Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

August 19

The Generosity of Love

"[Love] does not seek its own" (1 Cor. 13:5).

Love transforms selfish people into self-sacrificing people.

From the time of Adam and Eve, replacing God with self has been at the root of all sin. Our first parents had only one restriction: "From the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die" (Gen. 2:17). But Eve believed the serpent's lie that God was trying to keep her from realizing her full potential (Gen. 3:5). She ate the forbidden fruit, gave some to Adam, and together they plunged the human race into sin and death.

Christ changed all that when He came, not "to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28). Unlike Adam and Eve, He didn't seek His own comfort or gain, but made whatever sacrifices were necessary to redeem lost sinners.

It is reported that the inscription on a tombstone in a small English cemetery reads,

Here lies a miser who lived for himself, And cared for nothing but gathering wealth. Now where he is or how he fares, Nobody knows and nobody cares.

How tragic to spend your entire life enslaved to your selfishness. In contrast, a tombstone in the courtyard of St. Paul's Cathedral in London reads, "Sacred to the memory of General Charles George Gordon, who at all times and everywhere gave his strength to the weak, his substance to the poor, his sympathy to the suffering, his heart to God." The first tombstone testifies to the futility of greed and selfishness; the second to the glory of generosity and self-sacrifice.

Christ is the perfect example of self-sacrifice. If you love Him, you should be characterized by the same quality. Then others will see your genuineness and commitment to them, and by God's grace be drawn to your Lord.

What epitaph might your family and friends write about you? I pray it is one that glorifies God for the selfless love He demonstrated through you.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for those who have made significant sacrifices toward your spiritual growth. Seek to imitate their love.

For Further Study

List the fifteen qualities of love from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, then determine how self-sacrifice relates to each one.

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.

August 19

Dare to Be a Daniel

“‘Thine is the dominion, O Lord, and Thou dost exalt Thyself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from Thee, and Thou dost rule over all’” (1 Chronicles 29:11-12).

Trust God, who controls everyone and everything.

In Daniel 6, King Darius chose 120 princes to help him govern his kingdom. Over the princes he appointed three presidents, with Daniel being the first president. The princes and other two presidents were jealous of Daniel, so they devised a scheme against him. They told the king that he should make a law requiring every person to make his requests only to the king for the next thirty days. They said, “Anyone who makes a petition to any god or man besides you . . . shall be cast into the lions’ den” (v. 7). The king approved the idea and signed it into law. The princes and two presidents were glad because they knew Daniel prayed daily to his God (cf. v. 10).

As soon as Daniel’s opponents found him praying, they reported the matter to the king. Although Darius did not want harm to come to Daniel, the king could not reverse his law. As a result, Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den. When the king went to the den early the next morning, Daniel said to Darius, “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me” (v. 22). “So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he had trusted in his God” (v. 23). Daniel trusted God because he knew that He was in control of everything.

Since God both owns and controls everyone and everything, don’t put your hope in riches or fear for your needs. God will take care of you. In his book Trusting God, Jerry Bridges wrote, “God . . . so directs and controls all events and all actions of His creatures that they never act outside of His sovereign will. We must believe this and cling to this . . . if we are to glorify God by trusting Him.” Dare to be a Daniel: trust God, who controls all and promises to care for you.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord for being in sovereign control of your life.

For Further Study

What does Lamentations 3:37-38 say about God’s control?

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.

August 19

Reading for Today:

  • Job 29:1–30:31
  • Psalm 97:7-12
  • Proverbs 23:15-16
  • 1 Corinthians 1:1-31

Notes:

Job 29:5 When the Almighty was yet with me. Job felt abandoned by God. But God would demonstrate to Job, by addressing his criticisms, that God was with him all throughout this ordeal.

Job 29:12, 13 poor…fatherless…perishing man…widow’s. All over the ancient Near Eastern world, a man’s virtue was measured by his treatment of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society. If he protected and provided for this group, he was respected as being a noble man. These things, which Job had done, his accusers said he must not have done or he wouldn’t be suffering (see 22:1–11).

