of our world Jesus did not partake in: sin. The conclusion of Hebrews 4:15 says He was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Even though Jesus never sinned, He knows the struggles and temptations we face daily. Otherwise, He could not be the sympathetic High Priest that the first part of verse 15 mentions.

Although Jesus was a man who identified profoundly with those He came to serve, people around Him did not naturally see the most important thing about Him. Philippians 2:8 views Jesus from the perspective of those people. It says His human appearance was so authentic that most of them didn’t know that He was also God. Many of them simply could not accept that a man like Jesus could also be higher than them: “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven’?” (John 6:42).

Christ’s close identification with mankind elicited a tragic response for people such as those in John 6. But for us, His humility is a great model and a heart–felt reassurance that He was perfectly man and perfectly God.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God that you can freely approach Him in prayer through Jesus, who can identify so closely with all our struggles as human beings.

For Further Study: Read John 11:1–45, which describes the death and resurrection of Lazarus. How did Jesus demonstrate His humanity and deity to the disciples and other eyewitnesses?[2]


MARCH 23

HE ALWAYS WILL BE GOD

But the LORD is the true God…the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.

—Jeremiah 10:10

Men and women who think they have all the answers about this life and the next have been mouthing their brave words for generations. They are big, challenging words, but they come from puny, empty hearts and minds. These infidels are too blind to recognize or acknowledge that God does have… a divine plan in which mankind is never permitted to utter the first word or the last….

Humans try to ignore God, continuing to make their own ambitious, selfish plans. In the years before World War I, Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm… was exceedingly headstrong. At a chapel service attended by the kaiser, a faithful German minister preached on the coming again of Jesus Christ to establish God’s kingdom of righteousness and peace throughout the earth. Wilhelm was greatly offended and spoke to the minister at the close of the service.

“I never want to hear that kind of a sermon again,” he warned the preacher. “Such an event is not at all in keeping with the plans we have for the future and the glory of our Fatherland!”

But Kaiser Wilhelm and, a generation later, Adolph Hitler are merely fading memories—illustrations of that vain human propensity to make ourselves big and God small. JIV016-018

Lord, I acknowledge that You have the first and last word on all things. I bow before Your wisdom. Amen. [3]


March 23

Reasons 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

Jesus provides us with two reasons for our rejoicing and being glad when we are persecuted for His sake.

First, He says, “Your reward in heaven is great.” Whatever we do for the Lord now, including suffering for Him—especially suffering for Him—reaps eternal dividends.

But God’s dividends aren’t ordinary dividends. They are not only “eternal” but also “great.” We often hear, and perhaps are tempted to think, that it is unspiritual and crass to serve God for the sake of rewards. But that is one of the motives God Himself gives for serving Him. We first of all serve and obey Christ because we love Him, just as on earth He obeyed the Father because He loved Him. But it was also because of “the joy set before Him” that Christ Himself “endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb. 12:2). It is neither selfish nor unspiritual to do the Lord’s work for a motive that He Himself gives and has followed.

Second, we are to rejoice because the world “persecuted the prophets who were before” us in the same way that it persecutes us. Persecution is a mark of our faithfulness just as it was a mark of the prophets’ faithfulness. When we suffer for Christ’s sake, we know beyond a doubt that we belong to God because we are experiencing the same reaction from the world that the prophets experienced. So realize that if you are persecuted, you belong in the line of that great company of righteous servants.

ASK YOURSELF
What’s your immediate reaction to the idea that we labor for the “reward” of God’s blessing? God knows our hearts. He has given us desires to register our growth and progress in the faith. As long as the reward we seek is more of Jesus and to see Him glorified, should we be averse to wanting return on our faithful investment?[4]

MARCH 23

HERE FOR OUR TIME

Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther 4:14

 

Just as those who lived in the past had the privilege of being God’s people of faith then, so do we in our own day! It is good to come to the understanding that while God wants us to be holy and Spirit filled, He does not expect us to look like Abraham or to play the harp like David or to have the same spiritual insights given to Paul.

All of the former heroes of the faith are dead. You are alive in your generation. A Bible proverb says that a living dog is better than a dead lion (see Ecclesiastes 9:4). You may wish to be Abraham or Isaac or Jacob, but remember they have been asleep for centuries, and you are still around!

You can witness for our Lord today! You can still pray! You can still give of your substance to help those who are in need!

In this, your own generation, give God all your love, all your devotion. You do not know what holy, happy secret God may want to whisper to your responsive heart!

 

Thank You, Lord, for the encouragement of this devotional today. It is what I needed to hear. Use me to advance Your kingdom, Lord. Whisper, and I will obey.[5]


March 23 Praying Aggressively

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

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Praying for God’s will to be done on earth is an aggressive prayer.

Many people assume that somehow everything that happens is God’s will. But that’s not true. Lives destroyed by murderous aggressors and families broken by adultery aren’t God’s will. Children and adults ravaged by abuse or crippled by disease aren’t God’s will. He uses sin and illness to accomplish His own purposes (Rom. 8:28), but they aren’t His desire.

Eventually God will destroy all evil and will fulfill His purposes perfectly (Rev. 20:10–14), but that hasn’t happened yet. That’s why we must pray for His will to be done on earth. We can’t afford to be passive or indifferent in prayer. We must pray aggressively and not lose heart (Luke 18:1).

That’s how David prayed. His passion for God’s will compelled him to pray, “Make me understand the way of Thy precepts, so I will meditate on Thy wonders. … I shall run the way of Thy commandments, for Thou wilt enlarge my heart. Teach me, O Lord, the way of Thy statutes, and I shall observe it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may observe Thy law, and keep it with all my heart. Make me walk in the path of Thy commandments, for I delight in it” (Ps. 119:27, 32–35).

But David also prayed, “Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered; and let those who hate Him flee before Him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish before God. But let the righteous be glad; let them exult before God; yes, let them rejoice with gladness” (Ps. 68:1–3). He loved God’s will, but he also hated everything that opposed it.

When you truly pray for God’s will to be done, you are aggressively pursuing His will for your own life and are also rebelling against Satan, his evil world system, and everything else that is at odds with God’s will.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for David’s example and for others who demonstrate a passion for God’s will. ✧ Ask for wisdom to see beyond your circumstances to what God wants to accomplish through them.

For Further Study: Read Psalm 119. ✧ How can God’s Word help you know and obey God’s will? ✧ What was the psalmist’s attitude toward the Word?[6]


MARCH 23

THE TRUE MINISTER: MAN OF GOD SPEAKING TO MEN

But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

2 TIMOTHY 4:5

The Christian minister, as someone has pointed out, is a descendant not of the Greek orator but of the Hebrew prophet!

The differences between the orator and the prophet are many and radical, the chief being that the orator speaks for himself while the prophet speaks for God.

The orator originates his message and is responsible to himself for its content. The prophet originates nothing but delivers the message he has received from God who alone is responsible for it, the prophet being responsible to God for its delivery only. The prophet must hear the message clearly and deliver it faithfully, and that is indeed a grave responsibility; but it is to God alone, not to men!

It is a dubious compliment to a preacher to say that he is original. The very effort to be original has become a snare to many a young man fresh out of seminary, who rejects the pure wheat of the Word and tries to nourish his congregation on chaff of his own manufacture. It may even be golden chaff, but chaff nevertheless that can never feed the soul.

The true preacher is a man of God speaking to men; he is a man of heaven giving God’s witness on earth. Because he is a man of God he can decode the message he receives from heaven and deliver it in the language of earth![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 95). 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. 91). 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. 95). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

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

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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).

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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).

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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).

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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.

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.

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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.

March 20, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

March 20

Examples of Passion

He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.

Ephesians 4:11

 

It was said that John Wesley did more for England than her armies and navies. He lived meagerly, having given away thousands of dollars in his lifetime. Abused and maligned, he left his reputation and soul in the hands of God. It has been estimated he traveled 225 thousand miles on foot and horseback and preached twenty–four hundred sermons. Much of the established church despised him, but he brought fire into her cold heart. He had the reputation of being out of breath pursuing souls.

Ordained at twenty–two, George Whitefield began preaching with tremendous eloquence and effect. His power came from his passion for souls, and he used every one of his God–given abilities to lead men to Christ. He crossed the Atlantic thirteen times and preached thousands of sermons. His gravestone reads that he was a soldier of the cross, humble, devout, and ardent, preferring the honor of Christ to his own interest, reputation, or life.

Though these men are wonderful examples, the perfect example of One with passion for the lost is Christ.[1]


March 20 No Pride of Position

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.”

Philippians 2:5–6

✧✧✧

Christ’s coming to earth is the supreme example to us of humility.

We can usually identify with what someone else has experienced when we have gone through the same thing. Even if we haven’t been through what the other person has, we can perhaps relate because we might someday have a similar experience.

However, it is much harder to comprehend what Christ experienced when He stooped from His lofty position at the right hand of God to come to earth as a man. We’ll never understand the magnitude of that descent because we never were and never will be God. Nevertheless, today’s passage presents, as a pattern for us, Jesus’ attitude in coming to this world.

As a Spirit–filled believer (Eph. 1:3–5, 13), the Lord has lifted you out of your sin and given you the privilege of being His adopted child. He thereby allows you to recognize and appreciate a little more what humility is all about. Like Jesus, you will have to descend from an exalted level when you reach out in humility to those who don’t know Him.

Jesus further set the standard for us when He did not view His high position “a thing to be grasped.” Loftiness of calling should never be something we clench as a prized personal possession to exploit for our own benefit. That is the attitude we would expect to see in worldly people of influence. But it should not characterize those who claim to follow Jesus’ standard.

In contrast, if you are Christ’s disciple you will see more and more of His humility in your life. That will occur as you continually exercise a selfless attitude toward the privileges and possessions He has given you. By not clinging to these benefits, you will truly exemplify Jesus’ attitude and more effectively serve others: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor” (Rom. 12:10).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that, starting today, God would grant you more and more of a Philippians 2:5–6 attitude.

For Further Study: As Ephesians 1 spells out, you have much to be thankful for as a child of God. Read the entire chapter, and list the many spiritual benefits Paul describes. Try memorizing several verses that are particularly striking to you.[2]


MARCH 20

TRUTH FOR THE HEART

 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

—John 14:23

The doctrine of the Trinity is truth for the heart. The spirit of man alone can enter through the veil and penetrate into that Holy of Holies. “Let me seek Thee in longing,” pleaded Anselm, “let me long for Thee in seeking; let me find Thee in love, and love Thee in finding.”

Christ did not hesitate to use the plural form when speaking of Himself along with the Father and the Spirit. “We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” Yet again He said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). It is most important that we think of God as Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the Substance. Only so may we think rightly of God and in a manner worthy of Him and of our own souls….

