Category Archives: A. W. Tozer

February 20, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

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February 20

Types of Spiritual Fruit

Walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work.

Colossians 1:10

 

What kind of fruit brings glory to God? Philippians 1:11 says, “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Righteousness, which is doing right, is the fruit God desires in our lives. When we do right, we glorify God; when we do wrong, we dishonor Him. Fruit is synonymous with righteousness.

There are two kinds of spiritual fruit: action fruit—which consists of giving, leading others to Christ, and expressing thanks to God—and attitude fruit. Galatians 5:22–23 describes attitude fruit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self–control.”

How do you get the right attitudes? Verse 25 says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” As you yield control of your life to the Holy Spirit, He will permeate your life and produce the proper fruit.[1]


February 20 The Measure of Grace

“Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”

Romans 5:20

✧✧✧

God will lavish grace upon sinners who are truly repentant.

Did you ever sin so terribly that you felt, I really blew it this time. There’s no way God would want to forgive me now? It’s easy sometimes to let our past sins be a constant burden to us, even after we’ve confessed and repented. Paul has comfort for those who feel this way, and that comfort is founded on the power and measure of God’s grace to us.

Before his conversion, Paul (then known as Saul) persecuted the church mercilessly (see Acts 8:3 and 9:1–2). He was “a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor” (1 Tim. 1:13; see also Gal. 1:13). If anyone could be beyond grace, it was Paul.

But God intervened and saved him (Acts 9:3–19). Why? “For this reason,” Paul says, “I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost [sinner], Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life” (1 Tim. 1:16). If God would forgive Paul, He will forgive anyone who will confess their sins and repent. If He would show abundant grace to a violent unbeliever, He will also shower grace upon His penitent children.

God is not stingy with grace. Paul celebrates God’s saving “grace, which He freely bestowed on us” (Eph 1:6), and “the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us” (vv. 7–8). Speaking of sustaining grace, Paul says, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” (2 Cor. 9:8). Notice the words Paul uses: “all grace,” “abound,” “all sufficiency,” “everything,” “abundance,” “every good deed.” God’s grace is inexhaustible and is given so freely that words cannot express it fully.

Great sins require great grace, but God will give super–abundant grace to those who seek forgiveness, for “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom. 5:20). Don’t let your past sins weigh you down; learn to rest upon God’s super–abundant grace.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God to teach you to understand His grace more fully and help you forget “what lies behind” (Phil. 3:13).

For Further Study: Read Romans 6. What is Paul’s argument here? ✧ How are we to live now that we have received God’s grace?[2]


FEBRUARY 20

INSTANT CHRISTIANITY

Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

—Philippians 3:16

It is hardly a matter of wonder that the country that gave the world instant tea and instant coffee should be the one to give it instant Christianity…. And it cannot be denied that it was American Fundamentalism that brought instant Christianity to the gospel churches….

Instant Christianity tends to make the faith act terminal and so smothers the desire for spiritual advance. It fails to understand the true nature of the Christian life, which is not static but dynamic and expanding. It overlooks the fact that a new Christian is a living organism as certainly as a new baby is, and must have nourishment and exercise to assure normal growth. It does not consider that the act of faith in Christ sets up a personal relationship between two intelligent moral beings, God and the reconciled man, and no single encounter between God and a creature made in His image could ever be sufficient to establish an intimate friendship between them….

Instant Christianity is twentieth-century orthodoxy. I wonder whether the man who wrote Philippians 3:7-16 would recognize it as the faith for which he finally died. I am afraid he would not. TIC023-025

Lord, keep me from falling into the patterns of instant Christianity. I want to participate in an ever-changing, ever-expanding relationship with You. Amen. [3]


February 20

Hindrances to True Mourning: Presumption and Procrastination

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.—Matt. 5:4

We talked yesterday about two specific sins that hinder biblical mourning. Let’s consider two others today. The sin of presumption is actually a form of pride. Presumption is satisfied with cheap grace and expects God to forgive just a little bit because it sees so little to be forgiven. It leads us to think our sins are not really bad enough for us to confess them, repent of them, and forsake them. But Isaiah exhorts sinners as follows: “Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:7). The kind of gospel (so popular today) that omits any need for repentance and mourning is a false, unscriptural gospel—or as Paul calls it, “a different gospel” (Gal. 1:6).

Procrastination, as the term suggests, hinders true mourning simply by putting it off. We tend to think when things are better and the time is more convenient, we will ask God to cleanse and forgive our sins. But that is foolish and risky because “you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). If we do not deal with sin sooner rather than later, we can’t be sure God’s comfort will ever come.

The best and surest way to eliminate hindrances to mourning is to look, through prayer and the Word, to the holiness of God and Christ’s great atoning sacrifice for sins.

ASK YOURSELF
Unlike some of our sins, these tend to be more subtle and soft-pedaled. But sins of all kinds are capable of blinding us to our utter dependence on God and His forgiveness. Ask Him to reveal to you any hidden sins, wanting to bring to the surface everything that dishonors Him.[4]

FEBRUARY 20

EVERY HINDRANCE REMOVED

Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:1

 

There are many legal and governmental reasons why lost men and women should not go to heaven!

It should not be difficult for us to acknowledge that a holy and righteous God must run His universe according to holy laws—and we do not belong there because we have broken every one of those holy laws in some way!

Therefore, there must be an effective redemption, a justification of some kind if we are to have God and He is to have us!

Thank God, it has been done!

The New Testament language is as plain as can be—in Christ through His death and resurrection, every legal hindrance has been met and satisfied: taken away! There is nothing that can keep us from assurance except our own selves.

Let us quit trying to think our way in, to reason our way in. The only way to get in is to believe Him with our hearts forevermore!

 

Yes, Lord, thank You so much for providing an “effective redemption” so that we may have unbroken fellowship with You—both now and for all eternity. Praise Your holy and righteous name![5]


February 20 Pursuing Excellence

“… so that you may approve the things that are excellent” (Phil. 1:10).

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In a world of mediocrity and confusion, God calls you to excellence and discernment.

There’s the story of a pilot who came on the loudspeaker midflight and said, “I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is, we’ve lost all our instrumentation and don’t know where we are. The good news is, we have a strong tailwind and are making great time.” That’s an accurate picture of how many people live: they have no direction in life, but they’re getting there fast!

We as Christians are to be different because we have divine guidance and eternal goals. Our lives are to be marked by a confident trust in God and a pursuit of spiritual excellence.

“Excellent” in Philippians 1:10 speaks of things that are worthwhile and vital. “Approv[ing]” what is “excellent” refers to testing things as one would test a precious metal to determine its purity and value. It goes beyond knowing good from evil. It distinguishes between better and best. It involves thinking Biblically and focusing your time and energy on what really counts. It involves cultivating spiritual discipline and not being controlled by your emotions, whims, moods, or circumstances.

Many organizations and businesses have rightly adopted the motto “Commitment to Excellence” to convey their desire to provide the finest product or service possible. If secular-minded people strive for that level of achievement, how much more should Christians pursue excellence for the glory of God!

Look at your life. Is it filled with godly love, discernment, and the pursuit of excellence—or has worldly trivia crowded out those virtues?

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Read Isaiah 12:1–6 as a psalm of praise to the God of excellence. ✧ Ask God to give you a heart constantly set on pursuing excellence for His glory.

For Further Study: Daniel was a man who pursued excellence. Read Daniel 1:1–2:23. ✧ What was Daniel’s decision regarding the king’s food and wine, and how did he handle the situation? ✧ How did Daniel and his three friends compare in wisdom and understanding to the magicians and conjurers? ✧ What principles do you see in those two chapters that apply to your life?[6]


FEBRUARY 20

STRICTER DISCIPLINE FOR GOD’S WILLING CHILDREN

No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness….

HEBREWS 12:1 1

If God has singled you out to be a special object of His grace you may expect Him to honor you with stricter discipline and greater suffering than less favored ones are called upon to endure.

If God sets out to make you an unusual Christian He is not likely to be as gentle as He is usually pictured by the popular teachers. A sculptor does not use a manicure set to reduce the rude, unshapely marble to a thing of beauty. The saw, the hammer and the chisel are cruel tools, but without them the rough stone must remain forever formless and unbeautiful.

To do His supreme work of grace within you He will take from your heart everything you love most. Every thing you trust in will go from you. Piles of ashes will lie where your most precious treasures used to be.

Thus you will learn what faith is; you will find out the hard way, but the only way open to you, that true faith lies in the will, that the joy unspeakable of which the apostle speaks is not itself faith but a slow-ripening fruit of faith. You will learn, too, that present spiritual joys may come and go as they will without altering your spiritual status or in any way affecting your position as a true child of the heavenly Father.

Then you will also learn, probably to your astonishment, that it is possible to live in all good conscience before God and men and still feel nothing of the “peace and joy” you hear talked about so much by immature Christians![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 63). 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. 59). 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. 63). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

February 19, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

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February 19

Bearing Fruit

He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit.

John 15:5

 

We had a peach tree in our backyard, and one year it went wild with fruit. We had enough peaches to feed the whole neighborhood! Another year, we could find only one tiny, shriveled peach. Some Christians can be like that, exhibiting little evidence of belonging to God—but God wants us to grow and produce much fruit for His glory.

The fruit you bear is the manifestation of your character, and the only way people will know that you are a child of God. He wants to present Himself to the world through what He produces in you, so His character is at stake in your fruit. He wants you to be fruitful far above what the world or the flesh can produce.[1]


February 19 The Meaning of Grace

“The Lord, the Lord God, [is] compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth.”

Exodus 34:6

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God’s grace is His undeserved favor shown to sinners.

God’s grace has always been a focus of praise for believers. Today’s verse is quoted several times in the Psalms and elsewhere in Scripture (for example, Neh. 9:17, 31; Ps. 86:15; 103:8; 145:8). Paul is grateful for God’s abundant grace in 1 Timothy 1:14, and John writes, “For of His fulness we have all received, and grace upon grace” (John 1:16). Today some of our favorite hymns are “Amazing Grace,” “Marvelous Grace of Our Loving Lord,” and “Wonderful Grace of Jesus.”

What exactly is grace? It is simply God’s free, undeserved, and unearned favor. It is a gift given by God not because we are worthy of it, but only because God, out of His great love, wants to give it.

Grace is evident to Christians in two main ways. The first is electing, or saving, grace. God “has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Tim. 1:9). “By grace [we] have been saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8). This is God’s grace to sinners, for “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom. 5:20).

Another grace in our lives is enabling, or sustaining, grace. We didn’t just receive grace to be saved; we now live in grace. It is the grace of God that enables us to live the Christian life. When Paul asked that some debilitating “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7) be removed, the Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (v. 9). Paul elsewhere says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

Remember, we have earned neither saving nor sustaining grace. Nothing we can do can make us worthy of one more bit of grace. God says, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious” (Ex. 33:19). This truth should make us all more grateful because He saved us and sustains us despite our sin. It should also make us humble because we have no worthiness to boast about (Eph. 2:9).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for His grace in saving and sustaining you.

For Further Study: Read Genesis 9:8–19. How did God extend grace to Noah and his family? ✧ What was the visible sign or symbol?[2]


FEBRUARY 19

SO RICH A TREASURE

But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

—Philippians 3:13-14

The experiential knowledge of God is eternal life (John 17:3), and increased knowledge results in a correspondingly larger and fuller life. So rich a treasure is this inward knowledge of God that every other treasure is as nothing compared with it. We may count all things of no value and sacrifice them freely if we may thereby gain a more perfect knowledge of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. This was Paul’s testimony (Philippians 3:7-14) and it has been the testimony of all great Christian souls who have followed Christ from Paul’s day to ours….

To enjoy this growing knowledge of God will require that we go beyond the goals so casually set by modern evangelicals. We must fix our hearts on God and purposefully aim to rise above the dead level and average of current Christianity.

If we do this Satan will surely tempt us by accusing us of spiritual pride and our friends will warn us to beware of being “holier than thou.” But as the land of promise had to be taken by storm against the determined opposition of the enemy, so we must capture new spiritual heights over the sour and violent protests of the devil. TIC083-085

Lord, I’ll set my sights higher and seek a greater experience of You. I’ll not let the enemy stop me. Amen. [3]


February 19

Hindrances to True Mourning: Love of Sin

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.—Matt. 5:4

A general love of sin is the greatest hindrance to true spiritual mourning, because holding on to sins causes our hearts to harden.

One of the less advertised but more common sins is the sin of despair, which is essentially the same as giving up on God and putting ourselves outside His grace—refusing to believe He can save or help us. The prophet Jeremiah wrote this of such people: “But they will say, ‘It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart’ ” (Jer. 18:12). Despair attempts to hide God’s mercy behind our self-made cloud of doubt.

