Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

November 20

Passing the Test

"By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, 'In Isaac your descendants shall be called.' He considered that God is able to raise men even from the dead" (Heb. 11:17-19).

A willingness to sacrifice something precious to you is proof of genuine faith.

John Bunyan had a little blind daughter, for whom he had a special love. When he was imprisoned for preaching the gospel, he was deeply concerned about his family, especially that little girl. He wrote, "I saw in this condition I was a man who was pulling down his house upon the head of his wife and children. Yet, thought I, I must do it; I must do it. The dearest idol I have known, what ere that idol be, help me to tear it from Thy throne and worship only Thee."

Despite his personal grief, Bunyan was willing to sacrifice the most precious thing he had, if God so willed. So it was with Abraham. Every promise God had made to him was bound up in his son Isaac.

Abraham believed God's promises, and his faith was reckoned to him as righteousness (Gen. 15:6). But the moment of truth came when God instructed him to offer his son as a sacrifice. Abraham realized that to kill Isaac was to put to death God's covenant. So he reasoned that surely God would raise Isaac from the dead. He believed in resurrection before the doctrine was revealed in clear terms.

God tested Abraham, and Abraham passed the test: He was willing to make the sacrifice. And that's always the final standard of faith. Jesus said, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matt. 16:24). Romans 12:1 says, "I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship."

I pray that you are willing to sacrifice whatever is necessary to minister most effectively for Christ.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for those you know who are passing the test of a sacrificial faith.
  • Pray for the courage and grace to follow their example.

For Further Study

Read the account of Abraham's test in Genesis 22.

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.

November 20

Acting Responsibly

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15).

Every believer is responsible to walk wisely.

I believe the moment an individual becomes saved, God deposits enough wisdom in him to make him absolutely responsible for his behavior. Someone may say, “Wait a minute! How can a brand-new believer walk in wisdom? Doesn’t he grow into that? Haven’t wise Christians been saved for many years?”

Such questions miss the point of Ephesians 5:15. The first word in this verse takes us back to Paul’s invitation to become saved in verse 14: “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” In other words, Paul is saying, “Because you are saved, you are to walk in wisdom.” When you received Christ, you simultaneously received wisdom and therefore are responsible to walk wisely. First Corinthians 1:30 says, “By [God’s] doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.” At the moment of salvation you are made wise, righteous, and sanctified. You don’t get redeemed first and receive those things later. Colossians 2:3 says, “In [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” You are in Christ, and all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Him; consequently, “in Him you have been made complete” (v. 10).

If you’re redeemed, you have wisdom. You don’t have to wait till you’ve been saved five, ten, or forty years. You’re no longer a fool— you’re wise. And on that basis Paul says, “Walk as wise. Live according to the wisdom that you possess.”

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for blessing you with His great salvation so that you can walk wisely.

For Further Study

Read Ephesians 1:7-8.

  • What did you receive at the moment of your salvation (v. 7)?
  • In what two ways were the riches of God’s grace lavished on you (v. 8)?
  • According to Titus 2:11-12, what does God’s grace teach you?
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.

November 20

Reading for Today:

  • Ezekiel 31:1–32:32
  • Psalm 130:1-4
  • Proverbs 28:28
  • James 1:1-27

Notes:

Ezekiel 31:2–18 Whom are you like…? Ezekiel filled this chapter with a metaphor/analogy comparing Egypt to a huge tree that dominates a forest to a king/nation that dominates the world (17:22–24; Dan. 4:1–12, 19–27). He reasoned that just as a strong tree like Assyria (v. 3) fell (ca. 609 B.C.), so will Egypt (ca. 568 B.C.). If the Egyptians tend to be proud and feel invincible, let them remember how powerful Assyria had fallen already.

James 1:6 ask in faith. Prayer must be offered with confident trust in a sovereign God (Heb. 11:1). with no doubting. This refers to having one’s thinking divided within himself, not merely because of mental indecision but an inner moral conflict or distrust in God. wave of the sea. The person who doubts God’s ability or willingness to provide this wisdom is like the billowing, restless sea, moving back and forth with its endless tides, never able to settle (Josh. 24:15; 1 Kin. 18:21; Rev. 3:16).

James 1:14 drawn away. This Greek word was used to describe wild game being lured into traps. Just as animals can be drawn to their deaths by attractive baits, temptation promises people something good, which is actually harmful. his own desires. This refers to lust, the strong desire of the human soul to enjoy or acquire something to fulfill the flesh. Man’s fallen nature has the propensity to strongly desire whatever sin will satisfy it (Rom. 7:8–25). “His own” describes the individual nature of lust—it is different for each person as a result of inherited tendencies, environment, upbringing, and personal choices. The Greek grammar also indicates that these “desires” are the direct agent or cause of one’s sinning. enticed. A fishing term that means “to capture” or “to catch with bait” (2 Pet. 2:14, 18). It is a parallel to “drawn away.”


DAY 20: How can James expect Christians to “count it all joy” when they face difficulties and trials (1:2)?

The Greek word for “count” may also be translated “consider” or “evaluate.” The natural human response to trials is not to rejoice; therefore the believer must make a conscious commitment to face them with joy. “Trials” connote troubles or things that break the pattern of peace, comfort, joy, and happiness in someone’s life. The verb form of this word means “to put someone or something to the test,” with the purpose of discovering that person’s nature or that thing’s quality. God brings such tests to prove—and increase—the strength and quality of one’s faith and to demonstrate its validity (vv. 2–12). Every trial becomes a test of faith designed to strengthen. If the believer fails the test by wrongly responding, that test then becomes a temptation or a solicitation to evil.

“Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (v. 3). This means “proof” or “proving.” This testing produces “endurance” or “perseverance.” Through tests, a Christian will learn to withstand and even cherish the benefit of the pressure of a trial until God removes it at His appointed time.

“But let patience have its perfect work” (v. 4). This is not a reference to sinless perfection (3:2), but to spiritual maturity (1 John 2:14). The testing of faith drives believers to deeper communion and greater trust in Christ—qualities that in turn produce a stable, godly, and righteous character. “That you may be…complete.” From a compound Greek word that means “all the portions whole.”

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.

November 20 - The Condition of Those Called

“‘All who are weary and heavy-laden’” (Matthew 11:28).

Everyone whom Jesus specially invites for salvation already realizes their distress, that they are “weary and heavy-laden.” The Lord mentions this after He refers to faith (“come to Me”), but chronologically it precedes faith—it is the repentance that prompts the person to trust in Jesus for salvation.

“Weary” refers symbolically to strenuous work in trying to find the divine path to salvation. Christ invites all to come to Him who have exhausted themselves in searching for salvation by their own resources. Whereas “weary” denotes internal exhaustion, “heavy-laden” implies that past heavy burdens dumped on the person caused him or her to engage in the futility of works righteousness to please God.

Any person in the condition Jesus describes despairs of his or her own ability to obtain salvation. They will realize the end of their own resources and want to turn to the Savior. The desperation implicit here is part of genuine salvation. Those not desperate will continue to rely on their own confidence, but those who are spiritually desperate will repent of the old burdensome life of sin and embrace the true redemption Christ offers. Such persons are the only ones God receives into His kingdom (cf. Matt. 3:2; 4:17; Acts 2:38; 2 Tim. 2:25).

Ask Yourself

What are the most common causes for that “weary and heavy-laden” feeling in our world today? Why are Jesus’ ways of dealing with these problems infinitely superior to any other so-called solution?

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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