The authors of the Athanasian Creed spelled out with great care the relation of the three Persons to each other, filling in the gaps in human thought as far as they were able while staying within the bounds of the inspirited Word. “In this Trinity,” runs the Creed, “nothing is before or after, nothing is greater or less: but all three Persons coeternal, together and equal.” KOH032, 034

With my mind I struggle, Lord, but with my heart I rest. I am awed by Your Trinity in unity, and I long to know You not through reason but through love and faith. Amen. [3]


March 20

Foreseeing False Accusations

Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.—Matt. 5:11

Faithfulness to Christ will bring enemies of the gospel who will “falsely say all kinds of evil against” us. Whereas “insults” are abusive words said to our faces, these “evil” things are primarily abusive words said behind our backs.

Jesus’ critics said of Him, “Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (Matt. 11:19). If the world said that of the sinless Christ, what things can His followers expect to be called and accused of?

Slander behind our backs is harder to take, partly because it is harder to defend against than direct accusations. It has opportunity to spread and be believed before we have a chance to correct it. Those who slander us can do much harm to our reputations before we’re even aware that we’ve been slandered.

We can’t help regret being slandered, but we shouldn’t grieve about it. Instead, we should count ourselves blessed, as our Lord assures us we will be, when the slander is “because of Me.” We have no surer evidence of the Lord’s blessing than to be cursed for His sake. It should not seriously bother us when men’s curses fall on the head that Christ has eternally blessed.

Are you prepared to accept the slander you might receive because you are a Christian?

ASK YOURSELF
We can sometimes invite persecution by being unduly abrasive and difficult, so that others do not persecute us as much for our faith as for the tacky way we express it. How can we tell the difference? Are people being offended by Christ or just by us? There is certainly no blessing in being obnoxious.[4]

MARCH 20

TELL THE WHOLE TRUTH

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.

Titus 1:2

 

It is sad indeed to know that there are Christian leaders among us who are too timid to tell the people all the truth. They are now asking men and women to give to God only that which costs them nothing!

The contemporary moral climate does not favor a faith as tough and fibrous as that taught by our Lord and His apostles.

Christ calls men to carry His cross; we call them to have fun in His name!

He calls them to suffer; we call them to enjoy all the bourgeois comforts modern civilization affords!

He calls them to holiness; we call them to a cheap and tawdry happiness that would have been rejected with scorn by the least of the Stoic philosophers!

When will believers learn that to love righteousness it is necessary to hate sin? That to accept Christ it is necessary to reject self? That a friend of the world is an enemy of God? Let us not be shocked by the suggestion that there are disadvantages to the life in Christ!

 

O Lord, it is so hard for the human spirit to deny or reject itself. I pray that Your Spirit will take hold of the steering wheel of my will today.[5]


March 20 Building God’s Kingdom

“Thy kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10).

✧✧✧

Conversion to Christ involves three elements: invitation, repentance, and commitment.

Someday Christ will return to earth to reign in His Kingdom. In the meantime He rules in the hearts of those who love Him.

Before He ascended into Heaven, Jesus gave us a mandate to evangelize the lost and to teach them His Word (Matt. 28:19–20). When we do this, sinners are converted and are transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13). That’s how His Kingdom grows.

Conversion is a work of the Spirit in the heart of unbelievers. He uses a myriad of people and circumstances to accomplish that work, but common to every true conversion are three key elements: invitation, repentance, and commitment.

In Matthew 22:1–14 Jesus, by way of a parable, invites people to come into His Kingdom. As an evangelist, you too should not only present the gospel but are to invite others to respond to what they’ve heard.

In Mark 1:14–15 we read, “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” Repentance means to feel sorrow over your sin and to turn from it (2 Cor. 7:9–11).

True repentance results in a commitment to respond to the righteous demands of the gospel. In Mark 12:34 Jesus says to a wise scribe, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” The scribe had all the information necessary for entering the Kingdom. What he lacked was a commitment to act on what he knew. Luke 9:62 says, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” You might know everything about the Kingdom, but Christ’s rule is not established in your heart until you’ve made a complete commitment to it.

When you pray for Christ’s Kingdom to come, you are praying an evangelistic prayer that you take part in answering. Be faithful to proclaim the gospel, and make intercession for unbelievers a regular part of your prayers.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Pray for unbelieving family and friends. ✧ Ask the Lord for the opportunity to share Christ with an unbeliever today.

For Further Study: Read John 4. ✧ How did Jesus broach the subject of salvation with the Samaritan woman? ✧ Did He extend an invitation to her? Explain. ✧ How did the townspeople react to her report about Jesus?[6]


MARCH 20

JESUS CHRIST: OUR CHIEF JOY AND DELIGHT

Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous; and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

PSALM 32:11

I must agree with the psalmist, even in our modern day, that the joy of the Lord is still the strength of His people. I do believe that the sad world around us is attracted to spiritual sunshine—the genuine thing, that is!

Some churches train their greeters and ushers to smile, showing as many teeth as possible. But I can sense that kind of display—and when I am greeted by a man who is smiling because he has been trained to smile, I know I am shaking the flipper of a trained seal!

But when the warmth and delight and joy of the Holy Spirit are in a congregation and the folks are just spontaneously joyful and unable to hide the happy grin, the result is a wonderful influence upon others. Conversely, the reason we have to search for so many things to cheer us up is the fact that we are not really joyful and contentedly happy within!

I admit that we live in a gloomy world and that international affairs, nuclear rumors and threats, earthquakes and riots cause people to shake their heads in despair and say, “What’s the use?”

But we are Christians and Christians have every right to be the happiest people in the world! We do not have to look to other sources—for we look to the Word of God and discover how we can know the faithful God above and draw from His resources.

Why should the children of the King hang their heads and tote their own burdens, missing the mark about Christian victory? All this time the Holy Spirit has been wanting to make Jesus Christ our chief joy and delight![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 92). 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. 88). 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. 92). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

March 19, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

March 19

Renewing Our Passion

Jesus went about all the cities and villages,teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom.

Matthew 9:35

 

Everything worthwhile in life is the result of someone’s passion. Significant events of human history are the result of a deep and consuming desire to see goals fulfilled. The consuming desire of believers should be to see the gospel reach the world. However, we live in an age that tends to dull our sharpness. Our culture obscures legitimate goals and would rob our faith of its fiery power if given the chance.

Indeed, some Christians are a cold bath for the fiery heart. They just don’t understand someone with a passionate concern about a spiritual enterprise, because spiritual passion is not the norm. The norm is not to let Christianity disrupt your lifestyle. If you follow that, your spiritual temperature will drop and you’ll become apathetic.

We all need to ask ourselves, Where is our burden for evangelism? Why isn’t evangelism the church’s central function? Is the church only a self–indulgent activity center, content with comfort and prosperity?[1]


March 19 Looking Out for Others’ Interests First

“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Philippians 2:4

✧✧✧

The Lord wants us to have a general but sincere concern for the ministry interests of fellow Christians.

We live in a world that is preoccupied with special interests. On the national and international levels, interest groups push for public acceptance of their particular agendas. Likewise, on the local level most people care only about their own personal interests. They’re concerned about their jobs, their families, their hobbies, and perhaps their favorite sports team. In addition to those, if you’re a Christian, you will be concerned about your local church. But even there you can become focused only on your area of ministry.

In today’s verse, the apostle Paul cautions us, “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests.” He is warning first of all that we shouldn’t see our personal activities and ministries as our only goals in life. When we become narrowly preoccupied with our own things, it can cause conflicts and other problems with people we know. Instead, God wants us to have a serious, caring involvement in some of the goals others are concerned about. And one way that will happen is if we take our eyes off ourselves and our concern for self–esteem in everything we do.

You may wonder exactly what Paul meant by the broad term “interests.” It is a nonspecific word that has several meanings and implications. It includes legitimate goals and responsibilities you have as a Christian, but it also extends to the same kinds of concerns others in your church and family will have. Their needs, tasks, gifts, character qualities, and ministries should be considered equal in importance to yours.

Paul, by the Holy Spirit, is calling us to pursue a high standard of Christian living, but the standard is worth pursuing. The more we understand the importance of fellow believers and that they need our prayer and concern, the less our fellowships will be plagued by unscriptural competitiveness and pride of personal interest.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Lord to help you order your priorities today, so that you’ll have time for involvement in the concerns of a Christian friend or relative.

For Further Study: Read Luke 10:38–42. What was Martha’s attitude regarding the interests of her sister? ✧ What do Jesus’ words to Martha say about where our ultimate interest should lie?[2]


MARCH 19

THREE PERSONS, ONE GOD

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.

—Deuteronomy 6:4

I am a unitarian in that I believe in the unity of God. I am a trinitarian in that I believe in the trinity of God. And they’re not contrary one to the other….

Now that’s what we believe, my brethren: we believe in the three Persons, but one God.

The three Persons are three, but the one God is One. And this we believe. So when I talk about God, I mean the three Persons of the Trinity. You can’t separate them—“not dividing the substance,” said these old fathers. You can’t have God the Father except you have God the Son; you can’t have God the Spirit unless you have the Father and the Son, “for the Spirit proceedeth from the Father and the Son” (see John 15:26). So when I’m talking about God, I’m talking about the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit—not confusing their Persons, for there are three Persons. But everything that is true of the Father is true of the Son and the Holy Spirit. And everything that is true of the Son and the Holy Spirit is true of the Father. Let’s get that settled before we go any further. AOGII019-021

Lord, I don’t completely understand the Trinity, but it is clearly taught in Scripture, and I will accept it because Your Word is truth. How awesome that You can be both three persons and yet one God! Amen. [3]


March 19

Expecting Verbal Insults

Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.—Matt. 5:11

Beyond physical persecution, Jesus encouraged believers with blessing for having insults cast against them. The Greek word for “insult” carries the idea of reviling, upbraiding, or serious insulting. To insult someone is to throw abusive words in the face of an opponent, to mock viciously.

To be an obedient citizen of the kingdom is to court verbal abuse and reviling. As He stood before the Sanhedrin after His arrest in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was spat upon, beaten, and taunted with the words, “Prophesy to us, You Christ; who is the one who hit You?” (Matt. 26:68). As He was being sentenced to crucifixion by Pilate, Jesus was again beaten, spit upon, and mocked, this time by the Roman soldiers (Mark 15:19–20).

Faithfulness to Christ may even cause friends and loved ones to say things that cut and hurt deeply. But remember, it is clear that the hallmark of a blessed person is righteousness. Holy living is what provokes persecution of God’s people. Such persecution because of a righteous life is joyous.

Make sure you are doing all you can to live faithfully for Christ.

ASK YOURSELF
How would you define the joys and blessings that flow from being misunderstood and mistreated? What do we unwittingly choose to miss by responding to the words, actions, and demeaning looks of persecution with anger, bitterness, hate, retaliation, or any other less-than-godly reaction?[4]

MARCH 19

MONEY IS NOT TRUTH

The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.

Proverbs 10:22

 

It is a fact in human history that men and women have never in any great numbers sought after truth.

