Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

January 21

Reflecting God's Ownership

You were sealed with the Holy Spirit "with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory" (Eph. 1:14).

Someday God will take full possession of all that is rightfully His.

Yesterday we saw that God seals us with the Holy Spirit as a pledge of our eternal inheritance. Here Paul says He does so "with a view to the redemption of [His] own possession." That refers to when God takes full possession of all that is rightfully His.

Everything is God's by creation, but Satan has usurped God's rulership to become the "god of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4) in whose power the whole world currently lies (1 John 5:19). Consequently, all creation is in bondage to decay and "groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time" (Rom. 8:22, NIV). It eagerly awaits the time when the curse of Genesis 3 is reversed, all Christians are fully glorified, and sin is eternally vanquished. What a glorious time that will be!

You are God's special possession because you are His by redemption as well as creation. In Revelation 5:9 the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders sing to the Lord, "Worthy art Thou . . . for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation." In Acts 20:28 Paul charges the Ephesian elders to guard carefully "the church of God which He purchased with His own blood."

That makes you a priceless commodity to God—part of "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God" (1 Pet. 2:9-10).

As God's special possession, you should reflect His ownership and sovereign rule in everything you do. Remember, "you are not your own . . . for you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body" (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God that you are His treasured possession.
  • Seek His Spirit's leading in proclaiming His excellencies to others through your words and deeds.
  • Ask Him to teach you to esteem other believers as highly as He does.

For Further Study

Read Ephesians 2:1-13, noting the spiritual privileges and responsibilities that are yours in Christ.

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.

January 21

Biblical Patience

“Walk . . . with patience” (Ephesians 4:1-2).

Patient Christians endure negative circumstances, cope with difficult people, and accept God’s plan for everything.

In our instant, microwave, drive-through, “I want it now” culture, patience is hard to come by. We get upset if we have to wait too long in the supermarket line or get stuck behind the guy driving ten miles per hour under the speed limit.

But today’s Scripture tells us that our lives need to be marked by patience. The Greek word translated “patience” literally means “long-tempered.” A patient person doesn’t have a short fuse or lose his temper.

There are three aspects to biblical patience. First, patience never gives in to negative circumstances, no matter how difficult. God told Abraham He would make him into a great nation and give Canaan to his descendants (Gen. 12:2, 7). When God made this promise, Abraham and Sarah had no children. They had to wait far past their childbearing years before God gave them a son. But Hebrews 6:15 says, “Having patiently waited, [Abraham] obtained the promise.” “He did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Rom. 4:20). He trusted God and patiently waited for Him to fulfill His promise.

A second aspect of patience is coping with difficult people. Paul tells us to “be patient with all men” (1 Thess. 5:14). This is applied gentleness—a spirit that refuses to retaliate. Our normal reaction is to be defensive when provoked. But a patient person bears insult, persecution, unfair treatment, slander, and hatred. You can’t start a fight with a patient person. He defends God, not himself, knowing that He will repay all wrongs at the right time.

Third, patience accepts God’s plan for everything. It doesn’t question God. A patient person says, “Lord, if this is what You have planned for me, that’s all right.” Romans 8:28 says, “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Since God is in control, we can be patient, waiting for Him to work out His will.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to help you recognize when you’re apt to be impatient. When those times come, pray for strength to endure them.

For Further Study

  • James 5:10 says the prophets were examples of suffering and patience. Read what two prophets had to endure in Isaiah 6:9-12 and Jeremiah 1:5-19.
  • How might they be examples to you as you seek to be faithful in the face of life’s tests?
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.

January 21

Reading for Today:

  • Genesis 41:1–42:38
  • Psalm 10:12-18
  • Proverbs 4:7-9
  • Matthew 14:1-21

Notes:

Genesis 41:42 signet ring…garments…gold chain. Emblems of office and a reward of clothing and jewelry suitable to the new rank accompanied Pharaoh’s appointment of Joseph as vizier, or prime minister, the second-in-command (v. 40; 45:8, 26). Joseph wore the royal seal on his finger, authorizing him to transact the affairs of state on behalf of Pharaoh himself.

