Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

March 25

Appreciating God's Gifts

"Give us this day our daily bread" (Matt. 6:11).

God is the source of every good gift.

God has given us everything good to enjoy, including rain to make things grow, minerals to make the soil fertile, animals for food and clothing, and energy for industry and transportation. Everything we have is from Him, and we are to be thankful for it all.

Jesus said, "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!" (Matt. 7:11). James 1:17 says, "Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow." Paul added, "Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer" (1 Tim. 4:4-5).

Sadly, unbelievers don't acknowledge God's goodness, though they benefit from it every day. They attribute His providential care to luck or fate and His gracious provisions to nature or false gods. They do not honor Him as God or give Him thanks (Rom. 1:21).

The great Puritan writer Thomas Watson wrote, "If all be a gift, see the odious ingratitude of men who sin against their giver! God feeds them, and they fight against him; he gives them bread, and they give him affronts. How unworthy is this! Should we not cry shame of him who had a friend always feeding him with money, and yet he should betray and injure him? Thus ungratefully do sinners deal with God; they not only forget his mercies, but abuse them. 'When I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery [Jer. 5:7].' Oh, how horrid is it to sin against a bountiful God!—to strike the hands that relieve us!" (The Lord's Prayer [London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1972], p. 197).

How sad to see such ingratitude, yet how thrilling to know that the infinite God cares for us and supplies our every need. Don't ever take His provisions for granted! Look to Him daily and receive His gifts with a thankful heart.

Suggestions for Prayer

Be generous with your praise for God's abundant blessings.

For Further Study

Read Genesis 1:29-31, noting the variety of foods God created for your enjoyment.

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.

March 25

Practical Humility

“Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men” (Philippians 4:5).

Real humility will have a forbearance that is gracious toward others and content with its own circumstances.

Some Greek words have various meanings that are hard to translate into just one English word. This is true of “forbearing” in today’s verse. It can refer to contentment, gentleness, generosity, or goodwill toward others. Some commentators say it means having leniency toward the faults and failures of others. Other scholars say it denotes someone who is patient and submissive toward injustice and mistreatment—one who doesn’t lash back in angry bitterness. It reminds us very much of what we have been considering for the past week—humility.

The humble believer trusts God and does not hold a grudge even though others have unfairly treated him, harmed him, or ruined his reputation. Such a person does not demand his rights. Instead, he will pattern his behavior after his Lord Jesus, who in supreme humility manifested God’s grace to us (Rom. 5:10).

If you are conscientiously following Christ, your behavior will go against the existentialism of modern society. Existentialism claims the right to do or say anything that makes one feel good. Today’s existentialist unbeliever has a twisted logic that says, “If something makes you feel good but hurts me, you can’t do it. But if something makes me feel good but hurts you, I can do it.”

Unhappily, many believers have been caught up in that kind of thinking. They don’t call it existentialism—self-esteem or positive thinking are the preferred terms—but the results are much the same. Such Christians do what satisfies their desires, often at the expense of other people. At its core, this kind of attitude is simply sinful self-love.

In contrast to such self-love, Philippians 4:5 exhorts us to exhibit humble forbearance and graciousness to others. Other Scriptures command us to love our enemies and show mercy to those who sin (Matt. 5:44; 1 Peter 4:8). Such qualities allowed the apostle Paul to say, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Phil. 4:11). God wants us to be just as humble and content with our circumstances.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord to help you remain content in the midst of all that happens to you today.

For Further Study

Read Jesus’ parable about mercy and compassion in Matthew 18:21-35.

  • What parallels do you find between the parable and our study of forbearance?
  • What kind of priority does Jesus give these issues?
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.