The young people who stream from our halls of learning each year confess to having no more than a passing and academic interest in truth. The majority admit that they go to college only to improve their social standing and increase their earning power.

So, the average American will confess that he most wants success in his chosen field; and he wants success both for prestige and for financial security.

The ominous thing about all this is that everything men and women want can be bought with money, and it would be difficult to think of an indictment more terrible than that!

Real seekers after truth are almost as rare as albino deer! Why? Because truth is a glorious but hard master. Jesus said, “I am…the Truth”( John 14:6) and followed Truth straight to the cross. The Truth seeker must follow Him there, and that is the reason few men seek the Truth!

 

Lord, it is so easy to get wrapped up in the things of this world. Help me to find a balance between working to provide for my family and trusting You for all our needs.[5]


March 19 Forsaking Self-centered Prayer

“Thy kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10).

✧✧✧

Relinquish your will to Christ’s sovereign rule.

Attempting to explain all that is involved in the phrase “Thy kingdom come” is like a child standing on a beach attempting to scoop the entire ocean into a little pail. Only in eternity will we grasp all that it encompasses, but the poem “His Coming to Glory,” written by the eighteenth-century hymnwriter Frances Havergal, captures its essence:

Oh the joy to see Thee reigning,

Thee, my own beloved Lord!

Every tongue Thy name confessing,

Worship, honor, glory, blessing

Brought to Thee with glad accord;

Thee, my Master and my Friend,

Vindicated and enthroned;

Unto earth’s remotest end

Glorified, adored, and owned.

 

Psalm 2:6–8 reflects the Father’s joy on that great day: “‘I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.’ ‘I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord; He said to Me, “Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Thy inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Thy possession.”’” God will give the kingdoms of the world to His Son, who will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16).

With that promise in mind, beware of seeing prayer primarily as an opportunity to inform God of your own plans and to seek His help in fulfilling them. Instead pray, “Thy kingdom come,” which is a request for Christ to reign. In its fullest sense this is an affirmation that you are willing to relinquish the rule of your own life so the Holy Spirit can use you to promote the Kingdom in whatever way He chooses.

That kind of prayer can be difficult because we tend to be preoccupied with ourselves. But concentrate on conforming your prayers to God’s purposes. Then you will be assured that you are praying according to His will.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Praise God for the hope of Christ’s future reign on earth. ✧ Ask Him to use you today as a representative of His Kingdom.

For Further Study: According to Ephesians 4:17–5:5, how should citizens of Christ’s Kingdom behave?[6]


MARCH 19

A SELFISH LUST: MAN’S DESIRE FOR FIRST PLACE

And when the centurion…saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.

MARK 15:39

The current mania of men and women to succeed in the world is a good thing perverted. The desire to fulfill the purpose for which we were created is of course a gift from God, but sin has twisted this impulse about and turned it into a selfish lust for first place and top honors. By this lust the whole world of mankind is driven as by a demon, and there is no escape.

When we come to Christ we enter a different world. The New Testament introduces us to a spiritual philosophy infinitely higher than and altogether contrary to that which motivates the world. According to the teaching of Christ the poor in spirit are blessed; the meek inherit the earth; the first are last and the last first; the greatest man is the one that best serves others and the one who loses everything is the only one that will have everything at last. The successful man of the world will see his hoarded treasures swept away by the tempest of judgment; the righteous beggar goes to Abraham’s bosom and the rich man burns in the fires of hell.

Our Lord died an apparent failure, discredited by the leaders of established religion, rejected by society and forsaken by His friends. The man who ordered Him to the cross was the successful statesman whose hand the ambitious hack politician kissed. It took the resurrection to demonstrate how gloriously Christ had triumphed and how tragically the governor had failed. The resurrection and the judgment will demonstrate before all worlds who won and who lost. We can wait![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 91). 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. 87). 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. 91). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

March 18, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

March 18

The Lost Sheep

There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety–nine just persons who need no repentance.

Luke 15:7

 

At the beginning of the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus asks, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety–nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4). Jesus’ point is that any shepherd would seek a lost sheep, for it is not only a matter of duty but also of affection.

After finding the one sheep, the shepherd in this parable went home and invited people over to celebrate with him. The shepherd’s joy was so great he had to share it.

Today’s verse is the conclusion to this parable and a hope for Christians today. Just as a shepherd rejoices over the lost sheep, our Great Shepherd rejoices over the repentant sinner, for He has found His lost sheep.[1]


March 18 Placing Others Above Yourself

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.”

Philippians 2:3

✧✧✧

One important way to prevent factionalism in the church is to regard other members as more important than yourself.

Humility of mind” is a distinctive New Testament expression. There were similar terms in secular writings, but none that exactly fit the purposes of the New Testament writers. One form of the Greek word was used to describe the mentality of a slave. It was a term of derision, signifying anyone who was considered base, common, shabby, or low. Among pagans before Christ’s time, humility was never a trait to be sought or admired. Thus the New Testament introduced a radically new concept.

In Philippians 2:3 Paul defines “humility of mind” simply as seeing others as more important than yourself. But how often do we really consider others that way? Frequently, even within the church, we think just the opposite of what Paul commands. For example, we are sometimes prone to criticize those with whom we minister. It is naturally easier for us to speak of their faults and failures than it is to refer to our own.

But Paul’s attitude was different. He knew his own heart well enough to call himself the worst of sinners: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all” (1 Tim. 1:15). The apostle was also humble enough to realize that in his own strength he was not worthy of the ministry to which he had been called: “I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle” (1 Cor. 15:9).

Your knowledge of others’ sins and graces is based on their outward words and actions, not on what you can read from their hearts. But you, like Paul, do know your own heart and its sinful shortcomings (cf. Rom. 7). That ought to make it much easier to respect and honor others before yourself. And when you do that, you are helping prevent factionalism in your church and contributing to the edification of fellow believers.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Examine your life and ask God to help you turn from anything that would be keeping you from “humility of mind.”

For Further Study: Read Genesis 13, and notice what happened between Abraham and his nephew Lot. How did God reassure Abraham after his graciousness toward Lot?[2]


MARCH 18

EMOTION ON A HIGH PLANE

The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

—Zephaniah 3:17

Now the Bible teaches that there is something in God which is like emotion. He experiences something which is like our love, something that is like our grief, that is like our joy. And we need not fear to go along with this conception of what God is like. Faith would easily draw the inference that since we were made in His image, He would have qualities like our own. But such an inference, while satisfying to the mind, is not the ground of our belief. God has said certain things about Himself, and these furnish all the grounds we require.

The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

This is but one verse among thousands which serve to form our rational picture of what God is like, and they tell us plainly that God feels something like our love, like our joy, and what He feels makes Him act very much as we would in a similar situation; He rejoices over His loved ones with joy and singing.

Here is emotion on as high a plane as it can ever be seen, emotion flowing out of the heart of God Himself. POM110-111

Oh, Lord, do You really rejoice over me with singing? I often give You more cause for grief than for joy. Help me live in a way that is worthy of Your love. Amen. [3]


March 18

Anticipating Physical Persecution

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.—Matt. 5:10

The Greek word that is translated “persecuted” and “persecute” in Matthew 5:10–12 has the basic meaning of chasing, driving away, or pursuing. From that meaning developed the connotations of physical persecution, harassment, abuse, and other unjust treatment.

The believer who possesses the qualities described in the first seven beatitudes will be willing to face persecution “for the sake of righteousness.” He will have an attitude of self-sacrifice for the sake of Christ. He is exemplified by a lack of fear and shame and the presence of courage and boldness. The tense of the Greek verb indicates that the believer has a continuous willingness to endure persecution if it is the price of godly living.

Under the demands of this beatitude many Christians break down in their obedience to the Lord; here is where the genuineness of their response to the other beatitudes is most strongly tested. It is where we are most tempted to compromise the righteousness we have hungered and thirsted for. It is here where we find it convenient to lower God’s standards to accommodate the world and thereby avoid conflicts and problems we know obedience will bring.

But God does not want His gospel altered under pretense of its being less demanding, less righteous, or less truthful than it is. He does not want witnesses who lead the unsaved into thinking that the Christian life costs nothing.

Do a spiritual inventory and make sure you are willing to pay the cost for the sake of righteousness.

ASK YOURSELF
What causes us to wish that Christian faith weren’t so costly? When our hearts lead us to compromise in order to avoid detection and possible derision, what lies are we really telling ourselves? And why doesn’t the secretive safety provided by these actions leave us feeling satisfied?[4]

MARCH 18

THE CROWD TURNS BACK

From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

John 6:66

 

Our Lord Jesus Christ called men to follow Him, but He plainly taught that “no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father” (John 6:65).

It is not surprising that many of His early followers, upon hearing these words, went back and walked no more with Him. Such teaching cannot but be deeply disturbing to the natural mind. It takes from sinful men much of the power of self-determination. It cuts the ground out from under their self-help and throws them back upon the sovereign good pleasure of God—and that is precisely where they do not want to be!

These statements by our Lord run contrary to the current assumptions of popular Christianity. Men are willing to be saved by grace, but to preserve their self-esteem, they must hold that the desire to be saved originated with them.

Most Christians today seem afraid to talk about these plain words of Jesus concerning the sovereign operation of God—so they use the simple trick of ignoring them!

 

Dear Lord, I do not want to be counted among those who turn their backs on You. I want to follow You, Lord. Guide me today.[5]


March 18 Praying for Christ’s Rule

“Thy kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10).

✧✧✧

When you pray, “Thy kingdom come,” you are praying for Christ to reign on earth as He already does in Heaven.

When we hear the word kingdom, we tend to think of medieval castles, kings, knights, and the like. But “kingdom” in Matthew 6:10 translates a Greek word that means “rule” or “reign.” We could translate the phrase, “Thy reign come.” That gives a clearer sense of what Christ meant. He prayed that God’s rule would be as apparent on earth as it is in Heaven.

God’s Kingdom was the central issue in Christ’s ministry. He proclaimed “the gospel of the kingdom” (Matt. 4:23) and instructed His followers to make the Kingdom a priority in their own lives (Matt. 6:33). He told parables about its character and value (Matt. 13) and indicted the scribes and Pharisees for hindering those who sought to enter it (Matt. 23:13). After His death and resurrection, He appeared for forty days and gave the disciples further instruction about the Kingdom (Acts 1:2–3).

When we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” we are praying for Christ’s sovereign rule to be as established on earth as it is in Heaven. In one sense the Kingdom is already here—in the hearts of believers. That Kingdom consists of “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). But in another sense the Kingdom is yet future. In Luke 17:21 Jesus says, “Behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst” (cf. John 18:36). Their King was present, but they rejected Him. Someday He will return again to establish His Kingdom on earth and personally reign over it. That’s the aspect of the Kingdom we pray for in Matthew 6:10.

