Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

March 30

Avoiding Temptations

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"Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matt. 6:13).

Don’t let your trials turn into temptations.

When we hear the English word temptation, we usually think of a solicitation to evil. But "temptation" in Matthew 6:13 translates a Greek word that can refer either to a trial that God permits to refine your spiritual character (James 1:2-4), or a temptation that Satan or your flesh brings to incite you to sin (Matt. 4:1; James 1:13- 15). Both are valid translations.

I believe "temptation" in Matthew 6:13 refers to trials. Even though we know God uses trials for our good, it's still good to pray that He won't allow us to be caught in a trial that becomes an irresistible temptation. That can happen if we're spiritually weak or ill-prepared to deal with a situation.

God will never test you beyond what you're able to endure (1 Cor. 10:13), but resisting temptation requires spiritual discipline and divine resources. Praying for God to deliver you from trials that might overcome you is a safeguard against leaning on your own strength and neglecting His power.

God tested Joseph by allowing him to be sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused by an adulterous woman, and unjustly imprisoned by a jealous husband. But Joseph knew that God's hand was on his life. That's why he could say to his brothers, "You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to . . . preserve many people" (Gen. 50:20). Joseph was ready for the test and passed it beautifully!

Jesus Himself was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matt. 4:1). God wanted to test Him to prove His virtue, but Satan wanted to tempt Him to destroy His virtue. Jesus, too, was victorious.

When you experience trials, don't let them turn into temptations. Recognize God's purposes and seek His strength. Learn from the example of those who have successfully endured the same trials. Be assured that God is in control and is using each trial to mold your character and teach you greater dependence on Him.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the trials He brings your way.
  • Ask Him to help you see your trials as means by which He strengthens you and glorifies Himself.

For Further Study

Read Psalm 119:11, Matthew 26:41, Ephesians 6:10-18, and James 4:7. What do those verses teach you about dealing with temptation?

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 30

God-Centered Teamwork

“He who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow-workers” (1 Corinthians 3:8-9).

Humble teamwork in ministry gives God all the glory and promotes humility.

Paul’s agricultural illustration of planting and watering makes it clear that the ministry works best in a team concept and that all credit for results must go to God. Paul (the one planting) and Apollos (the one watering) had done their God-appointed work faithfully and well, but they had to wait on the Lord for whatever was accomplished.

Paul mentions just two kinds of ministry in today’s passage: planting the seed of the gospel by evangelism and watering it by further teaching. However, the apostle’s point applies to every kind of ministry you might engage in. You might be tempted to think that your ministry is glamorous or significant and that everything revolves around your efforts. Or you could be envious of another believer who has a more public ministry than you. But all God’s work is important, and Paul is reminding us that whatever work He has called us to is the most important ministry we can have.

First Corinthians 3 also reminds us that all believers who minister are one in the Body of Christ. If you recognize and accept this fact, it is a sure guarantee that humility will be present as you serve God. Humility simply leaves no place for fleshly competitiveness or selfish jealousy toward other Christians.

God will be certain to recognize your individual, faithful work—“according to [your] own labor”—in His day of rewards. But Jesus also taught His disciples and us the parable of the laborers in the vineyard (Matt. 20:1-16) to keep our perspectives balanced regarding the corporate nature of ministry in God’s kingdom. None of us should look with pride at our own service and see ourselves as deserving more reward than someone who worked less time or in a less prominent position. It is not our ministry, any more than it was Paul’s or Apollos’s. It is God’s, and all the glory goes to Him, not us.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that God would give you a greater sense of humble gratitude for whatever type of ministry opportunity you have.

For Further Study

Compare Matthew 19:27-30 with 20:1-16.

