Grace to You Devotionals

GTY Devotionals

July 4

Christ: The Precious Cornerstone

"Coming to [Christ] as to a living stone, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God" (1 Pet. 2:4).

God’s view of Christ is the only accurate standard by which to measure Christ’s worth.

I once read about a conversation in the Louvre Museum in Paris. One of the curators of the museum, a man with great appreciation for art, overheard two men discussing a masterpiece. One man said to the other, "I don't think much of that painting." The curator, feeling obliged to reply to the man's statement, said to him, "Dear sir, if I may interrupt, that painting is not on trial; you are. The quality of that painting has already been established. Your disapproval simply demonstrates the frailty of your measuring capability."

Similarly, Jesus is not on trial before men; men are on trial before Him. He has already been approved by the Father. Those who arrogantly dismiss Him as unworthy of their devotion simply demonstrate their inability to recognize the most precious treasure of all.

Peter said, "This is contained in Scripture: 'Behold I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him shall not be disappointed.' This precious value, then, is for you who believe. But for those who disbelieve, 'The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very corner stone,' and, 'a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense'" (1 Pet. 2:6-8). By God's standards, Jesus is the perfect cornerstone. But the leaders of Israel had faulty standards of measurement. They inspected Him closely but rejected Him because He didn't fit their concept of a Savior. Sadly, millions of men and women throughout history have followed their lead.

As you tell others about Christ, many will evaluate Him by the wrong standard and reject Him. Others will evaluate Him according to God's standard and find Him precious beyond measure. In either case be a faithful witness, knowing that someday His full value will be proclaimed by all (Phil. 2:10-11).

Suggestions for Prayer

Make a list of Christ's attributes that are especially meaningful to you. Use each attribute as a focal point of prayer and worship.

For Further Study

Read Acts 4:1-13, noting how Peter applied the principles found in 1 Peter 2:4-8 to the Jewish leaders.

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.

July 4

Standing in Grace

“Through [Christ] also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Romans 5:2).

It is God’s grace, not the believers’ faith, which enables them to stand firm in their salvation.

In Old Testament times, the notion of having direct access or “introduction” to God was unthinkable, because if anyone was to look at Him they would surely die. After the tabernacle was built, only the high priest could enter the holy of holies, where God would manifest His divine presence, and only once a year for just a brief time.

But Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross ushered in a New Covenant that made access to God possible for any person, Jew or Gentile, who trusts in His sacrifice. All of us who believe can now “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

Because of our faith in Him, Christ escorts us “into this grace in which we stand.” The Greek word for “stand” refers to permanence, standing firm and immovable. Certainly faith is necessary for salvation, but it is God’s grace and not our faith that has the power to save us and maintain that salvation. What God did initially through grace, we cannot preserve through our efforts. That would be a mockery of God’s grace and an indication of our lack of trust in His desire and power to preserve our salvation. Paul said, “I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).

In spite of our effort to avoid it, all of us will fall into sin, but our sin is not more powerful than God’s grace. Jesus paid the penalty for all our sins. If the sins we committed prior to our salvation were not too great for Christ’s atoning death to cover, surely none of those we have committed since then or will commit are too great for Him to cover (Rom. 5:10). A dying Savior ushered us into God’s grace; we all need to depend on the fact that a living Savior will keep us in His grace.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for His preserving grace.
  • Confess any distrust in His power to preserve your salvation.

For Further Study

Read Romans 8:31-34. Why is God worthy of your trust? How does Christ support that truth?

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.

July 4

Reading for Today:

  • 2 Chronicles 3:1–4:22
  • Psalm 79:5-10
  • Proverbs 20:10-12
  • Acts 12:1-25

Notes:

2 Chronicles 3:10–13 two cherubim. This free-standing set of cherubim was in addition to the more diminutive set on the ark itself.

2 Chronicles 3:14 veil. The veil separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place (the Holy of Holies), which was entered once annually by the high priest on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16). This highly limited access to the presence of God was eliminated by the death of Christ, when the veil in Herod’s temple was torn in two from top to bottom (Matt. 27:51). It signified that believers had immediate, full access to God’s presence through their Mediator and High Priest Jesus Christ, who was the perfect, once-for-all sacrifice (Heb. 3:14–16; 9:19–22).

2 Chronicles 4:1 bronze altar. This is the main altar on which sacrifices were offered (the millennial temple altar, Ezek. 43:13–17). For comparison to the tabernacle’s altar, see Exodus 27:1–8; 38:1–7.If the cubit of 18 inches was used rather than the royal cubit of 21 inches, it would make the altar 30 feet by 30 feet by 15 feet high.