March 25

Reading for Today:

  • Deuteronomy 11:1–12:32
  • Psalm 37:18-22
  • Proverbs 12:12-14
  • Luke 2:1-24

Notes:

Deuteronomy 11:24 Every place…your foot treads. In response to the obedience of Israel (vv. 22, 23), the Lord promised to give to Israel all of the land they personally traversed to the extent of the boundaries that He had given. This same promise was repeated in Joshua 1:3–5. Had Israel obeyed God faithfully, her boundaries would have been enlarged to fulfill the promise made to Abraham (Gen. 15:18). But because of Israel’s disobedience, the complete promise of the whole land still remains, to be fulfilled in the future kingdom of the Messiah (Ezek. 36:8–38).

Proverbs 12:14 fruit of his mouth. This deals with the power of words; the reward of wise words is like the reward for physical labor (10:11; 15:4; 18:4).

Luke 2:11 city of David. I.e., Bethlehem, the town where David was born—not the City of David, which was on the southern slope of Mt. Zion (2 Sam. 5:7–9). a Savior. This is one of only two places in the Gospels where Christ is referred to as “Savior”—the other being John 4:42, where the men of Sychar confessed Him as “Savior of the world.” Christ. ”Christ” is the Greek equivalent of “Messiah”. Lord. The Greek word can mean “master”—but it is also the word used to translate the covenant name of God. Here (and in most of its New Testament occurrences), it is used in the latter sense, as a title of Deity.


DAY 25: Why was there an emphasis on prescribed places of worship in the Old Testament?

In Deuteronomy 12:1–32, Moses begins by repeating his instructions concerning what to do with the false worship centers after Israel had taken possession of the land of the Canaanites (see 7:1–6). They were to destroy them completely. In v. 2, he speaks about “the high mountains…hills…every green tree.” The Canaanite sanctuaries to be destroyed were located in places believed to have particular religious significance. The mountain or hill was thought to be the home of a god; and by ascending the mountain, the worshiper was in some symbolic sense closer to the deity. Certain trees were considered to be sacred and symbolized fertility, a dominant theme in Canaanite religion. And in v. 3, Moses addresses “their altars,…pillars,…wooden images…carved images.” These were elements of Canaanite worship, which included human sacrifice (v. 31). If they remained, the people might mix the worship of God with those places (v. 4).

In contrast to false worship centers, the Israelites are told “you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place” (v. 5). Various places of worship were chosen after the people settled in Canaan, such as Mt. Ebal (27:1–8; Josh. 8:30–35), Shechem (Josh. 24:1–28), and Shiloh (Josh. 18:1), which was the center of worship through the period of Judges (Judg. 21:19). The tabernacle, the Lord’s dwelling place, was located in Canaan, where the Lord chose to dwell. The central importance of the tabernacle was in direct contrast to the multiple places (see v. 2) where the Canaanites practiced their worship of idols. Eventually, the tabernacle was brought to Jerusalem by David (2 Sam. 6:12–19).

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.

March 25 - The Function of Salt

“‘You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men’” (Matthew 5:13).

Salt has always been valuable in human society, often much more so than it is today. But the particular characteristics of salt that Jesus was referring to in this passage have resulted in various suggestions.

Some interpreters point out that salt is white and therefore represents purity. As the “pure in heart” (v. 8), Jesus’ disciples are to be pure before the world and are to be God’s means of helping purify the rest of the world.

Others emphasize the characteristic of flavor. Just as many foods are tasteless without salt, the world is drab and tasteless without the presence of Christians.

Because salt stings when placed on a wound, some interpreters believe Jesus meant to illustrate that Christians are to sting the world, prick its conscience, and thus make it uncomfortable in the presence of God’s gospel.

Salt also creates thirst. So others believe God intends for His people to live before the world in such a way that others will be made aware of their spiritual dehydration.

While all of these interpretations are reasonable, it’s likely Jesus was primarily referring to salt as a preservative. Christians are a preserving influence in the world; they retard moral and spiritual spoilage. As God’s children and as temples of His Holy Spirit, we represent God’s presence in the earth. We are the salt that prevents the entire earth from degenerating even faster than it already is.

Ask Yourself

In what ways are you and your church personifying the various properties of salt, whether by words, actions, or outreaches? Think very specifically. Which of these examples are proving to be the most effective at this, and why?

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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