Another hindrance to mourning is the sin of conceit. It seeks to hide the sin itself and tell us we really have nothing to mourn about. Conceit is analogous to a physician treating cancer as if it were just a common cold. If Christ had to shed His blood on the cross for our sin, then sin must be significant and something over which we must mourn.

To be a true mourner, it’s imperative that you remove all basic, sinful hindrances that keep you from mourning. Otherwise you will grieve the Holy Spirit, question the truth of His Word, and restrict His grace from plowing up your hard heart and leading you to obey Him.

ASK YOURSELF
It’s time to get honest about your sins today, identifying and confessing anything that stands between you and free-flowing fellowship with your Lord and Savior. Is it despair? Conceit? Whatever it is, you probably know it well. Repent of it all. And walk again in the beauty and freedom of holiness.[4]

FEBRUARY 19

GOD’S HIGHEST WILL

Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.

Hebrews 10:9

 

Let us consider three simple things reinforced in the Word of God for those who would discern God’s highest will.

First, be willing to put away known sin!

Second, separate yourself from all of the attractions of the world, the flesh and the devil!

Finally, offer yourself to your God and Savior in believing faith!

God has never yet turned away an honest, sincere person who has come to know the eternal value of the atonement and the peace that is promised through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The only person who will never be cleansed and made whole is the one who insists he or she needs no remedy. The person who comes in faith to God and confesses, “I am unclean; I am sin sick; I am blind,” will find mercy and righteousness and life.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior, the Cleanser. He is the Purifier, the Healer. He is the Sight Giver and the Life Giver. He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life!

 

Dear Lord, truth seems to be in short supply in our postmodern world today. Help me to be bold but loving in my presentation of Your truth.[5]


February 19 Avoiding Indiscriminate Love

“This I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment” (Phil. 1:9).

✧✧✧

Christian love operates within the parameters of Biblical knowledge and spiritual discernment.

As a Christian, you are a repository of divine love. More than anything else, your love for God and for other believers marks you as a true disciple of Jesus Christ (John 13:35).

In addition to possessing God’s love, you have the privilege and responsibility of expressing it to others on His behalf. That’s a sacred trust. Paul qualifies it in Philippians 1:9, which tells us that love is to operate within the sphere of Biblical knowledge and spiritual discernment. Those are the parameters that govern God’s love.

No matter how loving an act or word might seem, if it violates knowledge and discernment, it is not true Christian love. Second John 5–11 illustrates that principle. Apparently some believers who lacked discernment were hosting false teachers in the name of Christian love and hospitality. John sternly warned them, saying, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring [sound doctrine], do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds” (vv. 10–11). That might sound extreme or unloving, but the purity of God’s people was at stake.

In 2 Thessalonians 3:5–6, after praying for the Thessalonians’ love to increase, Paul commanded them to “keep aloof” from so-called Christians who were disregarding sound teaching. That’s not contradictory, because Christian love guards sound doctrine and holy living.

Unfortunately, today it is common for Christians to compromise doctrinal purity in the name of love and unity, or to brand as unloving some practices Scripture clearly commands. Both are wrong and carry serious consequences.

Be thoughtful in how you express your love. Abundantly supply it in accord with Biblical knowledge and discernment. Excellence and righteousness will result (Phil. 1:10–11).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the love He’s given you through His Spirit (Rom. 5:5). ✧ Ask for opportunities to show Christ’s love to others. ✧ Pray that your love will be governed by convictions grounded in God’s truth.

For Further Study: What do the following passages teach about love? How can you apply them to your life? Romans 12:9–10; 5:5; 1 John 4:7–10; Galatians 5:22; 1 Peter 1:22; 4:8.[6]


FEBRUARY 19

QUESTION: HOW MUCH MORE COULD I HAVE DONE?

For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even her living.

MARK 12:44

Before the judgment seat of Christ my service will be judged not by how much I have done but by how much I could have done!

In God’s sight, my giving is measured not by how much I have given but by how much I had left after I made my gift.

Not by its size is my gift judged, but by how much of me there is in it. No man gives at all until he has given all! No man gives anything acceptable to God until he has first given himself in love and sacrifice.

While Christ was the perfect example of the healthy, normal man, He yet did not live a normal life. He sacrificed many pure enjoyments to give Himself to the holy work of moral rescue. His conduct was determined not by what was legitimate or innocent, but by our human need.

He pleased not Himself but lived for the emergency; and as He was, so are we in this world!

It is in view of this that all our Christian service must be evaluated.

My old friend Tom Haire, the praying plumber, told me one day that he was going back home for a rest.

“I am preached out,” he said, “and I must wait on the Lord. There are some spiritual matters that I want to get straightened out. I want to appear before the judgment seat now while I can do something about it!”[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 62). 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. 58). 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. 62). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

February 18, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

February 18

Growing by Faith

We walk by faith, not by sight.

2 Corinthians 5:7

 

Today’s verse refers to the walk of becoming more like Christ. It takes place when we live by faith. When we judge everything by what we see, however, we will have difficulty growing.

Remember the twelve spies Israel sent into Canaan (Num. 13)? Ten came back and said they felt like grasshoppers in a land of giants. Those ten walked by sight. But Joshua and Caleb had faith, knowing that God was on their side. Ten didn’t think God could handle the circumstances, but two knew He is bigger than any situation.

Do you live by faith? If you want to grow spiritually, believe God’s Word and trust Him in every situation.[1]


February 18 God’s Sacrificial Love

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

✧✧✧

God’s love is vicarious and sacrificial.

Today we continue a short study of a topic that brings joy to every Christian: God’s love. Both Paul and John call His love “great” (Eph. 2:4; 1 John 3:1), because only great love would provide such a sacrifice as God did in Christ.

We have already seen that God’s love is unconditional, unrequited, and righteous. God’s love is also vicarious; it bears the pain of others. In a prophecy about Christ, Isaiah wrote: “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried” (53:4). Christ bears our earthly sorrows, and, infinitely more significant, He bore the pain and punishment for our sins.

True love is a sacrificial love that gives without expecting anything in return. God gives so many good things to everyone, and He gave the greatest gift of all, His Son. As John 3:16 teaches, love was His motive for sending Christ to die; He wanted to provide salvation for us.

Again we must examine ourselves after seeing God’s love. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.” Are you encouraging and helping other Christians in difficulty? Also, ask yourself if you love regardless of the sacrifice. Some will “love” up to the point of pain or inconvenience but no further. However, Jesus commands us, “Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6:35). Love is not always easy, but it’s always best.

So much more could be said about God’s love. Countless books and hymns have been written about it. We can get only a basic understanding in these few paragraphs. But let this introduction serve as a starting point for a lifelong study of God’s love. It’s one of the greatest themes in the Bible; you can’t miss it.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Pray for strength to bear the burdens of others and to love with sacrificial love.

For Further Study: Jesus talks about His love for us in John 15:9–17. In what ways should we respond to God’s love? ✧ Based on these verses, think of specific ways you can demonstrate your love for God and others.[2]


FEBRUARY 18

A NAKED INTENT UNTO GOD

Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

—Hebrews 2:1

Now here is a strange thing. If you talk about mysticism in our day, every fundamentalist throws his hands high in the air with disgust to let you know that he considers the mystics dreamers, those who believe in the emotion and feeling. But all of those old saints and the fathers of whom I have read taught that you must believe God by a naked, cold intent of your will and then the other things follow along.

A naked intent unto God—those old saints were practical men. They have exhorted us to press on in faith whether we feel like it or not. They have exhorted us to pray—when we feel like it and when we don’t. They never taught that we would always be lifted emotionally to the heights. They knew that there are times when your spiritual progress must be by a naked intent unto God.

Oh that we would have this naked intent to know God, to know Jesus Christ! To be able to put the world and things and people beneath our feet and to open our hearts to only one lover, and that the Son of God Himself! ITB075

Lord, give me today a new passion for knowing You, a “naked intent” that compels me to seek You always, no matter what I feel. Amen. [3]


February 18

The Result of Godly Mourning

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.—Matt. 5:4

The positive result for those who mourn is very clear: “they shall be comforted.” God reserves the blessing of His comfort exclusively for the contrite of heart. Those of us who mourn over sin will have our tears wiped away by Jesus’ loving hand.

The Old Testament similarly speaks of God’s comfort for the true spiritual mourners. Isaiah said that Messiah would come “to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning” (Isa. 61:2–3; cf. Ps. 23:4).

In one sense, this “comfort” will be realized only when we meet our Messiah face-to-face. In heaven the Lord “will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain” (Rev. 21:4). Even the most discontented Christian is assured that eternal comfort awaits God’s children in glory.

But God is also the God of present comfort. As we continually mourn over sin, He will continually comfort us. The Scripture declares that “God our Father” has already “given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace” (2 Thess. 2:16; cf. Rom. 15:4; 2 Cor. 1:3). May we walk, therefore, in the light and joy of His blessed comfort, even on this side of its heavenly fulfillment.

ASK YOURSELF
Have you given up hope of finding comfort in your here and now? The promise of God’s comfort can be yours to claim as you grieve over sin and surrender your heart to holiness. You needn’t wait to feel relief. It’s as near as your next humble prayer.[4]

FEBRUARY 18

WE WERE OUTCASTS TOO

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you.

John 15:9

 

We confess, do we not, that we have a Christian responsibility to believe God’s Word and to obey God’s Truth?

Then we should accept the fact that it is our task to practice the Christian virtues in the power of the Holy Spirit as we await the coming of Him who will come.

The great spiritual needs around us should drive us back to the Gospel records of the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus. When evil men crucified Jesus, killed Him, they had no power to change Him. They could not alter the Person or the personality of the Son of God. Putting Him on the cross did not drain away any of His divine affection for a lost race.

The best thing we know about our Lord and Savior is that He loves the sinner. He has always loved the outcast—and for that we should be glad, for we too were once outcasts! We are descended from that first man and woman who failed God and disobeyed. They were cast out of the garden, and God set in place a flaming sword to keep them from returning!

 

Dear Heavenly Father, that You love us at all is amazing. But to think that You came down to earth to redeem us is nearly inconceivable. Such love is worthy of all my praise and obedience.[5]


February 18 A Prayer for Godliness

“This I pray . . .” (Phil. 1:9).

✧✧✧

Your prayers reveal the level of your spiritual maturity.

As we come to our study of godliness in Philippians 1:9–11, we note that this passage is a prayer. Typically, Paul’s prayers reflected his concern that his readers mature spiritually. That is impossible without prayer, because spiritual growth depends on the Holy Spirit’s power, which is tapped through prayer.

Prayer is so vital that Jesus instructed His disciples to pray “at all times” (Luke 18:1). Paul commands us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Peter said we should be “of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer” (1 Peter 4:7).

Scripture gives many other commands to pray, but the true test of your spirituality is your compulsion to pray, not simply your obedience to commands. As a Christian you exist in a spiritual realm in which prayer is as natural as breathing is in the natural realm. Just as atmospheric pressure exerts force on your lungs, compelling you to breathe, so your spiritual environment compels you to pray. Resisting either brings devastating results.

The more you see life through God’s eyes, the more you are driven to pray. In that sense your prayers reveal the level of your spiritual maturity. Paul prayed with urgency day and night because he shared God’s love for His people and His concern for their spiritual maturity.

Examine your own prayers. Do you pray from a sense of duty, or are you compelled to pray? Do you pray infrequently or briefly? Do your prayers center on your own needs or the needs of others? Do you pray for the spiritual maturity of others? Those important questions indicate the level of your spiritual maturity and give guidelines for making any needed changes in your pattern of prayer.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the privilege and power of prayer. ✧ If you have neglected prayer, or if your prayers have been centered on yourself rather than others, confess your sin and ask God to give you a sense of holy urgency in praying as you should. ✧ Is there someone for whom you should be praying more consistently?

For Further Study: Read Daniel 6:1–28. ✧ What was Daniel’s pattern of prayer? ✧ What accusation did the political leaders bring against Daniel? ✧ What was the king’s attitude toward Daniel? ✧ How did God honor Daniel’s faith?[6]


FEBRUARY 18

THE CHRISTIAN LIFE CANNOT FEED ON NEGATIVES

…Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.

PHILIPPIANS 3:13

The Christian is saved from his past sins. With these he simply has nothing more to do; they are among the things to be forgotten as the night is forgotten at the dawning of the day.

The Christian is also saved from the wrath to come. With this also he has nothing to do. The wrath of God exists, but not for him. Sin and wrath have a cause and effect relationship, and because for the Christian sin is canceled, wrath is canceled also. To be engrossed still in what we have been saved from is to live in a state of negation.

We are not called to fellowship with nonexistence. We are called to things that exist in truth, to positive things, and it is as we become occupied with these that health comes to the soul.

Spiritual life cannot feed on negatives. The man who is constantly reciting the evils of his unconverted days is looking in the wrong direction. He is like a man trying to run a race while looking back over his shoulder!