Sin and rebellion are now rampant, but when Christ’s Kingdom comes, they will be done away with (Rev. 20:7–9). In the meantime, the work of the Kingdom continues, and you have the privilege of promoting it through your prayers and faithful ministry. Take every opportunity to do so today, and rejoice in the assurance that Christ will someday reign in victory and will be glorified for all eternity.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Praise God for the glorious future that awaits you and all believers. ✧ Pray with anticipation for the coming of Christ’s eternal Kingdom.

For Further Study: Read Matthew 13:1–52. What parables did Jesus use to instruct His disciples about the Kingdom of Heaven?[6]


MARCH 18

A BIBLE FACT: A REGENERATED MAN KNOWS GOD

Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.

ACTS 27:25

The Bible assumes as a self-evident fact that men can know God with at least the same degree of immediacy as they know any other person or thing that comes within the field of their experience.

The same terms are used to express the knowledge of God as are used to express knowledge of physical things:

“O TASTE and see that the Lord is good.”

“All thy garments SMELL of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia.”

“My sheep HEAR my voice.”

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall SEE God.”

These are but four of countless such passages from the Word of God. And more important than any proof text is the fact that the whole import of the Scripture is toward this belief.

We apprehend the physical world by exercising the faculties given us for the purpose, and we possess spiritual faculties by means of which we can know God and the spiritual world if we will obey the Spirit’s urge and begin to use them.

That a saving work must first be done in the heart is taken for granted here. The spiritual faculties of the unregenerate man lie asleep in his nature; they may be quickened to active life again by the operation of the Holy Spirit in regeneration![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 90). 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. 86). 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. 90). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

March 17, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

March 17

The First Step

Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 28:19

 

Baptism is the outward sign of one’s inward faith in Christ. It’s an act of obedience by which a person demonstrates the reality of his salvation. Salvation is not visibly seen but is a supernatural, spiritual transaction. The fruit or result of salvation, however, should be evident.

In the early church, the initial fruit of obedience was baptism, and this same fruit can be expected today. It’s the means by which an individual testifies to his or her union in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (Rom. 6:3–4). Galatians 3:27 says, “As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

The Great Commission in Matthew 28 commands us to preach the gospel and baptize others. That means we’re to tell people that salvation is something they should not only believe, but also publicly confess, with baptism as the first step. When someone is reluctant to publicly confess Christ in that way, we have reason to question the genuineness of his faith. Jesus said, “Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32). That is the public confession we all should make.[1]


March 17 The Danger of Selfishness and Conceit

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.”

Philippians 2:3

✧✧✧

Selfishness and conceit can prevent us from doing God’s will.

Selfishness and conceit are all too common among people today. It seems there is hardly a prominent entertainer or sports figure who doesn’t portray those characteristics to excess. Yet those traits are the very opposite of what should characterize the humble follower of Christ.

“Selfishness” in today’s passage refers to pursuing an enterprise in a factional way. It involves an egotistical, personal desire to push your own agenda in a destructive and disruptive way. “Empty conceit” describes the force behind such overbearing behavior—personal glory. A person driven by such motivation thinks he is always right.

Paul’s opening phrase in Philippians 2:3 has the force of a negative command: believers are never to act out of selfish ambition with the goal of heaping praise upon themselves. To do so inevitably leads to one of the common sin problems in our churches: factionalism, accompanied by jealousy, strife, disharmony, and partisanship. Paul knew what harm factionalism could do within a church. It was the primary problem he addressed in his letter of 1 Corinthians. The apostle summarized the Corinthian church’s condition this way: “For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?” (1 Cor. 3:3). It is spiritually immature to be jealous of and to cause strife among fellow Christians, and it reveals a fleshly perspective.

Because our flesh (sinfulness) produces selfishness and conceit, it is vitally important to keep it under control (Gal. 5:16). Plans and agendas by themselves are valid, and they are not necessarily incompatible with humility in the Christian life. But if our goals and objectives are driven by selfishness, they become competitive and harmful. One key of dealing with selfishness is realizing that others also have goals and desires. Such a realization will help you go a long way toward killing the monster of selfishness in your life.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that God’s Spirit would rid your heart and mind of any attitudes of selfishness and conceit.

For Further Study: The beginning of 1 Corinthians deals with the subject of factionalism. Read chapter 1. What perspective does Paul have regarding church divisions? ✧ What does the second half of the chapter offer as a prime reason for divisions within the church?[2]


MARCH 17

I FELL ON MY FACE

For our God is a consuming fire.

—Hebrews 12:29

Just because God cannot tell us what He is He very often tells us what He is like. By these “like” figures He leads our faltering minds as close as they can come to that “light which no man can approach unto” (1 Timothy 6:16). Through the more cumbersome medium of the intellect the soul is prepared for the moment when it can, through the operation of the Holy Spirit, know God as He is in Himself. God has used a number of these similitudes to hint at His incomprehensible being, and judging from the Scriptures one would gather that His favorite similitude is fire. In one place the Spirit speaks expressly, “For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). This accords with His revelation of Himself as recorded throughout the Bible. As a fire He spoke to Moses from the burning bush; in the fire He dwelt above the camp of Israel through all the wilderness journey; as fire He dwelt between the wings of the cherubim in the Holy of Holies; to Ezekiel He revealed Himself as a strange brightness of “a fire infolding itself” (Ezekiel 1:4)….

This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake. (1:28) POM098-099

Great God, if I really saw You in all Your majesty I too would fall on my face before You. And this is only a glimpse of what You are! Show me Your glory, I pray. Amen. [3]


March 17

The Cost of Discipleship

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.—Matt. 5:10

Our Lord made it clear from His earliest teaching that following Him was costly. Those who entered His kingdom would suffer for Him before they would reign with Him.

The cost of discipleship is billed to our account in many different ways. A believer today might be expected to hedge on the quality of his work to increase company profits. To follow one’s conscience in obedience to the Lord might cost him his job or at least a promotion. A Christian housewife who refuses to listen to gossip or to laugh at the crude jokes of her neighbors may find herself ostracized. Some costs will be great and some will be slight. But by the Lord’s and the apostles’ repeated promises, faithfulness always has a cost, which true Christians are willing to pay.

In the early days of the church, the price paid was often the ultimate. To choose Christ might mean choosing death by stoning. To choose Christ could mean torture by any number of excessively cruel and painful methods. That was the very thing Christ had in mind when He identified His followers as those willing to bear their crosses. That is His call to be ready to die, if need be, for the cause of the Lord (Matt. 10:35–39; 16:24–25).

Are you willing to pay that cost?

ASK YOURSELF
What are our usual reasons for not being willing to pay the cost of discipleship? Fear? Reputation? A stronger desire to be liked than to be lumped together with Christ’s followers? Ask yourself, “What makes me more strongly attached to these excuses than to bearing the name of my Lord?”[4]

MARCH 17

RESPONSE TO THE WORD

The word of God is…sharper than any twoedged sword.

Hebrews 4:12

 

Men and women who read and study the Scriptures for their literary beauty alone have missed the whole purpose for which they were given.

God’s Word is not to be enjoyed as one might “enjoy” a Beethoven symphony or a poem by Wordsworth.

The reason: The Bible demands immediate action, faith, surrender, committal. Until it has secured these, it has done nothing positive for the reader, but it has increased his responsibility and deepened the judgment that must follow.

The Bible was called forth by the fall of man. It is the voice of God calling men home from the wilds of sin; it is a road map for returning prodigals. It is instruction in righteousness, light in darkness, information about God and man and life and death and heaven and hell.

Further, the destiny of each individual depends upon the response to that Voice in the Word!

 

Father, Your Word contains the precious words of life. I pray today that the Word of God will be proclaimed faithfully—and effectively—to people of every language, tribe and nation.[5]


March 17 Displaying God’s Holiness

“Hallowed be Thy name” (Matt. 6:9).

✧✧✧

Sound theology that results in holy living hallows God’s name.

We have learned that hallowing God’s name requires setting it apart from everything common and giving Him first place in our lives. That starts with believing He exists. Hebrews 11:6 says, “He who comes to God must believe that He is.”

Beyond mere belief, you must also know the kind of God He is. Many people who claim to believe in God aren’t hallowing His name because they have erroneous concepts of who He is. The Israelites thought they were worshiping the true God when they bowed down to the golden calf (Ex. 32:4). The Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day thought they worshiped the true God, but Jesus called them children of the Devil because they rejected God’s Word (John 8:44, 47). Sound Biblical doctrine about God is essential to revering God properly.

Hallowing God’s name also involves constantly being aware of His presence. That helps you focus on His priorities and to see every aspect of your life from His perspective. That’s what David meant when he said, “I have set the Lord continually before me” (Ps. 16:8).

Obedience is another way to hallow God’s name. Your theology might be flawless, and you may be constantly aware of His presence, but if you disobey Him, you dishonor Him. Jesus said, “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” (Matt. 5:16).

You are an instrument through whom God displays His holiness in the world. If His name is to be hallowed on earth as it is in Heaven, it must first be hallowed in your life. That occurs when you believe in Him, understand who He really is, maintain an awareness of His presence, and obey His Word.

That high calling sets you apart from every unbeliever (1 Peter 2:9–10). Live today in light of that glorious calling!

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask God to help you be aware of His presence in every circumstance you face today. ✧ Pray that your life will manifest His holiness.

For Further Study: Read Exodus 32. ✧ Why did the Israelites build the golden calf? ✧ What was Moses’ response when God threatened to destroy His people?[6]


MARCH 17

NO ONE FOR WHOM CHRIST DIED IS WORTHLESS

Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.

PROVERBS 16:5

Contempt for another human being is an affront to God almost as grave as idolatry, for while idolatry is disrespect for God Himself, contempt is disrespect for the being He made in His own image.

Contempt says of a man, “Raca! Fool! This fellow is of no worth. I attach to this person no value whatsoever!” The person guilty of thus appraising a human being is thoroughly bad. The gravity of the situation lies not in the fact that a man can cry “Fool!” but that he can entertain in his heart the contempt which the word expresses.

Contempt is an emotion possible only where there is great pride. The error in moral judgment that undervalues another always springs out of the error that overvalues one’s self. The contemptuous man esteems himself too highly, and for reasons that are invalid. His high opinion of himself is not based upon his position as a being made in God’s image; he esteems himself for fancied virtues which he does not possess. The error in his judgment is moral, not intellectual.

Here is our warning: the Christian believer’s disapprobation of the evil ways of men and women must not betray him into contempt for them as human beings! He must reverence the humanity of every man—for no one for whom Christ died can be common or worthless. To esteem anyone worthless who wears the form of a man is to be guilty of an affront to the Son of Man! We are to hate sin in ourselves and in all men, but never undervalue the man in whom the sin is found.[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 90). 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. 85). 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. 89). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

March 16, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

March 16

An Alternate Choice

I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first.

