Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

November 18

Looking to the Future

"By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised; therefore, also, there was born of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore" (Heb. 11:11-12).

Your faith in Christ will influence future generations.

I've been blessed with a wonderful Christian heritage. In fact, I'm the fifth generation of preachers in our family. The faith of my predecessors has had an enormous impact on my life—either directly or indirectly. I have the same responsibility they did to influence others for good—as do you.

Hebrews 11:11-12 gives a very personal example of how one man's faith influenced an entire nation. Verse 11 is better rendered: "By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise" (NIV).

God had promised Abraham that he would become the father of a great nation (Gen. 12:2). But Sarah, Abraham's wife, had always been barren, and both of them were advanced in years. At one point Sarah became impatient and decided to take things into her own hands. She persuaded Abraham to have a son by her maid, Hagar (16:1-4). That act of disobedience proved to be costly because Ishmael, the child of that union, became the progenitor of the Arab people, who have been constant antagonists of the Jewish nation.

Despite his times of disobedience, Abraham believed that God would keep His promise. God honored Abraham's faith by giving him not only Isaac, the child of promise, but descendants too numerous to count. One man's faith literally changed the world.

Similarly, the faith you exercise today will influence others tomorrow. So be faithful and remember: despite your failures, 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).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for those who have had a righteous influence on you.
  • Pray for greater opportunities to influence others for Christ.

For Further Study

Read the account of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 18-21 and 23.

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.

November 18

The Words of a Fool

“The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver, the heart of the wicked is worth little” (Proverbs 10:20).

A fool desires to share his folly with others.

Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Wisdom, as defined in the Book of Proverbs, is living by divine standards, which implies accepting divine truth. But a fool rejects that. First Corinthians 2:14 says that “a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him.” To a fool, foolishness is wisdom and wisdom is foolishness.
 
That a fool rejects God’s wisdom is evident by the way he speaks. Proverbs 15:2 says, “The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly.” In other words, a fool is quick to air his opinions. Just as a bitter fountain produces bitter water, and a rotten tree produces rotten fruit, so also a fool produces foolishness—speaking on his own authority and generating his own opinions. The world is full of the opinions of fools—fools who have denied God in their living, who have become their own gods, and who mock the reality and consequences of sin.

A fool not only is quick to air his opinions but also propagates his foolishness to others. Proverbs 16:22 says that the instruction of fools is folly. The fool contaminates the rest of society with the same foolishness that damns his own soul. He leaves it as a legacy to his children, his friends, and all those who fall under the influence of his folly.

In contrast to fools, you as a believer are blessed to have the Spirit of wisdom indwelling you and illuminating your understanding of His Word. Your words to others are based on the wisdom of Scripture, not empty speculation. By bringing His Word to mind in every circumstance, you can speak words that are “like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Prov. 25:11).

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for teaching us how we should speak—and not speak—through His Word.

For Further Study

  • What does Colossians 4:6 say about our speech?
  • What further insight do each of these verses add: Matthew 12:36; Mark 9:50; Ephesians 4:29?
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.

November 18

Reading for Today:

  • Ezekiel 27:1–28:26
  • Psalm 129:1-4
  • Proverbs 28:26
  • Hebrews 12:1-29

Notes:

Ezekiel 28:12 the seal of perfection. The Lord led Ezekiel to address the king as the one to be judged, but clearly the power behind him was Satan. This phrase must be associated with Satan as one perfect in angelic beauty before he rebelled against God. But it can also relate to “perfection” in the same context of Tyre’s enterprise, topmost in its trade to the ancient world (27:3, 4, 11), glorious in her seafaring efforts (27:24), and the crowning city (Is. 23:8), i.e., “perfect” as Jerusalem also is said to be (16:14; Lam. 2:15). Full of wisdom. This referred to Satan’s wisdom as an angel and to Tyre’s wisdom (skill) in trade (27:8, 9; 28:4).

Ezekiel 28:1–19 This section concerning the king of Tyre is similar to Isaiah 14:3–23 referring to the king of Babylon. In both passages, some of the language best fits Satan. Most likely, both texts primarily describe the human king who is being used by Satan, much like Peter when Jesus said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan!” (Matt. 16:23). The judgment can certainly apply to Satan, also.

