Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

November 13

Obeying Faith

"By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith" (Heb. 11:7).

True faith works.

When James said, "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:26), he stated a principle that's consistent throughout Scripture: True faith always produces righteous works.

The people described in Hebrews 11 made their genuine faith known in the things they did. The same applies to us today. Paul said, "The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age" (Titus 2:11-12).

Perhaps better than anyone else in history, Noah illustrates the obedience of faith. Scripture characterizes him as "a righteous man, blameless in his time . . . [who] walked with God" (Gen. 6:9).

I remember a sportscaster interviewing a professional football player and asking him what he thought of his team's chances of winning the Super Bowl. The player replied, "We believe that if we just do what the coach says, we'll win." The team had absolute confidence in their coach, but they realized they had to do their part as well.

That illustrates the quality of faith Noah had in God, whom he trusted absolutely as he pursued a task that seemed utterly foolish and useless from a human perspective. Imagine instantly surrendering all your time and effort to devote 120 years to building something you'd never seen (a vessel the size of an ocean liner or battleship) to protect you from something you'd never experienced (rain and flooding). Yet Noah did it without question.

Noah's faith is unique in the sheer magnitude and time span of the task God gave him to do. He didn't argue with God or deviate from his assignment. Is that true of you? Are you pursuing your ministry as faithfully and persistently as Noah did his? Is your faith a faith that works?

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for the ministry He's called you to. If you sense there's more you could be doing, ask Him for guidance. Pray for added faithfulness and tenacity in serving Him.

For Further Study

Read the account of Noah in Genesis 6:1—9:17.

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 13

The Results of False Wisdom

“Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing” (James 3:16).

False wisdom ruins lives.

Renowned eighteenth-century theologian Jonathan Edwards said the following about the effect of the Fall on man:

Sin, like some powerful astringent, contracted his soul to the very small dimensions of selfishness; and God was forsaken, and fellow-creatures forsaken, and man retired within himself, and became totally governed by narrow and selfish principles and feelings. Self-love became absolute master of his soul, and the more noble and spiritual principles of his being took wings and flew away.

Edwards’s analysis certainly agrees with what James is saying: man is self-centered (cf. James 3:14, 16). Where self-centeredness exists, there will be negative results. One such result is “disorder” (v. 16). The term refers to disorder that comes out of instability and chaos. Earthly wisdom will never produce harmony or love because it’s proud and self-indulgent. It destroys intimacy, love, unity, and fellowship, and in its place brings discord and chaos. You can see the result of earthly wisdom all over our world today. Anger, bitterness, lawsuits, and divorces are just part of the legacy.

“Every evil thing” also results from earthly wisdom (v. 16). The phrase speaks of something worthless or vile. Greek scholar R.C. Trench said it contemplates evil, “not so much that either of active or passive malignity, but rather of its good-for-nothingness, the impossibility of any true gain ever coming forth from it.” The Greek word translated “thing” implies that false wisdom produces nothing of any practical value. At its best it produces worthless things; at its worst it produces vile things.

Which kind of life do you prefer? One that is characterized by love and unity, or by instability and chaos? A life with fulfillment and meaning, or with emptiness? If you want a life that satisfies and has eternal value, choose divine wisdom!

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for giving you His Word so you can know how to live wisely and avoid the negative results of man’s wisdom.

For Further Study

Following human wisdom leads only to evil. Memorize Proverbs 4:27 to help you stay on the path of true wisdom.

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 13

Reading for Today:

  • Ezekiel 17:1–18:32
  • Psalm 124:1-8
  • Proverbs 28:21
  • Hebrews 9:1-28

Notes:

Ezekiel 17:22, 23 one of the highest branches. This is messianic prophecy stating that God will provide the Messiah from the royal line of David (“the high cedar”) and establish Him in His kingdom (like a mountain, Dan. 2:35, 44, 45). He will be “a high branch” reigning in the height of success. “Branch” is a name for the Messiah (34:23, 24; 37:24, 25; Is. 4:2; Jer. 23:5; 33:15; Zech. 3:8; 6:12).The Messiah will be “a tender one” (v. 22) who grows into a “majestic cedar” (v. 23). Under His kingdom rule, all nations will be blessed and Israel restored.