Romans 1:16

 

Before God sent His Son to earth, God’s design was to reach the world through Israel, but Israel was unbelieving. Their unbelief is described in a parable about a king who arranged a wedding feast for his son and called for his invited guests (Israel). When the guests refused to come—some were indifferent and others hostile—the king said to his servants, “Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding” (Matt. 22:9). Jesus used this parable to describe apostate Israel, who refused their Messiah and forfeited the celebration planned for them.

God then gave the invitation to another group: the Gentiles. God chose a small group of people gathered on a hillside in Galilee and a few other disciples in Jerusalem to reach the lost world. Through them He would do the work that the nation of Israel had refused to do, and we are called to continue that work.[1]


March 16 Threats to Humility: Doctrine and Hypocrisy

“Walk … with all humility.”

Ephesians 4:1–2

✧✧✧

Avoid pride in your position, intelligence, or spirituality.

Years ago, when my children were young, my son Mark told my youngest child, Melinda, to take something out of the room. She said, “You’re not my boss.” Mark replied, “Dad is the boss of Mom, Mom is the boss of Matt, Matt is the boss of Marcy, Marcy is the boss of me, and I am the boss of you.” So Melinda obeyed. After that, Melinda decided she was the boss of the dog, and the dog was boss of nobody. No one wants to be on the bottom rung of the ladder!

Everyone holds a certain position in life, and everyone is tempted to take advantage of it. Look at Herod in Acts 12:21–22: “Herod, having put on his royal apparel … began delivering an address to them. And the people kept crying out, ‘The voice of a god and not of a man!’ ” He loved the attention. What happened? “Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died” (v. 23).

Intellectual pride can also be a stumbling block. It’s easy for Christians to think their theology is perfect and they have all the answers. But the more I study the Bible, the more I realize how little I know. I feel like a child who fills a pail in the ocean. My learning is only a small bucket of water compared to the vast sea of knowledge. I know very little, and I’m still learning.

The worst type of pride is external spirituality without internal holiness. Jesus reserved His greatest condemnations for those who had such pride: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matt. 23:27–28). You may look spiritual on the outside, going to church and acting “Christianly,” but your heart may be full of sin.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Examine your heart, and confess any pride in your position, intelligence, or spirituality.

For Further Study: Read in Daniel 5 about what happened to a king who took pride in his position. Notice how God humbled him. Such sin wasn’t trivial to God; it shouldn’t be to us either.[2]


MARCH 16

GOD IS INEFFABLE

For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

—1 Corinthians 2:11

We can best conceive of God by conceiving of what He is not. We can always know what God is not, but we can never know quite what God is…. The greatness of God’s mind leaves all our soaring thoughts behind. God is ineffable (incapable of being expressed in words), inconceivable and unimaginable….

As I said, we are driven to the use of negative statements when speaking about God. When we speak of the self-existence of God, we say God has no origin. When we speak of God’s eternity, we say God has no beginning. When we speak of the immutability of God, we say God has no change. When we speak of the infinity of God, we say that God has no limits. When we speak of the omniscience of God, we say that God has no teachers and cannot learn….

Well now, the Scripture takes this negative method too. Scripture says the Lord “fainteth not, neither is weary” (Isaiah 40:28) and that He “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2). It says, “I am the LORD, I change not” (Malachi 3:6). It says, “with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37)…. AOGII107, 109-110

Teach me, Lord, that I might know all of You that I can within the limits of my humanity. I await the day when I will more completely know who You are. Amen.[3]


March 16

The Nature of Persecution

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 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

Our Lord’s teaching on the beatitudes climaxes with this great and sobering truth: those who faithfully live according to the first seven beatitudes are guaranteed at some point to experience the eighth. Godliness generates hostility and antagonism from the world. Holy people are singularly blessed, but they pay a price for it.

However, persecution is one of the surest and most tangible evidences of salvation. If we never experience ridicule, criticism, or rejection because of our faith, we have reason to examine the genuineness of it. “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me” (Phil. 1:29–30).

To live a redeemed life to its fullest is to invite and expect resentment and reaction from the world. When Christians are not persecuted in some way by society, it generally means they are reflecting rather than confronting that society. And when we please the world, we can be sure that we grieve the Lord (cf. James 4:4; 1 John 2:15–17). Make sure you are living apart from the world and its allurements.

ASK YOURSELF
How do you experience persecution in your life, perhaps at work, within your family (including parents and in-laws), or among the various people you routinely associate with? How do you typically respond to it—if not directly, at least in the thoughts you entertain?[4]

MARCH 16

EXCEPT YE REPENT

The rest of the men…repented not.

Revelation 9:20

 

There are many compelling lessons to be drawn from the Scriptures, and one of the clearest is that sinful and rebellious people can never be forced into repentance.

The same act that may cause one person to repent and believe will cause others to hate and despise God!

The same Bible sermon that brings the person to tearful submission at an altar of prayer will send others out with pride and a resolve to have their own human way.

Students of the Scriptures are aware that the Old Testament prophets and the writing apostles of New Testament times foresaw and proclaimed God’s coming day of judgment—the consummate settling of accounts between the Sovereign God and His rebellious and sinful creation.

How desperately we would like to believe that in the face of coming judgment, all lost men and women will cry out to God, but such will not be the case: “The rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands…” (Revelation 9:20).

 

Lord, I pray today that a massive number of people who do not yet know You will turn away from their sin and receive new life in Jesus Christ.[5]


March 16 Hallowing God’s Name

“Hallowed be Thy name” (Matt. 6:9).

✧✧✧

God is holy and deserves your highest respect and your humble obedience.

To most people the word hallowed elicits thoughts of Halloween, ivy-covered walls, or starchy religious traditions. But those are all far from its Biblical meaning. “Hallowed” in Matthew 6:9 translates a Greek word that means “holy.” When Christ said, “Hallowed be Thy name,” He was saying in effect, “May Your name be regarded as holy.” When you hallow God’s name, you set it apart from everything common and give Him the place He deserves in your life.

Throughout Scripture, holiness is attributed to persons or things that are consecrated to God’s service. The Sabbath day, for example, was to be kept “holy”—set apart from the other days (Ex. 20:8). The Israelite priests were to be considered “holy” because they rendered special service to the Lord (Lev. 21:8). As believers in Christ, we are to be “holy” because we belong to God (1 Peter 1:15).

Holiness also speaks of moral excellence and purity. God is called “the Holy One” (1 Peter 1:15) not only because He is set apart from His creation, but also because He is pure and sinless in His character. That’s why Isaiah pronounced a curse on himself when he saw the Lord and heard the angels crying out, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isa. 6:3–5). He was overcome with a sense of his own human sinfulness in the presence of a holy God.

Such a God deserves your highest respect and reverence. He is your gracious and loving Father, but He is also the sovereign, majestic God of the universe. Consequently, you must guard against thinking of Him as a buddy or addressing Him flippantly.

Additionally, He deserves your humble obedience. You hallow His name only when your life is marked by righteousness and moral excellence.

May that be true of you today, and may you seek to honor Him in all that you do!

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Always approach God with a sense of respect and reverence. ✧ Think of specific ways you can hallow His name today. Ask Him for the grace to do so.

For Further Study: Read each of these verses, noting the specific ways you can glorify God: Joshua 7:19; Psalm 50:23; John 15:8; Romans 15:5–6; 1 Corinthians 6:20; Philippians 2:9–11; and 2 Thessalonians 3:1.[6]


MARCH 16

TRUTH ADDRESSES ITSELF TO THE TOTAL MAN

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

JOHN 17:17

The Bible is, among other things, a book of revealed truth. That is, certain facts are revealed that could not be discovered by the most brilliant mind. These facts are of such a nature as to be past finding out.

These are facts that were hidden behind a veil, and until certain men who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost took away that veil no mortal man could know them.

The lifting of the veil of unknowing from undiscoverable things we call divine revelation.

What is generally overlooked among humankind is that truth as set forth in the Christian Scriptures is a moral thing; it is not addressed to the intellect only, but to the will also. It addresses itself to the total man, and its obligations cannot be discharged by grasping it mentally.

Truth engages the citadel of the human heart and is not satisfied until it has conquered everything there. The will must come forth and surrender its sword. It must stand at attention to receive orders, and those orders it must joyfully obey. Short of this any knowledge of Christian truth is inadequate and unavailing.

Bible exposition without moral application raises no opposition. It is only when the hearer is made to understand that truth is in conflict with his heart that resistance sets in. As long as people can hear orthodox truth divorced from life they will attend and support churches and institutions without objection![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 89). 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. 84). 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. 88). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

March 15, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

March 15

All Authority

All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

Matthew 28:18

 

Before Christ issued the Great Commission, to “make disciples of all the nations,” He had to establish His divine authority to give it. Otherwise, the command would have seemed impossible to fulfill.

As the disciples followed Jesus for three and a half years, they learned much about His authority. He showed them that He had authority over sickness (Matt. 4:23) and death (John 11:43–44). He gave His disciples the same power He had to overcome disease and demons (Matt. 10:1). He established that He had the authority to forgive sins (Matt. 9:6) and judge all men (John 5:25–29). And He proved that He had the authority to lay down His life and take it up again (John 10:18).

Submission to that absolute authority of Christ is not an option—it is your supreme obligation.[1]


March 15 Threats to Humility: Riches and Wealth

“Walk … with all humility.”

Ephesians 4:1–2

✧✧✧

Our possessions and positions in life are from God; we can’t take credit for them.

Many today take pride in their economic status. They boast about their riches and trust their money, thinking they must be great for acquiring all they have. But remember what Moses said to the Israelites before they entered the Promised Land: “You may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth” (Deut. 8:17–18). Everything you have, God gave to you. Don’t parade your possessions as if you obtained them through your self–created abilities.

A related area is pride in one’s class, which involves looking down on those in “lower” levels of society. Such people don’t want lower–class people in their neighborhoods and certainly wouldn’t invite them to dinner. If you are guilty of this sort of pride, keep in mind that God loves poor people. Jesus Himself was poor in this world and spent most of His time ministering to the poor.

Sometimes in moving up the social ladder, people may demand a certain kind of treatment. They expect the best of everything and get offended when they don’t receive it. One of the things Jesus criticized the scribes and Pharisees for was this: “They love the place of honor at banquets, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called by men, Rabbi” (Matt. 23:6–7). Resist the temptation to seek worldly honor, glamour, and privileges.

Advertisers today continually entice us to draw attention to ourselves by what we wear. But undue attention to appearance can make people haughty, boastful, and indulgent, trying to show themselves as better than others. God hates that sin (Isa. 3:16–26).

John said, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world…. The world is passing away, and also its lusts” (1 John 2:15, 17). Don’t let the world tell you what you should seek or value. Remember instead that “the one who does the will of God abides forever” (v. 17).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Lord to give you contentment with your present status and to help you reach out to those not so blessed.

For Further Study: Read Luke 14:8–10; 1 Timothy 2:9–10; and James 2:2–8 and see if you are guilty of materialism or social pride.[2]


MARCH 15

FULL COMPREHENSION IS YET TO COME

And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.

