Drawing Near : daily readings for the month of January

January 01 | The Measure of True Success

Our society is success-oriented. We love success stories. We even have television programs that exalt the lifestyles of the rich and famous. But God’s standard for success is quite different. Unimpressed by our status or wealth, He looks instead for faithfulness to His will.

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January 02 | Experiencing God’s Peace

Throughout history mankind has sought peace through military alliances, balances of power, and leagues of nations. Yet lasting peace still remains an elusive dream. Even during times of relative peace, nations struggle with internal strife and crime.

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January 03 | Blessing the God of Blessings

Paul’s brief doxology identifies God the Father as the ultimate recipient and source of blessing—the One to whom blessing is ascribed and the One who bestows blessings on those who love Him.

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January 04 | Understanding Your Spiritual Resources

The story is told of a wealthy London businessman who searched many years for his runaway son. One afternoon he was preparing to board a train to London when he spotted a man in ragged, dirty clothing begging for money from passengers along the station platform. His first impulse was to avoid the beggar, but...

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January 05 | Cultivating a Heavenly Perspective

It’s been said that some Christians are so heavenly-minded, they’re no earthly good. But usually the opposite is true. Many Christians are so enamored with this present world that they no longer look forward to Heaven. They have everything they want right here.

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January 06 | Identifying with Christ

Many people mistakenly believe that one’s religious preference is irrelevant because all religions eventually lead to the same spiritual destination. Such thinking is sheer folly, however, because Scripture declares that no one comes to God apart from Jesus (John 14:6). He is the only source of salvation (Acts 4:12) and the only One powerful enough...

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January 07 | Avoiding a Spiritual Identity Crisis

Many people in our society are on a seemingly endless and often frantic quest for personal identity and self-worth. Identity crises are common at almost every age level. Superficial love and fractured relationships are but symptoms of our failure to resolve the fundamental issues of who we are, why we exist, and where we’re going.

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January 08 | Matching Your Practice to Your Position

God chose you in Christ to make you “holy and blameless” in His sight. To be “holy” is to be separated from sin and devoted to righteousness. To be “blameless” is to be pure, without spot or blemish—like Jesus, the Lamb of God (1 Peter 1:19).

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January 09 | Living Out Your Royal Heritage

Moses told Israel that God didn’t choose them because of their great numbers or any inherent goodness on their part, but as an expression of God’s sovereign will and sacrificial love (Deut. 7:7-8). That’s true of you as well if you’re a Christian.

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January 10 | Living to the Glory of God

Henry Martyn, an Englishman, served as a missionary in India and Persia in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Upon his arrival in Calcutta he cried out, “Let me burn out for God.” As he watched the people prostrating themselves before their pagan idols and heard blasphemy uttered against Christ, he wrote, “This excited...

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January 11 | The Slavery That Frees

Freedom is a precious thing. People throughout history have prayed, fought, and even died for it. Our Declaration of Independence upholds it as one of our inalienable rights.

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January 12 | The High Cost of Free Grace

Sin is not a serious issue to most people. Our culture flaunts and peddles it in countless forms. Even Christians who would never think of committing certain sins will often allow themselves to be entertained by those same sins through television, movies, music, and other media.

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January 13 | Enjoying God’s Forgiveness

On Israel’s Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the high priest selected two goats. One was sacrificed, the other set free. Before releasing the second goat, the high priest symbolically placed the sins of the people on it by laying his hands on its head.

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January 14 | Pursuing God’s Will

When God redeemed you, He not only forgave your trespasses and removed the guilt and penalty of sin, but He also gave you spiritual wisdom and insight—two essential elements for godly living. Together they speak of the ability to understand God’s will and to apply it to your life in practical ways.

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January 15 | Resting in God’s Sovereignty

For centuries men of various philosophical schools have debated the cause, course, and climax of human history. Some deny God and therefore deny any divine involvement in history. Others believe that God set everything in motion, then withdrew to let it progress on its own.

