Grace to You Devotionals

GTY Devotionals

April 13

Being Filled with Mercy

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy" (Matt. 5:7).

Mercy is a characteristic of true believers.

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.

The thought of showing mercy probably surprised Christ's audience because both the Jews and the Romans tended to be merciless. The Romans exalted justice, courage, discipline, and power. To them mercy was a sign of weakness. For example, if a Roman father wanted his newborn child to live, he simply held his thumb up; if he wanted it to die, he held his thumb down.

Jesus repeatedly rebuked the Jewish religious leaders for their egotistical, self-righteous, and condemning attitudes. They were intolerant of anyone who failed to live by their traditions. They even withheld financial support from their own needy parents (Matt. 15:3-9).

Like the people of Jesus' time, many people today also lack mercy. Some are outright cruel and unkind, but most are so consumed with their quest for self-gratification that they simply neglect others.

Christians, on the other hand, should be characterized by mercy. In fact, James used mercy to illustrate true faith: "What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,' and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself" (James 2:14- 17). He also said mercy is characteristic of godly wisdom: "The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy" (3:17).

As one who has received mercy from God, let mercy be the hallmark of your life.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for His great mercy.
  • Ask Him to give you opportunities to show mercy to others today.

For Further Study

Read Luke 10:25-37.

  • Who questioned Jesus and what was his motive?
  • What characteristics of mercy were demonstrated by the Samaritan traveler?
  • What challenge did Jesus give His hearer? Are you willing to meet that challenge?
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.

April 13

Peter's Repentance

“Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, ‘Before a cock crows, you will deny Me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75).

Even when a believer sins greatly, God is there to forgive and restore.

Peter’s denial of the Lord Jesus was a great tragedy. But Peter had already taken a number of steps toward denial before uttering a single word that repudiated Christ. First, he presumptuously boasted that he would never fall away (Matt. 26:33). Second, Peter was insubordinate to Jesus and blatantly refused to accept the Lord’s prediction of his disloyalty (v. 35). Third, he was prayerless in the Garden of Gethsemane (vv. 40-41). Fourth, he foolishly and unnecessarily wielded the sword to defend Jesus (vv. 51-52). Finally, Peter compromised himself and willfully went to a place (the high priest’s courtyard) of spiritual danger (v. 69), where his faith could be tested beyond its endurance.

As Peter tried to wait inconspicuously in the high priest’s courtyard, on three occasions he was confronted by other bystanders and accused of being one of Jesus’ followers. Peter’s reaction showed he had lost all sense of reality and awareness of God. Each accusation was a bit more incriminating and provoked a more vehement denial by Peter. After the third denial, according to the Lord’s providence, Peter’s slide was halted. A penetrating look from Jesus Himself (Luke 22:61) and his remembering of Jesus’ prediction that he would deny Him three times were enough to bring Peter to his senses. As our verse explains it, “he went out and wept bitterly.”

Peter’s tears were not merely tears of remorse—they indicated a true sorrow and turning from sin. It was not until he saw Christ’s face and remembered His words that Peter grasped the seriousness of his sin and repented. This is a profound lesson for you and me. Peter’s sin itself did not cause him to repent; his forgiveness and restoration came only when he turned from sin to God. After His resurrection, Jesus affirmed Peter’s restored love three times (John 21:15-17). This gift of restored fellowship through God’s gracious forgiveness is available to all believers (1 John 1:7, 9).

Suggestions for Prayer

Commit your thoughts and plans to God throughout the day so that you may avoid the kind of compromising situation Peter was in.

For Further Study

Read Psalm 51.

  • How does David’s dealing with sin parallel what we saw about Peter’s coming to his senses?
  • What verses from this psalm are especially helpful in seeing this parallel?
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.

April 13

Reading for Today:

  • Joshua 15:1–16:10
  • Psalm 45:1-5
  • Proverbs 14:4-5
  • Luke 11:29-54

Notes:

Joshua 16:10 Ephraim did not drive the Canaanites from their area. This is the first mention of the fatal policy of neglecting to exterminate the idolaters (see Deut. 20:16).

