Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

April 24

Christ Is Our Peace

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Matt. 5:9).

Christ’s atonement made it possible for man to be at peace with God.

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 one after every war!

It hasn't always been that way. Prior to the Fall of man peace reigned on the earth because all creation was in perfect harmony with its Creator. But sin interrupted peace by alienating man from God and bringing a curse upon the earth. Man couldn't know true peace because he had no peace in his heart. That's why Jesus came to die.

I once read a story about a couple at a divorce hearing whose conflict couldn't be resolved. They had a four-year-old boy who became distressed and teary-eyed over what was happening. While the couple was arguing, the boy reached for his father's hand and his mother's hand and pulled until he joined them.

In a sense that's what Christ did: He provided the righteousness that allows man and God to join hands. Romans 5:1 says that those who are justified by faith have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:20 says that God reconciled all things to Himself through the blood of Christ's sacrifice on the cross.

Yet on the surface, the scene at the cross wasn't peaceful at all. Pain, sorrow, humiliation, hatred, mockery, darkness, and death were oppressively pervasive, but through it all Christ was doing what He alone could do: making peace between man and God. He paid the supreme price to give us that precious gift.

In the future, Jesus will return as Prince of Peace to establish a kingdom of peace that will usher us into an eternal age of peace. In the meantime He reigns over the hearts of all who love Him. Let His peace reign in your heart today!

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for the peace of heart that comes from knowing Christ.

For Further Study

Read Philippians 4:6-9. What must a person do to know God's peace?

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 24

The Resurrection: A Belief That Matters

“How do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:12).

Without the truth of bodily resurrection, the Christian faith would not make sense.

Even though Paul and the other apostles made the resurrection of Christ and His followers from the dead a central part of the gospel message, some new Gentile converts (the Corinthians especially) had difficulty accepting the idea of bodily resurrection. That struggle resulted mainly from the effects of Greek dualism, which viewed the spiritual as inherently good and the physical as inherently bad. Under that belief, a physical resurrection was considered quite repulsive.

The only way for the doubting Gentiles to accommodate their dualism was to say that Jesus was divine but not truly human. Therefore, He only appeared to die, and His appearances between the crucifixion and ascension were manifestations that merely seemed to be bodily. But Paul knew that was bad doctrine. He wrote to the Romans, “Concerning His Son . . . born of the seed of David according to the flesh . . . declared with power to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:3-4).

To deny the actual, bodily resurrection of Christ creates some very significant doctrinal problems. Without His resurrection, the gospel is an empty message that doesn’t make sense. Without the Resurrection, Jesus could not have conquered sin and death, and thus we could not have followed in that victory either.

Without physical resurrection, a life of faith centered on the Lord Jesus is worthless. A dead savior cannot provide any kind of life. If the dead do not rise bodily, Christ did not rise, and neither will we. If all that were true, we could not do much more than conclude with Isaiah’s Servant, “I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity” (49:4). But the glorious reality is that we can affirm with Job, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and . . . .without my flesh [after death] I shall see God” (Job 19:25-26).

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God that the truth of the Resurrection makes our theology credible and the gospel powerful.

For Further Study

  • Sometimes Jesus’ closest followers have doubts about the Resurrection. Read John 20:19-29. How did Jesus prove to the disciples that it was really Him?
  • What else did Jesus implicitly appeal to when He confronted Thomas’s doubts?
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 24

Reading for Today:

  • Judges 13:1–14:20
  • Psalm 50:16-23
  • Proverbs 14:29-30
  • Luke 17:20-37

Notes:

Judges 13:5 Nazirite. The word is from the Hebrew “to separate.” For rigid Nazirite restrictions, such as here in Samson’s case, see Numbers 6:1–8. God gave 3 restrictions: no wine (vv. 3, 4), no razor cutting the hair (v. 5), no touching a dead body and being defiled (v. 6). Such outward actions indicated an inner dedication to God.