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January 16 | Anticipating Your Inheritance

As a member of God’s family, you are an heir of God and a fellow-heir with Christ (Rom. 8:17). As such you have obtained an inheritance that Peter called “imperishable and undefiled . . . reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4). It cannot perish, fade away, or be defiled because Heaven is timeless...

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January 17 | Praising God for Your Election

In Ephesians 1:4 Paul says that God “chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” In verse 11 he reiterates that marvelous truth by affirming that believers have been predestined to salvation according to God’s own purpose and will.

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January 18 | Proclaiming God’s Preeminence

The word preeminence implies supreme standing, picturing one who excels over all others in a particular quality or achievement. Only God is truly preeminent, worthily so.

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January 19 | Embracing the Truth

After stating salvation from God’s perspective in verse 12, Paul here states it from man’s perspective. Faith in Christ is your response to God’s elective purpose in your life. Those two truths—God’s initiative and man’s response—coexist throughout Scripture.

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January 20 | Rejoicing in Assurance

The Holy Spirit’s ministry in your life is multifaceted and profound. Among other things, He brings salvation, conviction, guidance, and strength. He indwells and equips you for spiritual service and gives assurance of your salvation. He is your Helper and Advocate. He is the Spirit of promise who seals you until the day when your...

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January 21 | Reflecting God’s Ownership

Yesterday we saw that God seals us with the Holy Spirit as a pledge of our eternal inheritance. Here Paul says He does so “with a view to the redemption of [His] own possession.” That refers to the day when God will take full possession of all that is rightfully His.

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January 22 | Praying for Believers

The Ephesian Christians demonstrated two important characteristics of genuine Christian faith: faith in the Lord Jesus and love for fellow believers. “Faith in the Lord Jesus” implies both an affirmation of Christ’s deity and submission to His sovereignty. Because He is God, He is the Sovereign Lord, and therefore we must obey what He commands...

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January 23 | Comprehending What You Have

The late newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst invested a fortune in collecting great works of art. One day he read of an extremely valuable work that he determined to add to his collection. His agent searched the galleries of the world but to no avail. Finally, after many months of effort and at great expense,...

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January 24 | Receiving Spiritual Enlightenment

Our society has been enamored with the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment, especially since the influx of Eastern thought into the West during the 1960s. Now we are drowning in a sea of false religions and New Age philosophies.

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January 25 | Understanding Your Calling

In Ephesians 1:3-14 Paul proclaims the blessings of our salvation. In verse 18 he prays that we will comprehend those great truths, which he summarizes in the phrase, “the hope of His calling.”

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January 26 | Maintaining a Clear Perspective

Throughout Ephesians 1 Paul is clearly struck with the magnificence of our inheritance in Christ. Here he prays that we will know the riches of its glory. Some commentators see “His inheritance” as a reference to believers, who are God’s inheritance or special possession (v. 14).

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January 27 | Trusting in God’s Power

God’s power is awesome! David wrote, “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. Both riches and honor come from...

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January 28 | Striving According to God’s Power

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the great hope of believers. Because He lives, we will live also (John 14:19). Peter said that we have been “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away”...

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January 29 | Exalting Christ

To exalt someone is to elevate that person in status, dignity, power, and honor. As God, Jesus possesses all power and authority and is deserving of all honor and glory. But when He was on earth, most people refused to give Him the glory He deserved. Instead they mocked and eventually murdered Him.

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January 30 | Serving the Supreme One

Yesterday we saw that Christ has both an exalted name and an exalted, authoritative position. In verses 21-22 Paul elaborates on the extent of Christ’s authority, which is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion.”

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January 31 | Complementing Christ

Here Paul uses a graphic analogy to illustrate the relationship of Christ to the church: He is the head; believers are His Body. Paul elaborates that we’re to hold “fast to the head [Christ], from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is...

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