There is an art of forgetting, and every Christian should become skilled in it. Forgetting the things which are behind is a positive necessity if we are to become more than mere babes in Christ.

And here’s the good part: into the empty world vacated by our sins and failures rushes the blessed Spirit of God, bringing with Him everything new. New life, new hope, new enjoyments, new interests, new purposeful toil, and best of all a new and satisfying object toward which to direct our soul’s enraptured gaze![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 61). 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. 57). 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. 61). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

February 17, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

February 17

Do You Really Believe God?

[Abraham] did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God.

Romans 4:20

 

Professing to believe what God has said is much easier than really trusting Him. For instance, many people who affirm that “God shall supply all your need according to His riches” (Phil. 4:19) become filled with anxiety when financial troubles come their way.

The Bible also says that if we give sacrificially with the proper motives, God will reward us (Matt. 6:3–4). Many say they believe that principle as well, but they find it difficult to put into practice. Many Christians also fear death, even though God has said He will provide us with the grace we need to face it and will take us to heaven afterward.

Believing God means we acknowledge His glory, which is the sum of all His attributes and the fullness of all His majesty. If He is who He says He is, then He is to be believed. You will grow spiritually when you say to God, “If Your Word says it, I will believe it; if Your Word promises it, I will claim it; and if Your Word commands it, I will obey it.”[1]


February 17 God’s Unfailing Love

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

1 John 4:8

✧✧✧

God’s love is unconditional and righteous.

We hear a lot today about love from books, magazines, TV, and movies. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think that our society is the most loving on earth. Much of the “love,” though, is nothing more than lust masquerading as love, or selfishness disguised as kindness. But today’s verse tells us that “God is love”; the character of God defines love. To clear up any confusion about love, we need only to look at who God is. And then, of course, we need to seek to love others as God loves us.

First, God’s love is unconditional and unrequited. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). God loved us when we were sinners, when we had no righteousness and we didn’t—and couldn’t—love Him back. God doesn’t love us because we deserve it or because we love Him, but because it’s His nature to love.

God’s love doesn’t mean He winks at sin, though. Just as earthly fathers discipline sinning children, “those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives” (Heb. 12:6). True love doesn’t indulge unrighteousness, it confronts it. This kind of tough love isn’t always fun, but it’s for the best: “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (v. 11).

We’ll study God’s love more in the next lesson, but now it’s only natural to examine how we ourselves are doing in demonstrating love. Is our love unconditional, or do we withhold love from those who hurt us? Do we love only those who love us back? Jesus says, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:32). Loving those who love us is easy. Christ loved those at enmity with Him, and He expects us to love our enemies too.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for His great love toward us and for its greatest manifestation in the Person of Christ.

For Further Study: First John has much to say about God’s love for us and our love for Him and others. Read the entire book, noting each instance of the word love.[2]


FEBRUARY 17

MORE THAN BY HEARSAY

And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

—Matthew 14:23

There are many in the churches of our day who talk some of the Christian language but who know God only by hearsay. Most of them have read some book about God. They have seen some reflection of the light of God. They may have heard some faint echo of the voice of God, but their own personal knowledge of God is very slight….

When Jesus was here upon the earth, the record shows that He had work to do and He also knew the necessity for activity as He preached and healed, taught and answered questions and blessed the people. He also knew the fellowship of His brethren, those who followed Him and loved Him. But these were the incidental things in Jesus’ life compared to His fellowship with and personal knowledge of the Father. When Jesus went into the mountain to pray and wait on God all night, He was not alone, for He knew the conscious presence of the Father with Him.

In our modern Christian service we are constantly pressed to do this and to do that, and to go here and go there. How often we miss completely the conscious presence of God with the result that we know God only by hearsay! ITB023-024

Lord, draw me away today to spend time alone with You, that I might have a conscious sense of Your presence, knowing you by experience and not by words alone. Amen. [3]


February 17

True Happiness vs. Worldly Happiness

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.—Matt. 5:4

The world still operates according to the old popular song lyrics that say, “Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag, and smile, smile, smile.” This philosophy basically tells us to hide all our problems and pretend to be happy; and of course people apply this outlook to sin all the time.

Nevertheless Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn.” Godly mourning and confession of sins bring the only kind of happiness worth having—godly happiness that no amount of human effort, optimistic pretense, or positive thinking can produce.

There is a real need in today’s church to cry instead of laugh. The foolishness, frivolity, and embracing of the world’s view of happiness in the name of Christianity should make us mourn, because we know the difference between empty happiness and true happiness. God’s rebuke to the self-satisfied and indulgent happy is strong: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (James 4:8–10).

True happiness does not ignore sin or make light of it; instead it sorrows over sin, turns from it, and flees to God for genuine forgiveness. And in so doing, it finds lasting joy.

ASK YOURSELF
Does this message sound depressing and cheerless to you? Have you bought the world’s line that happiness can be found only by ignoring sin, not by dealing with it? Aren’t you tired, though, of constantly coming up empty, never quite satisfied? Run weeping into the welcoming arms of God’s forgiveness.[4]

FEBRUARY 17

MAN’S WASTED POTENTIAL

Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

Matthew 25:41

 

God has made it plain that hell is a real place—a final abode for people who do not want to love God and serve Him!

The sadness and the tragedy of this fact are that these are human beings, all dear to God because He created them in His own image. Of nothing else in the Creation is it said that it was created in the likeness of God!

Because fallen and perishing man is still nearer to God’s likeness than any other creature on earth, God offers him conversion, regeneration and forgiveness. It was surely because of this great potential in the human personality that the eternal Word could become flesh and dwell among us.

We are assured in many ways in the Scriptures that God the Creator does not waste human personality, but it is surely one of the stark tragedies of life that human personality can waste itself!

A man by his own sin may waste himself, which is to waste and lose that which on earth is most like God. The man who dies out of Christ is said to be lost, and hardly a word in our language expresses his condition with greater accuracy!

 

Lord, make me sensitive today to opportunities to share Your love with someone who does not have a personal relationship with You.[5]


February 17 How to Lose Your Joy

“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Phil. 4:11).

✧✧✧

Discontent and ingratitude will steal your joy.

True joy is God’s gift to every believer, and yet many Christians seem to lack it. How can that be? Did God fail them? No. As with peace, assurance, and other benefits of salvation, joy can be forfeited for many reasons. Willful sin, prayerlessness, fear, self-centeredness, focusing on circumstances, and lack of forgiveness are the main culprits.

Two of the most common joy-thieves are dissatisfaction and ingratitude. Both are by-products of the health, wealth, and prosperity mentality of our day. That teaching has produced a generation of Christians who are more dissatisfied than ever because their demands and expectations are higher than ever. They’ve lost their perspective on God’s sovereignty and have therefore lost the ability to give thanks in all things.

In marked contrast, when Jesus taught about contentment and anxiety (Matt. 6:25–34), He spoke of food and clothing—the basic necessities of life. But preferences, not necessities, are the issue with us. We’re into style, personal appearance, job satisfaction, earning power, bigger homes, and newer cars. In the name of greater faith we even demand that God supply more miracles, more wealth, and more power.

Amid all that, Paul’s words sound a refreshing note of assurance and rebuke: “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Phil. 4:11). He made no demands on God but simply trusted in His gracious provision. Whether he received little or much made no difference to him. In either case he was satisfied and thankful.

Don’t be victimized by the spirit of our age. See God’s blessings for what they are, and continually praise Him for His goodness. In doing so you will guard your heart from dissatisfaction and ingratitude. More important, you will bring joy to the One who is worthy of all praise.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Pray that the Holy Spirit will produce in you a joy and contentment that transcends your circumstances. ✧ Make it a daily practice to thank God for specific blessings and trials, knowing that He uses both to perfect His will in you.

For Further Study: Read 1 Kings 18:1–19:8. ✧ How did Elijah deal with the false prophets of Baal? ✧ How did he deal with Jezebel’s threat? ✧ What caused Elijah’s shift from a spiritual high to a spiritual low?[6]


FEBRUARY 17

LIVE FOR CHRIST? THEN DIE WITH HIM FIRST

Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.

ROMANS 6:8

Do you realize that many, many persons now take it for granted that it is possible to live for Christ without first having died with Christ?

This is a serious error and we dare not leave it unchallenged!

The victorious Christian has known two lives. The first was his life in Adam which was motivated by the carnal mind and can never please God in any way. It can never be converted; it can only die (Rom. 8:5–8).

The second life of the Christian is his new life in Christ (Rom. 6:1–14). To live a Christian life with the life of Adam is wholly impossible. Yet multitudes take for granted that it can be done and go on year after year in defeat. Worst of all, they accept this half-dead condition as normal!

Another aspect of this attitude is the effort of many to do spiritual work without spiritual power. David Brainerd once compared a man without the power of the Spirit of God trying to do spiritual work to a workman without fingers attempting to do manual labor. The figure is striking but it does not overstate the facts.

The Holy Spirit is not a luxury meant to make deluxe Christians, as an illuminated frontispiece and a leather binding makes a deluxe book. The Spirit is an imperative necessity. Only the Eternal Spirit can do eternal deeds![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 60). 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. 56). 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. 60). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

February 16, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

February 16

Our Defense Mechanism

If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.

Psalm 66:18

 

According to today’s verse, you cannot even commune with God, let alone grow spiritually, if you are harboring sin. That’s why confession is so vital.

You must first be willing to accept God’s chastening for your sin. If you think He is being too rough, you should examine your life to see if you deserve it. For the same reason parents must provide consequences for a child’s misbehavior, God chastens you so that you don’t repeat your mistakes.

God also has placed a system of guilt in you for your own good. Spiritual life without guilt would be like physical life without pain. Guilt is a defense mechanism; it’s like an alarm that goes off to lead you to confession when you sin. That’s when you need to confront your sin and acknowledge to God that it is an affront to Him. That admission must be a part of your life before you can ever grow spiritually, because it eliminates the sin that holds you back.[1]


February 16 The Comfort of God’s Omniscience

“And [Peter] said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ ”

John 21:17

✧✧✧

Since God knows all things, He knows our struggles and will help us through them.

It’s comforting to know that in the vastness of the universe, I’m not lost in insignificance; God knows me personally. Have you ever wondered if He knows you’re there? Some godly people in Malachi’s time wondered that. Malachi spoke words of judgment against the wicked, but the faithful believers feared that God might forget them and that they too would be consumed by God’s wrath. “Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name. ‘And they will be Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him’ ” (Mal. 3:16–17). God has a book, and He doesn’t forget who belongs in it. I know that God knows me and that I belong to Him.

David, too, found comfort in God’s omniscience. He said, “Thou hast taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Thy bottle; are they not in Thy book?” (Ps. 56:8). It was customary for hired mourners at funerals in David’s time to catch their tears in a bottle, perhaps to prove they earned their money. David knew that none of his trials went unnoticed by God. Not only does He know about them, He cares about them too.

You might be frustrated sometimes in your Christian walk as you see sin in your life. But happily for us, God knows that we still love Him in spite of our failings. In John 21, Peter kept trying to convince Christ that he loved Him, although his words and actions didn’t always prove it. Finally Peter said, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You” (v. 17). Peter appealed to the Lord’s omniscience. We can do the same thing when we stumble.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for knowing and caring about your struggles.

For Further Study: Read Job 42:1–6. What did Job acknowledge about God? ✧ What did that lead him to do?[2]


FEBRUARY 16

MORE THAN TO KNOW ABOUT

All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

—Matthew 11:27

The inability of the human mind to know God in a true and final sense is taken for granted throughout the Bible…. God’s nature is of another kind from anything with which the mind is acquainted; hence when the mind attempts to find out God it is confronted by obscurity. It is surrounded with mystery and blinded by the light no man can approach unto….

The Spirit of God is able to make the spirit of man know and experience the awful mystery of God’s essential being. It should be noted that the Spirit reveals God to the spirit of man, not to his intellect merely. The intellect can know God’s attributes because these constitute that body of truth that can be known about God. The knowledge of God is for the spirit alone. Such knowledge comes not by intellection but by intuition.

To know God in the scriptural meaning of the term is to enter into experience of Him. It never means to know about. It is not a knowledge mediated by the intellect, but an unmediated awareness experienced by the soul on a plane too high for the mind to reach. SOS047-048

Thank You, Father, for the ministry of the Spirit in revealing You to Your children. May I no longer simply know about You, but come to know You personally. Amen. [3]


February 16

What Did Jesus Mean by Mourning?

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.—Matt. 5:4

If you have spiritual poverty and true humility, they will lead you to godly sorrow. That’s what Jesus meant by “mourn” here in this second beatitude. Paul told the Corinthians about this kind of sorrow: “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you” (2 Cor. 7:10–11).

Of the nine different New Testament words that indicate the commonness of human sorrow, the one Matthew used here is the most severe. Usually it was used only to denote the grieving over the death of a loved one (cf. Mark 16:10; Rev. 18:11, 15). It conveys the notion of deep, inner agony that is not necessarily expressed by outward weeping or wailing.

