Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

October 16

Submitting to Divine Authority

"Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; for the Lord speaks" (Isa. 1:2).

God’s Word is the only source of divine authority.

We might assume that those who affirm the inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of God's Word would automatically submit to its authority. But that isn't always the case. Even those who hold to a high view of Scripture may sometimes fail to obey it. We need to be reminded that the authority of God's Word isn't simply a doctrine to be affirmed, but a priority to be pursued.

Israel fell into the trap of holding to a high view of Scripture while failing to abide by its statutes. To them Paul said, "If you bear the name 'Jew,' and rely upon the Law, and boast in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself?

"You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? For 'the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you'" (Rom. 2:17- 21, 23-24).

Israel's sin led unbelievers to blaspheme God. That's analogous to our society in which the Lord is constantly ridiculed because of the sins of His people.

You are the only Bible some unbelievers will ever read, and your life is under scrutiny every day. What do others learn from you? Do they see an accurate picture of your God?

Christians will always be maligned, but let it be for righteousness sake, not sin. As Peter said, "Keep your behavior excellent among [unbelievers], so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God" (1 Pet. 2:12).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Confess any areas of your life where you are being disobedient to God's Word.
  • Seek His grace and power to live each day as one who truly respects the authority of God's Word.

For Further Study

Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. What purpose does the Old Testament record of Israel's punishments serve for us?

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.

October 16

You Can Count on It

“Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11).

You must act on what you know to be true.

A foundational biblical principle is that people must understand the truth before they can live it out in their lives. Put another way, duty is always based on doctrine. The first ten verses of Romans 6 lay the solid foundation of truth upon which believers can build their lives. Several times so far (vv. 3, 5, 6, 8) Paul has exhorted Christians to understand the truth of their union with Christ in His death and resurrection. Now he exhorts us to act on it.

“Consider” translates a Greek word that means “to calculate,” “to compute,” “to take into account.” Paul urges believers to come to a settled conviction about their death to sin through their union with Christ.

Why do some question the liberating truth that in Christ they are dead to sin? Some are victimized by an inadequate view of salvation, seeing it as a mere change in their legal standing before God. Salvation involves far more, however; it involves a transformation of life. Those who believe their Christian life to be a constant battle between their old and new selves will not be able to consider themselves dead to sin. The accusations of Satan (Rev. 12:10) and conscience also make it very difficult for some to count on their death to sin. But the biggest difficulty Christians face in believing sin is a defeated enemy is their constant battle with it. That struggle makes it hard to believe we’re really dead to sin’s power (Rom. 7:15-24). Nevertheless, the Bible teaches that Christ’s holiness imputed to believers has released us from sin’s dominion. Therefore, Christians can choose not to sin and are never forced to sin.

Consider yourself to be dead to sin, and experience the blessings of triumph over temptation (1 Cor. 10:13), sin (which can never cause you to lose your salvation, Heb. 7:25), and death (John 11:25-26).

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for His gracious provision of salvation in Jesus Christ.

For Further Study

Read the following passages: Hosea 4:6; Isaiah 1:3; Colossians 3:8-10. What do they teach about the importance of doctrinal knowledge in the Christian life?

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.

October 16

Reading for Today:

  • Jeremiah 17:1–18:23
  • Psalm 118:25-29
  • Proverbs 27:11-12
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13

Notes:

Jeremiah 17:1 The sin of Judah. Reasons for the judgment continue here: 1) idolatry (vv. 1–4), 2) relying on the flesh (v. 5), and 3) dishonesty in amassing wealth (v. 11). pen of iron. The names of idols were engraved on the horns of their altars with such a tool. The idea is that Judah’s sin was permanent, etched in them as if into stone. How much different to have God’s word written on the heart.

Jeremiah 18:2–6 potter’s house. God sent Jeremiah to a potter, who gave him an illustration by shaping a vessel. The prophet secured a vessel and used it for his own illustration (19:1ff.). Jeremiah watched the potter at his wheel. The soft clay became misshapen, but the potter shaped it back into a good vessel. God will so do with Judah if she repents.

