Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

June 25

Showing Mercy

"So speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:12-13).

Showing mercy is characteristic of a regenerate person.

Divine judgment has never been a popular topic of conversation. Godly people throughout history have been ridiculed, persecuted, and even killed for proclaiming it. In their efforts to win the approval of men, false teachers question or deny it. But James 2:12-13 reminds us that judgment will come, so we'd better live accordingly.

The basis for divine judgment is God's Word, which James called "the law of liberty" (v. 12). It is a liberating law because it frees you from sin's bondage and the curse of death and hell. It is the agency of the Spirit's transforming work, cutting deep into your soul to judge your thoughts and motives (Heb. 4:12). It gives you the wisdom that leads to salvation, and equips you for godly living (2 Tim. 3:15-17). It imparts truth and discernment, freeing you from error and spiritual deception. It is in every sense a law of freedom and liberation for those who embrace it.

The law liberates believers but condemns unbelievers. The phrase "judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy" (v. 13) speaks of unrelieved judgment in which every sin receives its fullest punishment. That can only mean eternal hell! If the Word is at work in you, its effects will be evident in the way you speak and act. If you are impartial and merciful to people in need, that shows you are a true Christian and have received God's forgiveness and mercy yourself. If you show partiality and disregard for the needy, the law becomes your judge, exposing the fact that you aren't truly redeemed.

Are you a merciful person? Do you seek to provide for others without favoritism? When you fail to do so, do you confess your sin and seek forgiveness and restoration? Those are marks of true faith.

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise the Lord for His great mercy toward you, and be sure to show mercy to those around you.

For Further Study

Read Luke 1:46-55 and 68-79. Follow Mary's and Zacharias's example by rejoicing over God's mercy toward His people.

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.

June 25

Integrity Is Devoted to Prayer

“Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously. Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and supplication before his God” (Daniel 6:10-11).

There is a direct link between prayer and integrity.

It is no coincidence that those whom God uses most effectively are those who are most fervent in prayer. David, for example, called upon the Lord in the morning, at noon, and at night, and the Lord heard his prayers (Ps. 55:17). Daniel followed the same pattern, praying three times a day from his roof chamber, where he could look out above the rooftops of Babylon toward Jerusalem.

Houses in Babylon often had latticework over their windows to allow ventilation, and Daniel would be visible through that latticework as he faced Jerusalem, prayed for its restoration, and gave thanks to God. He knew that Darius had issued a decree making it illegal to pray and that violating the decree would give his enemies opportunity to accuse him, but he would not forsake prayer or compromise his convictions. He would continue to call upon the Lord and leave any consequences to Him.

That was a bold decision for Daniel to make, especially in light of the punishment he would face. Would you be as bold if you knew that your prayers would lead to persecution and possible death? Perhaps more important, are you that committed to prayer even when you aren’t facing persecution? I trust that you are. The seriousness of the spiritual battles you face requires faithfulness in prayer. That’s why Paul said, “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2).

Suggestions for Prayer

Are you devoted to prayer? If not, begin today to set aside a specific time daily to commune with the Lord and meditate on His Word. You might try keeping a written record of your prayer requests, noting the specific ways God answers them.

For Further Study

What was our Lord’s pattern of prayer, and how did He instruct His disciples to pray (see Luke 5:16; 6:12; Matt. 6:5-13)?

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.

June 25

Reading for Today:

  • 1 Chronicles 13:1–14:17
  • Psalm 78:1-11
  • Proverbs 19:20-21
  • Acts 7:22-43

Notes:

1 Chronicles 13:3 the ark of our God. Not only had the ark been stolen and profaned by the Philistines (1 Sam. 5–6), but when it was returned, Saul neglected to seek God’s instruction for it. Scripture records only one occasion when Saul sought God’s ark after its return (1 Sam.14:18).

1 Chronicles 14:8–17 The Philistines desired to ruin David before the throne was consolidated. Their plan was to kill David, but God gave him victory over the Philistines (unlike Saul) and thus declared both to the Philistines and Israel His support of Israel’s new king.