1 Corinthians 1:10 speak the same thing. Paul is emphasizing the unity of doctrine in the local assembly of believers, not the spiritual unity of His universal church. Doctrinal unity, clearly and completely based on Scripture, must be the foundation of all church life (John 17:11, 21–23; Acts 2:46, 47). Both weak commitment to doctrine and commitment to disunity of doctrine will severely weaken a church and destroy the true unity. In its place, there can be only shallow sentimentalism or superficial harmony. joined together. The basic idea is that of putting back together something that was broken or separated so it is no longer divided. The term is used in both the New Testament and in classical Greek to speak of mending such things as nets, broken bones or utensils, torn garments, and dislocated joints. same mind…same judgment. Philippians 3:15, 16. The demand is for unity internally in their individual minds and externally in decisions made among themselves—unified in truth by beliefs, convictions, standards, and in behavior by applied principles of living (Acts 4:32; Eph. 4:3). The only source of such unity is God’s Word which establishes the standard of truth on which true unity rests.

1 Corinthians 1:13 Is Christ divided? No human leader, not even an apostle, should be given the loyalty that belongs only to the Lord. Such elevation of leaders leads only to contention, disputes, and a divided church. Christ is not divided and neither is His body, the church. Paul depreciates his worth in comparison to the Lord Jesus.

1 Corinthians 1:18 message of the cross. God’s total revelation, i.e., the gospel in all its fullness, which centers in the Incarnation and Crucifixion of Christ (2:2); the entire divine plan and provision for the redemption of sinners, which is the theme of all Scripture, is in view. foolishness. Translates the word from which “moron” is derived. perishing…being saved. Every person is either in the process of salvation (though not completed until the redemption of the body; see Rom. 8:23; 13:11) or the process of destruction. One’s response to the cross of Christ determines which. To the Christ-rejectors who are in the process of being destroyed (Eph. 2:1, 2) the gospel is nonsense. To those who are believers it is powerful wisdom.


DAY 19: Describe the church in Corinth.

The church in Corinth was founded by Paul on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1ff.). As usual, his ministry began in the synagogue, where he was assisted by two Jewish believers, Priscilla and Aquila, with whom he lived for a while and who were fellow tradesmen. Soon after, Silas and Timothy joined them and Paul began preaching even more intensely in the synagogue. When most of the Jews resisted the gospel, he left the synagogue, but not before Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, his family, and many other Corinthians were converted (Acts 18:5–8).

After ministering in Corinth for over a year and a half (Acts 18:11), Paul was brought before a Roman tribunal by some of the Jewish leaders. Because the charges were strictly religious and not civil, the proconsul, Gallio, dismissed the case. Shortly thereafter, Paul took Priscilla and Aquila with him to Ephesus. From there he returned to Israel (vv. 18–22).

Unable to fully break with the culture from which it came, the church at Corinth was exceptionally factional, showing its carnality and immaturity. After the gifted Apollos had ministered in the church for some time, a group of his admirers established a clique and had little to do with the rest of the church. Another group developed that was loyal to Paul, another claimed special allegiance to Peter (Cephas), and still another to Christ alone (see 1:10–13; 3:1–9).

The most serious problem of the Corinthian church was worldliness, an unwillingness to divorce the culture around them. Most of the believers could not consistently separate themselves from their old, selfish, immoral, and pagan ways. It became necessary for Paul to write to correct this, as well as to command the faithful Christians not only to break fellowship with the disobedient and unrepentant members, but to put those members out of the church (5:9–13).

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.

August 19 - Marks of the True Believer

“‘They put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved’” (Matthew 9:17b).

Like new wine poured into fresh wineskins, everything stays spiritually fresh for the true believer. First, he or she leads a life of unquestioning obedience and follows the Lord without conditions or excuses. Not long before His ascension, Jesus told Peter, “‘Follow Me!’ Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them . . . So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!’” (John 21:19–22). Christians don’t question Christ’s will or unwisely compare themselves to other believers.

Second, like Matthew who invited sinners to his house to see Jesus, true saints have compassion on the unsaved. They want to see them saved, even though at times that desire gets supplanted by selfish concerns. Because they know “the fear of the Lord, [they] persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11). The love of Christ will prompt them to witness to others (v. 14).

Finally, if we are truly Christ’s children, we will not follow any sort of legalism or ritualism as the scribes and Pharisees did. We’ll realize soon enough that these are utterly incompatible with the new life in Jesus Christ. It should also be clear to us that what was begun in the Spirit cannot be finished in the flesh (Gal. 3:3). The new wine of salvation and sanctification has no place back in the old wineskins of our life before conversion.

Ask Yourself

Is your life devoid of some of these freedoms? Does your heart often—or perhaps incessantly—cause Christian faith to feel as though it’s just another burden or pressure rather than the pure expression of who you are? What’s standing between you and abundant life?

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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