—Exodus 24:16

We know very well that the human mind cannot comprehend or encompass the person of God. We can know what God is not, but in this earthly life it is impossible for us to say, “I know what God is.” We never can know because God belongs to a realm entirely different from ours. The great God exists in awesome wonder. He is uncreated holiness, high above all the things that the hands of mankind have made….

There is neither preacher nor teacher anywhere in the world who can say, “Let me tell you all about God!” God told Moses and Israel, and He tells us: “Always there will be the cloud about Me. Always there will be a veil covering My person. While you are on My earth, you will sense this obscurity, for I Am who I Am!”…

And I can say this from personal experience: After you have known God and walked with Him by faith for fifty years, growing daily in His grace and the knowledge of Him, you will still see a cloud on Mount Sinai. You will still sense the obscurity. Your mind and your spirit will still bow before Him. Your day of full comprehension is yet to come. MMG082-083

I long for that day, Lord, when the cloud is completely removed and I shall know You completely. Amen. [3]


March 15

The Prize of Peace—Eternal Sonship

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.—Matt. 5:9

The result of peacemaking is eternal blessing as God’s children in God’s kingdom. Peacemakers “shall be called sons of God.”

Most of you are thankful for your heritage, your ancestors, your parents, and your family name. It is especially gratifying to have been influenced by godly grandparents, parents, or both. But even the greatest human heritage cannot match our heritage in Christ (Rom. 8:17). After all, what could compare to being a child of God?

Peacemaking is a hallmark of God’s children. Only God determines who His children are, and He has determined that we are to be humble, penitent over sin, gentle, seekers of righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, and ultimately peacemakers.

As the next beatitude makes abundantly clear, we often don’t have peace in the world; we have persecution instead. In Christ we have forsaken the false peace of the world, and consequently we won’t find much peace with it. But as God’s children we can always have peace within, even while we are in the world—the peace of God, which the world can’t give and the world can’t take away.

Today begin to live as a peacemaking child of God—it is your calling.

ASK YOURSELF
Review the beatitude summaries mentioned in today’s reading—those qualities of life that distinguish the sons and daughters of God from others. Is anything worth keeping you from exemplifying these characteristics? Can anything rival being known as a child of God?[4]

MARCH 15

“TEARS OF JOY—AMEN!”

He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.

Luke 3:16

 

We need not be afraid of a genuine visitation of the Spirit of God!

Blaise Pascal, the famed seventeenth-century French scientist and philosopher, experienced in his lifetime a personal, overwhelming encounter with God that changed his life. Those who attended him at his death found a worn, creased paper in his clothing, close to his heart—apparently a reminder of what he had felt and sensed in God’s very presence.

In Pascal’s own hand it read:

From about half past ten at night, to about half after midnight—fire! O God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob—not the God of philosophers or the wise. The God of Jesus Christ who can be known only in the ways of the Gospel. Security. Feeling. Peace. Joy. Tears of joy—Amen!

Were these the expressions of a fanatic, an extremist? No; it was the ecstatic utterance of a yielded man during two awesome hours in the presence of God. The astonished Pascal could only describe the visitation in one word—“Fire!”

 

Dear Lord, I pray that I will experience the “fire” of Your holy presence in my life. Burn away all the dross by Your Spirit. I want to live for You and You only.[5]


March 15 Putting God First

“Hallowed be Thy name” (Matt. 6:9).

✧✧✧

Prayer should always exalt God.

The Disciples’ Prayer illustrates the priority that God should hold in our prayers. Jesus began by exalting the Father—“Hallowed be Thy name” (v. 9), then requested that the Father’s Kingdom come and His will be done (v. 10). He concluded with an anthem of praise: “For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” (v. 13). His prayer literally begins and ends with God.

“Hallowed be Thy name” exalts the name of the Lord and sets a tone of worship and submission that is sustained throughout the prayer. Where God’s name is hallowed, He will be loved and revered, His Kingdom eagerly anticipated, and His will obeyed.

“Thy name” speaks of more than a title such as “God,” “Lord,” or “Jehovah.” It speaks of God Himself and is the composite of all His attributes. The Hebrews considered God’s name so sacred they wouldn’t even speak it, but they missed the point. While meticulously guarding the letters of His name, they slandered His character and disobeyed His Word. Because of them the name of God was blasphemed among the Gentiles (Rom. 2:24).

Psalm 102:15 says, “So the nations will fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth Thy glory.” It’s not the letters of God’s name that the nations fear; it’s the embodiment of all He is. As Jesus prayed, “I manifested Thy name to the men whom Thou gavest Me” (John 17:6). He did that by revealing who God is. John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus told Philip, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Jesus is the manifestation of all that God is.

Manifesting the priority of God in your prayers involves acknowledging who He is and approaching Him with a reverent, humble spirit that is yielded to His will. As you do that, He will hallow His name through you.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Praise God for His holiness. ✧ Ask Him to use you today to demonstrate His holiness to others.

For Further Study: Read Numbers 20. How did Moses show irreverence for God’s name?[6]


MARCH 15

GOD’S VOICE STILL ENTREATS LOST MANKIND

For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

ROMANS 8:19, 22

Why is it that the shining world of which men have dreamed, and that every man secretly believes is somewhere before him, is nevertheless lost to men?

It can only be because we are out of the way.

The world we inhabit is a lost world. It is a sick, fallen planet upon which we ride. The sacred revelation declares plainly that the inhabitants of the world are also lost, by a mighty, calamitous visitation of woe which is still upon them.

But with this, it also tells us a glorious fact—that this lost race has not been given up!

Thankfully, there is a voice that calls, a voice that entreats! If we were not lost, there would be no voice behind us saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it.”

I say again that we have not been given up. That is plain from the book of Genesis. Recall that the sound of God’s gentle voice was heard saying, “Adam, where art thou?”—and that voice has never died out!

All of His entreating calls blend into one, whether it be the voice of God’s love, or the voice of Jesus’ blood, or the voice of conscience, or the voice of the dead or of the living, or of the lost or of the saved!

So, the holy writer says the lost planet is full of vanity and has lost its meaning, crying like a woman in travail but waiting, as it were, to be born again into the liberty of the sons of God, and saved from decay and corruption![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 88). 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. 83). 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. 87). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

March 14, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

March 14

Are You Available?

Here am I! Send me.

Isaiah 6:8

 

God desires a heart that is available at the appointed place and time to hear His orders. He also desires a heart full of true worship. The believer’s whole affection and mind is to be set on Christ. All his goals are directed toward Him. He is his all in all.

So are you available? Are you a worshiper? Is your intent and purpose in life focused on the Person of Christ? Having those attitudes means being controlled by the Holy Spirit, who is the only One who can cause you to call Jesus Lord (1 Cor. 12:3). All your possessions, time, energy, talent, and gifts are to be under His control.

That also means being centered on the Word because the Word is where Christ is seen. You gaze at His glory in the Word. As Christ came into the world to give His life to bring people to Himself, so you must do likewise.[1]


March 14 Threats to Humility: Strength and Boasting

“Walk … with all humility.”

Ephesians 4:1–2

✧✧✧

Satan will tempt us to be proud of our abilities and accomplishments, but we must remember that every good thing we have is from God.

We’ve just studied three steps to humility. Let’s look at the issue from another angle: What kinds of pride threaten to destroy our humility? Where will we struggle to be humble? There are several areas in which Satan will attack us.

The first area I call ability pride. We’re often tempted to be proud of our strong points, not our weak ones. I’ve never been tempted to boast of my fantastic mathematical ability because I have none. But I am tempted to be proud of my preaching because it is my spiritual gift. Thankfully, the Lord helps me deal with such thoughts. It might come in the form of a letter saying, “I was in your church Sunday, and I violently disagree with everything you said.” Or someone might tell me, “We came to hear you for the first time, but we like our pastor better.” Times like those help me keep the proper perspective.

The key to overcoming ability pride is remembering that every gift you have is from God. All the credit belongs to Him. As Paul said to the Corinthians, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7).

Another temptation is verbal pride, or bragging. There is a tendency in human nature to tell people what good we have done or plan to do. People get into a conversation, and soon they’re trying to top each other with their accomplishments. In contrast, Hannah asserts, “Boast no more so very proudly, do not let arrogance come out of your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge; and with Him actions are weighed” (1 Sam. 2:3). God knows the truth about what you have done. Proverbs 27:2 instructs, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth.”

As a test, try to get through an entire week without talking about what you’ve done. Perhaps for a starter, try to last an afternoon. When people don’t talk about themselves, the absence of boasting tells volumes about their character.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Repent of any pride in your own abilities or accomplishments.

For Further Study: The apostle Paul had tremendous advantages and abilities but refused to boast about them. Read Philippians 3:4–11. What were Paul’s accomplishments? ✧ How did he consider them? ✧ What was most important to him?[2]


MARCH 14

THE STUDY OF THEOLOGY

And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

—1 John 5:20

That theology probably receives less attention than any other subject tells us nothing about its importance or lack of it. It indicates rather that men are still hiding from the presence of God among the trees of the garden and feel acutely uncomfortable when the matter of their relation to God is brought up….

It is precisely because God is, and because man is made in His image and is accountable to Him, that theology is so critically important. Christian revelation alone has the answer to life’s unanswered questions about God and human destiny. To let these authoritative answers lie neglected while we search everywhere else for answers and find none is, it seems to me, nothing less than folly.

No motorist would be excused if he neglected to consult his road map and tried instead to find his way across the country by looking for moss on logs, or by observing the flight of wild bees or watching the movement of the heavenly bodies. If there were no map a man might find his way by the stars; but for a traveler trying to get home the stars would be a poor substitute for a map. TIC093, 095

Lord, there are so many questions in this life that cry out for answers. Be my road map, Lord, that I might find You and know You more. Amen. [3]


March 14

Characteristics of Peacemakers, Part 2

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.—Matt. 5:9

Continuing from yesterday, let’s look at two more characteristics of peacemakers.

First, a peacemaker helps others make peace with others. Once you see your duty as a peacemaker in the world, you’ll be looking for ways to build bridges between people and God and then to build them between persons.

By definition, a bridge can’t be one-sided. It must extend between two sides or it can never function. And once built, it continues to need support on both sides or it will collapse. In any relationship our first responsibility is to see that our own side has a solid base. But we also have the responsibility to help the one on the other side build his base. Both must be built on righteousness and truth or the bridge will not stand.

Often the first step in the process is to confront others about their sin, which is the supreme barrier to peace (Matt. 18:15–17). Such confrontation usually causes turmoil, yet the way of righteousness is the only way to peace. Sin that is not dealt with is sin that will disrupt and destroy peace.

Finally, a peacemaker finds a point of agreement. God’s truth and righteousness must never be compromised or weakened. But we are to contend without being contentious, to disagree without being disagreeable, and to confront without being abusive. The peacemaker should speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).

