Grace to You Devotionals

GTY Devotionals

January 17

Praising God for Your Election

"Having been predestined according to [God's] purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will" (Eph. 1:11).

God took the initiative in salvation by choosing you and granting you saving faith.

In Ephesians 1:4 Paul says that God "chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him." In verse 11 he reiterates that marvelous truth by affirming that believers have been predestined to salvation according to God's own purpose and will.

Many reject the teaching that God chose (predestined) believers to salvation. They think believers chose God. In one sense they're right: salvation involves an act of the will in turning from sin to embrace Christ. But the issue in predestination goes deeper than that. It's a question of initiative. Did God choose you on the basis of your faith in Him or did He, by choosing you, enable you to respond in faith.

The answer is clear in Scripture. Romans 3:11 says that no one seeks for God on his own. Unregenerate people have no capacity to understand spiritual truth. It's all foolishness to them (1 Cor. 2:14). They are spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1), blind (2 Cor. 4:4), and ignorant (Eph. 4:18).

How can people in that condition initiate saving faith? They can't! That's why Jesus said, "No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him. . . . All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out" (John 6:44, 37). Paul added, "God . . . has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity" (2 Tim. 1:9).

God took the initiative. He chose you and gave you saving faith (Eph. 2:8-9). Rejoice in that truth. Rest in His power to conform all things to His will. Draw strength and assurance from His promise never to let you go (John 10:27-29). Then live each day as God's elected one by shunning sin and following after holiness.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God for placing His love upon you and granting you salvation.
  • Pray for the salvation of others and seek opportunities to share Christ with them today.

For Further Study

Read Ezekiel 36:22-32.

  • Why will God one day redeem Israel?
  • What does that passage teach you about God's initiative in salvation?
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.

January 17

Gentleness: Power Under Control

“Walk . . . with all . . . gentleness” (Ephesians 4:1-2).

The antidote to our vengeful, violent society is biblical gentleness.

A popular bumper sticker says, “Don’t Get Mad—Get Even.” People demand what they perceive to be their rights, no matter how the demand harms others. Some go to court to squeeze every last cent out of those who hurt them. More and more violent crimes are committed each year. We need a strong dose of biblical truth to cure these attitudes. The biblical solution is gentleness.

The world might interpret gentleness or meekness as cowardice, timidity, or lack of strength. But the Bible describes it as not being vengeful, bitter, or unforgiving. It is a quiet, willing submission to God and others without the rebellious, vengeful self-assertion that characterizes human nature.

The Greek word translated “gentleness” was used to speak of a soothing medicine. It was used of a light, cool breeze and of a colt that had been broken and tamed, whose energy could be channeled for useful purposes. It also descrbes one who is tenderhearted, pleasant, and mild.

Gentleness is not wimpiness though. It is power under control. The circus lion has the same strength as a lion running free in Africa, but it has been tamed. All its energy is under the control of its master. In the same way, the lion residing in the gentle person no longer seeks its own prey or its own ends; it is submissive to its Master. That lion has not been destroyed, just tempered. Gentleness is one facet of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23). It is also a key to wisdom. James asks, “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom” (3:13). Verse 17 says, “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.”

Even if gentleness is not valued in our society, it is crucial to our godliness. Seek it diligently and prayerfully.

Suggestions for Prayer

If you tend to be at all vengeful or unforgiving, ask God’s forgiveness and His help to forgive those who hurt you. Seek to be gentle with them instead.

For Further Study

Throughout most of 1 Samuel, King Saul repeatedly tries to capture David and kill him. Read 1 Samuel 24. How did David demonstrate his gentleness in the face of his hostile enemy?

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.

January 17

Reading for Today:

  • Genesis 33:1–34:31
  • Psalm 9:1-5
  • Proverbs 3:21-26
  • Matthew 12:1-21

Notes:

Genesis 33:3, 4 Fearfully and deferentially, Jacob approached his brother as an inferior would a highly honored patron, while gladly and eagerly, Esau ran to greet his brother without restraint of emotion. “They wept” because, after 21 years of troubling separation, old memories were wiped away and murderous threats belonged to the distant past; hearts had been changed, brothers reconciled! See v. 10.

Proverbs 3:22 life to your soul. The association of wisdom with the inner spiritual life unfolds throughout the book (see 4:10, 22; 7:2; 8:35; 9:11; 10:11, 16, 17; 11:19, 30; 12:28; 13:14; 14:27; 15:4, 24; 16:22; 19:23; 21:21; 22:4). grace to your neck. The wisdom of God will adorn one’s life for all to see its beauty (see 1:9).

Matthew 12:8 the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath. Christ has the prerogative to rule over not only their man-made sabbatarian rules, but also over the Sabbath itself—which was designed for worshiping God. Again, this was an inescapable claim of Deity—and as such it prompted the Pharisees’ violent outrage (v. 14).

Matthew 12:15 healed them all. In all of Old Testament history there was never a time or a person who exhibited such extensive healing power. Physical healings were very rare in the Old Testament. Christ chose to display His deity by healing, raising the dead, and liberating people from demons. That not only showed the Messiah’s power over the physical and spiritual realms, but also demonstrated the compassion of God toward those affected by sin.


DAY 17: How are we to interpret the Bible when the ancient customs were so different from our own?

Three tools help us in the task of interpreting events that happened so long ago and so far away: 1) The best interpretive tool in understanding a Bible passage is its immediate context. Surrounding verses will often yield clues to the observant about foreign or unusual details in a particular account. 2) One part of the Bible often explains, expands, and comments on another part. An ever-growing familiarity with all of Scripture will equip a student with significant insight into the culture of those who lived the history. 3) Some insight can be gained from ancient sources outside of Scripture, but these only supplement our primary sources in the Bible itself.

Once we are at home in the exotic and unfamiliar contexts of Scripture, we meet people in the Bible pages who are very much like us. These are not aliens, but our ancestors across the ages. Their struggles are ours. Their failures are all familiar to us. The God who spoke to them still speaks to us.

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.

January 17 - Jesus Refuses to Test God

“Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple” (Matthew 4:5).

In confronting our Lord Jesus Christ, Satan persisted in trying to undermine or destroy the Son’s relationship to His Father. This time he goaded Jesus with this statement: “If You are the Son of God, throw yourself down.” To fortify his challenge and make it more plausible, the adversary— with a subtle and clever twist—quoted Scripture: “For it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You’; and ‘On their hands they will bear You up, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone’” (from Ps. 91:11–12).

Now Satan surely had Christ backed into a corner, he likely reasoned, using his misguided and evil sense of logic. “If the Messiah lives only according to the Word of God, then I should confront Him with something from that Word.” If Jesus wouldn’t use His own power to help Himself and meet His immediate needs, maybe He would let God work on His behalf—after all, this was a “scriptural test,” according to Satan. Jesus could thus let God fulfill a promise from Psalms and prove to others that He was indeed God’s Son and Messiah.

But no matter how persuasive Satan’s argument—undergirded with a proof text—may have sounded, Jesus did not agree to it, not wanting to presumptuously test God or jump ahead of the divine timetable for the Savior’s redemptive ministry.

Ask Yourself

Yes, Scripture can be turned and twisted to suit anyone’s ends. What safeguards do you have in place against misusing the Word of God, while still maintaining a bold, believing faith in its sense of direction? Ask the Spirit to guide you into its truth. That’s His job (John 16:13).

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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