Psalm 78:2 parable. The word is used here in the broader sense of a story with moral and spiritual applications. dark sayings. Puzzling, ambiguous information. The lessons of history are not easily discerned correctly. For an infallible interpretation of history, there must be a prophet. The specific puzzle in Israel’s history is the nation’s rebellious spirit in spite of God’s grace.

Acts 7:23 he was forty years old. Moses’ life may be divided into three 40-year periods. The first 40 years encompassed his birth and life in Pharaoh’s court; the second, his exile in Midian (vv. 29, 30); and the third revolved around the events of the Exodus and the years of Israel’s wilderness wandering (v. 36).

Acts 7:43 Babylon. Amos wrote Damascus (Amos 5:27), while Stephen said Babylon. Amos was prophesying the captivity of the northern kingdom in Assyria, a deportation beyond Damascus. Later, the southern kingdom was taken captive to Babylon. Stephen, inspired to do so, extended the prophecy to embrace the judgment on the whole nation summarizing their idolatrous history and its results. 


DAY 25: What does it mean that God “gave them up” in Acts 7:42? 

“Then God turned and gave them up to worship the host of heaven.” Here Stephen quoted from Amos 5:25–27. It means that God judicially abandoned the people to their sin and idolatry (Hos. 4:17).The worship of the sun, moon, and stars began in the wilderness and lasted through the Babylonian captivity (Deut. 4:19; 17:3; 2 Kin. 17:16; 21:3–5; 23:4; 2 Chr. 33:3, 5; Jer. 8:2; 19:13; Zeph. 1:5).

Similarly, in Romans 1:24, it states that “God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts.” The Greek word used is for handing over a prisoner to his sentence. When men consistently abandon God, He will abandon them (Judg. 10:13; 2 Chr. 15:2; 24:20; Ps. 81:11, 12; Matt. 15:14). He accomplishes this 1) indirectly and immediately, by removing His restraint and allowing their sin to run its inevitable course and 2) directly and eventually, by specific acts of divine judgment and punishment. “Uncleanness” is a general term often used of decaying matter, like the contents of a grave. It speaks here of sexual immorality (2 Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19–23; Eph. 5:3; 1 Thess. 4:7), which begins in the heart and moves to the shame of the body.

And “God gave them up to vile passions” (Rom. 1:26). This is identified in vv. 26, 27 as homosexuality, a sin roundly condemned in Scripture (Gen. 19; Lev. 18:22; 1 Cor. 6:9–11; Gal. 5:19–21; Eph. 5:3–5; 1 Tim. 1:9, 10; Jude 7). Rather than the normal Greek term for “women,” this is a general word for female. Paul mentions women first to show the extent of debauchery under the wrath of abandonment, because in most cultures women are the last to be affected by moral collapse.

And “God gave them over to a debased mind” (v. 28).This translates a Greek word that means “not passing the test.” It was often used to describe useless, worthless metals, discarded because they contained too much impurity. God has tested man’s minds and found them worthless and useless (Jer. 6:30).

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.

June 25 - The Narrow Gate, Part 1

“‘Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it’” (Matthew 7:13–14).

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount has been heading toward the appeal found in these two verses. Here is His call to people to make a decision about becoming a citizen of God’s kingdom and inheriting eternal life, or remaining a citizen of this fallen world and receiving damnation. Every person eventually comes to this crossroads in life, where he’ll need to decide on which gate to enter and which way to follow.

“Enter” is in a mood that demands a definite and specific action. Jesus pleads for people to enter the narrow gate, God’s gate, the only gate that leads to life and to heaven. Throughout the sermon Jesus had contrasted the narrowness of God’s internal standard of righteousness to the broad and external standards of Jewish tradition. The path to that narrow way of kingdom living is through the narrow gate of the King Himself: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). We proclaim a narrow gospel because that is the only gospel God has given and therefore the only gospel there is.

Make sure you are proclaiming to others the narrow gospel God has given us.

Ask Yourself

We needn’t apologize that the way to Christ is narrow and exclusive. For if it weren’t for this narrow way, there would be no way. Try to avoid presenting the gospel to others in an apologetic manner, one that accommodates more human choice and preference than God’s Word allows. Invite them to the true gospel alone, knowing that the Spirit of God will draw others only to the truth.

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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