Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

June 17

The Impartiality of God

"My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism" (James 2:1).

Because God is impartial, we as Christians must be impartial too.

People are prone to treat others differently based upon external criteria such as looks, possessions, or social status, but God is utterly impartial. He never shows favoritism and always judges righteously.

Favoritism can be defined as a preferential attitude and treatment of a person or group over another having equal claims and rights. It is unjustified partiality. James 2:1-13 confronts it as sin and admonishes us to avoid it at all costs.

God's impartiality is seen throughout Scripture. For example, Moses said to the people of Israel, "The Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality, nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt" (Deut. 10:17-19). Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, warned his judges to rule without partiality because God Himself has "no part in unrighteousness, or partiality" (2 Chron. 19:7).

God's impartiality is also seen in His gracious offer of salvation to people of every race. In Acts 10:34-35 Peter says, "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him."

God is also impartial in judgment. Romans 2:9-11 says that God will bring "tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil . . . but glory and honor and peace to every man who does good. For there is no partiality with God."

Our text is a timely admonition because prejudice, discrimination, and bigotry are ever-present evils in our society—both inside and outside the church. I pray that God will use these studies to guard you from favoritism's subtle influences and strengthen your commitment to godly living.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to reveal any partiality you might be harboring. As He does, confess it and turn from it.

For Further Study

Read Ephesians 6:5-9 and 1 Timothy 5:17-21. How does God's impartiality apply to how you should respond to your co- workers and your church leaders?

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.

June 17

Integrity Incurs the World's Wrath

“Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with wrath, and his facial expression was altered toward Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. He answered by giving orders to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. And he commanded certain valiant warriors who were in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, in order to cast them into the furnace of blazing fire” (Daniel 3:19-20).

Persecution is the world’s futile attempt to silence the voice of godly integrity.

King Nebuchadnezzar was a brilliant and powerful man who had built an enormous empire by bringing entire nations under his control. Yet when three youths refused to compromise their devotion to God, he lost rational control and flew into such an intense rage that his face became visibly distorted.

Wanting to vent his wrath upon Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, Nebuchadnezzar ordered that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual. You might expect him to have turned the fire down, thereby punishing them more severely by prolonging their pain. But the king was reacting emotionally, not logically, which often is the case when sinful people are confronted by righteousness.

We see the same pattern throughout Scripture. For example, King Herod’s wife hated John the Baptist and had him beheaded for confronting her sinful marriage to the king (Mark 6:19 ff.). Those who couldn’t cope with the wisdom and spirit of Stephen stirred up the Jews against him, which eventually led to his death by stoning (Acts 6:9 ff.). The Old Testament prophets and the Lord Himself were killed by those who were hostile to God. Similarly, the Thessalonian and Judean Christians endured angry persecution from their own countrymen (1 Thess. 2:14-15).

The opposition we face today may be more subtle, but it all has its source in Satan, who “was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44). So don’t be surprised if subtle opposition suddenly erupts into murderous wrath. But be encouraged, knowing that even when it does, it can never thwart God’s plans or overcome His sustaining grace.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for boldness to speak the truth in love and never to fear the world’s reaction.

For Further Study

Read 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10.

  • Why does God allow Christians to suffer persecution?
  • When and how will God deal with those who persecute His children?
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.

June 17

Reading for Today:

  • 2 Kings 22:1–24:20
  • Psalm 74:18-23
  • Proverbs 19:3
  • Acts 2:22-47

Notes:

2 Kings 22:8 the Book of the Law. A scroll containing the Torah (the Pentateuch), the revelation of God through Moses to Israel (23:2; Deut. 28:61). Manasseh may have destroyed all the copies of God’s Law that were not hidden. This could have been the official copy laid beside the ark of the covenant in the Most Holy Place (Deut. 31:25, 26). It may have been removed from its place under Ahaz, Manasseh, or Amon (2 Chr. 35:3), but was found during repair work.

2 Kings 23:25 no king like him. Of all the kings in David’s line, including David himself, no king more closely approximated the royal ideal of Deuteronomy 17:14–20 than Josiah (Matt. 22:37). Yet, even Josiah fell short of complete obedience because he had multiple wives (vv. 31, 36). However, even this righteous king could not turn away the Lord’s wrath because of Manasseh’s sin (vv. 26, 27).

2 Kings 24:1 Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar II was the son of Nabopolassar, king of Babylon from 626 to 605 B.C. As crown prince, Nebuchadnezzar had led his father’s army against Pharaoh Necho and the Egyptians at Carchemish on the Euphrates River in northern Syria (605 B.C.). By defeating the Egyptians, Babylon was established as the strongest nation in the ancient Near East. Egypt and its vassals, including Judah, became vassals of Babylon with this victory. Nebuchadnezzar followed up his victory at Carchemish by invading the land of Judah. Later, in 605 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar took some captives to Babylon, including Daniel and his friends (Dan. 1:1–3). Toward the end of 605 B.C., Nabopolassar died and Nebuchadnezzar succeeded him as king of Babylon, 3 years after Jehoiakim had taken the throne in Judah (Jer. 25:1).Nebuchadnezzar reigned from 605 to 562 B.C. three years. Nebuchadnezzar returned to the west in 604 B.C. and took tribute from all of the kings of the west, including Jehoiakim of Judah. Jehoiakim submitted to Babylonian rule from 604 to 602 B.C. In 602 B.C., Jehoiakim rebelled against Babylon, disregarding the advice of the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 27:9–11).

