Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

February 22

Cultivating the Fruit of Righteousness

"Having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:11).

Bearing spiritual fruit is the acid test of a true believer.

After facing life-threatening situations, people often say, "I saw my entire life flash before my eyes." That's the picture we get in Philippians 1:11.

"The fruit of righteousness" refers to what is produced in you as you operate in love, pursue excellence, and maintain your integrity. It includes every attitude and action consistent with God's standard of what is right.

"Having been filled" speaks of something that happened in the past with continuing results. At your salvation the seed of righteousness was planted within you. It bears righteous fruit throughout your lifetime. On the day of Christ that fruit will confirm your salvation.

Fruitfulness has always been the acid test of true salvation. Jesus said, "If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine" (John 8:31). When John the Baptist admonished his followers to "bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance" (Luke 3:8), he was speaking of good deeds (vv. 10-14). Paul said we are God's workmanship, "created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10) John said that all who profess Christ should live as He lived (cf. 1 John 2:6).

Bearing spiritual fruit is not something you can achieve on your own. It "comes through Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:11). Jesus Himself said, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:4-5).

You were redeemed to glorify God through righteous deeds. Make that your priority today.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Psalm 71 is a psalm of praise to God for His righteousness and faithful provisions. Read it and meditate on its truths. Then praise God for His righteousness toward you.
  • Ask for opportunities to demonstrate righteousness to others today.

For Further Study

Read Proverbs 11:1-9, 15:8-9, and 21:2-3, noting the characteristics and benefits of righteousness.

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.

February 22

Being Merciful

“‘Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful’” (Luke 6:36).

Since we have received mercy from God, we are obligated to show mercy to those with physical or spiritual needs.

Jesus demonstrated His mercy many times as He went about healing people and casting out demons. Two blind men cried out, “‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’ . . . And moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight, and followed Him” (Matt. 20:30, 34). He was also deeply moved in spirit and wept when He saw the sorrow that Lazarus’s death caused (John 11:33-36).

His greatest mercy was shown, though, to those with spiritual needs. Not only did He heal a paralytic, but He forgave his sins (Luke 5:18-25). He also prayed for His executioners, saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

We can show mercy by our physical acts. John says, “But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:17-18).

We must also show mercy spiritually. Because we have experienced God’s mercy, we should have great concern for those who have not. We show spiritual mercy by proclaiming the saving gospel of Jesus Christ to the unsaved and by praying that God would show His mercy to them.

We also demonstrate spiritual mercy by lovingly confronting sinning Christians: “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourselves, lest you too be tempted” (Gal. 6:1). Sinning Christians bring reproach on Christ and His church and will fall under God’s discipline. In such cases it is wrong to say nothing and let the harm continue.

God has promised us in Matthew 5:7 that we will receive mercy from Him if we are merciful to others. If we have received unlimited mercy from our loving God, if we have been lifted from our poor, sinful, wretched state to become citizens of heaven, how can we withhold mercy from others?

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that you would be sensitive to opportunities to show mercy today.

For Further Study

Read Matthew 23:37-39.

  • What was Jerusalem’s condition in verse 37?
  • How does that intensify the nature of Christ’s compassion and mercy toward His people?
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.

February 22

Reading for Today:

  • Leviticus 14:1–57
  • Psalm 26:1-5
  • Proverbs 10:6-7
  • Mark 3:20-35

Notes:

Leviticus 14:18 put on the head. This would not have been understood as an anointing for entry into an office, but rather as a symbolic gesture of cleansing and healing. There could be a connection with the New Testament directive to anoint the sick for healing (Mark 6:13; 16:18; James 5:14).

Psalm 26:1 Vindicate me. Literally, “Judge me!” This refers to exoneration of some false accusations and/or charges under the protection of the covenant stipulations of the theocratic law (see Pss. 7:8; 35:24; 43:1). my integrity. Again, this is not a claim to perfection, but of innocence, particularly as viewed within the context of ungrounded “legal” charges (see Ps. 7:8; Prov. 10:9; 19:1; 20:7; 28:6).

