Grace to You Devotionals

GTY Devotionals

March 3

Uncompromising Prayer

“In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus . . . I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer” (Dan. 9:1-3).

Uncompromising prayer brings glory to God.

Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9:1-19 illustrates the key elements of effective intercessory prayer. Those elements will serve as the focus of our studies for several days, but first some background to Daniel’s prayer will be helpful.

Verse 1 says that Daniel prayed in the first year of the reign of King Darius, the first great king of the Medo-Persian Empire. About sixty-five years earlier, God had punished the sinful kingdom of Judah by allowing King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to conquer Jerusalem and take Israelite captives back to Babylon.

Subsequently the Babylonian Empire fell to the Medo-Persian Empire. Darius conquered Babylon on the night King Belshazzar threw a drunken festival at which God wrote the doom of his kingdom on the wall (Dan. 5:24-28). 

Daniel was among the captives originally transported to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. Throughout the lengthy captivity period, he never forgot he was God’s child and always represented God properly despite his difficult circumstances. He was a man of uncommon wisdom and courage. His trust in God was unwavering and his commitment to prayer uncompromising—even when his prayers could have cost him his life (Dan. 6:4-11).

As a result, God protected him, exalted him, and was glorified through him—as evidenced by King Darius’ decree that everyone in the kingdom was to fear and tremble before Daniel’s great God (Dan. 6:26).

Since Daniel understood the priority of prayer, he refused to be intimidated or distracted from it. His commitment is worthy of imitation. Can that be said of you? If everyone followed your pattern of prayer, would God’s Kingdom be strengthened?

Suggestions for Prayer

Consistency is important in prayer. You might try praying for different requests on specific days. For example, on Mondays you could pray for your governmental leaders, on Tuesdays for your pastor and the ministries of your church, etc.

For Further Study

Read Daniel 6.

  • What rank did Daniel hold?
  • Why did King Darius want to promote Daniel?
  • What was the reaction of the commissioners and satraps to Daniel’s popularity?
  • How did they deceive the king?
  • How did God protect Daniel?
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.

March 3

Standing Against the Devil

“Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7b).

Anyone who possesses scriptural humility will take an uncompromising stand against Satan.

The successful diplomat or politician is quite adept at the art of compromise and finding the middle ground on various issues. But such skill is a hindrance when it comes to determining your position before God. If you humbly, by faith and repentance, submit yourself to God’s authority, you will immediately find yourself the enemy of Satan. You are either in God’s kingdom and under His lordship, or you are in Satan’s kingdom and under his lordship. It is impossible to have one foot in each kingdom and to be serving both kingdoms’ rulers.

To “resist the devil” gives us insight into what it means to be an enemy of Satan. “Resist” means “to take a stand against” the person of Satan and his entire system, which includes everything he does and represents. Such resistance is the complete opposite of the position you had before you submitted to God. Ephesians 2:1-2 reminds us of what that position was: “You were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air [Satan].” At that time, you had no power to resist the Devil and no desire to serve God, because you were slaves to Satan and his system (Heb. 2:14-15).

But all of that can and will change if you humbly switch your allegiance from Satan’s kingdom to God’s kingdom. In today’s verse the apostle James is promising you that as a part of that changed loyalty, you will automatically be in a position to take a stand against Satan. The minute you forsake Satan’s mastery he will flee from you.

Many Christians wrongly assume that Satan is much more powerful than he really is. But if you understand James’s promise you will know you have abundant spiritual resources to handle Satan’s empty threats. Being humble before God doesn’t mean being weak before Satan. God enables you to stand firm and resist.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for the wealth of spiritual resources He provides for you to stand against the Devil.

For Further Study

Read Ephesians 6:10-18.

  • Make a list of the spiritual weapons God has given us.
  • Pick one of these, and do some additional reading and study to improve your application of it.
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.

