Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

September 18

Trusting God

"In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one" (Eph. 6:16).

Intense spiritual warfare calls for intense trust in God.

An on-duty Roman soldier was always dressed for battle but didn't employ his shield, helmet, and sword until the fighting started. But we as Christians must be ready for battle at all times because our enemy is relentless. We can't afford to overlook a single piece of armor or slip into complacency or neglect.

In that regard, Ephesians 6:16 says in effect, "Now that you've prepared for battle by girding your loins with truth, protecting your vital organs with the breastplate of righteousness, and securing your feet with the gospel of peace, don't forget to take up your shield."

Two types of shields were commonly used by Roman soldiers. One was a small, lightweight, round shield that was strapped to the soldier's left forearm and used to parry blows during hand-to-hand combat. The other, which Paul refers to here, was a large shield measuring about four-and- a-half-feet high and two-and-a-half-feet wide. It was made of sturdy wood covered with metal and a thick layer of oil- treated leather. The metal deflected arrows while the oily leather extinguished the fiery pitch that arrows were commonly swabbed with. That type of shield was ideal for full-body protection.

In the initial stages of a battle, the front-line soldiers knelt behind their large shields to protect themselves and provide a defense barrier for the troops behind them who were firing offensive weapons. The goal was to inch their way forward as a human wall until they could engage the enemy in hand-to-hand combat.

As a believer, the shield that protects you is your faith in God. If you never question His character, power, or Word, you'll never fall victim to Satan's attacks. That doesn't mean he won't beseige you—but when he does, his assaults will be ineffective.

Suggestions for Prayer

Faith is a precious gift from God (Phil. 1:29). Thank Him for it and ask for wisdom to apply it properly when spiritual struggles come (James 1:5).

For Further Study

Read Romans 8:31-39.

  • Meditate on the victory you have in Christ.
  • What effect should that have on your daily living?
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.

September 18

Spirit-Filled Gratitude

“Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Ephesians 5:20).

Sincere thanks to God will result at all times if we are truly filled with the Spirit.

I’m convinced that gratitude is the single greatest act of personal worship we can render to God. And today’s verse plainly asserts that thankfulness should be a well-rounded, consistent response to whatever God allows to happen in our lives (see 1 Thess. 5:18). Such a thankful attitude is impossible in our own strength, but as the Holy Spirit indwells us, He graciously and mercifully enables us to be thankful at all times, without exception.

It follows that if a Spirit-filled believer is enabled to give thanks at all times, he will also be strengthened to give thanks “for all things.” Implicit in Paul’s words are the hard things (see also James 1:2-5; 1 Peter 2:20-21); but there are also dozens of blessings that we must not neglect to be grateful for. Here are some primary examples: God’s goodness and mercy (Ps. 106:1), the gift of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 9:15), the gospel’s triumph (2 Cor. 2:14), and victory over death (1 Cor. 15:56-57).

The Spirit-filled Christian will always display his gratefulness in the name of Christ to God the Father. We could not be thankful at all if it were not for the Person and work of Jesus Christ. So to be thankful in His name simply means it will be consistent with His character and deeds (see Eph. 1:5-8, 11-12).

God is the ultimate object of all our thanksgivings, and Father is the name that highlights His loving benevolence and the constant flow of His gracious gifts that come to those who know Him (see James 1:17). We just can’t escape the importance of our continually offering thanks to God on every occasion, for everything. Hebrews 13:15 presents us with this excellent summary: “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”

Suggestions for Prayer

Think of something you have not thanked God for in the past. Confess that neglect, and begin thanking Him for it regularly from now on.

For Further Study

Read 2 Chronicles 20:1-23.

  • How was that opportunity for gratitude different from those mentioned in the lesson?
  • How did Jehoshaphat demonstrate His trust in God?
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.

September 18

Reading for Today:

  • Isaiah 27:1–28:29
  • Psalm 107:33-43
  • Proverbs 25:20
  • 2 Corinthians 10:1-18

Notes:

Isaiah 28:16 stone for a foundation,…a sure foundation. The Lord God contrasted the only sure refuge with the false refuge of relying on foreigners (v. 15).This directly prophesied the coming of the Messiah (Matt.21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; Rom.9:33; Eph.2:20; 1 Pet.2:6–8; 8:14, 15; Ps. 118:22). will not act hastily. The Greek Old Testament interprets this Hebrew verb for “hurry” in the sense of “put to shame,” furnishing the basis of the New Testament citations of this verse (Rom. 9:33; 10:11; 1 Pet. 2:6).

Isaiah 28:23 Give ear. The parable of a farmer underlined the lessons of judgment threats in vv. 18–22. As the farmer does his different tasks, each in the right season and proportion, so God adopts His measures to His purposes: now mercy, then judgment; punishing sooner, then later. His purpose was not to destroy His people, any more than the farmer’s object in his threshing or plowing is to destroy his crop.

