Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

July 16

Set Apart for God

"You are . . . a holy nation" (1 Pet. 2:9).

Holiness involves the decreasing frequency of sin and the increasing frequency of righteousness.

Christians are a holy nation—a people set apart from sin and hell to an intimate relationship with God. Originally Israel was God's holy nation, but by unbelief she forfeited that privilege. Now the church, which consists of both Jew and Gentile, is His unique people, and will remain so until the nation of Israel repents and receives her Messiah at His return (Zech. 12:10).

Biblical holiness (sanctification) is often misunderstood, but it needn't be. When the Holy Spirit delivered you from the domain of darkness and transferred you into the kingdom of Christ, you became His special possession. That doesn't mean you're sinlessly perfect, but it does mean you're no longer a slave to sin, the devil, and death. That's positional sanctification. Practical sanctification is the decreasing frequency of sin and the increasing frequency of righteousness as you progress in your Christian walk.

Sanctification should not be confused with false standards of holiness, adopted by those who, like the Pharisees, attempt to be holy through external means; or, like the Stoics, have a passionless devotion to duty; or, like monks, isolate themselves from the world; or, like the quasi-Christian psychologists, replace sanctification with introspection, self-analysis, and improvement of one's self-image.

True holiness begins with a love for Christ Himself. That's what compels you toward greater sanctification. Peter said that you were "chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 1:1-2). Christ Himself became to you "wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30). In Him you were saved, which is the beginning of sanctification, and in Him you have every resource necessary for progressing in holiness.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for your positional holiness in Christ, for by it you are perfect in His sight.
  • Thank Him for the Spirit's power in your life, which enables you to live in a manner pleasing to Him.

For Further Study

What do these passages say about sanctification: Acts 15:7- 9, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, Hebrews 10:14, and 1 Peter 1:15-16?

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 16

Love For Other Christians

“The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him” (1 John 2:10).

Loving other Christians gives assurance to your own faith.

Loving fellow Christians is instinctive for genuine believers. Paul told the Thessalonians, “Now as to the love of the brethren . . . you yourselves are taught by God to love one another” (1 Thess. 4:9). He further encouraged them to “excel still more” in love (v. 10) because there is always room for believers to love one another more completely. Nevertheless, if we are truly saved we will show love, since love is inherent in our new nature (see Rom. 5:5).

Jesus said this about love among believers: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). If we are truly Christians, we will “fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22). Love is a test of our divine life and signifies that we have crossed over from darkness to light (1 John 3:14-15).

The apostle John goes on to define love as being sacrificial and practical: “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (vv. 16-18).

Therefore, you should ask yourself some basic questions: Do you care about other believers, or are you cold and indifferent? How do you respond to opportunities to give of yourself in various ministries? Do you look forward to having fellowship with other Christians—talking with them, discussing the things of God, studying the Word together, and praying with them? When you encounter a friend at church who has a need, are you willing to provide money, time, prayer, resources, service, or even a sympathetic ear?

If you can answer yes to those questions, you have great reason to be assured of your salvation. Like Peter, you can appeal to the love God sees in your heart (John 21:17). That love won’t be perfect, but it’s there and will manifest itself to others.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that your love will grow stronger and be more consistent.

For Further Study

Read John 21:15-17.

  • What should Peter’s love result in?
  • How does Galatians 6:10 support that?
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 16

Reading for Today:

  • 2 Chronicles 28:1–29:36
  • Proverbs 21:6-8
  • Psalm 84:8-12
  • Acts 19:21-41

Notes:

2 Chronicles 28:9 Oded. An otherwise unknown prophet, with the same name as an earlier Oded (15:1, 8). The prophet said that Israel had won the victory because God was judging Judah. But he protested the viciousness of the killing and the effort to enslave them (v. 10) and warned them of God’s wrath for such action (v. 11). Amazingly the apostate and hostile Israelites complied with the prophet’s warning (vv. 12–15).

2 Chronicles 29:3 first year…first month. Hezekiah addressed the spiritual problems first, which reflected his life priorities. Hezekiah correctly diagnosed Judah’s ills—she had abandoned the true worship of God. So the king stepped in to reverse the policy of his father (28:22–25) and to repair the temple and return proper temple worship as God had prescribed in His Word (vv. 3–7). He knew such a revival of devotion to God would turn God’s wrath away from Judah (v. 10).

Psalm 84:9 behold our shield. A metaphor for the king, who also would have participated in a festival at the temple (Ps. 47:9; Hos. 4:18). the face of Your anointed. The king is regularly described as God’s “anointed” (Pss. 2:2; 18:50; 20:6; 28:8; 89:38, 51). The psalmist thus prays that God would look upon the king with favor, blessing his reign with prosperity.