Judges 14:1–4 she pleases me well. The Philistines were not among the 7 nations of Canaan which Israel was specifically forbidden to marry. Nonetheless Samson’s choice was seriously weak. Samson sins here, but God is sovereign and was able to turn the situation to please Him (14:4). He was not at a loss, but used the opportunity to work against the wicked Philistines and provided gracious help to His people. He achieved destruction of these people, not by an army, but by the miraculous power of one man.

Luke 17:20 when the kingdom of God would come. They may have asked the question mockingly, having already concluded that He was not the Messiah. does not come with observation. The Pharisees believed that the Messiah’s triumph would be immediate. They were looking for Him to come, overthrow Rome, and set up the millennial kingdom. Christ’s program was altogether different. He was inaugurating an era in which the kingdom would be manifest in the rule of God in men’s hearts through faith in the Savior (v. 21; see Rom. 14:17). That kingdom was neither confined to a particular geographical location nor visible to human eyes. It would come quietly, invisibly, and without the normal pomp and splendor associated with the arrival of a king. Jesus did not suggest that the Old Testament promises of an earthly kingdom were hereby nullified. Rather, that earthly, visible manifestation of the kingdom is yet to come (Rev. 20:1–6).

Luke 17:22 The days will come. This introduces a brief discourse that has some similarities to the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24 and 25. you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man. I.e., desire to have Him physically present. This suggests a longing for His return to set things right (see Rev. 6:9–11; 22:20).


DAY 24: What about those who claim to see a wide gap between Luke’s theology and Paul’s theology?

Although Luke, more than any of the other Gospel writers, highlighted the universal scope of the gospel invitation, some have questioned why a companion of Paul’s would use so little of Paul’s language in explaining the process of salvation. But a difference in vocabulary does not necessarily imply a difference in thought or underlying theology.

Luke certainly wrote in his own style. He was an astute observer and careful thinker. In writing the Gospel, he was careful not to insert Pauline language back into the Gospel account. The theology of Luke’s record parallels Paul’s exactly. Luke repeatedly related accounts of Gentiles, Samaritans, and other outcasts who found grace in Jesus’ eyes. This emphasis not only records Jesus’ appeal, but also proves to be precisely what we would expect from the close companion of the “apostle to the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:13).

A compelling illustration of this parallel involves Luke’s treatment of the centerpiece of Paul’s doctrine—justification by faith. Luke highlighted and illustrated justification by faith in many of the incidents and parables he related in his Gospel. For example, the account of the Pharisee and the publican (18:9–14), the familiar story of the prodigal son (15:11–32), the incident at Simon’s house (7:36–50), and the salvation of Zacchaeus (19:1–10) all serve to demonstrate that Jesus taught justification by faith long before Paul wrote about it.

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 24 - Jesus on Genuine Truthfulness

“‘But let your statement be, “Yes, yes” or “No, no”; anything beyond these is of evil’” (Matthew 5:37).

Keeping your word is the mark of a genuine worshiper and demonstrates that you, as a child of God, hate lies. Everything in God’s kingdom is sacred and all truth is His truth, so truth has no degrees or shades. Thus even what seems to be the most minor false statement dishonors God’s name.

The Lord has never had any standard other than absolute truthfulness. He wants every one of us to possess “truth in the innermost being” (Ps. 51:6). And it follows that “lying lips are an abomination to the Lord” (Prov. 12:22; cf. 6:16–17; Ps. 58:3–4).

Because God has the ultimate criterion of complete truthfulness, even our most routine conversations should be truthful and dependable in every detail. Our everyday talk ought to be plain and straightforward, uncluttered by qualifiers, exaggerations, or hedges on the truth. Our word must be as good as our bond or as any vow or oath we ever make. James’s admonishment agrees with Jesus’ teaching, “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment” (James 5:12).

Ask Yourself

Truth and honesty will never be your default setting until you pursue it deliberately—spending your words carefully and keeping your word completely. In what particular areas of your life is it hardest for you to keep your promises?

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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