Proverbs 25:20 vinegar on soda. Pouring vinegar on an alkali (e.g., baking soda) produces a reaction like boiling or turning tranquility into agitation. So is the effect of singing joyful songs without sympathy to the sorrowful.

2 Corinthians 10:4 our warfare. The motif of the Christian life as warfare is a common one in the New Testament (6:7; Eph. 6:10–18; 1 Tim. 1:18; 2 Tim. 2:3, 4; 4:7). carnal. Human. strongholds. The metaphor would have been readily understandable to the Corinthians since Corinth, like most ancient cities, had a fortress in which its residents could take refuge. The formidable spiritual strongholds manned by the forces of hell can be demolished only by spiritual weapons wielded by godly believers—singularly the “sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17), since only the truth of God’s Word can defeat satanic falsehoods. This is the true spiritual warfare. Believers are not instructed in the New Testament to assault demons or Satan, but to assault error with the truth. That is our battle (John 17:17; Heb. 4:12).

2 Corinthians 10:5 arguments. Thoughts, ideas, speculations, reasonings, philosophies, and false religions are the ideological forts in which men barricade themselves against God and the gospel (1 Cor. 3:20). every thought into captivity. Emphasizes the total destruction of the fortresses of human and satanic wisdom and the rescuing of those inside from the damning lies that had enslaved them.


DAY 18: Why does the tone of 2 Corinthians change so abruptly between 9:15 and 10:1?

Even a casual reader usually notices the abrupt change in tone that occurs between the ninth and tenth chapters. This apparent difference has prompted various explanations of the relationship between chapters 1–9 and 10–13.

Some argue that chapters 10–13 were originally part of the “severe letter” (2:4), and hence belong chronologically before chapters 1–9. Chapters 10–13 cannot, however, have been written before chapters 1–9, since they refer to Titus’s visit as a past event (12:18; 8:6). Further, the offender whose defiance of Paul prompted the “severe letter” (2:5–8) is nowhere mentioned in chapters 10–13.

Others agree that chapters 10–13 belong after chapters 1–9, but believe they form a separate letter. They assume that Paul, after sending chapters 1–9 to the Corinthians, received reports of new trouble at Corinth and wrote chapters 10–13 in response. A variation of this view is that Paul paused in his writing of 2 Corinthians after chapters 1–9, then heard bad news from Corinth before he resumed writing chapters 10–13.This view preserves the unity of 2 Corinthians; however, Paul does not mention anywhere in chapters 10–13 that he received any fresh news from Corinth.

The best interpretation views 2 Corinthians as a unified letter, with chapters 1–9 addressed to the repentant majority (2:6) and chapters 10–13 to the minority still influenced by the false teachers. The support for this view is that: 1) there is no historical evidence (from Greek manuscripts, the writings of the church fathers, or early translations) that chapters 10–13 ever circulated as a separate letter—all Greek manuscripts have them following chapters 1–9; 2) the differences in tone between chapters 10–13 and 1–9 have been exaggerated (11:11; 12:14 with 6:11; 7:2); and 3) chapters 10–13 form the logical conclusion to chapters 1–9, as Paul prepared the Corinthians for his promised visit (1:15, 16; 2:1–3).

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.

September 18 - The Importance of the Miracle at Cana

“This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him” (John 2:11).

When Jesus turned water into wine, His purpose was not to amaze His audience with His power. His miracles met specific needs, such as opening blind eyes or deaf ears, delivering those oppressed by demons, feeding hungry people, or calming a threatening storm. This miracle met the genuine need of the family and their guests.

But even more important, this first of Jesus’ signs manifested His glory (cf. 1:14)—He put His deity on display. Jesus’ signs were not simply powerful displays of compassion, but were designed to reveal who He really was, since they unmistakably manifest God at work. Signs, miracles, and wonders nevertheless do not necessarily convince people to believe in the Lord and the gospel.

Amazingly, Jesus seems to have left Cana with only the disciples who had come there with Him, despite having performed a miracle, the likes of which had not happened since God created flour and oil in the days of Elijah and Elisha (1 Kings 17:8–16; 2 Kings 4:1–7). The obvious deduction that He was the Messiah escaped the people; they saw the sign, but missed what it pointed to.

His disciples, however, believed in Him. Having heard John the Baptist’s testimony that Jesus was the Messiah (1:34), having heard Jesus’ own words (1:39) and believed in Him (1:41), they now saw firsthand miraculous confirmation of that faith.

Ask Yourself

There is not a need He hasn’t met in your life, even though it may appear so at times. If a “need” goes unmet, it’s only because there is reason to wait or because we have incorrectly categorized our desire as a demand. As you bring your needs before Him today, you can be sure He hears you and responds.

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.
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