Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

April 5

Dealing with Sorrow

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" (Matt. 5:4).

Human sorrow is a natural and healthy emotion, but beware of mourning over unfulfilled sinful desires.

Most people in our society have an amusement-park mentality. They spend much of their time and money on entertainment, wanting to enjoy life and avoid problems whenever possible. To them, Matthew 5:4 is a paradox. How can someone who mourns be happy? The answer lies in the difference between godly sorrow and human sorrow. Godly sorrow is sorrow over sin; human sorrow is sorrow over some tragic or disappointing turn of events (2 Cor. 7:8-11).

In Matthew 5:4 Jesus is referring to godly sorrow, which is our topic for tomorrow. But we all face human sorrow, so I want to discuss it briefly today.

Human sorrow is a natural emotion. Our Lord Himself was "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (Isa. 53:3). Many things can cause it: we might mourn out of love, disappointment, loneliness, or physical illness. There is nothing wrong with that kind of mourning. It is a God- given relief valve for the pain and sorrow in this fallen world, and promotes the healing process.

Scripture gives many examples of human sorrow. Abraham wept when his wife, Sarah, died (Gen. 23:2). Through tears Jeremiah preached God's message of judgment (Jer. 9:1). Paul expressed his concern for the church with his tears (Acts 20:31). Those are natural, healthy expressions of human sorrow.

However, sorrow can also be caused by evil desires or a lack of trust in God. King Ahab mourned to the point of sulking and not eating when he couldn't have another man's property (1 Kings 21:4). Some Christians mourn excessively when they lose a loved one. Forsaking the comfort of the Spirit, they focus only on their own grief. Extreme or prolonged manifestations of sorrow are sinful and must be confessed rather than comforted.

God is gracious to His children amid times of human sorrow. Ultimately He will do away with mourning and pain forever (Rev. 21:4). Rejoice in that promise and be comforted by His wonderful grace!

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for the ministry of the Spirit, who is the great Comforter or Helper (John 14:16-17). When sorrow occurs, lean on the Spirit, feed your soul on God's Word, and commune with Him in prayer.

For Further Study

Read Psalm 55. How did David express his desire to escape his difficult situation? What was his final resolve?

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.

April 5

Supplication Before the Father

“He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt’” (Matthew 26:39).

Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is a perfect model of perseverance in seeking God’s will.

By humbly and submissively raising the option, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me,” Jesus was not questioning the validity of God’s plan of redemption or the Son’s responsibility in it. The thought of His becoming sin for us was weighing heavier and heavier on Jesus, and He simply wondered aloud to God if there could be a way other than the cross to deliver men from sin. But as always, Jesus made it clear that the deciding factor in what was done would be the Father’s will, not the Son’s.

In contrast, while Jesus was wrestling earnestly in prayer before the Father, Peter, James, and John were oblivious to the struggle because they slept. The need for sleep was natural at such a late hour (after midnight), and their emotions—confused, frustrated, depressed—concerning Jesus’ death may have induced sleep as an escape (Luke 22:45 says they were “sleeping from sorrow”).

But even those “legitimate reasons” are inadequate to excuse the disciples’ lack of vigilance in prayer. As is often true of us, the disciples did not accept Jesus’ instructions and warnings at face value. His repeated predictions of His suffering and death, His forecast of the disciples’ desertion, and His anticipation of the anguish in Gethsemane should have been more than enough incentive for the three men to stay alert and support Christ. But the disciples failed to heed Jesus’ words or follow His prayerful example at a time of crisis.

For us today, the record of Scripture is the great motivation to follow the Lord’s example. We can meditate on the written narrative of Gethsemane and rejoice in something the disciples didn’t yet have before Jesus’ death— the presence of the Holy Spirit, who continually helps us pray as we ought (Rom. 8:26-27).

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord to grant you both sensitivity and perseverance as you seek His will during times of prayer.

For Further Study

Read Luke 11:5-10 and 18:1-8.

  • What is the common theme of these two parables?
  • What does Jesus’ teaching suggest about the challenging nature of prayer?
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.

April 5

Reading for Today:

  • Deuteronomy 33:1–34:12
  • Psalm 40:13-17
  • Proverbs 13:13-14
  • Luke 8:1-25

Notes:

Deuteronomy 33:5 King in Jeshurun. Since Moses is nowhere else in Scripture referred to as king, most interpret this as a reference to the Lord as King over Israel. However, Moses is the closest antecedent of the pronoun “he” in this clause, and the most natural understanding is that Moses is being referred to as a king. Moses certainly exercised kingly authority over Israel and could be viewed as a prototype of the coming King. Thus, united in the figure of Moses, the coming Prophet like unto Moses (18:15) would be the Prophet-King.