Yet genuine, biblical mourning produces results that are surprisingly wonderful because God does something tangible in response to it—the forgiveness of your sins—a holy infusion of real happiness that breathes into you a sigh of relief.

Therefore, this is not simply a psychological or an emotional experience that makes you feel better. No, this mourning is met by blessedness. Genuine spiritual mourning invites communion with the true God, to which He responds with an objective reality—the reality of forgiveness that David knew: “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit!” (Ps. 32:1–2).

ASK YOURSELF
When was the last time the gravity of your sins fell around you, burying you under its full weight? If it’s been awhile, you’re missing out on the sweet awareness of God’s forgiveness.[4]

FEBRUARY 16

WE SEE GOD’S PURPOSE

That…he might gather together in one all things in Christ…in heaven, and…on earth.

Ephesians 1:10

 

We trust the Word of God—and the inspired revelation makes it plain to the believing Christian that all things in the universe have derived their form from Christ, the eternal Son!

We are assured that even as an architect builder gathers the necessary materials needed to fashion the structure he has designed, so God will ultimately gather all things together under one head, even Christ (see Ephesians 1:9–10).

Everything in the universe has received its meaning by the power of His Word; each has maintained its place and order through Him.

Jesus Christ is God creating!

Jesus Christ is God redeeming!

Jesus Christ is God completing and harmonizing!

Jesus Christ is God bringing together all things after the counsel of His own will!

I can only hope that as we grow and mature and delight in our faith, we are beginning to gain a new appreciation of God’s great eternal purpose!

 

Your master design of the universe is perfect even though mankind has neglected Your creation and Your desire for fellowship. I pray that by Your Spirit our churches will become “like a mighty army” and help lead many people in the world to faith in Christ.[5]


February 16 The Joy of Pleasing God

“The blameless in their walk are [God’s] delight” (Prov. 11:20).

✧✧✧

Your love for God brings Him joy.

Our focus so far this month has been on the joy we experience in knowing and serving Christ. Before we turn our attention to the theme of godliness, I want you to consider two additional aspects of joy: the joy of pleasing God, and how to lose your joy. Pleasing God is our topic for today.

Perhaps you haven’t given much thought to how you can bring joy to God, but Scripture mentions several ways. Luke 15:7, for example, says, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Verse 10 adds, “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Repentance brings joy to God.

Faith is another source of joy for God. Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.” That’s the negative side of a positive principle: when you trust God, He is pleased.

In addition to repentance and faith, prayer also brings God joy. Proverbs 15:8 says, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is His delight.”

Righteous living is another source of joy to God, as David acknowledges in 1 Chronicles 29:17: “I know, O my God, that Thou triest the heart and delightest in uprightness.” Solomon added that those who walk blamelessly are God’s delight (Prov. 11:20).

Repentance, faith, prayer, and righteous living all please God because they are expressions of love. That’s the overarching principle. Whenever you express your love to Him—whether by words of praise or by acts of obedience—you bring Him joy.

Doesn’t it thrill you to know that the God of the universe delights in you? It should! Let that realization motivate you to find as many ways as possible to bring Him joy today.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the privilege of bringing Him joy. ✧ Thank Him for His grace, which enables you to love Him and to express your love in repentance, faith, prayer, and righteous living (cf. 1 John 4:19).

For Further Study: Read 1 Kings 3:3–15. ✧ What did Solomon request of God? ✧ What was God’s response?[6]


FEBRUARY 16

SECULAR MEN CONFUSE TRUTHS WITH “TRUTH”

The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.

PROVERBS 3:19

The celebrated prayer of the great German astronomer, Kepler, has been a benediction to many: “O God, I thank Thee that Thou has permitted me to think Thy thoughts after Thee!”

This prayer is theologically sound because it acknowledges the priority of God in the universe. Whatever new thing anyone discovers is already old, for it is but the present expression of a previous thought of God. The idea of the thing precedes the thing itself; and when things raise thoughts in the thinker’s mind these are the ancient thoughts of God, however imperfectly understood.

Should an atheist, for instance, state that two times two equals four, he would be stating a truth and thinking God’s thoughts after Him, even though he might deny that God exists.

In their search for facts, men have confused truths with truth. The words of Christ, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free,” have been wrenched from their context and used to stir people to the expectation of being made “free” by knowledge. Certainly this is not what Christ had in mind when He uttered the words.

It is the Son who is the Truth that makes men free. Not facts, not scientific knowledge, but eternal Truth delivers men, and that eternal Truth became flesh to dwell among us![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 59). 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. 55). 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. 59). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

February 15, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

February 15

The Necessity of
Repentance

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10

 

True confession cannot happen without repentance. Many times we don’t confess our sin because we’re not ready to let go of it. When I was a young Christian, I remember telling the Lord that I was sorry about particular sins I had committed and then thanked Him for already forgiving them. But that was all I did.

I reached a milestone in my spiritual life when I began to say, “Lord, thank You for forgiving those sins. I know they did not please You, and I never want to do them again.” That can be hard to say because sometimes we want to commit certain sins again. But we betray a lack of spiritual maturity when we want to eliminate the penalty of sin but retain the pleasure. For your confession to be genuine, you must turn from your sins.[1]


February 15 God Knows Everything

“Great is our Lord, and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.”

Psalm 147:5

✧✧✧

God knows everything, and so He knows our sin.

Our time in history has been called “the Information Age.” Computers work around the clock storing the glut of information from all branches of knowledge. And this flood of data is growing bigger all the time. Without the help of advanced technology, we could process and interpret only a tiny fraction of it.

In contrast, God is omniscient; He knows everything. Our Scripture for today says, “His understanding is infinite.” Isaiah asks, “Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or as His counselor has informed Him? With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge, and informed Him of the way of understanding?” (40:13–14). The answer to all those questions is, “No one.”

Since His knowledge is infinite, God never learns anything, nor does He forget anything. When you pray, you’re not telling God something He doesn’t know. He merely chooses to work through our prayers.

God knows every detail of our lives. Jesus says, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Luke 12:7). God doesn’t have to count them because He intrinsically knows how many there are. He also knows all our thoughts (Isa. 66:18). David says, “Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all” (Ps. 139:4). In that same psalm, David goes on to say, “Even the darkness is not dark to Thee” (v. 12). You can’t hide anything from the knowledge of God.

God’s omniscience should be a deterrent to our sinning. Think about some of the wrongs you did as a child when your parents weren’t around. You never would have done those things in front of them because you didn’t want to be punished. And you might have gotten away with a few things. But “God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Eccles. 12:14). Even though the eternal penalty for sin has been paid by Christ, God still disciplines us when we sin (Heb. 12:5–11). Is there anything in your life you would be ashamed about if God knew? If so, repent, because He does know!

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Praise God for His infinite knowledge.

For Further Study: Read David’s praise for God’s omniscience in Psalm 139:1–6. What specific areas of God’s knowledge does he mention?[2]


FEBRUARY 15

BEYOND OUR POWER OF THOUGHT

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

—1 John 4:7

If you are longing after God with the expectation that you are going to be able to think your way through to Him, you are completely mistaken….

The promise is that God will fill the heart, or man’s innermost being. The Word of God makes it very plain that the Church of Jesus Christ will never operate and minister and prosper by the stock of knowledge in the heads of Christian believers but by the warmth and urgency of God’s love and compassion flowing through their beings.

Now, don’t throw your head away—you are going to need it! I am convinced that God has made it plain that man alone, of all the creatures on earth, is created so that he can have fullness of knowledge about the earth and all the wonders and glories that it holds. I believe that through grace man can have a fullness of knowledge even about the works of God—but this certainly does not mean that we find Him and know Him and love Him through thought processes and human wisdom.

It is utterly and completely futile to try to think our way through to knowing God, who is beyond our power of thought or visualization. ITB100-101

Lord, it’s great to know Your works through the intellect, but it is infinitely more wonderful to know Your Person through a relationship with You. Fill my heart today, I pray. Amen. [3]


February 15

Recognizing Our Humility, Part 2

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.—Matt. 5:3

Continuing from yesterday, a fourth principle for determining our humility, which Thomas Watson recognizes, is that we will see the strengths and virtues of others as well as our own weaknesses and sins. As the apostle instructs, we will “regard one another as more important than” ourselves (Phil. 2:3) and will “give preference to one another in honor” (Rom. 12:10).

Fifth, we will spend a lot of time in prayer. As the physical beggar pleads for earthly sustenance, spiritual beggars ask regularly for spiritual food. Just as when Jacob wrestled with an angel (Gen. 32:24–28), we will not quit until we receive the Lord’s blessing.

Sixth, we will accept Christ on His terms, not ours or any other terms. We will not try to have Him while maintaining our sinful habits. We will not crowd Him aside by our own preferences or traditions, not even by familiar church standards. The Bible alone will be our guide.

And finally, when we have true humility we will praise and thank God for His grace to us. We will gratefully realize that the Father’s grace is “more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 1:14). We will know above all else that every mercy God showers on us is solely from His love and kindness.

ASK YOURSELF
Remember these seven signposts that point inward to a growing humility. Write them briefly in an appointment calendar or notebook so you can return to them at a later point in time to see how you’re coming along. Humility is worth striving for with that kind of purpose.[4]

FEBRUARY 15

PLAYING AT RELIGION

Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world.

1 John 5:4

 

When our faith becomes obedience to our Savior, then it is true faith, indeed! The difficulty we modern Christians face is not misunderstanding the Bible, but persuading our untamed hearts to accept its plain instruction. Our problem is to get the consent of our world-loving minds to make Jesus Lord in fact, as well as in word. For it is one thing to say, “Lord, Lord,” and quite another thing to obey the Lord’s commandments.

We may sing “Crown Him Lord of all,” and rejoice in the tones of the loud organ and the deep melody in harmonious voices, but still we have done nothing until we have left the world and set our faces toward the City of God in hard practical reality.

The world’s spirit is strong, and it can play at religion with every appearance of sincerity. It can have fits of conscience (particularly during Lent)! It will contribute to charitable causes and campaigns on behalf of the poor, but all with its own condition: “Let Christ keep His distance and never assert His lordship.” This it positively will not endure!

 

Dear Lord, I want to be an authentic follower of Jesus Christ. I don’t want to play “religious games” with my faith.[5]


February 15 The Joy of Affection

“It is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me. For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:7–8).

✧✧✧

Often the strongest and deepest relationships are forged in the crucible of Christian ministry.

Undoubtedly there are people who occupy a special place in your heart. Perhaps you seldom see them or talk to them, but they are on your mind and in your prayers often.

That’s how Paul regarded the Philippian believers, and it was right for him to do so because they were such an integral part of his life and ministry. They stood by him in every situation—even during his judicial proceedings and imprisonment in Rome.

The gratitude and joy Paul felt was more than an emotion. It was a moral obligation to praise God for what He had accomplished through them. That’s the meaning of the Greek word translated “right” in verse 7.

“Heart” refers to the center of one’s thoughts and feelings (cf. Prov. 4:23). Paul thought of the Philippians often and eagerly yearned for them with the affection of Christ Himself. In Philippians 4:1 he calls them “my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown.”

The mutual affection between Paul and the Philippians illustrates that often the strongest and deepest relationships are developed within the context of Christian ministry. There’s a special camaraderie among people who work toward life’s most noble goals and see God achieve eternal results through their efforts. Guard those relationships carefully, and cultivate as many as possible.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Make a list of those who share in your ministry. Also list some ways God has worked through you in recent weeks. Spend time thanking Him for both.

For Further Study: Barnabas was a faithful friend and ministry companion to Paul. Read Acts 4:36–37, 9:22–28, 11:19–30, and 13:1–3 and answer these questions: ✧ What does “Barnabas” mean? Did he live up to his name? ✧ How did Barnabas pave the way for Paul’s ministry among the disciples at Jerusalem? ✧ What adventure did Paul and Barnabas share that began at Antioch?[6]


FEBRUARY 15

TRAGEDY: MEN DO NOT KNOW THAT GOD IS HERE

And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.

GENESIS 28:16

The patriarch Jacob saw a vision of God and cried out in wonder, “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.”

Jacob had never been for one small division of a moment outside the circle of that all-pervading Presence. But he knew it not. That was his trouble, and it is ours.

Men do not know that God is here. What a difference it would make if they knew!

The Presence and the manifestation of the Presence are not the same. There can be the one without the other. God is here when we are wholly unaware of it. He is manifest only when and as we are aware of His Presence. On our part there must be surrender to the Spirit of God, for His work is to show us the Father and the Son.

If we cooperate with Him in loving obedience God will manifest Himself to us, and that manifestation will be the difference between a nominal Christian life and a life radiant with the light of His face.