Psalm 45:1 My heart is overflowing...my tongue. The psalmist is overwhelmed with emotion upon the occasion of the king’s marriage. Consequently, he puts his stirred-up mind and feelings into words. In v. 2ff. his tongue is the brush that he uses to paint vivid word pictures.

Luke 11:34 The lamp of the body. This is a different metaphor from the one in v. 33. There the lamp speaks of the word of God. Here the eye is the “lamp”—i.e., the source of light—for the body. when your eye is bad. The problem was their perception, not a lack of light. They did not need a sign. They needed hearts to believe the great display of divine power they had already seen.

Luke 11:38 He had not first washed. The Pharisee was concerned with ceremony, not hygiene. The Greek word for “washed” refers to a ceremonial ablution. Nothing in the law commanded such washings, but the Pharisees practiced them, believing the ritual cleansed them of any accidental ceremonial defilement.


DAY 13: How does God’s guarantee of success to Joshua relate to us?

The Book of Joshua begins with God’s commissioning of Israel’s new leader. God described Joshua’s mission—to go in and possess the Land (1:2–6). God hinged Joshua’s success on three key factors: 1) God’s own presence (v. 5); 2) Joshua’s personal strength and courage (vv. 7, 9); and 3) Joshua’s attention to and application of God’s word (vv. 7, 8).

God spelled out this third factor with some detail for it was to be the basis for all of Joshua’s actions. God’s word was to be Joshua’s constant conversation, continual meditation, and unswerving application. The phrase “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth” (v. 8) deserves added attention. While a first impression might lead to the conclusion that Joshua was not supposed to talk about the Book of the Law, the direct opposite is the case: he was not supposed to stop talking about it.

Biblical meditation begins with the thoughtful, lingering reading of God’s Word. It progresses to familiarity and memorization. In order to “meditate in it day and night” (v. 8), the Book of the Law would have been in Joshua. The purpose has been achieved when meditation leads us to “observe to do according to all that is written in it” (v. 8).

“Then,” God told Joshua, “you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (v. 8). Joshua found the ultimate measure of prosperity and success—knowing how God wants His people to live and then living that way. God repeatedly assured Joshua of His own presence “wherever you go.” What greater measurement of success could there be than to honor the ever-present God with our obedience?

From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, www.thomasnelson.com.

April 13 - Jesus on Murder: Contrast to the Rabbis

“‘You have heard that the ancients were told, “You shall not commit murder” and “Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court’” (Matthew 5:21­­–22).

With just two sentences Jesus shatters the rabbinic view of murder, which was so complacently self-righteous. Because of their externalism and legalism, the Jews had an inflated view of themselves. But Jesus destroyed that thinking with the declaration that a person guilty of anger, hatred, cursing, or defamation against another is guilty of murder and worthy of a murderer’s punishment.

All anger, hatred, etc., is incipient murder, as the apostle John writes, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer” (1 John 3:15a). By that biblical standard, we are all guilty of murder—after all, who has not hated someone at one time or another?

Not only does Jesus here sweep away the rubbish of the rabbinic, traditional view of murder, His total indictment blasts away any notion of self-justification so common to everyone. The way the Jews thought in Jesus’ time is identical to people’s prevalent thinking today. Even believers can feel proud that they are “not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers” (Luke 18:11)—and we could add “murderers.” Jesus in that parable and in this passage says we are all potentially capable of the worst sins, even murder, because of the sometimes evil attitudes of our hearts.

Not to consider the state of your heart and confess thoughts of anger and hatred, which can lead to taking someone’s life, is not to consider that the Lord can hold you guilty of murder.

Ask Yourself

What benefit is found in knowing that you and I are capable of the most heinous crimes imaginable? Does recognizing this startling piece of information have an effect on your relationship with God and your resultant manner of living?

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, www.moodypublishers.com.

Del libro La Verdad para Hoy de John MacArthur DERECHOS DE AUTOR © 2001 Utilizado con permiso de Editorial Portavoz, www.portavoz.com
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