Acts 19:21 I must also see Rome. Paul had not visited the Imperial capital; but because of the strategic importance of the church there, he could stay away no longer. In addition, Paul intended to use Rome as a jumping-off point for ministry in the strategic region of Spain (Rom.15:22–24).This simple declaration marked a turning point in Acts—from this point on, Rome became Paul’s goal. He would ultimately arrive there as a Roman prisoner (28:16).

Acts 19:31 officials of Asia. Known by the title “Asiarchs,” these members of the aristocracy were dedicated to promoting Roman interests. Though only one Asiarch ruled at a time, they bore the title for life. That such powerful, influential men were Paul’s friends shows that they did not regard him or his message as criminal. Hence, there was no legitimate cause for the riot.

Acts 19:33 Alexander. Probably not the false teacher later active at Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:20) or the individual who opposed Paul at Rome (2 Tim. 4:14), since the name was common. He was either a Christian Jew or a spokesman for Ephesus’s Jewish community. Either way, the Jews’ motive for putting him forward was the same—to disassociate themselves from the Christians and avoid a massacre of the Jews. make his defense. Either of the Christians, or the Jews, depending on which group he represented.


DAY 16: How profound an impact can the gospel have on a society?

Reading Acts 19:1–20, it is clear that the gospel made a tremendous impact on Ephesus. Paul’s two years of ministry here along with “unusual miracles,” the very public deliverance of a man from an evil spirit, and burning of magic books had left their mark. “So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed” (v. 20).

So much so that Demetrius, a silversmith, took action against them. He was a maker of “silver shrines of Diana” (v. 24), the goddess Diana (also known as Artemis). These shrines were used as household idols and in the worship at the temple of Diana. Worship of her, centered at the great temple of Diana at Ephesus (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), was widespread throughout the Roman Empire. It is likely that the riot described in this passage took place during the annual spring festival held in her honor at Ephesus. The statement “brought no small profit” suggests Demetrius may have been the head of the silversmiths’ guild—which would explain his taking the lead in opposing the Christian preachers.

Demetrius cleverly played upon his hearers’ fears of financial ruin, religious zeal, and concern for their city’s prestige. The Christian preachers, he argued, threatened the continued prosperity of Ephesus. His audience’s violent reaction shows they took the threat seriously (v. 28). That was the impact of the gospel on their daily lives. The frenzied mob gathered in the theater clearly threatened the lives of Gaius and Aristarchus because of their role in the delivery of the Christian message.

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 16 - A Testimony to the Jews

“Jesus said to him, ‘See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them’” (Matthew 8:4).

Following times of greatest blessing and triumph, our Lord often tests us to see if our faith is obedient. In the case of the cleansed leper, Jesus commanded him to fulfill the ritual requirements of the law and let the priests attest to his healing (cf. Lev. 14). This responsibility had to precede any celebrations of his newfound health or telling others about his cure.

Perhaps Jesus told the man not to tell others of this healing so that people would not merely give adulation to Him as a miracle worker. Furthermore, He would not have wanted this event to encourage any speculation that He was a political deliverer. Christ was still in His period of humiliation, and any exaltation of Him by the crowd would have been premature within the Father’s plan.

However, the major reason for Jesus’ command to the healed man to respect the Mosaic requirements was to testify to the crowd, particularly the Jewish leaders. He blasted their hypocrisy, superficiality, and unscriptural methods, but He did not want to communicate that He had no regard for God’s law at all. When the priest declared the man healed—and the evidence would be obvious—it would allow Jesus’ miracle to be verified by the Jewish establishment. That would give added weight to His credibility as Messiah, as One who “did not come to abolish but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17).

Ask Yourself

How would you describe your spiritual state after a season of great accomplishment or at the culmination of a long struggle that has ended in victory? Is this a time when you deliberately focus on the basics of Christian faith, or when you decide to take a break for a while?

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.
Grace to You
Unleashing God’s Truth, One Verse at a Time
Back to Playlist
Unleashing God’s Truth, One Verse at a Time

Welcome!

Enter your email address and we will send you instructions on how to reset your password.

Back to Log In

Unleashing God’s Truth, One Verse at a Time
Minimize
View Wishlist

Cart

Cart is empty.

Donation:
Unleashing God’s Truth, One Verse at a Time
Back to Cart

Checkout as:

Not ? Log out

Log in to speed up the checkout process.

Unleashing God’s Truth, One Verse at a Time
Minimize