It has been asked, “Why does God manifest His Presence to some and let multitudes of others struggle along in the half-light of imperfect Christian experience?” We can only reply that the will of God is the same for all—He has no favorites within His household. All he has ever done for any of His children He will do for all of His children. The difference lies not with God but with us![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 58). 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. 54). 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. 58). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

February 14, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

February 14

A Mark of the Christian

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.

1 John 1:9

 

The apostle John wrote his first epistle to define the difference between a Christian and an unbeliever. Our verse for today indicates that confession characterizes the former. The next verse says, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar” (v. 10). Unregenerate men deny their sin, but Christians take responsibility for it and confess it.

Confession of sin doesn’t take place only at salvation. It continues, as faith does, throughout the life of a believer. A willingness to confess sin is part of the pattern of life that characterizes every believer. That pattern also includes love (1 John 3:14), separation from the world (2:15), and instruction by the Holy Spirit (2:27). Of course there are varying degrees of confession—sometimes we don’t make as full a confession as we should—but a true believer eventually acknowledges his sin.[1]


February 14 Our Response to God’s Power

“Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength…. They will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”

Isaiah 40:31

✧✧✧

Relying on God’s power gives us confidence to live as Christians.

What should be our response to God’s power? First, we should worship Him. Our response should follow what God told Israel: “The Lord, who brought you up from the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm, Him you shall fear, and to Him you shall bow yourselves down, and to Him you shall sacrifice” (2 Kings 17:36).

Understanding God’s power should also give us confidence: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). Because of His strength, we can live the Christian life each day with confidence. God “is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Eph. 3:20).

Our eternal hope rests on the power of God. His power saved us and will “raise [us] up on the last day” (John 6:40). That day should be the great hope of the Christian, because whatever troubles we have on earth, our heavenly destiny is still secure.

When I’m tempted to worry, I’m comforted to remember that God’s power is greater than any problem I have. The psalmist says, “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from whence shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:1–2). The God who made everything can certainly handle our troubles!

God’s power also gives us spiritual victory. Paul instructs us to “be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10). When the adversary comes and you’re on guard, you don’t fight him; you go tell the commander, and he leads the battle. God will bring about the victory because “greater is He who is in [us] than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Satan may be powerful, but he’s no match for God.

Finally, understanding God’s power gives us humility. Peter exhorts us, “Humble yourselves … under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time” (1 Peter 5:6). Apart from God’s gracious power we are nothing and can do nothing (John 15:5).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for each of these ways He uses His power for our benefit.

For Further Study: Read Psalm 121. In what ways does God demonstrate His power to us?[2]


FEBRUARY 14

WE HAVE ALL THE REST

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

—Matthew 6:33

Again, part of the answer we are looking for is the fact that so many professing Christians just want to get things from God. Anyone can write a book now that will sell—just give it a title like, Seventeen Ways to Get Things from God! You will have immediate sales. Or, write a book called, Fourteen Ways to Have Peace of Mind—and away they go by the ton. Many people seem to be interested in knowing God for what they can get out of Him.

They do not seem to know that God wants to give Himself. He wants to impart Himself with His gifts. Any gift that He would give us would be incomplete if it were separate from the knowledge of God Himself….

I feel that we must repudiate this great, modern wave of seeking God for His benefits. The sovereign God wants to be loved for Himself and honored for Himself, but that is only part of what He wants. The other part is that He wants us to know that when we have Him, we have everything—we have all the rest. Jesus made that plain when He said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). ITB024-025

Lord, I know that in having You I will have everything I could ever need. Just give me Yourself today, Lord, and that’s enough. Amen. [3]


February 14

Recognizing Our Humility, Part 1

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.—Matt. 5:3

The Puritan Thomas Watson, in his book The Beatitudes, discusses many principles to help the believer recognize his or her humility—those spiritual fruits that enable us to determine whether or not humility is actually growing within us. Here are three.

First, if we are truly humble, we will be weaned from ourselves and have no more constant self-preoccupation. Paul expresses it beautifully this way: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).

Second, if we are really humble we will be lost in the wonder of Jesus Christ. We will contemplate “as in a mirror the glory of the Lord … being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18). We’ll look forward to the day when we’ll be just like our Lord.

And third, no matter how bad life’s situations get, we will not complain. We’ll understand that we deserve far worse than anything we experience in this life. When tragedy comes, our first response won’t be, “Why me, Lord?” Instead, we’ll fully appreciate that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18).

ASK YOURSELF
Could you honestly say you’re detecting growth in these three areas? It’s not “proud” to recognize it, to give God glory for what He’s producing in you by His Spirit. If you’re not seeing this kind of spiritual development, ask yourself what needs to change.[4]

FEBRUARY 14

ACTIVITY IS NOT ENOUGH

And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart…and rest a while.

Mark 6:31

 

Those who try to give warnings to the Christian church are never very popular. Still, I must voice the caution that our craze for “activity” brings very few enriching benefits into our Christian circles. Look into the churches, and you will find groups of half-saved, half-sanctified, carnal people who know more about social niceties than they do about the New Testament.

It is a fact that many of our church folks are activists—engaged in many religious journeys—but they do not seem to move up any closer to Jesus in heart and in spirit.

This modern religious emphasis on activity reminds me of the Japanese mice I have seen in the pet store windows. They are called waltzing mice—but they do not waltz. They just run continually!

Many in our churches hope to have a part in “something big and exciting.” But God calls us back—back to the simplicity of the faith; back to the simplicity of Jesus Christ and His unchanging Person!

 

Dear Lord, help me to find some quiet moments in the midst of today’s schedule to focus my thoughts on Your goodness and mercy.[5]


February 14 The Joy of Glorification

“I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).

✧✧✧

Someday God will glorify and reward every believer.

For Christians there’s an element of truth to the bumper sticker that reads, “Please be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.” We aren’t what we used to be, but there’s much to be done to make us all He wants us to be. Yet, God’s work within us is so sure and so powerful that Scripture guarantees its completion.

Pondering that guarantee led Bible expositor F. B. Meyer to write: “We go into the artist’s studio and find there unfinished pictures covering large canvas, and suggesting great designs, but which have been left, either because the genius was not competent to complete the work, or because paralysis laid the hand low in death; but as we go into God’s great workshop we find nothing that bears the mark of haste or insufficiency of power to finish, and we are sure that the work which His grace has begun, the arm of His strength will complete” (The Epistle to the Philippians [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1952], p. 28).

The completion of God’s work in you will come at a future point in time that Paul calls “the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). Scripture also speaks of “the day of the Lord,” which is the time of God’s judgment on unbelievers. But “the day of Christ Jesus” refers to the time when believers will be fully glorified and then rewarded for their faithful service (cf. 1 Cor. 3:10–15). All your earthly cares will be gone, and God’s promise to keep you from stumbling and make you stand in His presence “blameless with great joy” (Jude 24) will be fully realized.

Concentrating on what is wrong in your life might depress you, but focusing on the glorious day of Christ should excite you. Don’t be unduly concerned about what you are right now. Look ahead to what you will become by God’s grace.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Reflect on the joy that is yours because you belong to an all-powerful God who is working mightily in you. Express your joy and praise to Him. ✧ Read 1 Chronicles 29:11–13 as a prayer of praise to God.

For Further Study: Read Revelation 7:9–17 and 22:1–5. What glimpses do those passages give you of the activities of glorified believers in Heaven?[6]


FEBRUARY 14

BAD DISPOSITIONS: “THE VICE OF THE VIRTUOUS”

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

ROMANS 12:21

A bad disposition has been called “the vice of the virtuous,” which brings us directly to the conclusion that it is time we Christians stop trying to excuse our un-Christlike dispositions and frankly admit our failure to live as we should!

Wesley said that we will not injure the cause of Christ by admitting our sins, but that we are sure to do so by denying them.

Dispositional sins are as many as the various facets of human nature. Just so there be no misunderstanding let us list a few of them: Sensitiveness, irritability, churlishness, faultfinding, peevishness, temper, resentfulness, cruelty, uncharitable attitudes; and of course there are many more.

These kill the spirit of the church and slow down any progress which the gospel may be making in the community. Many persons who had been secretly longing to find Christ have been turned away and embittered by manifestations of ugly dispositional flaws in the lives of the very persons who were trying to win them!

Unsaintly saints are the tragedy of Christianity. The low state of religion in our day is largely due to the lack of public confidence in religious people.

There is a remedy for inward evil. The power of Christ can enable the worst of us to live lives of purity and love. We have but to seek it and to lay hold of it in faith. God will not disappoint us![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 57). 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. 53). 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. 57). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

February 13, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

February 13

Take Responsibility

Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight.

Psalm 51:4

 

If you want to have a decreasing frequency of sin in your life and an increasing amount of spiritual growth, you must acknowledge your responsibility. Don’t blame your circumstances, your husband, your wife, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your boss, your employees, or your pastor. Don’t even blame the devil. Your sin is your fault. Certainly the world’s system can contribute to the problem, but sin ultimately occurs as an act of the will—and you are responsible for it.

Perhaps one of the best examples of someone who learned how to take responsibility was the prodigal son. When he returned home to his loving father, he said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son” (Luke 15:21). He was even willing to be treated as a humble laborer because he knew he didn’t deserve anything (v. 19). That is the right attitude of one who confesses sin.[1]


February 13 Evidences of God’s Power

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know … what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might.”

Ephesians 1:18–19

✧✧✧

God’s power is seen in creation, preservation, redemption, and resurrection.

Think of all the energy we get from the sun, and multiply that by the innumerable stars in space. But God by His great power created all the stars with no effort whatsoever: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host” (Ps. 33:6). He just spoke, and they were made.

God’s power also preserves the universe. Christ “upholds all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3), and “in Him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17). Chaos would result unless His sustaining hands were directing the orderliness of creation (Ps. 104; Jer. 31:35–36).

God’s power was beautifully demonstrated at the cross. Satan was subdued, death was conquered, and the penalty for our sins was paid. The gospel “is the power of God for salvation to every one who believes” (Rom. 1:16). When we were saved, God made each of us “a new creature” (2 Cor. 5:17). Not only that, but “He who began a good work in [us] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). God’s power saved us and gives us strength to live lives pleasing to Him.

The power of God is also made evident in resurrection. Did you know that someday God is going to resurrect every human being who ever lived? The righteous will be raised to eternal life, and the unrighteous to eternal damnation (John 5:28–29; Rev. 20:11–15). Billions of people, long dead, will be resurrected. What tremendous power!

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Praise God for the power He has shown in His beautiful creation. ✧ Thank God that by His power He made you into a new creation and will someday raise you to eternal life.

For Further Study: Psalm 33 is a song of praise to God for His power and sovereignty. Examine what it teaches about God’s power, and read it as your own prayer of praise.[2]


FEBRUARY 13

THE DEEPER LIFE

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.

—Philippians 3:10

I almost shrink from hearing the expression, “the deeper life,” because so many people want to talk about it as a topic—but no one seems to want to know and love God for Himself!

God is the deeper life! Jesus Christ Himself is the deeper life, and as I plunge on into the knowledge of the triune God, my heart moves on into the blessedness of His fellowship. This means that there is less of me and more of God—thus my spiritual life deepens, and I am strengthened in the knowledge of His will.

I think this is what Paul meant when he penned that great desire, “That I may know him!” He was expressing more than the desire for acquaintance—he was yearning to be drawn into the full knowledge of fellowship with God which has been provided in the plan of redemption. ITB017-018

Lord, I want to know You more, that I might enter into lasting fellowship with You. May that be my deep desire and not just a topic for spiritual discussion. Amen. [3]


February 13

The Way to Humility

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.—Matt. 5:3

Achieving humility doesn’t mean merely putting yourself down. Because of sin, you are already spiritually down, whether you know it or not; humility just recognizes this truth. Furthermore, this recognition comes only from God, which is why asceticism, self-denial, and other human efforts are so futile in seeking humility.

Yet even though genuine humility results from God’s sovereign, saving work, He still commands it of men and women (cf. Matt. 18:4; 23:12; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:5). Therefore it is always helpful to remember some basic steps to take from our side of the divine equation.

First, we must take our eyes off ourselves and look to God—through study of the Word, time in prayer, and sincerely desiring to be close to Him. Second, we must starve our flesh by removing the things on which it feeds. This means removing those things that promote pride. Third, and most important, we must simply ask for it. God alone can help us keep our lives in balanced perspective, and He will respond when we seek humility with all our hearts. David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10). He desired to be steadfastly humble, and knew only God could grant such a request. The Father stands ready to answer this prayer long before we even utter it—humility is that important.

ASK YOURSELF
Fashion your own prayer today, deliberately confessing your tendency toward pride, acknowledging your inability to conjure up true humility within yourself, and asking for the Lord’s enablement in pursuing a life of genuine, godly perspective. He will love hearing this prayer from you.[4]

FEBRUARY 13

OUR HIGHEST HAPPINESS

If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

John 13:17

 

Let me call it to your attention that the happiness of all moral creatures lies in the giving of obedience to God, the Creator.