Mark 3:21 His own people. In Greek, this expression was used in various ways to describe someone’s friends or close associates. In the strictest sense, it meant family, which is probably the best understanding here. lay hold of Him. Mark used this same term elsewhere to mean the arrest of a person (6:17; 12:12; 14:1, 44, 46, 51). Jesus’ relatives evidently heard the report of v. 20 and came to Capernaum to restrain Him from His many activities and bring Him under their care and control, all supposedly for His own good. out of His mind. Jesus’ family could only explain His unconventional lifestyle, with its willingness for others always to impose on Him, by saying He was irrational or had lost His mind.

Mark 3:35 Jesus made a decisive and comprehensive statement on true Christian discipleship. Such discipleship involves a spiritual relationship that transcends the physical family and is open to all who are empowered by the Spirit of God to come to Christ in repentance and faith and enabled to live a life of obedience to God’s Word.


DAY 22: How did Mark come to write one of the gospels if he wasn’t one of the original disciples?

Although Mark was not one of the original apostles of Jesus, he was involved in many of the events recorded in the New Testament. He traveled as a close companion of the apostle Peter and appears repeatedly throughout the Book of Acts, where he is known as “John whose surname was Mark” (Acts 12:12, 25; 15:37, 39). When Peter was miraculously freed from prison, his first action was to go to Mark’s mother’s home in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12).

John Mark was also a cousin of Barnabas (Col. 4:10), and he joined Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey (Acts 12:25; 13:5). But Mark deserted the mission team while in Perga and returned to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). Later, when Barnabas wanted to give Mark another opportunity to travel with Paul’s second missionary team, Paul refused. The resulting friction between Paul and Barnabas led to their separation (Acts 15:38-40).

Eventually, Mark’s youthful vacillation gave way to great strength and maturity. In time, he proved himself even to the apostle Paul. When Paul wrote to the Colossians, he told them that if John Mark came, they were to welcome him (Col. 4:10). Paul even listed Mark as a fellow worker (Philem. 24). Later, Paul told Timothy, “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry” (2 Tim. 4:11).

John Mark’s restoration to useful ministry and preparation for writing his Gospel was due, in part, to his extended close relationship with Peter (1 Pet. 5:13). The older apostle was no stranger to failure, and his influence on the younger man was no doubt instrumental. Mark grew out of the instability of his youth and into the strength and maturity he would need for the work to which God had called him. Mark’s Gospel represents primarily Peter's version of the life of Jesus.

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.

February 22 - Gentleness as Defined by Jesus

“‘Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth’” (Matthew 5:5).

In this verse, “gentle” (a word often rendered “meek” in other translations) means mild or soft. Looking ahead to His triumphal entry, the prophet hailed Christ this way: “Behold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey” (Matt. 21:5; cf. Zech. 9:9).

From Old Testament times, gentleness has been God’s way for mankind. The book of Job says God “sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety” (5:11; cf. Ps. 25:9). “Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3).

Gentleness does not connote weakness, but rather a way of utilizing all its resources and emotions appropriately (cf. Prov. 16:32; 25:28). The gentle person has died to self and therefore does not resort to violence to defend himself, knowing his person has nothing to commend before God. Gentleness is not cowardice, lack of conviction, or niceness. It is the spirit of Christ, who defended the Father’s glory, not His own, and left us an example: He “committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:22–23).

Christ’s gentleness, however, did not mean He was passive in defending righteousness. He guarded the temple against the moneychangers (John 2:14–15), denounced the hypocritical religious leaders (Matt. 23:1–33), and warned the disobedient of judgment (Matt. 25:45–46). His gentleness was power completely surrendered to God’s control.

Ask Yourself

What’s been your interpretation of “meekness” or “gentleness”? Is this a quality you value and aspire to? If gentleness was more a part of your demeanor, what bene-fits would you begin to see in your daily life?

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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