Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

April 29

Receiving Christ's Wounds

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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).

The persecution you receive for proclaiming Christ is really aimed at Christ Himself.

Savonarola has been called the Burning Beacon of the Reformation. His sermons denouncing the sin and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church of his day helped pave the way for the Protestant Reformation. Many who heard his powerful sermons went away half-dazed, bewildered, and speechless. Often sobs of repentance resounded throughout the entire congregation as the Spirit of God moved in their hearts. However, some who heard him couldn't tolerate the truth and eventually had him burned at the stake.

Jesus said, "'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20). Sinful people will not tolerate a righteous standard. Prior to Christ's birth, the world had never seen a perfect man. The more people observed Christ, the more their own sinfulness stood out in stark contrast. That led some to persecute and finally kill Him, apparently thinking that by eliminating the standard they wouldn't have to keep it.

Psalm 35:19 prophesies that people would hate Christ without just cause. That is true of Christians as well. People don't necessarily hate us personally but resent the holy standard we represent. They hate Christ, but He isn't here to receive their hatred, so they lash out at His people. For Savonarola that meant death. For you it might mean social alienation or other forms of persecution.

Whatever comes your way, remember that your present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory you will one day experience (Rom. 8:18). Therefore, "to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing" (1 Pet. 4:13).

Suggestions for Prayer

When you suffer for Christ's sake, thank Him for that privilege, recalling how much He suffered for you.

For Further Study

Before his conversion, the apostle Paul (otherwise known as Saul) violently persecuted Christians, thinking he was doing God a favor. Read Acts 8:1-3, 9:1-31, and 1 Timothy 1:12-17, noting Paul's transformation from persecutor to preacher.

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 29

Our New Bodies

“Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Corinthians 15:49).

All believers can look forward to one day receiving new bodies and new images.

Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances present a glimpse of the greatness, power, and wonder that our own resurrection bodies will have. Our Lord appeared and disappeared at will and always reappeared in other places. He was able to go through walls and doors, but He could also eat, drink, sit, talk, and be seen by others. Jesus was remarkably the same as before His death, yet He was even more remarkably changed. The body the disciples and other followers saw after the Resurrection was the same one we’ll see when we go to be with Him. Christ will also appear in the same form when He returns to earth (Acts 1:11).

As it was with Jesus, our perishable, natural, and weak bodies will be raised imperishable, spiritual, and powerful. No longer will they limit us in our service to God. In Heaven we’ll blaze forth the magnificent glory that God so graciously gives to His own (Matt. 13:43). Christ promises to “transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:21).

The future resurrection of believers to the glories of Heaven has always been a blessed hope and motivation for the church through the centuries— and it should be for you and me. No matter what our present bodies are like— healthy or unhealthy, beautiful or plain, short-lived or long-lived, pampered or abused—they are not our permanent bodies. One day these natural, created bodies will be re-created as supernatural. Even though the Bible gives us just a glance at what those new bodies will be like, it is a precious assurance to know that “we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2).

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for an opportunity to share insights from this study with a Christian friend, especially if he or she has been discouraged recently.

For Further Study

Read Luke 24:33-53.

  • What do verses 37-43 verify about Jesus’ new body?
  • Write down other things from the entire passage that describe how Jesus had changed from the way He was prior to the cross. How had He remained the same?
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 29

Reading for Today:

  • Ruth 3:1–4:22
  • Psalm 52:6-9
  • Proverbs 15:6-7
  • Luke 20:1-26

Notes:

Ruth 4:7 took off his sandal. The scripture writer explained to his own generation what had been a custom in former generations. This kind of tradition appears in Deuteronomy 25:5–10 and apparently continued at least to the time of Amos (see 2:6; 8:6). The closer relative legally transferred his right to the property as symbolized by the sandal, most likely that of the nearer relative.

Ruth 4:22 David. Looking back at Ruth from a New Testament perspective, latent messianic implications become more apparent (see Matt. 1:1). The fruit which is promised later on in the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:1–17) finds its seedbed here. The hope of a messianic king and kingdom (2 Sam. 7:12–14) will be fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ (Rev. 19–20) through the lineage of David’s grandfather Obed who was born to Boaz and Ruth the Moabitess.

Psalm 52:8 green olive tree. The psalmist exults (through this simile) that the one who trusts in the mercy of God is productive and secure.

Luke 20:5 Why then did you not believe him? John had clearly testified that Jesus was the Messiah. If John was a prophet whose words were true, they ought to believe his testimony about Christ. On the other hand, it would have been political folly for the Pharisees to attack the legitimacy of John the Baptist or deny his authority as a prophet of God. John was enormously popular with the people and a martyr at the hands of the despised Herod. For the Pharisees to question John’s authority was to attack a national hero, and they knew better than that. So they pleaded ignorance (v. 7).


DAY 29: How does Ruth exemplify the Proverbs 31 wife?

The “virtuous” wife of Proverbs 31:10 is personified by “virtuous” Ruth of whom the same Hebrew word is used (Ruth 3:11). With amazing parallel, they share at least 8 character traits (see below). One wonders (in concert with Jewish tradition) if King Lemuel’s mother might not have been Bathsheba, who orally passed the family heritage of Ruth’s spotless reputation along to David’s son Solomon. Lemuel, which means “devoted to God,” could have been a family name for Solomon (see Jedidiah, 2 Sam. 12:25), who then could have penned Proverbs 31:10–31 with Ruth in mind:

1. Devoted to her family (Ruth 1:15–18 // Prov. 31:10–12, 23).
2. Delighted in her work (Ruth 2:2 // Prov. 31:13).
3. Diligent in her labor (Ruth 2:7, 17, 23 // Prov. 31:14–18, 19–21, 24, 27).
4. Dedicated to godly speech (Ruth 2:10, 13 // Prov. 13:26).
5. Dependent on God (Ruth 2:12 // Prov. 31:25b, 30).
6. Dressed with care (Ruth 3:3 // Prov. 31:22, 25a).
7. Discreet with men (Ruth 3:6–13 // Prov. 31:11, 12, 23).
8. Delivered blessings (Ruth 4:14, 15 // Prov. 31:28, 29, 31).

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 29 - Jesus and Non-Retaliation: Property

“‘Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you’” (Matthew 5:42).

Secular people also hold tightly to the concept that property rights are sacred. But such self-centered possessiveness is merely another symptom of humanity’s sinfulness. Even believers forget that whatever they have belongs to God and that they are simply stewards of their wealth.

We do have certain legal rights in most countries to manage property as we wish. But we must be willing to sacrifice those rights on the altar of Christian obedience and submission (cf. Rom. 12:1–2). Whenever someone wants to borrow something of ours, we ought to willingly allow him or her to do so. That person might well have a genuine need, which only we can meet.

The Lord implies here that His disciples should offer to give as soon as they sense a need, not waiting to be asked. And He is not referring to our grudgingly donating, but to generous giving that springs from a loving desire to help. Our attitude should be far more than a token charity that merely wants to salve an uneasy conscience.

Christ’s words do not intend to undercut civil justice, but to destroy human selfishness, which is sin and does not belong in the hearts of true Christians. In truth, the only persons who do not selfishly or vengefully cling to their property rights are those who have died to self (cf. Gal. 2:20). The faithful believer lives for Christ and if necessary surrenders all his or her rights and dies for Him (Rom. 14:8).

Ask Yourself

Again, since we cannot give away everything we have, how do we deal with the requirement of adhering to this Christian command while also using sound judgment, being good stewards of our God-given resources?

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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