The psalmist cries out in Psalm 103:20: “Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.”

The angels in heaven find their complete freedom and highest happiness in obeying the commandments of God. They do not find it a tyranny—they find it a delight!

Here is something that we should know and realize: Heaven is a place of surrender to the whole will of God, and it is heaven because it is such a place.

I thank God that heaven is the world of God’s obedient children. Whatever else we may say of its pearly gates, golden streets and jasper walls, heaven is heaven because children of the Most High God find they are in their normal sphere as obedient moral beings.

 

Dear Lord, thank You for Your patience with me as I learn to obey You more fully in my daily walk with You.[5]


February 13 The Joy of Anticipation

“I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it” (Phil. 1:6).

✧✧✧

God always finishes what He starts.

All who love Christ desire to be like Him in spiritual perfection and absolute holiness. We want to please Him in every respect. However, that noble pursuit is often met with frustration and discouragement as human frailties and sin block our pathway.

Paul’s cry in Romans 7 is ours as well: “That which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. … I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good. … Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (vv. 15, 21, 24). His answer resonates with confidence and relief: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (v. 25).

Paul was convinced that God always completes the good work of salvation He begins in every new believer—a work that progressively conforms us to the image of His Son (2 Cor. 3:18). That might seem like a painfully slow process at times, but be assured He will complete it. All whom He justifies will be glorified (Rom. 8:29–30).

In the meantime, you have an active role to play in the process. Paul called it “work[ing] out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). You must discipline yourself for holiness through prayer, Bible study, obedience, and accountability to other believers. All the resources you need are at your disposal as God Himself works in you to produce “His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).

Rejoice in knowing that you belong to God and that He is conforming you to the image of His Son. See every event of this day as part of that process. Yield to the Spirit’s prompting, and take heart that God will accomplish His will.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Give thanks to God, who is able “to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (Jude 24). ✧ Express the desire to discipline yourself for godliness. Ask for wisdom in taking advantage of all the spiritual resources available to you as a believer.

For Further Study: Read Hebrews 10:19–25. ✧ What should be your attitude when approaching God? ✧ What is your responsibility in light of God’s promises?[6]


FEBRUARY 13

DIVINE LOVE: NECESSITY FOR THE CHURCH ON EARTH

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne…He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

REVELATION 3:21, 22

The kind of Christianity that relies upon the influence of its own human and earthly power makes God sick, for the church of Jesus Christ is a heavenly institution.

For myself, if I could not have the divine power of God, I would walk out and quit the whole religious business. The church that wants God’s power will have something to offer besides social clubs, knitting societies and all of the other side issues.

If any church is to be a church of Christ, the living, organic member of that redeemed Body of which Christ is the Head, then its teachers and its members must strive earnestly and sacrificially with constant prayer to do a number of things.

We must strive to make our beliefs and practices New Testament in their content. We must teach and believe New Testament truths, with nothing dragged in from the outside.

We must keep our little field of God’s planting healthy, and there is only one way to do that: keep true to the Word of God! We must constantly go back to the grass roots and get the Word into the church.

We must live to gear ourselves into things eternal and to live the life of heaven here upon the earth, empowered by the Spirit of God with that same power that came on the earliest believers. We must put loyalty to Christ first at any cost. Anything less than that really is not a Christian church![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 56). 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. 52). 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. 56). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

February 12, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

February 12

Dropping the Dead Weight

Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

Hebrews 12:1

 

Whenever we excuse our sin, we are blaming God. Adam did that when God questioned Him about eating the forbidden fruit. He answered, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate” (Gen. 3:12). Adam did not accept responsibility for his sin but blamed God, who had given Eve to him.

Sin is never God’s fault, nor is it the fault of a person or circumstance that God brings into our lives. Excusing sin impugns God for something that is our fault alone. If He chooses to chasten us, we deserve it.

That’s why confession of sin is essential to spiritual growth. When you openly face the reality of your sin and confess it, you have less dead weight to drag you down in the process of growth. As today’s verse indicates, your growth will increase as the weight of sin drops off through confession.[1]


February 12 God Has Unlimited Power

“Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Thine is the dominion, O Lord, and Thou dost exalt Thyself as head over all.”

1 Chronicles 29:11

✧✧✧

God has unlimited power and ultimate control over everything.

There is no limit to God’s power. Revelation 19:6 says, “The Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.” In fact, one Hebrew name for God is El Shaddai (El means “God”; Shaddai means “almighty”). Another word for “almighty” is “omnipotent.”

God can do anything effortlessly. It is no more difficult for Him to create a universe than it is for Him to make a butterfly. We get tired when we work, but God’s infinite power never lessens: “The creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired” (Isa. 40:28).

Not only does God have unlimited power but also the authority to use it. “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Ps. 115:3). But God’s power, authority, and will are in harmony with His nature. He cannot sin, neither can He accept impenitent sinners. Such actions would contradict His holiness.

People often question what God does because they don’t understand that He can do anything He wants. They ask, “Why did God do that?” I’ve often replied, “Because He wanted to.” He showed His sovereignty—His ultimate control of everything—in showing mercy to some like Isaac and Jacob, while hardening the hearts of others like Pharaoh (Rom. 9:6–21). To those who object to God’s right to control such things, Paul said, “Who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay … ?” (vv. 20–21).

Never question God’s use of His power. He is in control, and “The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and kind in all His deeds” (Ps. 145:17). We can trust that whatever He does, it’s for the best.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Praise God for His infinite power and sovereignty.

For Further Study: Read Isaiah 40:21–31. How has God demonstrated His power? ✧ How has He demonstrated His sovereignty? ✧ What comfort should that bring to you?[2]


FEBRUARY 12

PRACTICE SPIRITUAL CONCENTRATION

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

—Hebrews 12:2

Retire from the world each day to some private spot, even if it is only the bedroom (for a while I retreated to the furnace room for want of a better place). Stay in the secret place till the surrounding noises begin to fade out of your heart and a sense of God’s presence envelops you. Deliberately tune out the unpleasant sounds and come out of your closet determined not to hear them. Listen for the inward Voice till you learn to recognize it. Stop trying to compete with others. Give yourself to God, and then be what and who you are without regard to what others think. Reduce your interests to a few. Don’t try to know what will be of no service to you. Avoid the digest type of mind—short bits of unrelated facts, cute stories and bright sayings. Learn to pray inwardly every moment. After a while you can do this even while you work. Practice candor, childlike honesty, humility. Pray for a single eye. Read less, but read more of what is important to your inner life. Call home your roving thoughts. Gaze on Christ with the eyes of your soul. Practice spiritual concentration. OGM128-129

Lord, lift my gaze from the clutter and distractions around me and give me a “single eye” for that which is eternal. Amen. [3]


February 12

Why the Priority of Humility?

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.—Matt. 5:3

This beatitude was uttered first because humility is the foundation of all other graces and a crucial aspect to salvation (cf. Matt. 18:3–4). The door into Christ’s kingdom is narrow and low, and no one who sees himself or herself too large or too tall will ever pass through. It makes about as much sense to attempt to grow fruit apart from a tree and its branches as to expect the other graces of the Christian life to grow apart from humility.

Until we humble ourselves to recognize our own spiritual poverty and our need of Christ, we cannot see and experience His gracious, saving riches. Jesus said of the contrite tax collector, “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other [the Pharisee]; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14).

No person can receive the kingdom of God until he or she realizes they are unworthy of that kingdom. The proud Laodicean church declared collectively, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” but in reality the members were “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17). People like the Laodiceans remind us of the story of the Roman slave girl who would not recognize her blindness, insisting that her world was just permanently dark.

Until the proud are willing to be poor in spirit, they can’t receive the King or enter His kingdom.

ASK YOURSELF
We see that pride is the chief barrier between people and God, between sinful souls and Christ’s glorious salvation. But what else does pride restrict us from experiencing and enjoying? What other residual costs does it incur in our lives?[4]

FEBRUARY 12

THINK LIKE GOD THINKS

Search me, O God…try me, and know my thoughts.

Psalm 139:23

 

If God knows that your intention is to worship Him with every part of your being, He has promised to cooperate with you. On His side is the love and grace, the promises and the atonement, the constant help and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

On your side there is determination, seeking, yielding, believing. Your heart becomes a chamber, a sanctuary, a shrine in which there may be continuous, unbroken fellowship and communion with God. Your worship rises to God moment by moment!

We have all found that God will not dwell in spiteful and proud and selfish thoughts. He treasures our pure and loving thoughts, our meek and charitable and kindly thoughts. They are the thoughts like His own!

As God dwells in your thoughts, you will be worshiping—and God will be accepting. He will be smelling the incense of your high intentions even when the cares of life are intense and there is activity all around you.

This leaves us no argument. We know what God wants us to be. He wants us to be worshipers.

 

Lord, I worship You this morning. I look forward to our fellowship throughout the busy activities of this day.[5]


February 12 The Joy of Participation

“  . . in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now” (Phil. 1:5).

✧✧✧

You share in a sacred partnership with Christ and your fellow-Christians for the advancement of the gospel.

In recent years the Greek word koinōnia has become familiar to many Christians as the New Testament word for “fellowship.” However, it is also translated “partnership” and “participation.” In Philippians 1:5, Paul uses it to emphasize the participation of the Philippians in common ministry goals.

Romans 12:13 gives one aspect of that partnership and participation: monetary contributions. That’s one aspect of fellowship that the Philippian church eagerly shared with Paul. As he says in Philippians 4:15–16, “At the first preaching of the gospel, after I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs.” They were partners in his ministry because their financial support made it possible for him to preach the gospel more effectively.

The Philippians knew that Paul carried a tremendous burden in his heart for all the churches. In listing many of the trials he endured as an apostle, he added, “Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:28). The Philippian church eased that burden somewhat by being committed to Paul, to his teaching, and to godly living. That brought great joy to him.

How about you? Do your leaders derive encouragement and joy from your participation in the gospel? Remember, you share in a sacred partnership with Christ and your fellow-Christians in the advancement of the gospel, just as the Philippians shared a partnership with Paul. Rejoice in that privilege, and make the most of it today.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank the Lord for the Christian fellowship you enjoy. ✧ Ask for wisdom on how you might advance the gospel more effectively. ✧ Always seek to ease the burden of your spiritual leaders by faithfully participating in the ministry of your church as God has gifted you.

For Further Study: Read Ephesians 4:11–16. ✧ What is the goal of Christian ministry? ✧ What is the role of a pastor/teacher in achieving that goal? ✧ What is your role (see also Rom. 12:6–8; 1 Cor. 12:4–11; 1 Peter 4:10–11)?[6]


FEBRUARY 12

THE DEVIL HATES EVERYTHING DEAR TO GOD

…For the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

1 JOHN 3:8

I have observed among spiritual persons in the Christian fellowship a tendency either to ignore the devil altogether or to make too much of him.

Both attitudes are wrong!

There is in the world an enemy whom we dare not ignore. We see him first in the third chapter of Genesis and last in the twentieth of Revelation, which is to say that he was present at the beginning of human history and will be there at its earthly close.

This enemy is not a creation of religious fancy, not a mere personification of evil for convenience, but a being as real as man himself. The Bible attributes to him qualities of personality too detailed to be figurative, and reveals him speaking and acting in situations hard and practical and far removed from the poetic imagination. He is said to be a liar, a deceiver and a murderer who achieves his ends by guile and trickery. While he is not omnipresent (omnipresence being an attribute of God alone) he is ubiquitous, which for his purpose amounts to the same thing.

Satan hates God for His own sake, and everything that is dear to God he hates for the very reason that God loves it. Because man was made in God’s image the hatred with which Satan regards him is particularly malevolent, and since the Christian is doubly dear to God he is hated by the powers of darkness with an aggravated fury.

In view of this, it cannot be less than folly for us Christians to disregard the reality and presence of such an enemy.[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 55). 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. 51). 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. 55). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

February 11, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

February 11

The Success Syndrome

If I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.

Philippians 2:17

 

American society is breeding a generation of Christians who primarily want to be successful. Seldom do they have a humble attitude of service. They are unwilling to make sacrifices for the cause of Christ because they have been taught, whether verbally or not, that Christians should be rich, famous, successful, and popular.

Such an orientation toward personal success rather than humble service is the opposite of what glorifies God. Living for the glory of God means knowing you are expendable and being ready to die, if necessary, to accomplish God’s ends. Such a humble attitude glorifies God.

To grow spiritually, we must lose ourselves in the lordship of Christ at the moment of salvation and allow Him to dominate our lives from then on. In doing so, we must seek only His glory—not our own comfort and success. We will not grow when we choose our own way or serve God with the wrong motive.[1]


February 11 God Is Always with Us

“The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.”