Genesis 42:6 bowed down. Without his brothers’ appreciating it at the time, Joseph’s dream became reality (37:5–8). Recognition of Joseph was unlikely because: 1) over 15 years had elapsed and the teenager sold into slavery had become a mature adult; 2) he had become Egyptian in appearance and dress; 3) he treated them without a hint of familiarity (vv. 7, 8); and 4) they thought he was dead (v. 13).

Psalm 10:14 You are the helper of the fatherless. God is pictured as Helper or Advocate again, but this time in association with orphans. He is the Defender par excellence of the defenseless (on the imagery, see Ex. 22:21ff.; Deut. 10:18ff.; 1 Sam. 1:17; Jer. 7:6).

Matthew 14:3 Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. Herodias was the daughter of Aristobulus, another son of Herod the Great; so when she married Philip, she was marrying her own father’s brother. What precipitated the arrest of John the Baptist was that Herod Antipas (another of Herodias’s uncles) talked Herodias into leaving her husband (his brother) in order to marry him (Mark 6:17)—thus compounding the incest, as well as violating Leviticus 18:16. John was outraged that a ruler in Israel would commit such a sin openly, so he rebuked Herod severely (v. 4). For this, he was imprisoned and later killed (Mark 6:14–29).


DAY 21: How did Joseph’s faithfulness lead to personal advancement?

Pharaoh’s disturbing dreams in Genesis 41 were such that there was “no one who could interpret them” (v. 8). The combined expertise of a full council of Pharaoh’s advisers and dream experts failed to provide an interpretation. Without knowing it, they had just set the stage for Joseph’s entrance on the scene of Egyptian history. The chief butler spoke up and apprised Pharaoh of the Hebrew prisoner and his accurate interpretation of dreams two years earlier (vv. 10–13).

In the presence of Pharaoh, Joseph made his faith known: “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace” (v. 16). Deprecating any innate ability, Joseph advised at the very outset that the answer Pharaoh desired could only come from God. And after hearing the dream described, Joseph’s interpretation of what “God has shown Pharaoh” (v. 25) kept the focus fixed upon what God had determined for Egypt (vv. 28, 32).

After interpreting the dream, Joseph told Pharaoh how to survive the next 14 years. Incongruously, Joseph, a slave and a prisoner, appended to the interpretation a long-term strategy for establishing reserves to meet the future need and included advice on the quality of the man to head up the project. Famines had ravaged Egypt before, but this time divine warning permitted serious and sustained advance planning. To Pharaoh and his royal retinue, no other candidate but Joseph qualified for the task of working out this good plan, because they recognized that he spoke God-given revelation and insight (v. 39).

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.

January 21 - Satan’s Promises—Corrupt Strings Attached

“The devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” (Matthew 4:8).

Satan offered the world’s kingdoms to Jesus on his own corrupt terms. God allowed this test to prove that Christ was and is a worthy Son, fit to one day inherit the world and rule from His throne. The devil, on the other hand, wanted to prove the Son’s unworthiness by getting Him to prematurely grab the kingdoms God had already promised Him.

The enemy approaches Christians also with corrupt bargaining chips. Whatever they might want in the realm of business, politics, fame, or anything else, he claims it can be theirs for a “reasonable” price or trade-off. He says we can be or have whatever we want, just so long as we pursue it according to the world’s way—which is also Satan’s way. In effect, it’s like saying to ourselves, “Why wait for a heavenly reward when you can cut corners, shade the truth, run ahead of God’s schedule, and have what you want now?”

But when we grab hold of Satan’s corrupt strings, we put self first and God last. Instead of seeking God’s kingdom first (Matt. 6:33), we act more like Abraham, who sought God’s promise of an heir through his own impatient, selfish act with Hagar (Gen. 16:1–6). The result of that sin was tragic and heart-breaking, and has been to this day.

Ask Yourself

“The world” doesn’t really know what “glory” is. And if we had a keener, more realistic sense of God’s awesome splendor, we’d see the world’s flimsy reflections for what they really are. What seems glorious and glamorous about the world to you? Ask God to help you see it truthfully.

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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