Hebrews 12:4 bloodshed. None of the Hebrews had experienced such intense exhaustion or persecution that it brought them to death or martyrdom. Since Stephen (Acts 7:60), James (Acts 12:1), and others (Acts 9:1; 22:4; 26:10) had faced martyrdom in Jerusalem, it would appear to rule out that city as the residence of this epistle’s recipients.

Hebrews 12:14 Pursue…holiness. In this epistle, it is explained as 1) a drawing near to God with full faith and a cleansed conscience (10:14, 22), and 2) a genuine acceptance of Christ as the Savior and sacrifice for sin, bringing the sinner into fellowship with God. Unbelievers will not be drawn to accept Christ if believers’ lives do not demonstrate the qualities God desires, including peace and holiness (John 13:35; 1 Tim. 4:3; 5:23; 1 Pet. 1:16).

Hebrews 12:29 consuming fire. See Deuteronomy 4:24.God’s law given at Sinai prescribed many severe punishments, but the punishment is far worse for those who reject His offer of salvation through His own Son, Jesus Christ (Luke 3:16, 17).


DAY 18: How does Hebrews 12:1 represent a crucial transition for its readers?

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.” This is a very crucial transition word offering an emphatic conclusion to the section which began in 10:19. The deceased people of chapter 11 give witness to the value and blessing of living by faith. Motivation for running “the race” is not in the possibility of receiving praise from “observing” heavenly saints. Rather, the runner is inspired by the godly examples those saints set during their lives. The great crowd are not comprised of spectators but rather are ones whose past life of faith encourages others to live that way (11:2, 4, 5, 33, 39).

“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” The reference is to those Hebrews who had made a profession of Christ, but had not gone all the way to full faith. They had not yet begun the race, which starts with salvation. The writer has invited them to accept salvation in Christ and join the race. “Let us lay aside every weight.” Different from the “sin” mentioned next, this refers to the main encumbrance weighing down the Hebrews which was the Levitical system with its stifling legalism. The athlete would strip away every piece of unnecessary clothing before competing in the race. The outward things emphasized by the Levitical system not only impede, they “ensnare.” “And sin.” In this context, this focuses first on the particular sin of unbelief—refusing to turn away from the Levitical sacrifices to the perfect sacrifice, Jesus Christ (John 16:8–11), as well as other sins cherished by the unbeliever. The athletic metaphor presents the faith-filled life as a demanding, grueling effort. The English word “agony” is derived from the Greek word used here for “endurance.”

“Looking unto Jesus” (v. 2). They were to fix their eyes on Jesus as the object of faith and salvation (11:26, 27;Acts 7:55, 56; Phil. 3:8). “The author…of our faith.” The term means originator or preeminent example. “The finisher…of our faith.” The term is “perfecter,” having the idea of carrying through to perfect completion (John 19:30). Jesus persevered so that He might receive the joy of accomplishment of the Father’s will and exaltation (1:9; Ps. 16:9–11; Luke 10:21–24).

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.

November 18 - Revelation Sovereignly Given

“‘All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him’” (Matthew 11:27).

Human ideas and concepts are temporal and completely incapable of producing spiritual truth or guidance. Only because God has sovereignly given all things to Christ and in turn revealed the Son to men and women can any of us be saved. God must break into the vacuum of the sinful human heart and reveal Himself before we can know Him.

Because the Father gave the Son all authority in the universe, Jesus had full right to send out His disciples to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matt. 28:19–20a). When our Lord pronounced this Great Commission, His earthly ministry had already illustrated His sovereign authority and control over sin, disease, and death, as well as His supreme prerogative to forgive sins and redeem all who believe from the wrath to come. This was a divine preview of the complete authority Christ will have during His millennial reign over the earth.

Of God’s sovereignty in revelation and salvation, we can apply the insight of the Reformer Martin Luther: “Here the bottom falls out of all merit, all powers and abilities of reason or the free will men dream of, and it all counts nothing before God. Christ must do and must give everything.”

Ask Yourself

What did Christ reveal to you about Himself that led you to place your faith in Him? What has He revealed of Himself to you in recent days—fresh glimpses into His character, His nature, and His dealings with man?

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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