2 Kings 24:14–16 In 597 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar took an additional 10,000 Judeans as captives to Babylon, in particular the leaders of the nation. This included the leaders of the military and those whose skills would support the military. Included in this deportation was the prophet Ezekiel (Ezek. 1:1–3). Only the lower classes remained behind in Jerusalem. The Babylonian policy of captivity was different from that of the Assyrians, who took most of the people into exile and resettled the land of Israel with foreigners (17:24). The Babylonians took only the leaders and the strong, while leaving the weak and poor, elevating those left to leadership and thereby earning their loyalty. Those taken to Babylon were allowed to work and live in the mainstream of society. This kept the captive Jews together, so it would be possible for them to return, as recorded in Ezra.

Acts 2:42 apostles’ doctrine. The foundational content for the believer’s spiritual growth and maturity was the Scripture, God’s revealed truth, which the apostles received and taught faithfully. fellowship. Literally, “partnership” or “sharing.” Because Christians become partners with Jesus Christ and all other believers (1 John 1:3), it is their spiritual duty to stimulate one another to righteousness and obedience (Rom. 12:10; 13:8; 15:5; Gal. 5:13; Eph. 4:2, 25; 5:21; Col. 3:9; 1 Thess. 4:9; Heb. 3:13; 10:24, 25;1 Pet. 4:9, 10). breaking of bread. A reference to the Lord’s Table, or Communion, which is mandatory for all Christians to observe (1 Cor. 11:24–29). prayers. Of individual believers and the church corporately (see 1:14, 24; 4:24–31; John 14:13, 14).


DAY 17: In response to Peter’s sermon, what instructions were given on how to become a Christian?

Those who listened to that powerful sermon were “cut to the heart” (v. 37).The Greek word for cut means “pierce” or “stab,” and thus denotes something sudden and unexpected. In grief, remorse, and intense spiritual conviction, Peter’s listeners were stunned by his indictment that they had killed their Messiah.

“Repent” (v. 38).This refers to a change of mind and purpose that turns an individual from sin to God (1 Thess. 1:9). Such change involves more than fearing the consequences of God’s judgment. Genuine repentance knows that the evil of sin must be forsaken and the Person and work of Christ totally and singularly embraced. Peter exhorted his hearers to repent; otherwise, they would not experience true conversion.

“Be baptized.” This Greek word means “be dipped” or “immersed” in water. Peter was obeying Christ’s command from Matthew 28:19 and urging the people who repented and turned to the Lord Christ for salvation to identify, through the waters of baptism, with His death, burial, and resurrection (19:5; Rom. 6:3, 4; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27). This is the first time the apostles publicly enjoined people to obey that ceremony. Prior to this, many Jews had experienced the baptism of John the Baptist and were also familiar with the baptism of Gentile converts to Judaism (proselytes).

“In the name of Jesus Christ.” For the new believer, it was a crucial but costly identification to accept. “For the remission of sins.” This might better be translated “because of the remission of sins.” Baptism does not produce forgiveness and cleansing from sin. The reality of forgiveness precedes the rite of baptism (v. 41). Genuine repentance brings from God the forgiveness (remission) of sins (Eph. 1:7); and because of that, the new believer was to be baptized.

“Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The one-time act by which God places His Spirit into the believer’s life.

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.

June 17 - Wrong Judgment: An Erroneous View of Others

“‘For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you’” (Matthew 7:2).

Most people feel free to judge other people harshly because they erroneously think they are somehow superior. The Pharisees considered themselves exempt from judgment because they believed they perfectly measured up to the divine standards. The problem was that these weren’t divine standards—they were mere human standards they had established far short of God’s holy and perfect law.

When we assume the role of final, omniscient judge, we imply that we are qualified to judge—that we know and understand all the facts, all the circumstances, and all the motives involved. Therefore, when we assert our right to judge, we will be judged by the same standard of knowledge and wisdom we claim is ours. If we set ourselves up as judge over others, we cannot plead ignorance of the law in reference to ourselves when God judges us. We are especially guilty if we do not practice what we ourselves teach and preach.

Other people are not under us, and to think so is to have the wrong view of them. To be gossipy, critical, and judgmental is to live under the false illusion that those whom we so judge are somehow inferior to us.

This kind of judgment is a boomerang that will come back on the one who judges. Self-righteous judgment becomes its own gallows, just as the gallows Haman erected to execute the innocent Mordecai was used instead to hang Haman (Esther 7:10).

Ask Yourself

One of the more notable qualities of our sinful human nature is that the sins we seem quickest to judge in others are the ones we struggle the hardest with ourselves. Why do you think this is the case? What brings about this touchy sensitivity and indignance?

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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