Drawing Near : daily readings for the month of April

April 01 | Cultivating Beatitude Attitudes

Jesus’ earthly ministry included teaching, preaching, and healing. Wherever He went, He generated great excitement and controversy. Usually great multitudes of people followed Him as He moved throughout the regions of Judea and Galilee.

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April 02 | Happiness Is . . .

A quiz in a popular magazine characterized happy people as those who enjoy other people but aren’t self-sacrificing, who refuse to participate in negative feelings or emotions, and who have a sense of accomplishment based on their own self-sufficiency.

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April 03 | Relying on God’s Grace

In Luke 18:9-14 Jesus tells of two men who went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee boasted to God about his self-righteous efforts; the tax collector humbly acknowledged his sin.

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April 04 | Being Poor in Spirit

The Puritan writer Thomas Watson listed seven ways to determine if you are poor in spirit (The Beatitudes [Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1971], pp. 45-48): You will be weaned from self. Psalm 131:2 says, “Like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me.”

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April 05 | Dealing with Sorrow

Most people in our society have an amusement-park mentality. They spend much of their time and money on entertainment, wanting to enjoy life and avoid problems whenever possible. To them, Matthew 5:4 is a paradox. How can someone who mourns be happy? The answer lies in the difference between godly sorrow and human sorrow.

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April 06 | Mourning Over Your Sin

Human sorrow involves mourning over some tragic or disappointing turn of events. At such times believers are assured of God’s sustaining and comforting grace (2 Cor. 1:3-4). But when Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4), He was referring to godly sorrow, which involves mourning over your sin.

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April 07 | Maintaining Spiritual Sensitivity

Satan desires to desensitize Christians to the heinousness of sin. He wants you to stop mourning over sin and start enjoying it. Impossible? Many who once thought so have fallen prey to its power. It usually doesn’t happen all at once. In fact, the process can be slow and subtle—almost imperceptible. But the results are...

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April 08 | Controlling Yourself

The Greek word translated “gentle” in Matthew 5:5 speaks of humility, meekness, and non-retaliation—traits that in our proud society are often equated with weakness or cowardice. But in reality they are virtues that identify Kingdom citizens.

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April 09 | Inheriting the Earth

God said to Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:28). But their sin cost them their sovereignty and brought a curse...

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April 10 | Rejecting Worldly Ambitions

Within every man and woman is a hunger and thirst only God can satisfy. That’s why Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

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April 11 | How’s Your Spiritual Appetite?

David was a man after God’s own heart. In Psalm 63:1 he writes, “O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly; my soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” He communed with God and knew the blessings of His...

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April 12 | Evaluating Your Righteousness

Righteousness” means “to be right with God.” When you hunger and thirst for righteousness, you passionately desire an ongoing and ever-maturing relationship with God Himself.

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April 13 | Being Filled with Mercy

Like the other Beatitudes, Matthew 5:7 contains a twofold message: to enter the Kingdom, you must seek mercy; once there, you must show mercy to others.

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April 14 | Following Christ’s Example

Mercy is not a human attribute. It is God’s gift to those who seek Him. Psalm 103:11 says, “As the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him” (KJV).

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April 15 | Showing Mercy

God delights in mercy, and as a believer you have the privilege of showing mercy in many ways. In the physical realm you can give money to the poor, food to the hungry, or a bed to the homeless. God has always wanted His people to be that way.

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April 16 | Commended or Condemned?

Scripture shows that those whom God blessed most abundantly were abundantly merciful to others. Abraham, for example, helped rescue his nephew Lot even after Lot had wronged him. Joseph was merciful to his brothers after they sold him into slavery. Twice David spared Saul’s life after Saul tried to kill him.

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April 17 | Breaking the Bondage of Legalism

By the time Jesus arrived, Israel was in a desperate condition spiritually. The Jewish people were in bondage to the oppressive legalism of the Pharisees, who had developed a system of laws that was impossible to keep. Consequently, the people lacked security and were longing for a Savior to free them from guilt and frustration.

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April 18 | Entering the Kingdom

Religion comes in many forms. Almost every conceivable belief or behavior has been incorporated into some religious system at some point in time. But really there are only two kinds of religion. One says you can earn your way to Heaven; the other says you must trust in Jesus Christ alone.

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April 19 | Thinking Biblically

God is concerned about the way you think. That’s why Paul said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). In Philippians 4:8 he instructs us to...

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April 20 | Becoming Pure in Heart

Purifying a heart is the gracious and miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, but there are some things we must do in response to His prompting. First, we must admit we can’t purify our own hearts. Proverbs 20:9 says, “Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin’?” The implied...

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April 21 | The Cushion of Peace

I remember reading about what is called “the cushion of the sea.” The ocean surface is often greatly agitated, but as you descend, the water becomes increasingly calm. At its greatest depths, the ocean is virtually still. Oceanographers dredging ocean bottoms have found animal and plant remains that appear to have been undisturbed for hundreds...

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April 22 | Risking True Peace

People often define peace as the absence of conflict, but God sees it differently. The absence of conflict is merely a truce, which might end overt hostilities but doesn’t resolve the underlying issues. A truce simply introduces a cold war, which often drives the conflict underground, where it smolders until erupting in physical or emotional...

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April 23 | Hindrances to Peace

Just as righteousness and truth are the noble companions of peace, so sin and falsehood are its great hindrances. The prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately [evil]; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). Jesus said, “From within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts...

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April 24 | Christ Is Our Peace

After World War II the United Nations was created to promote world peace. But since its inception in 1945 there has not been a single day of global peace. That’s a sad commentary on man’s inability to make peace. In fact, someone once quipped that Washington D.C., has so many peace monuments because they build...

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April 25 | Messengers of Peace

When Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God,” He was referring to a special group of people whom God called to restore the peace that was forfeited because of sin. They may not be politicians, statesmen, diplomats, kings, presidents, or Nobel prize winners, but they hold the key...

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April 26 | Paying the Price of Righteousness

Unlike many today who try to make the gospel palatable for reluctant sinners, Jesus made it clear that following Him had its price. Rather than acceptance, fame, prestige, and prosperity, you can expect rejection and persecution. That’s not a popular approach to evangelism, but it’s honest. Also, it ensures that no one will try to...

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April 27 | Are You Avoiding Persecution?

I heard of a man who was fearful because he was starting a new job with a group of unbelievers whom he thought might give him a bad time if they found out he was a Christian. After his first day at work his wife asked him how he got along with them. “We got...

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April 28 | Three Kinds of Persecution

Jesus mentioned three broad categories of suffering that Christians will experience. The first is persecution. “Persecuted” (Matt. 5:10) and “persecute” (v. 11) both come from the same Greek root, meaning “to pursue” or “to chase away.” Over time it came to mean “to harass” or “to treat in an evil manner.” Verse 10 literally reads,...

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April 29 | Receiving Christ’s Wounds

Savonarola has been called “the Burning Beacon of the Reformation.” His sermons denouncing the sin and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church of his day helped pave the way for the Protestant Reformation. Many who heard his powerful sermons went away half-dazed, bewildered, and speechless. Often sobs of repentance resounded throughout the entire congregation as...

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April 30 | Realizing Your Reward

God’s promise for those who are persecuted for His sake is that their reward in Heaven will be great (Matt. 5:12). Jesus said, “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, shall receive many times as much, and shall inherit eternal life”...

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