March 3

Reading for Today:

  • Numbers 3:1–4:49
  • Psalm 30:1-7
  • Proverbs 10:30-32
  • Mark 8:1-21

Notes:

Numbers 3:1 Aaron and Moses. Because Aaron and his sons are emphasized in this chapter, Aaron is named first. Mount Sinai. The Lord had first communicated to Moses His choice of Aaron and his sons as priests in Exodus 28:1–29:46, while he was in the midst of the cloud on Mt. Sinai (Ex. 24:18).

Numbers 3:4 Eleazar and Ithamar. All of the future priests of Israel under the Mosaic Covenant were descendants of these two sons of Aaron. Eleazar and his descendants would later be singled out for great blessing (see Num. 25:10–13).

Psalm 30:2, 3 You healed me. God alone is the unique healer (see Ex. 15:26; Deut. 32:39; Ps. 107:20). David is extolling God for bringing him back from a near-death experience.

Psalm 30:5 This stark contrast constitutes one of the most worshipful testimonies from the Scriptures (see the principle in Is. 54:7, 8; John 16:20–22; 2 Cor. 4:17).

Mark 8:2 I have compassion. Only here and in the parallel passage (Matt. 15:32) did Jesus use this word of Himself. When He fed the 5,000, Jesus expressed “compassion” for the people’s lost spiritual condition (6:34). Here, He expressed “compassion” for people’s physical needs. Jesus could empathize with their hunger, having experienced it Himself (Matt. 4:2).


DAY 3: What was the “leaven of the Pharisees and…of Herod” that Jesus warned about?

The skeptical Pharisees asked for a “sign from heaven” in Mark 8:11, demanding further miraculous proof of Jesus’ messianic claims. Not content with the countless miracles He had performed on earth, they demanded some sort of astronomical miracle. Having already given them more than enough proof, Jesus refused to accommodate their spiritual blindness. The supreme sign verifying His claim to be the Son of God and Messiah was to be His resurrection (Matt. 16:39, 40).

Jesus warned the disciples about “the leaven of the Pharisees and…of Herod.” “Leaven” is a yeast that multiplies quietly and permeates all that it contacts. In the New Testament, “leaven” most often symbolizes the evil influence of sin. The “leaven” of the Pharisees included both their false teaching (Matt. 16:12) and their hypocritical behavior (Luke 12:1). The “leaven” of Herod Antipas was his immoral, corrupt conduct (see 6:17–29). The Pharisees and the Herodians were allied against Christ (3:6).

To Jesus’ amazement, the disciples completely missed His point, thinking He was talking about physical bread. He was concerned with spiritual truth, not mundane physical matters. Jesus asks them, “Is your heart still hardened?” (v. 17), which implies that they were rebellious, spiritually insensitive, and unable to understand spiritual truth. And He also reminded them of His ability to provide anything they might lack.

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.

March 3 - God the Source of Mercy

“‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy’” (Matthew 5:7).

Pure mercy is a gift of God that comes with the new birth. People can be merciful only when they have experienced God’s mercy.

God has both absolute and relative attributes. His absolute attributes—such as love, truth, and holiness—have characterized Him from all eternity. But His relative attributes—like mercy, justice, and grace—were not manifested until man, whom He created in His own image, sinned and became separated from his Creator. Apart from sin and evil, mercy, justice, and grace have no meaning.

When man fell, God extended His love to His fallen creatures in mercy. Only when they receive His mercy can they reflect His mercy. Thus God is the source of mercy. “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness [mercy] toward those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:11). It is because we have the resource of God’s mercy that Jesus commanded, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).

We cannot have the blessing apart from the Blesser. We cannot even meet the condition apart from the One who set the condition. We are blessed by God when we are merciful to others, and we are able to be merciful to others because we have already received salvation’s mercy. Furthermore, when we share the mercy we have received, we will receive even more mercy.

Ask Yourself

When we talk about Christ’s character being formed in us, we understand the concept in theory. But what are some of the telltale signs that He is actually working His will through us in our interactions with others? How do you know when it’s Him, not you—when it’s the Spirit of God bearing fruit in your 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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