Luke 8:2 certain women. Rabbis normally did not have women as disciples. Mary called Magdalene. Her name probably derives from the Galilean town of Magdala. Some believe she is the woman described in 7:37–50, but it seems highly unlikely that Luke would introduce her here by name for the first time if she were the main figure in the account he just completed. Also, while it is clear that she had suffered at the hands of “demons,” there is no reason whatsoever to think that she had ever been a prostitute.

Luke 8:3 Joanna. This woman is also mentioned in 24:10, but nowhere else in Scripture. It is possible that she was a source for some of the details Luke recounts about Herod (see 23:8, 12). Susanna. Aside from this reference, she is nowhere mentioned in Scripture. She is probably someone Luke knew personally. from their substance. It was a Jewish custom for disciples to support rabbis in this way. (See 10:7; 1 Cor. 9:4–11; Gal. 6:6; 1 Tim. 5:17, 18.)


DAY 5: How is Moses described at the end of his life?

He is called “the man of God” in Deuteronomy 33:1. This is the first use of this phrase in Scripture. Subsequently, some 70 times in the Old Testament, messengers of God (especially prophets) are called “a man of God “ (1 Sam. 2:27; 9:6; 1 Kin. 13:1; 17:18; 2 Kin. 4:7). The New Testament uses this title for Timothy (1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 3:17). Moses was viewed among such prophets in this conclusion to the book (see 34:10).

In Deuteronomy 34:1–4, he went to the top of Pisgah where “the LORD showed him” the panorama of the land the Lord had promised to give (the land of Canaan) to the patriarchs and their seed in Genesis 12:7; 13:15; 15:18–21; 26:4; 28:13, 14. Remarkably, it adds that “He buried him” (v. 6).The context indicates that the Lord is the One who buried Moses, and man did not have a part in it. See Jude 9, which recounts Michael’s and Satan’s dispute over Moses’ body.

At the end, Moses’ physical vision and physical health were “not dim...diminished” (v. 7). It was not death by natural causes that kept Moses from leading Israel into the Promised Land. It was his unfaithfulness to the Lord at Meribah (see Num. 20:12). Before he passed on, Moses “laid his hands” on Joshua (v. 9), which was a confirmation of the military and administrative ability necessary to the task the Lord had given Joshua. It also confirmed that Joshua had the spiritual wisdom to rely on and to be committed to the Lord.

Moses was the greatest of all the Old Testament prophets (v. 10), one whom the Lord knew intimately. Not until John the Baptist was there another prophet greater than Moses (see Matt. 11:11). After John, the Prophet came of whom Moses wrote (see John 1:21, 25; 6:14 with Deut. 18:15, 18; Acts 3:22; 7:37). Moses next appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration together with Elijah and Jesus Christ (Matt. 17:3; Mark 9:4; Luke 9:30, 31).

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.

April 5 - God's Law Not up for Annulment

“‘Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 5:19).

People resent prohibitions and demands on their behavior. Even believers, out of ignorance, misunderstanding, or blatant disregard, sometimes want to water down God’s standards. But when anyone “annuls” (breaks, sets loose) any part of God’s Word, he or she is not following Christ’s example.

Jesus did acknowledge that not all of God’s commands are of equal importance. He told a pharisaical lawyer that one divine commandment is above all others and that another is second (Matt. 22:37–39). Thus all the other commandments fall somewhere below those two and vary in significance.

Our Lord’s point here in the sermon, however, is that we must not annul—by ignoring, modifying, or disobeying—even the smallest aspect of God’s law. Some commands might be greater than others, but none should be disregarded. Paul did not pick and choose what he would teach. He did emphasize some issues more than others, but he omitted nothing (Acts 20:27). And we certainly must not teach others to disregard or disobey any portion of the law. To do so shows that our disobedience is conscious and intentional.

Jesus does not restrict His warning to formal teachers. By example, every Christian teaches those around him to be more obedient or more disobedient. Our words of respect for God’s Word present a guide for others. To speak disparagingly of the Word or to ignore its requirements presents testimony to others of the law’s unimportance to us. This ought to be the furthest thing from our agenda.

Ask Yourself

On what subject matters do you find yourself most tempted to comment, “I know what the Bible says, but . . .”?

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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