Grace to You Devotionals

GTY Devotionals

May 5

The Priority of Spiritual Unity

"The names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-gatherer; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him" (Matt. 10:2-4).

Unity in the Spirit is the key to a church’s overall effectiveness.

Unity is a crucial element in the life of the church—especially among its leadership. A unified church can accomplish great things for Christ, but disunity can cripple or destroy it. Even the most orthodox churches aren't immune to disunity's subtle attack because it often arises from personality clashes or pride rather than doctrinal issues.

God often brings together in congregations and ministry teams people of vastly different backgrounds and temperaments. That mix produces a variety of skills and ministries but it also produces the potential for disunity and strife. That was certainly true of the disciples, which included an impetuous fisherman like Peter; two passionate and ambitious "sons of thunder" like James and John; an analytical, pragmatic, and pessimistic man like Philip; a racially prejudiced man like Bartholomew; a despised tax collector like Matthew; a political Zealot like Simon; and a traitor like Judas, who was in it only for the money and eventually sold out for thirty pieces of silver.

Imagine the potential for disaster in a group like that! Yet their common purpose transcended their individual differences, and by His grace the Lord accomplished through them what they never could have accomplished on their own. That's the power of spiritual unity!

As a Christian, you're part of a select team that is accomplishing the world's greatest task: finishing the work Jesus began. That requires unity of purpose and effort. Satan will try to sow seeds of discord, but you must do everything possible to heed Paul's admonition to be "of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, and intent on one purpose" (Phil. 2:2).

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray daily for unity among the leaders and congregation of your church.

For Further Study

Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-9, noting how Paul addressed the issue of disunity in the Corinthian church.

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.

May 5

Trials' Lessons: Humility

“To keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me” (2 Corinthians 12:7).

God sometimes uses trials to humble believers.

Professional athletics, as a whole, makes up one of the least humble sectors in modern American society. Players with multi-million dollar salaries and extravagant benefits have replaced those who played because they loved their sport and had great community loyalty.

One such noble model from the past was Lou Gehrig, the Hall of Fame first baseman with the New York Yankees, whose career ended in 1939 after he was stricken with a rare and always fatal neuromuscular disease. Throughout his ordeal, Gehrig conducted himself with dignity and humility, all of which culminated on July 4, 1939, before a capacity crowd at Yankee Stadium, with millions more listening on the radio. He concluded his special remarks on “Lou Gehrig Day” with this amazing statement: “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” He died approximately two years later.

Shouldn’t those who seek to serve and glorify God react in similar fashion if confronted by the same kind of trial? They will if they remember that He sometimes sends trials to humble His children and remind them they are not to be overconfident in their own spiritual strength (Rom. 12:3).

Today’s verse tells us God allowed Paul to be plagued by some sort of chronic, painful problem, “a messenger of Satan.” This likely refers to a man who led the opposition to Paul at the church in Corinth. When we are greatly blessed spiritually—Paul saw the risen Christ several times and was even taken up into the third heaven—the Lord sometimes allows “a thorn in the flesh” to afflict us, that we might remain humble. Whenever we are besieged by such trials and come to the point where all strength seems gone, God’s Word reminds us, as it did Paul, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I [Paul] will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Cor. 12:9).

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord to remind you throughout the day of your humble dependence on Him, whether or not you are going through a trial.

For Further Study

Read James 4:6-10 and 1 Peter 5:5-7. What do these passages say is the key to genuine humility?

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.

May 5

Reading for Today:

  • 1 Samuel 12:1–13:23
  • Psalm 56:1-13
  • Proverbs 15:21-23
  • Luke 22:47-71

Notes:

1 Samuel 12:12 when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites came against you. According to the Dead Sea Scrolls and Josephus, Nahash was campaigning over a large area. It was that Ammonite threat that seemingly provoked Israel to demand a human king (8:1–20). the LORD your God was your king. The clearest indictment of Israel for choosing a mere man to fight for her instead of the Lord God (see 8:20).