Jeremiah 18:12 That is hopeless! Jeremiah brought the inhabitants of Jerusalem to the point where they actually stated their condition honestly. The prophet’s threats were useless because they were so far gone—abandoned to their sins and the penalty. All hypocrisy was abandoned in favor of honesty, without repentance. Repentance was not in Israel (v. 18; 19:15). This explains a seeming paradox, that Israel can repent and avert judgment, yet Jeremiah is not to pray for Israel (7:16; 11:14). It would do no good to pray for their change since they steeled themselves against any change.

1 Thessalonians 3:2 establish…encourage…your faith. This was a common ministry concern and practice of Paul (Acts 14:22; 15:32; 18:23). Paul’s concern did not focus on health, wealth, self-esteem, or ease of life, but rather the spiritual quality of life. Their faith was of supreme importance in Paul’s mind as evidenced by 5 mentions in vv. 1–10. Faith includes the foundation of the body of doctrine (Jude 3) and their believing response to God in living out that truth (Heb. 11:6).

1 Thessalonians 3:5 the tempter. Satan had already been characterized as a hinderer (2:18) and now as a tempter in the sense of trying/testing for the purpose of causing failure (Matt. 4:3; 1 Cor. 7:5; James 1:12–18). Paul was not ignorant of Satan’s schemes (2 Cor. 2:11; 11:23) nor vulnerable to his methods (Eph. 6:11), so Paul took action to counterattack Satan’s expected maneuver and to assure that all his efforts were not useless.


DAY 16: What was Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians?

“Now may our God…direct our way to you” (1 Thess. 3:11). Paul knew that Satan had hindered his return (2:18).Even though Timothy had visited and returned with a good report, Paul still felt the urgency to see his spiritual children again. Paul followed the biblical admonition of the Psalms (Ps. 37:1–5) and Proverbs (Prov. 3:5, 6) to entrust difficult situations to God.

“May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another” (v. 12). With over 30 positive and negative “one anothers” in the New Testament, love appears by far most frequently (4:9; Rom. 12:10; 13:8; 2 Thess. 1:3; 1 Pet. 1:22; 1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11; 2 John 5). It is the overarching term that includes all of the other “one anothers.” Its focus is on believers in the church. “And to all.” In light of the fact that God loved the world and sent His Son to die for human sin, believers who were loved when they were unlovely (Rom. 5:8) are to love unbelievers (Matt. 5:43,44). Other New Testament commands concerning all men include pursuing peace (Rom. 12:18), doing good (Gal. 6:10), being patient (Phil. 4:5), praying (1 Tim. 2:1), showing consideration (Titus 3:2), and honoring (1 Pet. 2:17).

“So that He may establish your hears blameless in holiness before our God.” Paul prayed that there would be no grounds of accusation because of unholiness. “At the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” Since this exact term is not used elsewhere in the New Testament of angels but is commonly used for believers, it is best to understand the coming of the Lord to rapture all His church and take them to heaven to enjoy His presence.

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.

October 16 - Jesus and the Sabbath

“He answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.’ For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:17–18).

The Sabbath observance was at the heart of Jewish worship in Jesus’ day. The Lord’s reply to those who persecuted Him for violating it (5:16), “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working,” implies that the Sabbath was not instituted for God’s benefit but for man’s (Mark 2:27).

Jesus’ statement that He worked on the Sabbath just like the Father was nothing less than a claim to full deity and equality with God—that “the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” (Matt. 12:8). His words also served as a subtle rebuke to the Jewish legalistic system, under which He had been indicted for doing good and showing mercy on the Sabbath. After all, God Himself does good and shows mercy on the Sabbath. Jesus, therefore, maintained that it is right to do good on the Sabbath, since God does.

The hostile Jews instantly grasped the import of Jesus’ words and as a result were continually seeking “all the more to kill Him.” He was not just breaking the Sabbath, but even worse, Jesus “also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” From this time forward they intensified their efforts to take His life, not just for flouting their man-made Sabbath regulations, but even more for asserting His deity.

Ask Yourself

Do you observe any Sabbath distinctions in your usual practice of the Lord’s Day? What are the benefits of these various habits or self-imposed restrictions? Would you say that the church today has a healthy understanding of the Sabbath? How could we lead each other to a better stance on it?

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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