Psalm 145:18

✧✧✧

Understanding God’s omnipresence should encourage us in times of distress and keep us from sinning.

It is a great comfort as a Christian to know that God is always present in me both essentially and relationally. No matter what the trial, He is there. Sometimes He might seem faraway, but He’s really no further away than He’s ever been. His promise to us is, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).

God is always with us to support our service to Him. When God called Moses to proclaim His message and lead Israel out of slavery, Moses protested because of his lack of speaking abilities (Ex. 4:10). But God said, “I … will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say” (v. 12). Jesus commands us, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations … and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19–20). If you doubt you have the power to witness, remember that you have the same resource as any evangelist—the presence and power of God!

God’s continual presence is also a shield against sin. “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13). Nothing will ever tempt us without His giving us the strength to resist.

The omnipresence of God should also motivate us to holiness. Most of us prefer to sin with no one else watching. But when we sin—whether in thought, word, or action—we sin in the presence of God. “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good” (Prov. 15:3). “His eyes are upon the ways of a man, and He sees all his steps. There is no darkness or deep shadow where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves” (Job 34:21–22). Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want God to see, because He’ll see it anyway!

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for the comfort He brings to you through His continual presence.

For Further Study: Hebrews 13:5 is a quote from Deuteronomy 31:6. Read Deuteronomy 31:1–8. What was the basis for Moses’ admonition to “be strong and courageous”?[2]


FEBRUARY 11

A FELLOWSHIP WITHIN A FELLOWSHIP

All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.

—Psalm 45:8

There is a fellowship within a fellowship—a sort of wheel in the middle of a wheel—which gathers to itself all who are of its spirit in every church in every land and every age. Its members are the God-smitten, those who have heard the Voice speaking within them and have caught a glimpse, however fleeting, of the glory of God….

They who compose this fellowship have never been herded into any one organization; they have no earthly head, pay no dues, hold no conventions and keep no minutes, yet they recognize each other instantly when they meet by a kind of secret sign which the Spirit has placed within their hearts.

These have been in the Presence and will never be the same again. They know a holy reverence, a wondrous sense of sacredness that rises at times to transports of delight. Their garments smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia, a gift from their Bridegroom and King who came walking out of the Ivory Palaces, trailing clouds of glory, to win them for Himself. TET067-068

Lord, allow me to enter that sacred fellowship—give me a “glimpse, however fleeting,” of Your glory. I’m willing to never be the same again, and I want to be permeated with that sweet fragrance that comes from being in Your Presence. Amen.  [3]


February 11

What Is Poverty of Spirit?

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.—Matt. 5:3

Poverty of spirit means recognizing how truly deficient we are apart from God. It means seeing ourselves as we really are: spiritually lost, hopeless, and helpless. Without the gospel of Jesus Christ, everyone is spiritually impoverished, regardless of his or her material accomplishments, educational achievements, or even religious knowledge and church activities.

The “poor in spirit” are people who have recognized their spiritual destitution and their total inability to save themselves—their complete dependence on God. They know their only hope of salvation is to repent and ask for forgiveness, leaning on the sovereign grace and mercy of God. Such a person knows he has no spiritual merit of his own and that his personal strength or wisdom is insufficient to earn him lasting spiritual reward.

“In spirit” expresses the understanding that poverty of spirit can’t be merely a hypocritical, outward act. Being a genuine spiritual beggar reflects true humility, not some phony, pretentious, mild-mannered behavior. Real poverty of spirit is what the prophet said the Lord looks for and affirms: “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isa. 66:2; cf. Pss. 34:18; 51:17).

Augustine in his Confessions says pride was his greatest barrier to salvation. Until he realized that his achievements and possessions were nothing, Christ could do nothing for him. It’s the same for any who would be poor in spirit.

ASK YOURSELF
What specific items or attitudes threaten your ability to remain “poor in spirit”? How does a person maintain a comfort level in God’s presence without losing the perspective of being undeserving of the privilege?[4]

FEBRUARY 11

WE ARE NOT ORPHANS

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.

Psalm 37:23

 

I once wrote in an editorial that Christian believers are not orphans in this world, making the point that the divine Shepherd goes before us and that we travel an appointed way.

A reader wrote to question my allusion to our traveling an “appointed” way, asking: “I was brought up a Methodist. In your comments, do you mean this to be foreordination? That is what the Presbyterians believe. Just what did you mean?”

I replied that I had not meant to go down that deep into doctrine—that I had not been thinking of foreordination, predestination or the eternal decrees.

“I was just satisfied that if a consecrated Christian will put himself in the hands of God, even the accidents may be turned into blessings,” I told him.

Anyway, I am sure the Methodist brother can go to sleep at night knowing that he does not have to become a Presbyterian to be certain that God is looking after him!

 

Dear Lord, in these quiet moments this morning, prepare my mind and heart for the encounters You’ve arranged for me today.[5]


February 11 The Joy of Intercession

“… always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all” (Phil. 1:4).

✧✧✧

Intercessory prayer is a powerful tool in the hands of a righteous person.

A story is told of a special nurse who knew the importance of intercessory prayer. Because each day she used her hands as instruments of God’s love and mercy toward those in her care, she found it natural to use her hand as a scheme of prayer. Each finger represented someone she wanted to pray for. Her thumb was nearest to her and reminded her to pray for those who were closest and dearest. The index finger was used for pointing, so it stood for her instructors. The third finger was the tallest and stood for those in leadership. The fourth finger was the weakest, representing those in distress and pain. The little finger, which was the smallest and least important, reminded the nurse to pray for her own needs.

Undoubtedly that nurse knew the joy of praying for others. Paul knew it too. Given the same circumstances, a lesser man would be consumed with his own well-being, but Paul modeled what he teaches in Philippians 2:4: “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Such an attitude is the heart of effective intercessory prayer.

Those who lack the joy of the Holy Spirit often harbor negative thoughts toward others, which debilitates compassion and hinders prayer. That’s tragic because intercessory prayer is a powerful tool in the hands of righteous people (James 5:16).

Analyze your own prayers. Are they generous with praise to God for His goodness to others? Do you pray for the needs of others? Practice doing so, and the joy of intercession will be yours.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Pray for specific people and specific needs. ✧ Thank God for what you see Him doing in the lives of others.

For Further Study: John 17 is Christ’s intercessory prayer for His disciples, including us (v. 20). After reading that chapter, complete the following statements ✧ Eternal life is ____________________________. ✧ Christ’s mission on earth was to _______________________________. ✧ The world’s reaction to Christ and His followers is__________________________________. ✧ The best way to convince the world that Christ was sent by the Father is to ________________________.[6]


FEBRUARY 11

OUR HEAVENLY ABODE: PART OF GOD’S GOODNESS

…We have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

2 CORINTHIANS 5:1

The true Christian may safely look forward to a future state that is as happy as perfect love wills it to be! No one who has felt the weight of his own sin or heard from Calvary the Saviour’s mournful cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” can ever allow his soul to rest on the feeble hope popular religion affords. He will—indeed, he must—insist upon forgiveness and cleansing and the protection the vicarious death of Christ provides.

“God has made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” So wrote Paul, and Luther’s great outburst of faith shows what this can mean in a human soul: “O Lord,” cried Luther, “Thou art my righteousness, I am Thy sin!”

Any valid hope of a state of righteousness beyond the incident of death must lie in the goodness of God and the work of atonement accomplished for us by Jesus Christ on the cross. The deep, deep love of God is the fountain out of which flows our future beatitude, and the grace of God in Christ is the channel by which it reaches us!

Even justice is on our side, for it is written, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 54). 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. 50). 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. 54). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

February 10, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

February 10

Confronting
an Evil World

If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

1 Peter 4:14

 

No one can live for God’s glory and be entirely comfortable in this world. You shouldn’t be obnoxious or try to be a misfit, but if your life is Christ–like, then you will bear some of the reproach He bore.

We live in a day when many want to make Christianity easy, but the Bible says it is hard. Many want to make Christians lovable, but God says they’ll be reproachable. Christianity must confront the system by being distinct from it. It must expose sin before it can disclose the remedy.

Be sure your life reflects your commitment to Christ. That’s what will make you distinct from the world.[1]


February 10 God Is Everywhere

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Thee.”

1 Kings 8:27

✧✧✧

God is in all places; He is not confined by space.

No matter how big the universe is, God is bigger. His being fills up all of infinity. He is omnipresent—everywhere present. God says, “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” (Jer. 23:24). Solomon said at the dedication of the temple, “Will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Thee, how much less this house which I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27). There are no limits of time or space to His presence.

Some may object to the doctrine of omnipresence, saying, “Wouldn’t the sin in the world defile an omnipresent God?” No. God is in the hearts of sinners convicting them of sin. He is also in Hell where He “is able to destroy both soul and body” (Matt. 10:28). Though God’s essence is everywhere, He never mingles with impurity. In a similar way, Jesus lived among sinners and was “tempted in all things as we are, yet [He was] without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

Isaiah exhorts people to “call upon [God] while He is near” (55:6); yet Proverbs 15:29 says, “The Lord is far from the wicked.” How can He be near some people and far from others when He is everywhere all the time? To answer this, we must distinguish between God’s essence and His relation to people. He is everywhere in His essence, but with specific individuals He is far or near relationally. When we become Christians, Christ dwells in us. God can fill us with His fullness (Eph. 3:19), and the Spirit who lives in us can also fill us (1:13; 5:18). But before God’s Spirit indwelt us relationally, His essence convicted us of sin and saved us.

The Old Testament tells us that God dwelt between the wings of the cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant. That location was a symbol of God’s presence. Today the church represents God’s presence on earth. In the Millennium, Christ’s rule on the throne of David in Jerusalem will represent God’s presence. In Heaven His presence will be represented by the throne of Revelation 4–5. Remember, though, that the symbol of God’s presence never restricts His essence.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Praise God that He is omnipresent, and thank Him that He lives in you.

For Further Study: What does Psalm 139:7–18 teach about God’s omnipresence? ✧ What was David’s response (vv. 17–18)?[2]


FEBRUARY 10

ON HIS FACE LISTENING

And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him.

—Genesis 17:3

Think about the reality of Abraham’s experience. Abraham was consciously aware of God, His presence and His revelation. He was aware that the living God had stepped over the threshold into personal encounter with a man who found the desire within himself to know God, to believe God and to live for God.

See the effect of this encounter on Abraham. He was prepared to pay any price for the privilege of knowing God. For certain he recognized the lofty, holy character of the Creator and Revealer God.

The Scriptures declare, “Abram fell on his face” as the Lord talked with him (Genesis 17:3). Abraham was reverent and submissive. Probably there is no better picture anywhere in the Bible of the right place for mankind and the right place for God. God was on His throne speaking, and Abraham was on his face listening!

Where God and man are in relationship, this must be the ideal. God must be the communicator, and man must be in the listening, obeying attitude. If men and women are not willing to assume this listening attitude, there will be no meeting with God in living, personal experience. MMG020-021

Oh, Lord, give me an attitude like Abraham’s, that I might have a living, personal experience of You. Amen. [3]


February 10

Distinctiveness of the Beatitudes

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.—Matt. 5:3

The series of conditional blessings Jesus promises, beginning with this verse and continuing through verse 12, are known as the Beatitudes. This name refers to a state of happiness or bliss. The blessedness promised in each is a divine characteristic, one that men and women can realize only as they share in God’s nature (cf. 2 Peter 1:4). When believers are truly blessed, they don’t experience merely an external, circumstantial feeling of happiness, but a deep sense of spiritual contentedness and well-being based on the objective spiritual reality that they belong to God.

We must understand that Christ’s beatitudes are distinctive and firm pronouncements, not merely ambiguous probabilities. Our Lord does not say that if we have the qualities the Beatitudes set forth, we are only likely to be happy; nor is this simply His wish for us. Adherence to these attitudes and practices will result in blessedness, just as surely as judgmental woes await those who are the subject of His pronouncements in Matthew 23.

The blessed life is the opposite of the cursed life. Blessedness is possessed by those who truly have the inner characteristics of the Beatitudes. Conversely, cursedness represents those who don’t know the Beatitudes, such as the Jewish religionists of Jesus’ time.

The Beatitudes are also distinctively progressive, each leading to the next in logical succession. Poverty of spirit demonstrates a right attitude about ourselves. That leads to mourning, gentleness, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, showing mercy, purity of heart, and peacemaking. If we have these traits we will rebuke the world so that it persecutes us and allows us to be lights in its midst.

ASK YOURSELF
We have often stated—rightly so—that God is more interested in making us holy than making us happy. So does it surprise you to see that happiness is a gift Jesus offers to those who take His Word to heart? What’s wrong with a theology that looks suspiciously at happiness?[4]

FEBRUARY 10

CHRIST CAME TO SAVE

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world.

John 3:17

 

Millions who have rejected the Christian gospel have generally been too busy and too involved to ask themselves a simple question: “What really is God’s intention toward me?”