When you hunger and thirst for holiness in your own life, you’ll have a passionate desire to see those virtues in the lives of others. That’s a true peacemaker.

ASK YOURSELF
If the desire for peacemaking is missing from your heart, it points to a deeper problem—that your love for others is not what it should be. Would you say this might be true of you? What are the usual symptoms of a heart that’s grown at least somewhat cold toward others?[4]

MARCH 14

WORSHIP—AND WORD

And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men.

1 Thessalonians 3:12

 

I must take issue with those in the churches who insist that the worshiping saints do not get anything done but worship! Such an attitude reveals that they have not done their homework. The beautiful part of worship is that it prepares you and enables you to zero in on the important things that must be done for God.

Listen to me! Practically every great deed done in the church of Christ all the way back to the apostles was done by people blazing with the radiant worship of their God!

The great hospitals and the mental institutions have grown out of the hearts of worshiping and compassionate disciples. It is true, also, that wherever the church has come out of her lethargy and into the tides of revival and spiritual renewal, always the worshipers were back of it.

A survey of church history will prove that it was those who were the yearning worshipers who also became the great workers and the selfless servants. If we give ourselves to God’s call for worship, everyone will do more for the Savior than they are doing now!

 

Lord, I worship You this morning. I praise You for Your faithfulness and goodness. Glorify Yourself today in the lives of every true worshiper around the globe.[5]


March 14 Looking Beyond the Temporal

“Our Father who art in heaven” (Matt. 6:9).

✧✧✧

With God as your Father, your life has eternal significance.

Author H. G. Wells wrote of a man who had been overcome by the pressure and stress of modern life. His doctor told him his only hope was to find fellowship with God. The man responded, “What? That—up there—having fellowship with me? I would as soon think of cooling my throat with the Milky Way or shaking hands with the stars.” Poet Thomas Hardy said prayer is useless because there’s no one to pray to except “that dreaming, dark, dumb thing that turns the handle of this idle show.” Voltaire described life as a bad joke. He added, “Bring down the curtain; the farce is done.” Such is the blasphemy and despair of all who insist that God is uninvolved in human affairs.

The Greek and Roman philosophers of Jesus’ day rejected the Fatherhood of God because it contradicted their philosophical systems. The Stoic philosophers taught that all of the gods were apathetic and experienced no emotions at all. The Epicurean philosophers taught that the supreme quality of the gods was complete calm or perfect peace. To maintain their serenity, they needed to remain totally isolated from the human condition.

Scripture refutes all such heresies by declaring that God is an intimate, caring Father. The significance of that truth is staggering. He conquers your fears and comforts you in times of distress. He forgives your sins and gives you eternal hope. He showers you with limitless resources and makes you the recipient of an imperishable inheritance. He grants you wisdom and direction through His Spirit and His Word. He will never leave or forsake you.

When you humbly approach God as your Father, you assume the role of a child who is eager to obey his Father’s will and receive all the benefits of His grace. Let that take you beyond your present circumstances and motivate you to dwell on what’s eternal.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the joy and purpose He gives you each day. ✧ Commit yourself to pursuing His will today.

For Further Study: Read Exodus 3:1–5 and Isaiah 6:1–5. What attitude should you have when you pray to God? ✧ What does Hebrews 4:16 say you can receive when you approach God in prayer?[6]


MARCH 14

MEN WILL NOT PRAISE YOU FOR GENUINE SPIRITUALITY

But as we are allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men but God….

1 THESSALONIANS 2:4

What we do for God must be done in the power of the Holy Spirit and we know and accept the fact that we may have little praise from men.

But what we do accomplish for Him as true spiritual work done with eternity in view will have His praise written across it!

Most of us have never heard, or do not remember, the name of the humble sixteen-year-old girl whose singing ministry brought such spiritual results in the Welsh revivals with Evan Roberts.

This quiet, humble girl would sing the gospel songs and much has been said about her spiritual gift—the Spirit-given ability to glorify Jesus Christ as Saviour when she sang. Not too much has ever been said about her voice, but the record is clear that she was a gifted soul—that the Holy Spirit seemed to be singing and moving through her yielded expression.

Evan Roberts would then rise to preach and there was little left for him to do. He said that he would quote from the Scriptures and add an exhortation and the people were ready to come to Christ. She had melted them with the warmth and the power of the Spirit!

Oh, what we would be tempted to do with her ministry in this day! We would put her on the coast-to-coast network and show off her talent—and spoil her! Thank God that they knew better than to start writing her life story.

She was a beautiful example of the humble use of our spiritual gifts for the glory of Jesus Christ—a simple Welsh girl willingly controlled by the Holy Spirit of God![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 87). 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. 82). 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. 86). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

March 13, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

March 13

The Prerequisite
for Success

For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Luke 19:10

 

S. D. Gordon wrote a book entitled Quiet Talks with World Winners. In it, he tells the story of a group of people who were preparing to ascend Mount Blanc in the Swiss Alps. The guides explained that because of the extreme difficulty of the climb, each person should take only necessary climbing equipment, leaving behind all personal accessories.

A young Englishman ignored the advice and brought extra items, but on the way to the summit, he left them behind, one at a time. Finally, when he had reached the top, he had jettisoned everything except the essential equipment.

S. D. Gordon made this application to the Christian life: “Many of us, when we find we can’t make it to the top with our loads, let the top go, and pitch our tents in the plain, and settle down with our small plans and accessories. The plain seems to be quite full of tents” (55). The question we must all ask ourselves is, Are my personal accessories preventing me from fulfilling the mission God has given me? [1]


March 13 Understanding Who God Is

“Walk … with all humility.”

Ephesians 4:1–2

✧✧✧

The more we comprehend the greatness of God, the more humble we will become.

God is not given proper respect today. He is often flippantly referred to as “the man upstairs”—more of a buddy than the eternal God. Many see Him as nothing more than a cosmic Santa Claus or an absent–minded grandfather who winks at sin.

Unfortunately, even Christians can be affected by these views. Such sin dishonors God and undermines the next step to humility: God–awareness. Instead of getting our ideas of God from the world, let’s look at what the biblical writers say about Him.

David said, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name in all the earth, who hast displayed Thy splendor above the heavens!” (Ps. 8:1). As he contemplated the exalted position of God, it was only natural for him to say, “What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him?” (v. 4). We are so minuscule by comparison, it’s a wonder He cares for us at all. But “though the Lord is exalted, yet He regards the lowly” (Ps. 138:6).

Isaiah 2:10 says, “Enter the rock and hide in the dust from the terror of the Lord and from the splendor of His majesty.” When you compare yourself with God, you’ll want to hide under a rock. Verse 11 gives the crux of the issue: “The proud look of man will be abased, and the loftiness of man will be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.” Pride is the sin of competing with God. It lifts self up and attempts to steal glory from Him. But God says, “My glory I will not give to another” (Isa. 48:11). God will judge those who exalt themselves. God alone is worthy of exaltation.

As you seek humility, remember that you won’t obtain it by sitting in a corner wishing for it. Rather, you’ll gain humility by sitting in that same corner and reciting before God your sins, failures, and inadequacies, then opening the Scriptures and seeing God in all His majesty.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that you would see God for who He really is, not how the world sees Him.

For Further Study: Read Job 38–41. What aspects of His greatness does God emphasize to Job? Make a list of the most prominent ones.[2]


MARCH 13

JUST HUMBLE YOURSELF

LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him! Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away.

—Psalm 144:3-4

Far better than the attempt to understand is the humility that admits its ignorance and waits quietly on God for His own light to appear in His own time. We will be better able to understand when we have accepted the humbling truth that there are many things in heaven and earth that we shall never be able to understand. It will be good for us to accept the universe and take our place in the mighty web of God’s creation, so perfectly known to Him and so slightly known to even the wisest of men….

Probably David lying on his back on the green meadow at night, brooding over the mystery of the moon and the stars and the littleness of man in the total scheme of things, worshiping the God who had made him only a little lower than the angels, was a truer man than the astronomer who in his high pride weighs and measures the heavenly bodies. Yet the astronomer need not despair. If he will humble himself and confess his deep inward need, the God of David will teach him how to worship, and by so doing will make him a greater man than he could ever have been otherwise. ROR088, 090

Lord, I can’t even begin to understand all the vastness of Your universe, but I see Your hand in it. I humble myself before You today, that I might learn to worship You better. Amen. [3]


March 13

Characteristics of Peacemakers, Part 1

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.—Matt. 5:9

The apostle tells us that “God has called us to peace” (1 Cor. 7:15), that He “reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18). The ministry of reconciliation is peacemaking. Those whom God has called to peace He also calls to make peace.

Today and tomorrow we’re going to look at four things that characterize a peacemaker. First, he is one who has made peace with God. Before we came to Christ, God was at war with us. Whatever we may have thought consciously about God, our hearts were against Him. But “while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Rom. 5:10). God reconciled us to Himself through the work of Christ on the cross. Our battle with God ended and our peace with Him began. And because we have been given God’s peace, we are called to share God’s peace with others (Eph. 6:15).

Second, a peacemaker leads others to make peace with God. Christians are a body of sinners cleansed by Jesus Christ and commissioned to carry His gospel to the rest of the world. Once freed from the shackles of sin, a Christian doesn’t look down on his fellow sinners; he or she realizes they are beggars who have been fed and are now called to help feed others. Our purpose is to preach “peace through Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:36). To lead a sinner to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is the most peacemaking act a believer can perform. That’s your ministry as an ambassador of Christ.

ASK YOURSELF
Have you ever thought about this before—that you are “called” to the ministry of peacemaking? How does that change your responsibilities as you go through the day? How does it affect the obligation you feel when others continue in stirring up discord and disharmony?[4]

MARCH 13

THE IMAGE WE PROJECT

O come, let us worship and bow down…For he is our God.

Psalm 95:6–7

 

Are we presently missing important elements of worship in our churches? I speak of the genuine and sacred offering of ourselves as we worship the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We must ask the question, even though we are building great churches and large congregations. We are boasting about high standards and talking about revival. But as evangelical Christian believers, are we as concerned as we should be about the image we really project to the community around us? It cannot be denied that many who profess the name of Christ still fail to show forth His love and compassion!

It should say something to us that the often-quoted Jean Paul Sartre described his turning to philosophy and hopelessness as a turning away from a secularistic church.

His indictment: “I did not recognize in the fashionable God who was taught me, Him who was waiting for my soul. I needed a creator: I was given a big businessman!”

 

O Lord, convict me by Your Holy Spirit if I am projecting a false impression of You to others. Express Your love and compassion through me so that others will be attracted to You.[5]


March 13 Recognizing God’s Fatherhood

“Our Father who art in heaven” (Matt. 6:9).

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Prayer begins with the recognition that God is your Father and has the resources to meet your needs.