2 Chronicles 4:2 the Sea. This large laver was used for ritual cleansing. In Ezekiel’s millennial temple, the laver will apparently be replaced by the waters that flow through the temple (Ezek. 47:1–12).

Psalm 79:9 atonement. The word, found 3 times in the Psalms (65:3; 78:38), means to cover away sin and its effects. In the Old Testament, atonement was symbolized in sacrificial ritual, though actual forgiveness of sin was ultimately based on the death of Christ applied to the penitent sinner (Heb. 9). For Your name’s sake. A defeat of a nation was believed to be a defeat of its god. A mark of spiritual maturity is one’s concern for the reputation of God.

Acts 12:12 Mary. Mark is called the cousin of Barnabas in Colossians 4:10, so Mary was his aunt. John…Mark. Cousin of Barnabas (Col. 4:10), acquaintance of Peter in his youth (1 Pet. 5:13), he accompanied Barnabas and Paul to Antioch (v. 25) and later to Cyprus (13:4, 5). He deserted them at Perga (13:13), and Paul refused to take him on his second missionary journey because of that desertion (15:36–41). He accompanied Barnabas to Cyprus (15:39). He disappeared until he was seen with Paul at Rome as an accepted companion and coworker (Col. 4:10; Philem. 24). During Paul’s second imprisonment at Rome, Paul sought John Mark’s presence as useful to him (2 Tim. 4:11). He wrote the second Gospel that bears his name, being enriched in his task by the aid of Peter (1 Pet. 5:13).

Acts 12:17 James. The Lord’s brother, now head of the Jerusalem church. he departed. Except for a brief appearance in chapter 15, Peter fades from the scene as the rest of Acts revolves around Paul and his ministry.


DAY 4: Who was the Herod of Acts 12 who violently persecuted the church?

“Herod the king” of v. 1 was Herod Agrippa I, who reigned from A.D. 37 to 44 and was the grandson of Herod the Great. He ran up numerous debts in Rome and fled to Palestine. Imprisoned by Emperor Tiberius after some careless comments, he eventually was released following Tiberius’s death, and was made ruler of northern Palestine, to which Judea and Samaria were added in A.D. 41. As a hedge against his shaky relationship with Rome, he curried favor with the Jews by persecuting Christians.

He killed James the brother of John with the sword (v. 2). James was the first of the apostles to be martyred. The manner of his execution indicates James was accused of leading people to follow false gods (Deut. 13:12–15). He also imprisoned Peter and put him in the custody of “four squads” (v. 4). Each squad contained 4 soldiers and rotated the watch on Peter. At all times 2 guards were chained to him in his cell, while the other 2 stood guard outside the cell door (v. 6).

After Peter’s rescue by an angel, Herod “put to death” the guards who were in charge (v. 19). According to Justinian’s Code (ix. 4:4), a guard who allowed a prisoner to escape would suffer the same fatal penalty that awaited the prisoner.

Later, Herod came under the judgment of God. “On a set day” (v. 21), at a feast in honor of Herod’s patron, the Roman emperor Claudius, Herod came out “arrayed in royal apparel.” According to Josephus, he wore a garment made of silver. When the people began shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” we are told that Herod “did not give glory to God” (v. 22), the crime for which Herod was struck down by an angel (A.D. 44). “And he was eaten by worms” (v. 23). According to Josephus, Herod endured terrible pain for 5 days before he died.

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.

July 4 - Discerning False Prophets: The Test of Creed

“‘A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit’” (Matthew 7:18).

Careful examination of a false prophet’s teachings will always reveal unscriptural ideas and an absence of a solid, coherent theology. Often he will teach a combination of truth and error. But sooner rather than later his teachings will prove the sort of teacher he really is. As Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil” (Matt. 12:34–35).

The creed of the false prophet cannot withstand any careful scrutiny by the pure light of the Word. The prophet Isaiah confirms this: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn” (Isa. 8:20).

False shepherds talk much about God’s love, but not His wrath and holiness; much about how deprived of good things people are, but not about their depravity; much about God’s universal fatherhood toward everyone, but not much about his unique fatherhood toward all who believe in His Son; much about what God wants to give to us, but nothing about the necessity of obedience to Him; much about health and happiness, but nothing about holiness and sacrifice. Their message is full of gaps, the greatest of which leaves out a biblical view of the saving gospel.

Ask Yourself

What makes us susceptible to the appealing messages of the false teachers? What are people looking for when they begin embracing error? How can we guard against this ourselves?

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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