1 Samuel 13:19 no blacksmith. The Philistines had superior iron- and metal-working craftsmen until David’s time (see 1 Chr. 22:3), accounting for their formidable military force.

Psalm 56:8 my tears…Your bottle. David asked God to keep a remembrance of all of his sufferings, so that God would eventually vindicate him.

Luke 22:51 Permit even this. I.e., the betrayal and arrest (see John 18:11). All was proceeding according to the divine timetable. touched his ear and healed him. This is the only instance in all of Scripture where Christ healed a fresh wound. The miracle is also unique in that Christ healed an enemy, unasked, and without any evidence of faith in the recipient. It is also remarkable that such a dramatic miracle had no effect whatsoever on the hearts of those men. Neither had the explosive power of Jesus’ words, which knocked them to the ground (John 18:6). They carried on with the arrest as if nothing peculiar had happened (v. 54).

Luke 22:53 this is your hour. I.e., nighttime, the hour of darkness. The arresting group had not the courage to confront Jesus in the presence of the crowds at the temple, where He had openly taught each day. Their skulking tactics betrayed the truth about their hearts. Nighttime was a fitting hour for the servants of the power of darkness (Satan) to be afoot (see John 3:20, 21; Eph. 5:8, 12–15; 1 Thess. 5:5–7).


DAY 5: Why was Saul judged so severely?

When Saul was anointed king by Samuel, Saul was commanded to wait 7 days to meet Samuel in Gilgal. Samuel would offer burnt offerings and peace offerings, and he would show Saul what he should do (1 Sam. 10:8). After 7 days of waiting and Samuel had not come, the people were scattered (1 Sam. 13:8). Saul’s men were deserting him because of anxiety and fear over the coming battle.

Rather than continue to wait, Saul “offered the burnt offering” (v. 9). Saul’s sin was not specifically that he made a sacrifice (see 2 Sam.24:25; 1 Kin.8:62–64), but that he did not wait for priestly assistance from Samuel. He wished to rule as an autocrat, who possessed absolute power in civil and sacred matters. Samuel had waited the 7 days as a test of Saul’s character and obedience to God, but Saul failed it by invading the priestly office himself.

Confronted by Samuel, Saul’s response was “When I saw…” (v. 11). Saul reacted disobediently based upon what he saw and not by faith. He feared losing his men and did not properly consider what God would have him do. Consequently, Samuel places the responsibility fully on Saul’s shoulders: “You have not kept the commandment” (v. 13). “Now your kingdom shall not continue” (v. 14). Instead of Saul, God was going to choose one whose heart was like His own, i.e., one who had a will to obey God. Paul quotes this passage in Acts 13:22 of David. Someone else, namely David, had already been chosen to be God’s leader over His people.

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.

May 5 - What’s Wrong with False Giving?

“‘When you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full’” (Matthew 6:2).

Giving to the poor literally means any act of mercy, but it came to mean more specifically the giving of money or goods to the needy. Jesus did not say “if” but “when” concerning our giving—in other words, He expects us to do so. But just as sympathy for the needy does not help them unless something is actually done toward their need, so giving money provides us no spiritual blessing unless done from the heart.

Those who, like the Pharisees, give to impress others with their piety and generosity will receive no further reward. When we give with this false motive, we receive back only what people can give; we thereby forfeit God’s blessings.

Many times, of course, the pretense people use to draw attention to or make an impression with their giving is not so obvious. They know, especially if they profess to follow Christ, that other Christians will resent ostentatiousness. So they seek to make their giving “accidentally” noticed. But any strategy designed to draw attention is still a basic form of trumpet-blowing hypocrisy, which can appear in vari-ous forms. Whenever we make a point of doing our giving publicly to be noticed, rather than doing it privately simply for God’s reward, we behave more like the hypo-crites of Jesus’ day, not like His children.

Ask Yourself

What are some of the ways that giving can be done for personal recognition, even within the decorum of outward humility? How does one guard against this need for acknowledgment? What are we forgetting when we’re tempted to crave the credit for every dollar we share with others?

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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