The term Father is one of the most commonly used terms in our prayers, and rightly so, because that’s how Jesus taught us to pray. But as common as that term is to us, it was very uncommon to the people of Christ’s day.

At that time, most of the people who worshiped false gods thought of them as distant, capricious, and immoral beings who were to be feared. Even the Jewish people, who should have understood the Fatherhood of God, had removed themselves from His Fatherly care through their sin and apostasy. Consequently He seemed remote to them. Even some who did claim God as their Father were rebuked by Christ, who called them children of the Devil because they rejected the Son (John 8:44).

Against that backdrop, Christ’s teaching was revolutionary. He proclaimed God as a caring and gracious Father who desires intimate fellowship with His children. That fellowship can come only through faith in the Son.

Beyond that, Jesus revealed the Father’s character in everything He said and did. When Philip asked Jesus to show him the Father, Jesus replied, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Jesus also proclaimed God as a Father who has all the treasures of Heaven at His disposal and who makes them available to His children so they might glorify Him: “Your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him. … Do not be anxious. … But seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness; and all [you need] shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:8, 31, 33).

Your faith in Christ is what makes God your Heavenly Father. He loves you, listens to your prayers, and supplies your needs according to His abundant resources. Look to Him today, and live as a thankful, obedient child.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God that He is your gracious and loving Father. ✧ Praise Him for the abundant blessings He gives to you.

For Further Study: Read Proverbs 3:5–6 and Matthew 7:7–11. ✧ What are you exhorted to do? ✧ What specifically will God do for you? ✧ How should those passages affect your relationship with God?[6]


MARCH 13

CHRIST DIED EVEN FOR THOSE WHO HATED HIM

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

ACTS 4:12

Our Lord Jesus Christ came and demonstrated the vast difference between being charitable and being tolerant! He was so charitable that in His great heart He took in all the people in the world and was willing to die even for those who hated Him!

But even with that kind of love and charity crowning His being, Jesus was completely frank and open when He taught: “If you are not on My side, you are against Me!” There is no “twilight zone” in the teachings of Jesus—no place in between.

So, charity is one thing, but tolerance is quite another matter.

Suppose we take the position of compromise that many want us to take: “Everyone come, and be saved if you want to. But if you do not want to be saved, maybe there is some other way that we can find for you. We want you to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ if you will, but if you do not want to, there may be a possibility that God will find some other way for you because there are those who say that there are many ways to God.”

To take that position would not be a spirit of tolerance on our part—it would be downright cowardice! We would be guilty with so many others of a spirit of compromise that so easily becomes an anti-God attitude. Tolerance easily becomes a matter of cowardice if spiritual principles are involved, if the teachings of God’s Word are ignored and forgotten![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 86). 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. 81). 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. 85). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

March 12, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

March 12

Our Mission

God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.

2 Corinthians 5:19

 

God loved a lost world and sought to win sinners to Himself for His own glory. Christ came into the world out of love and sought to win sinners for the Father’s glory. As believers we also are to go to the world in love and to seek to reach the lost for the glory of God. Thus our mission is the same as God’s.

We are an extension of the ministry of God the Father and Son in receiving glory by the salvation of lost sinners. Jesus said, “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world” (John 17:18). “As” conveys intention. As the Father sent the Son into the unredeemed world, so the Son has sent believers. Wonder of wonders, we have the privilege of participating in Jesus Christ’s mission to a lost world![1]


March 12

 

Understanding Who Christ Is

 

“Walk … with all humility.”

Ephesians 4:1–2

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We are to walk as Christ walked. Our lack of conformity to His standard ought to make us humble.

What was your most humiliating experience? Life is full of embarrassing moments, but the most truly humbling experience I ever had was preaching through the Gospel of John. For two years—eighty–eight sermons, about one hundred hours of preaching, between two and three thousand hours of study—I was constantly faced with the deity of Jesus Christ. Living with the deity of Christ day after day and comparing yourself continually to Him is one of the healthiest—and most humbling—things you can ever do.

That brings us to another step toward humility: Christ–awareness. When we compare ourselves with ourselves, we get proud. But “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6). When you can say, “I’m happy to announce that I now walk as Jesus walked,” then you’ll have a right to be proud. But no one will believe you.

Jesus was the perfect man. He was without sin. He gave all the right answers and had the perfect attitude for every situation. He knew exactly how to help everyone who needed help. Reading the Gospels, we see time after time how Christ handled everything perfectly.

Even seeing His humanness, we realize how small we are. But when we look at His deity, we feel still smaller. He created everything (Col. 1:16). He turned water into wine, calmed storms, cast out demons, healed countless people, and brought the dead to life. After His crucifixion, He rose from the dead and sat at the Father’s right hand (Eph. 1:19–20). Someday He will come back, take His people home, and finally destroy all evil.

Despite Jesus’ perfect deity and perfect humanity, He came to serve (Mark 10:45). How can we be proud if Jesus Christ humbled Himself? What righteous thing have we done that compares to His perfect life?

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Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that you might know Christ better and increasingly be more like Him.

For Further Study: Peter got a glimpse of Jesus’ power in Luke 5:1–7. How did Peter’s sudden awareness of who Christ is affect him (v. 8)? ✧ What did he do next (vv. 9–11)?[2]


MARCH 12

DIVINE PURPOSE

The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.

—Isaiah 14:24

Now, I think that God first makes things orderly for utility. Whenever He made something in this universe it was because He had a purpose for it. I do not believe there is anything in the universe that just got here by accident. Everything in the universe has a meaning.

My father was philosophical about many things and I remember that he used to sit during the summertime and ponder why God made the mosquitoes. I still do not have the answer, but I am just a human being, and just because I do not have that answer, I am not going to accuse the Creator of making a cosmic blunder. I know the mosquito is not a blunder—it is just a pest. But God made it.

The same principle is true of a great many other things. I do not know why God does some things, but I am convinced that nothing is accidental in His universe. The fact that we do not know the reason behind some things is not basis enough for us to call them divine accidents. WPJ120-121

Lord, as I go about my day help me to remember that nothing happens by accident, but that everything is divinely controlled by Your eternal purpose. Amen. [3]


March 12

Peace: Its Ultimate Source and Manifestation

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.—Matt. 5:9

The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace” (2:13–14). He also told the Colossians, “It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (1:19–20).

How did the cross bring peace? At the cross all of man’s hatred and anger was vented against God. On the cross the Son of God was mocked, cursed, spit on, pierced, reviled, and killed. Jesus’ disciples fled in fear, the sky flashed lightning, the earth shook violently, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. Yet through that violence God brought peace. God’s greatest righteousness confronted man’s greatest wickedness, and righteousness won.

The one who does not belong to God through Jesus Christ can neither have peace nor be a peacemaker. God can work peace through us only if He has worked peace in us.

As a Christian, you might be enduring great turmoil and strife. But in your deepest being you have peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:8). Many live in favorable circumstances, but without God they will never find peace, while those who cling to God in the worst of circumstances need never lack peace.

ASK YOURSELF
This peace that “passes all understanding”—when have you experienced that before? Recall a time when God’s peace was every bit as real as the circumstance was dire. The next time you find yourself over your head in strife and conflict, call out for His incomprehensible peace, and expect to receive it.[4]

MARCH 12

WISDOM FROM GOD

Things which are seen are temporal…things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:18

 

The thinking of our generation often reflects a willingness to exchange a high view of God’s eternity for a short-term concept called “here and now.” Technology is presumed to be paramount, but the answers science gives us are short-term answers.

The scientists may be able to keep us alive for a few extra years, but believing Christians know some things that Einstein did not know!

For instance, we know why we are here. We can say why we were born. We also know what we believe about the value of things eternal.

We are thankful that we have found the promise from the God of all grace that deals with the long term and the eternal. We belong to a company of the plain people who believe the truth revealed in the Bible.

Actually, the wisest person in the world is the person who knows the most about God—the person who realizes that the answer to creation and life and eternity is a theological answer not a scientific answer!

 

Dear Lord, I pray that You will reveal Yourself in some small way to this unbelieving generation, resulting in many people turning their hearts to You.[5]


March 12 Praying as Jesus Prayed

Jesus told us to “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen’” (Matt. 6:9–15).

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Jesus gave six elements that constitute true prayer.

Many people have memorized the Disciples’ Prayer so they can recite it often, but as beautiful as it is, it wasn’t given for that purpose. In fact, after Jesus gave it, no one in the New Testament recited it—not even Jesus Himself (cf. John 17)!

The disciples didn’t ask Jesus to teach them a prayer, but to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1). There is a significant difference. Jesus preceded His prayer by saying, “Pray, then, in this way” (Matt. 6:9), which literally means, “Pray along these lines.” His prayer was a general pattern for all prayer, and although it wasn’t recited, its principles are evident in all New Testament prayers.

Christ’s model prayer teaches us to ask God for six things: 1. that His name be honored, 2. that He bring His Kingdom to earth, 3. that He do His will, 4. that He provide our daily needs, 5. that He pardon our sins, and 6. that He protect us from temptation. Each request contributes to the ultimate goal of all prayer, which is to bring glory to God. The last three are the means by which the first three are achieved. As God provides our daily bread, pardons our sins, and protects us when we are tempted, He is exalted in His name, Kingdom, and will.

If you understand and follow Christ’s pattern for prayer, you can be assured that you are praying as He instructed and that whatever you ask in His name, He will do, so “that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13).

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Do your prayers reflect the six elements outlined in the Disciples’ Prayer? If not, work on making them a regular part of your prayers.

For Further Study: Read Matthew 6:1–8, where Jesus discusses some of the practices of the Jewish religious leaders. ✧ What practices and motives did He mention? ✧ How did He feel about their spiritual leadership?[6]


MARCH 12

THE DELUSIVE GLORY OF THIS WORLD’S KINGDOMS

Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the LORD thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

MATTHEW 4:10

The delusive quality of all human glory is taught throughout the Bible, and with bold emphasis in the New Testament. It has been taught also with great clarity by the saints and faithful brethren since the days of the apostles.

Satan once tried to bring about the downfall of Christ by offering Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory in them.

In presenting to the Man Jesus the glory of the world he was shrewdly taking advantage of a known weakness in the human race. The trick should have worked, and it would have worked but for one thing: This was no fallen man Satan was attempting to seduce. It was a sinless Man full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whose penetrating glance pierced the world’s attractive exterior.

Beneath its gaudy allurements He saw the corruption and the decay. He knew its glory was but bait to catch foolish victims. He knew its bright promises were all lies. Our Lord saw what other men could not see. He saw not beauty but death, a garish death that must be purchased at the price of the soul. What He saw revolted Him—He would have no part of it!

All this Jesus knew; and Satan for all his wisdom did not know that He knew it. The devil is familiar with the Bible, but still he did not know or he would not have attempted the impossible, and that to his own confusion and permanent loss of face!

Here is sufficient proof that the devil is wise—but not wise enough![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 85). 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. 80). 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. 84). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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