  • Why could the disciples have been tempted to feel superior?
  • What does the landowner’s behavior in the parable suggest about the character of God?
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 30

Reading for Today:

  • Deuteronomy 21:1–22:30
  • Psalm 38:9-22
  • Proverbs 12:26-28
  • Luke 5:1-16

Notes:

Deuteronomy 22:5 anything that pertains to a man…woman’s garment. Found only here in the Pentateuch, this statute prohibited a man from wearing any item of feminine clothing or ornamentation or a woman from wearing any item of masculine clothing or ornamentation. The same word translated “abomination” was used to describe God’s view of homosexuality (Lev. 18:22; 20:13). This instance specifically outlawed transvestism. The creation order distinctions between male and female were to be maintained without exception (Gen. 1:27).

Deuteronomy 22:22–29 Adultery was punished by death for the two found in the act. If the adulterous persons were a man with a woman who was pledged to be married to someone else, this consensual act led to the death of both parties (vv. 23, 24). However, if the man forced (i.e., raped) the woman, then only the man’s life was required (vv. 25–27). If the woman was a virgin not pledged in marriage, then the man had to pay a fine, marry the girl, and keep her as his wife as long as he lived (vv. 28, 29).

Luke 5:4 let down your nets. Normally, the fish that were netted in shallow water at night would migrate during the daylight hours to waters too deep to reach easily with nets, which is why Peter fished at night. Peter may have thought Jesus’ directive made no sense, but he obeyed and was rewarded for his obedience (v. 6).


DAY 30: What specific crimes were listed in the Old Testament as deserving the death penalty?

CRIME

SCRIPTURE REFERENCE

1. Premeditated Murder

Genesis 9:6; Exodus 21:12–14, 22, 23

2. Kidnapping

Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7

3. Striking or Cursing Parents

Exodus 21:15; Leviticus 20:9; Proverbs 20:20; Matthew 15:4; Mark 7:10

4. Magic and Divination

Exodus 22:18

5. Bestiality

Exodus 22:19; Leviticus 20:15, 16

6. Sacrificing to False Gods

Exodus 22:20

7. Profaning the Sabbath

Exodus 35:2; Numbers 15:32–36

8. Offering Human Sacrifice

Leviticus 20:2

9. Adultery

Leviticus 20:10–21; Deuteronomy 22:22

10. Incest

Leviticus 20:11, 12, 14

11. Homosexuality

Leviticus 20:13

12. Blasphemy

Leviticus 24:11–14, 16, 23

13. False Prophecy

Deuteronomy 13:1–10

14. Incorrigible Rebelliousness

Deuteronomy 17:12; 21:18–21

15. Fornication

Deuteronomy 22:20, 21

16. Rape of Betrothed Virgin

Deuteronomy 22:23–27

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 30 - How Jesus Fulfilled the Law—Moral and Judicial

“‘Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill’” (Matthew 5:17).

The moral law was God’s foundational code. Jesus fulfilled that law by His perfect righteousness. He obeyed every commandment, met every requirement, and lived up to every standard.

But most important, Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament by being its fulfillment. He did not simply teach it fully and exemplify it fully—He was it fully. He did not come simply to teach righteousness and to model righteousness; He came as divine righteousness. What He said and what He did reflected who He is.

God’s judicial law was given to provide unique identity for Israel as a nation that belonged to Jehovah. The laws relating to agriculture, settlement of disputes, diet, cleanliness, dress, and such things were special standards by which His chosen people were to live before the Lord and apart from the world. This judicial law Jesus fulfilled on the cross.

Jesus’ crucifixion marked Israel’s ultimate apostasy in the final rejection of her Messiah and the interruption of God’s dealing with that people as a nation. With that, the judicial law passed away because Israel no longer served as His chosen nation.

Praise God, He will someday redeem and restore Israel (Rom. 9–11), but in the meanwhile the church is His chosen body of people on earth (1 Peter 2:9–10). All the redeemed—those who receive the work of the cross—are His chosen ones.

Ask Yourself

There is no way, of course, for us to duplicate the perfect performance of Jesus, but by surrendering in daily, ongoing ways to His Holy Spirit, we can see Christ’s character exuding from us in steady practice. Have your own failures and experiences caused you to deny this truth? Submit to Him afresh today.

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.
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