Ezekiel 18:4 The soul who sins shall die. God played no favorites, but was fair in holding each individual accountable for his own sin. The death is physical death which, for many, results in eternal death.

Hebrews 9:8 The Levitical system did not provide any direct access into God’s presence for His people. Rather, it kept them away. Nearness had to be provided by another way (v. 12). This is the primary lesson which the Holy Spirit taught concerning the tabernacle. It teaches how inaccessible God is apart from the death of Jesus Christ. Holy Spirit. By the Spirit-inspired instruction given for the Holiest of All, He was indicating that there was no way to God in the ceremonial system. Only Christ could open the way (John 14:6).

Hebrews 9:27 to die once. This is a general rule for all mankind. There have been very rare exceptions (e.g., Lazarus died twice, John 11:43, 44). Those, like Lazarus, who were raised from the dead by a miraculous act of our Lord were not resurrected to a glorified body and unending life. They only experienced resuscitation. Another exception will be those who don’t die even once, but who will be “caught up…to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess. 4:17; Enoch, Gen. 5:24; Elijah, 2 Kin. 2:11). the judgment. A general term encompassing the judgment of all people, believers (2 Cor. 5:10) and unbelievers (Rev. 20:11–15).


DAY 13: Why does Hebrews have so much about blood, including a statement such as “without shedding of blood there is no remission” (9:22)?

Beginning with 9:7, the writer examined the significance of the blood of sacrifice. This term is especially central to 9:1–10:18 where the passage identifies the deaths of Old Testament sacrifices with the death of Christ (9:12–14). Note, however, that this shedding of blood in and of itself was an insufficient sacrifice. Christ had not only to shed His blood, but He also had to die—10:10 indicates that He gave His body as a sacrificial offering. Without His death, His blood had no saving value.

The expression, then, “blood of Christ” (9:14) refers not simply to the fluid but to the whole atoning sacrificial work of Christ in His death. Blood is used as a substitute word for death (see, e.g., Matt. 23:30, 35; 27:6, 8, 24, 25; John 6:54–56; Acts 18:6; 20:26). By reviewing the significance of the blood sacrifices in the Old Testament, the writer was pointing to a pattern of lessons that prepared the world to understand the necessity of Christ’s death. The emphatic phrase “without shedding of blood there is no remission” (9:22) simply repeats the lesson that sin creates a debt that must be paid by someone. “It is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17:11). The phraseology is reminiscent of Christ’s words, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28). Remission means forgiveness in these verses—forgiveness for the sinner and payment of the debt. Christ’s death (blood) provides the remission.

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 13 - Unbelieving Indifference: Capernaum

“‘And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day’” (Matthew 11:23).

Often those who have opportunity for the greatest spiritual privileges take those most for granted and enjoy them least. Such could be said for the Galilean city of Capernaum. It was the area where Christ made His headquarters and performed more miracles and preached more messages than in any other region during His earthly ministry. Yet all of this marvelous activity apparently had little impact on the indifferent citizens.

Had all of it happened in and around Sodom, Jesus says, that infamously wicked city would have repented, turned in faith to God, and been spared destruction. Even secular people know Sodom as a synonym for moral degradation and a place where homosexuality and other perversions were rampant. On the other hand, Capernaum, like many modern cities, probably had mostly law-abiding, decent residents.

Capernaum exceeded Chorazin and Bethsaida in advantage, and Sodom exceeded Tyre and Sidon in sinfulness. By such striking contrasts, our Lord shows that people most blessed by God will be most punished if they spurn Him. Judgment against the spiritual aloofness of Capernaum will far exceed judgment against the egregious sins of Sodom. The sober truth is that the self-righteous, orthodox person is more repugnant to the Father than the externally immoral, unbelieving person.

Johann Bengel once noted, “Every hearer of the New Testament truth is either much happier or much more wretched than the men who lived before Christ’s coming.” Such people are either more secure or more condemned.

Ask Yourself

What is the basis for any feelings we have of superiority and supremacy? What are some of the best cures for this type of sin? Which remedies would you prefer to choose for yourself, rather than having some of the more extreme ones thrust upon you?

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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