Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

April 28

Three Kinds of Persecution

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"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me" (Matt. 5:10-11).

When you speak out for Christ, you can expect harassment, insults, and slander.

Jesus mentioned three broad categories of suffering that Christians will experience. The first is persecution. "Persecuted" (Matt. 5:10) and "persecute" (v. 11) both come from the same Greek root meaning "to pursue" or "chase away." Over time it came to mean "to harass" or "treat in an evil manner." Verse 10 literally reads, "Blessed are those who have been allowing themselves to be persecuted." You are blessed when people harass you for your Christian stance and you willingly accept it for the sake of your Lord.

The second form of suffering is "insults" (v. 11), which translates a Greek word that means "to reproach," "revile," or "heap insults upon." It speaks of verbal abuse—attacking someone with vicious and mocking words. It is used in Matthew 27:44 of the mockery Christ endured at His crucifixion. It happened to Him and it will happen to His followers as well.

The final category Jesus mentioned is slander—people telling lies about you. That's perhaps the hardest form of suffering to endure because our effectiveness for the Lord is directly related to our personal purity and integrity. Someone's trying to destroy the reputation you worked a lifetime to establish is a difficult trial indeed!

If you're going through a time of suffering for righteousness' sake, take heart: the Lord went through it too and He understands how difficult it can be. He knows your heart and will minister His super-abounding grace to you. Rejoice that you are worthy of suffering for Him and that the kingdom of heaven is yours.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Pray for those who treat you unkindly, asking God to forgive them and grant them His grace.
  • Pray that you might always treat others with honesty and fairness.

For Further Study

Throughout history God Himself has endured much mocking and slander. Read 2 Peter 3:3-9, then answer these questions:

  • What motivates mockers?
  • What do they deny?
  • Why doesn't God judge them on the spot?
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 28

The Resurrection: Motive for Sanctification

“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’ Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame” (1 Corinthians 15:33-34).

Trusting in the fact of Christ’s resurrection and looking forward to our own rising from the dead ought to stimulate us toward sanctification.

Like any essential teaching of Scripture, the doctrine of the Resurrection can be studied and discussed from an academic standpoint only. When that happens, we usually acquire a factual understanding of the topic and perhaps some appreciation of how the doctrine supports our faith—but that’s as far as we go.

However, our studies on the Resurrection have already taught us some of the implications this Bible truth ought to have for our conduct. The hope of the Resurrection can give everyone an incentive to be saved and believers an incentive for service. This hope also provides a third incentive: the motivation toward sanctification.

The apostle Paul knew that those in the Corinthian church were being exposed to the heretical theology that there is no real resurrection from the dead. This false teaching was having a bad influence on the Corinthians’ behavior. That’s why Paul tells them in today’s verse, “Bad company corrupts good morals.” It is impossible to be around evil people and not be contaminated both by their ideas and their habits. The apostle goes on to urge those believers who hoped in a resurrection to be a positive influence on others and lead them to the truth.

This glimpse at the situation in Corinth proves that sound doctrine matters and does affect how people live. We see all around us today what results when there is no belief in a resurrection. People become short-sighted and live as they please because ultimately nothing keeps them accountable. This is all the more reason for us to hold firm to the truth of the Resurrection, live in its hope, and proclaim it to others.

Suggestions for Prayer

How is the pursuit of holiness coming in your life? Pray that the Lord would increase your diligence and help you especially in an area of weakness.

For Further Study

Read 1 Peter 1.

  • List all the verses that refer to God’s plan for Christ’s death and resurrection.
  • How does the existence of such a divine plan strengthen your hope?
  • Write a theme sentence for the chapter.
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 28

Reading for Today:

  • Ruth 1:1–2:23
  • Psalm 52:1-5
  • Proverbs 15:4-5
  • Luke 19:28-48

Notes:

Ruth 1:16 And your God, my God. This testimony evidenced Ruth’s conversion from worshiping Chemosh to Yahweh of Israel (see 1 Thess. 1:9, 10).

Ruth 2:12 wings...refuge. Scripture pictures God as catching Israel up on His wings in the Exodus (Ex. 19:4; Deut. 32:11). God is here portrayed as a mother bird sheltering the young and fragile with her wings (see Pss. 17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 63:7; 91:1, 4). Boaz blessed Ruth in light of her newfound commitment to and dependence on the Lord. Later, he would become God’s answer to this prayer (see 3:9).