They could have found the plain and simple answer given by the Apostle John: “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17).

This is a gravely significant message from the heart of God Himself! Yet, even in the full light it provides, people are indifferent. Upon our eyes there seems to have fallen a strange dimness; within our ears, a strange dullness. It is a wonder, and a terrible responsibility, that we should have this message in our possession and be so little stirred about it!

I confess that it is very hard for me to accept the fact that it is now very rare for anyone to come into the house of God, silently confessing: “Dear Lord, I am ready and willing to hear what you will speak to me today!”

 

Dear Lord, how grateful I am that You do not condemn, but by Your Spirit You do convict. Help me to hear and act upon Your promptings today.[5]


February 10 The Joy of Recollection

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you” (Phil. 1:3).

✧✧✧

A key to Christian joy is to recall the goodness of others.

Though Paul was under house arrest in Rome when he wrote to the Philippians, his mind wasn’t bound. Often he reflected on his experiences with the Philippian Christians. As he did so, his thoughts turned to prayers of praise and thanksgiving for all the Lord had done through them.

I’m sure Paul remembered when he preached in Philippi and God opened Lydia’s heart to believe the gospel (Acts 16:13–14). Subsequently everyone in her household was saved (v. 15). Surely her kindness and hospitality were bright spots in an otherwise stormy stay at Philippi.

He must also have remembered the demon-possessed girl whom the Lord delivered from spiritual bondage (v. 18), and the Philippian jailer who threw Paul and Silas into prison after they had been beaten severely (vv. 23–24). Perhaps the girl became part of the Philippian church—the text doesn’t say. We do know that the jailer and his whole household were saved, after which they showed kindness to Paul and Silas by tending to their wounds and feeding them (vv. 30–34).

The many financial gifts the Philippians sent to Paul were also fond memories for him because they were given out of love and concern. That was true of their present gift as well, which was delivered by Epaphroditus and went far beyond Paul’s need (Phil. 4:18).

Paul’s gratitude illustrates that Christian joy is enhanced in your life by your ability to recall the goodness of others. A corollary is your ability to forgive shortcomings and unkindnesses. That goes against the grain of our “don’t get mad—get even” society, but is perfectly consistent with the compassion and forgiveness God has shown you. Therefore, be quick to forgive evil and slow to forget good.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Take time to reflect on some people who have shown kindness to you and encouraged you in your Christian walk. Thank God for them. If possible, call them or drop them a note of thanks. Assure them of your prayers, as Paul assured the Philippians. ✧ If you harbor ill will toward someone, resolve it quickly, and begin to uphold that person in prayer.

For Further Study: Read Matthew 5:23–26; 18:21–35. What were our Lord’s instructions regarding forgiveness and reconciliation?[6]


FEBRUARY 10

PRAYER IS NEVER A SUBSTITUTE FOR OBEDIENCE

Not every one that saith unto me, LORD, LORD, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

MATTHEW 7:21

Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late—and how little revival has resulted?

I believe our problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work!

A church, for instance, follows its traditions without much thought about whether they are scriptural or not. Or it surrenders to pressure from public opinion and falls in with popular trends which carry it far from the New Testament pattern. Then the leaders notice a lack of spiritual power among the people and become concerned about it. What to do? How can they bring down refreshing showers to quicken their fainting souls?

The answer is all ready for them. The books tell them how—pray!

The passing evangelist confirms what the books have said—pray!

So the pastor calls his people to pray. The tide of feeling runs high and it looks for a while as if the revival might be on the way. But it fails to arrive and the zeal for prayer begins to flag. Soon the church is back where it was before and a numb discouragement settles over everyone.

What has gone wrong? Simply this: Neither the leaders nor the people have made any effort to obey the Word of God. They felt that their only weakness was failure to pray, when actually in a score of ways they were falling short in the vital matter of obedience![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 53). 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. 49). 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. 53). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

February 9, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

February 9

Feeling What God Feels

Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

Romans 14:8

 

I remember one young woman who learned to feel pain when God was dishonored. She left a little town in West Virginia to live with a guy who was a student at UCLA. After a while, he kicked her out. She wandered around and tried to take her life several times, but each time she survived. My sister and I met her and had the opportunity to lead her to Christ. Soon after that she decided to go back to her hometown so she could tell her mother and friends about Christ.

Several months later, she wrote me a letter. This is some of what she wrote:

“I can almost feel the unbearable sadness that God feels when someone rejects and doesn’t glorify Him. He’s God! He made us. He gave us everything. We continue to doubt and reject Him. It’s awful! When I think of how I hurt Him, I hope I can someday make it up.

“It’s all so clear to me that God must be glorified. He deserves it, and it’s long overdue. I can’t wait to just tell Jesus, and thus God indirectly, that I love Him. I want God to be God and to take His rightful place. I’m tired of the way people put Him down.”[1]


February 9 God Doesn’t Change

“Thou art the same, and Thy years will not come to an end.”

Psalm 102:27

✧✧✧

God never changes, so He can be trusted to do what He says.

God alone is unchanging (or as the theologians say, immutable). The psalmist says, “Even [the heavens and earth] will perish, but Thou dost endure…. Thou art the same, and Thy years will not come to an end” (Ps. 102:26–27). Though Israel deserved destruction for its sin, God was faithful to His covenant with Abraham, saying, “I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed” (Mal. 3:6). James calls God “the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow” (1:17).

What about those verses that say God changed His mind (e.g., Amos 7:3, 6; Jonah 3:10)? Let’s look at an example. Jonah warned the wicked city of Nineveh of impending judgment. The city immediately repented, and “when God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it” (3:10). Who changed? The people of Nineveh! God’s nature to punish evil and reward good remained the same, but the object changed.

You can’t blame the sun for melting the wax and hardening the clay. The problem is in the substance of the wax and clay, not in the sun. In a similar way, our standing before God determines how God acts toward us.

What does God’s unchanging character mean? To unbelievers, it means judgment. When God says, “The person who sins will die” (Ezek. 18:20) and “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), He means it. When He says Hell is eternal (Matt. 25:46; Rev. 20:10, 13–15), then it is.

To Christians, His immutability means comfort. If He loved me in the past, He loves me now and forever. If He forgave and saved me, He did so forever. If He promised me anything, His promise stands forever. If the Bible says, “My God shall supply all your needs” (Phil. 4:19), we know the power that supplied Paul’s needs is the same power that will supply ours. God told Israel, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3), and His love for us is the same.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Praise God for His immutability, and thank Him for the comfort that brings you.

For Further Study: Find some promises God makes to His children in Scripture, and ask for faith to believe them, even when belief is difficult.[2]


FEBRUARY 9

AN EMPTY, HUNGRY HEART

And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.

—Genesis 12:7

I happen to believe that Abraham’s encounters with the living God nearly 4,000 years ago leave modern men and women without excuse.

Abraham stands for every believer. His eager and willing faith becomes every Christian’s condemnation. On the other hand, his fellowship with God becomes every believer’s encouragement.

If there is a desire in your heart for more of God’s blessing in your life, turn your attention to the details of Abraham’s encounters with God. You will find yourself back at the center, at the beating heart of living religion….

Remember, too, that at that point in history, almost 2,000 years before the coming of Jesus Christ into our world, Abraham had no Bible and no hymnal. He had no church and no godly religious traditions for guidance. He could not turn to a minister or an evangelist for spiritual help.

Abraham had only his own empty, hungry heart. That and the manifestation of the God who reveals Himself to men and women who desire to find Him and know Him! MMG019-020

Like Abraham, Lord, I come to You today with an empty, hungry heart, ready to listen for Your voice. Amen. [3]


February 9

This Sermon Is for Today

He opened His mouth and began to teach them.—Matt. 5:2

Because of the Sermon on the Mount’s seemingly impossible demands and behavioral standards that are counter to everything the world practices and holds dear, many Christians have taught that the Sermon applies only to the millennial age. If it were not just for a future kingdom era, the argument goes, Jesus would not have commanded believers to be perfect, just as their “heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).

But such an argument is invalid, for a number of reasons. First, and most obvious, the body of Jesus’ sermon nowhere indicates or even implies that its message should be set aside for a future age. Second, Jesus was delivering these instructions to people of the present age—His original hearers and us—not those living in the Millennium. Furthermore, many of the teachings become meaningless if we apply them to the Millennium. (For instance, there will be no persecution of Christians at that time; see Matt. 5:10–12, 44.)

The fourth reason these teachings have to apply now is that every principle and command Jesus sets forth is further applied by the writers of the New Testament epistles, directed to believers both then and now. And fifth, many other New Testament passages teach us standards that are equally unattainable as those in the Sermon on the Mount. Only with aid of the indwelling Spirit can these be done, even part of the time (cf. Phil. 1:9–10; Col. 3:1–2; 1 Peter 1:15–16).

Jesus’ sermon certainly does apply to us, marking out the distinctive lifestyle we should display to all those around us.

ASK YOURSELF
Which of the individual teachings from the Sermon on the Mount have you basically dismissed as being unattainable? Why have you classified one or more in this way? What could this deliberate refusal to obey tell you about the condition of your heart?[4]

FEBRUARY 9

WHO WILL COME TO JESUS?

Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Revelation 22:17

 

God’s invitation to men is broad but not unqualified. The words “whosoever will may come” throw the door open, indeed, but the church is carrying the gospel invitation far beyond its proper bounds, turning it into something more human and less divine than that found in the sacred Scriptures.

What we tend to overlook is that the word “whosoever” never stands by itself. Always its meaning is modified by the word “believe” or “will” or “come.”

According to the teachings of Christ no one will or can come and believe unless there has been done within him a prevenient work of God enabling him to do so.

In the sixth chapter of John, Jesus teaches us that no one can come of himself; he must first be drawn by the Father. “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing,” Jesus said (6:63).

Before any man or woman can be saved, he or she must feel a consuming spiritual hunger. Where a hungry heart is found, we may be sure that God was there first—“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16).

 

Heavenly Father, I pray today for evangelists and missionaries around the world who are representing You in teeming cities and remote areas. Through them, I ask that You will draw many people to Yourself who have never heard the gospel message. Amen.[5]


February 9 The Joy of God’s Peace

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:2).

✧✧✧

Nothing you face today is beyond the purview of God’s grace and peace.

Paul’s wonderful benediction for grace and peace was ever on his heart. He offered it in each of his epistles and expounded on it throughout his writings.

Grace is the outpouring of God’s goodness and mercy on undeserving mankind. Every benefit and provision you receive is by God’s grace. That’s why Peter called it “the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). Just as your trials are manifold or multifaceted, so God’s multifaceted and all-sufficient grace is correspondingly available to sustain you.

Peace, as used in Philippians 1:2, speaks of the calmness and absence of strife characteristic of one in whom God’s grace is at work. The New Testament also links it to mercy, hope, joy, and love. To experience those graces is to experience true peace.

It is said that when Bible translators were seeking a word or phrase for “peace” in the language of the Chol Indians of South Mexico, they discovered that the words for “a quiet heart” gave just the meaning they were looking for. That’s an appropriate parallel because peace guards the soul against anxiety and strife, granting solace and harmony.

Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.” In Philippians 4:6–7 Paul says to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Although “grace to you and peace” was a common greeting in the early church, it was an uncommon experience in the unbelieving world. The same is true today, because only those who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ receive grace and peace.

Are you experiencing God’s peace? Remember, nothing you face today is beyond the purview of God’s all-sufficient grace and surpassing peace.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Read Ephesians 2:14–18, and praise God for Christ, who is your peace, and for His gracious work on your behalf.

For Further Study: What is the first step to acquiring peace (John 16:33; 1 Peter 5:14)? ✧ What does the God of peace desire to accomplish within you (1 Thess. 5:23; Heb. 13:20–21)?[6]


FEBRUARY 9

TRUE FAITH IS ACCOMPANIED BY EXPECTATION

According to my earnest expectation and my hope…so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

PHILIPPIANS 1:20

Expectation and faith, though alike, are not identical.

An instructed Christian will not confuse the two.

True faith is never found alone; it is always accompanied by expectation. The man who believes the promises of God expects to see them fulfilled. Where there is no expectation there is no faith.

It is, however, quite possible for expectation to be present where no faith is. The mind is quite capable of mistaking strong desire for faith. Indeed faith, as commonly understood, is little more than desire compounded with cheerful optimism.

Real faith is not the stuff dreams are made of; rather it is tough, practical and altogether realistic. Faith sees the invisible but it does not see the nonexistent. Faith engages God, the one great Reality, who gave and gives existence to all things. God’s promises conform to reality, and whoever trusts them enters a world not of fiction but of fact!

Expectation has always been present in the church in the times of her greatest power. When she believed, she expected, and her Lord never disappointed her. His blessings accorded with their expectations, “and blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.”[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 52). 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. 48). 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. 52). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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