Psalm 52:1 mighty man. A reference to Doeg, the chief of Saul’s shepherds, who reported to Saul that the priests of Nob had aided David when he was a fugitive (see 1 Sam. 22:9, 18, 19).

Luke 19:40 the stones would immediately cry out. This was a strong claim of Deity and perhaps a reference to the words of Habakkuk 2:11. Scripture often speaks of inanimate nature praising God. (See Pss. 96:11; 98:7–9; 114:7; Is. 55:12.) See also the words of John the Baptist in Matthew 3:9; note the fulfillment of Jesus’ words in Matthew 27:51.

Luke 19:41, 42 Only Luke recorded the weeping of Jesus over the city of Jerusalem. Christ grieved over Jerusalem on at least two other occasions (13:34; Matt. 23:37). The timing of this lament may seem incongruous with the Triumphal Entry, but it reveals that Jesus knew the true superficiality of the peoples’ hearts, and His mood was anything but giddy as He rode into the city. The same crowd would soon cry for His death (23:21).


DAY 28: Why is the “kinsman-redeemer” a prominent part in the story of Ruth?

In Ruth 2:20, the great kinsman-redeemer theme of Ruth begins (cf.3:9, 12; 4:1, 3, 6, 8, 14). A close relative could redeem 1) a family member sold into slavery (Lev. 25:47–49), 2) land which needed to be sold under economic hardship (Lev. 25:23–28), and/or 3) the family name by virtue of a levirate marriage (Deut. 25:5–10). This earthly custom pictures the reality of God the Redeemer doing a greater work (Pss. 19:14; 78:35; Is. 41:14; 43:14) by reclaiming those who needed to be spiritually redeemed out of slavery to sin (Ps. 107:2; Is. 62:12). Thus, Boaz pictures Christ, who as a Brother (Heb. 2:17) redeemed those who 1) were slaves to sin (Rom. 6:15–18), 2) had lost all earthly possessions/privilege in the Fall (Gen. 3:17–19), and 3) had been alienated by sin from God (2 Cor. 5:18–21). Boaz stands in the direct line of Christ (Matt. 1:5; Luke 3:32). This turn of events marks the point where Naomi’s human emptiness (1:21) begins to be refilled by the Lord. Her night of earthly doubt has been broken by the dawning of new hope (cf. Rom. 8:28–39).

When Boaz negotiated with another relative about the settlement of Elimelech and Naomi’s estate in Ruth 4:1–12, he referred to a law established by Moses in Deuteronomy 25:5–10. That law set out specific actions to be taken by the surviving family if a married son were to die without a son to inherit or carry on his name. Another (presumably unmarried) man in the family was to marry the widow. The first resulting child would inherit the estate of the man who had died.

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 28 - Jesus and Non-Retaliation: Liberty

“‘Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two’” (Matthew 5:41).

The concept of liberty is much cherished in the United States and other democratic nations. The Declaration of Independence famously speaks of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Patrick Henry of Virginia used the bold oratory, “Give me liberty or give me death!” These sentiments were derived from biblical principles, although sometimes altered from those ancient origins.

God’s intention from the beginning was for mankind created in His image to live in perfect liberty, both spiritually and physically. But the Fall ruined this ideal and introduced such corrupt concepts as slavery and subjugation to totalitarian governments. Democratic governments have tried, although imperfectly, to protect the liberty of their citizens—sometimes even extending such freedoms to foreign visitors and immigrants. However, civil liberties should not supersede our duties to righteousness or our obligations to display a faithful witness.

Jesus here makes the analogy between surrendered liberties and the Roman law that could force civilians to carry a soldier’s pack for a mile. Except for facing them in battle, Roman troops were not as despised by their opponents as when those people were obligated to carry the troops’ packs or other equipment.

Yet our Lord teaches that we should be willing to go the extra mile for someone else—even at the expense of our cherished liberty. In so doing, we are worthy ambassadors for Christ, realizing that in Him we have an eternal liberty that can never be taken.

Ask Yourself

Who in your life regularly asks you to go the second mile for them? What is your usual response to their demand for your time and energy? How do you strike the balance between being sacrificial and maintaining boundaries that help you protect other godly priorities?

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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