Grace to You Devotionals

GTY Devotionals

July 10

The Sacrifice of Praise

"Offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 2:5).

Praise consists of reciting God’s attributes and mighty works.

"Praise the Lord" is a common expression today. Some see it as a catchy slogan, others commercialize it, still others reduce it to nothing more than "P.T.L." But despite such attempts to trivialize it, praising the Lord remains the believer's expression of love and gratitude to a God who has been abundantly gracious to him. That was the cry of David's heart when he said, "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear it and rejoice. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together" (Ps. 34:1-3). That will be the song of believers for time and eternity!

God desires and deserves your praise. That's why Hebrews 13:15 says, "Through [Christ] . . . let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name." But what is praise? Is it merely saying "praise the Lord" over and over again, or is there more to it?

Two aspects of praise are obvious in Scripture. First is reciting God's attributes. That was the typical means of praise in the Old Testament. For example, Psalm 104 says, "Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, Thou art very great; Thou art clothed with splendor and majesty, covering Thyself with light as with a cloak" (vv. 1-2).

The second aspect of praise is reciting God's works. Psalm 107:21-22 says, "Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men! Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His works with joyful singing."

Praise involves reciting God's attributes from a heart of love, giving Him honor and reverence for who He is. It also involves reciting what He has done on behalf of His people. Your praise should follow the same pattern so it will be an acceptable spiritual sacrifice to your loving God.

Suggestions for Prayer

Read Psalm 103 as a prayer of praise to God.

For Further Study

Scripture mentions other spiritual sacrifices that believers should offer. Read Romans 15:16, Ephesians 5:2, Philippians 4:10-18, Hebrews 13:16, and Revelation 8:3, noting what those sacrifices are.

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.

July 10

Fellowship with Christ

“What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).

Enjoying communion with both God and Jesus Christ is solid proof that one’s salvation is real.

When we hold baptisms in the church I pastor, invariably every person who gives their testimony will describe the overwhelming sense of forgiveness they now feel and the new purpose they have for their lives. They are expressing a wonderful result of salvation in Christ, of which Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (John 10:10). By saying that life could be abundant, Jesus was saying that salvation would result in more than a change of position—it is a change of experience! The Christian life is a rich life in which we are meant to experience joy, peace, love, and purpose.

The abundant life in Christ begins with a close communion and fellowship with the living God and the living Christ. The apostle Paul says, “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:9). In Galatians 2:20 Paul describes what that fellowship meant to him personally: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” Great intimacy with Christ belongs to all genuine believers.

Have you experienced communion with God and Christ? Have you sensed Their presence? Does your love for Them draw you into Their presence? Have you experienced the exhilarating joy of talking in prayer to the living God? And have you experienced the thrill of discovering a new truth in His Word? If you have, then you have experienced the abundant life that Jesus promised to all who put their trust in Him.

Suggestions for Prayer

Much like God asked Israel to recount the great works He had done for them, meditate on the many ways God has made your life richer as a result of knowing Him.

For Further Study

Read Romans 8:15; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 5:19; Philippians 4:19; Hebrews 4:16; and 1 Peter 5:10.

  • What does each verse teach about your relationship with God?
  • In what ways is your life abundant as a result?
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.

July 10

Reading for Today:

  • 2 Chronicles 15:1–16:14
  • Psalm 81:6-10
  • Proverbs 20:24-25
  • Acts 16:1-21

Notes:

2 Chronicles 15:1 Spirit of God. An act of the Holy Spirit, common in the Old Testament, enabling servants of God to speak or act uniquely for Him. Azariah. This man was a prophet mentioned only here, who met Asa as he returned from the victory and spoke to him before all his army.

2 Chronicles 15:2 The spiritual truth here is basic, namely that God is present and powerful in defense of His obedient people. While good Asa ruled for 41 years, 8 wicked kings ruled in Israel, including Jeroboam, who, along with the others, was a negative illustration of this truth.

2 Chronicles 16:7 Hanani. God used this prophet to rebuke Asa 1) for his wicked appropriation of temple treasures devoted to God to purchase power, and 2) for his faithless dependence on a pagan king instead of the Lord, in contrast to before when opposed by Egypt (2 Chr. 14:9–15).army of the king of Syria has escaped. Asa forfeited by this sin the opportunity of gaining victory not only over Israel, but also Syria. This could have been a greater victory than over the Ethiopians, which would have deprived Syria of any future successful attacks on Judah. Though God had delivered them when they were outnumbered (13:3ff.; 14:9ff.), the king showed his own spiritual decline both in lack of trust and in his treatment of the prophet of God who spoke truth (v. 10).

Acts 16:1 a certain disciple…Timothy. A young man (late teens or early 20s) of high regard, a “true son in the faith” (1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2), who eventually became Paul’s right-hand man (1 Cor. 4:17; 1 Thess. 3:2; Phil. 2:19). In essence, he became John Mark’s replacement. After being commissioned by the elders of the local church (1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6), he joined Paul and Silas. his father was Greek. The grammar likely suggests his father was dead. By being both Jew and Gentile, Timothy had access to both cultures—an indispensable asset for missionary service.

Acts 16:3 circumcised him. This was done to aid his acceptance by the Jews and provide full access to the synagogues he would be visiting with Paul and Silas. If Timothy had not been circumcised, the Jews could have assumed he had renounced his Jewish heritage and had chosen to live as a Gentile.

Acts 16:6 Holy Spirit…Asia. Paul was not allowed to fulfill his intention to minister in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and to such cities as Ephesus, Smyrna, Philadelphia, Laodicea, Colosse, Sardis, Pergamos, and Thyatira.

Acts 16:9 Macedonia. The region located across the Aegean Sea on the mainland of Greece. The cities of Philippi and Thessalonica were located there. Most significantly, going there was to take the gospel from Asia into Europe.


DAY 10: How did Lydia and the demon-possessed girl in Philippi respond differently to the gospel?

When Paul arrived in Philippi (Acts 16:12), evidently the Jewish community did not have the minimum of 10 Jewish men who were heads of households required to form a synagogue. In such cases, a place of prayer under the open sky and near a river or sea was adopted as a meeting place. Most likely this spot was located where the road leading out of the city crossed the Gangites River. Paul spoke “to the women who met there” (v. 13). In further evidence of the small number of Jewish men, it was women who met to pray, read from the Old Testament law, and discuss what they read.

Lydia was from the city of Thyatira, which was located in the Roman province of Lydia, thus the name “Lydia” was probably associated with her place of origin. She was a “seller of purple” (v. 14). Because purple dye was extremely expensive, purple garments were usually worn by royalty and the wealthy. As a result, Lydia’s business turned a nice profit, which enabled her to have a house large enough to accommodate the missionary team (v. 15) and the new church at Philippi (v. 40). “Who worshiped God.” Like Cornelius, she believed in the God of Israel but had not become a full proselyte (10:2).The Lord opened her heart, and she and her household were baptized.

Also in Philippi was a slave girl “possessed with a spirit of divination” (v. 16), literally, “a python spirit.” That expression comes from Greek mythology. Python was a snake that guarded the oracle at Delphi. Essentially, this girl was a medium in contact with demons who could supposedly predict the future. For several days she followed Paul and rightly cried out in the streets, “These men are the servants of the Most High God” (v. 17). El Elyon, the Absolutely Sovereign God, is an Old Testament title (used about 50 times) for the God of Israel (Gen. 14:18–22; Ps. 78:35; Dan. 5:18). But the spirit was wrong, and Paul finally turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her” (v. 18). The demon left the girl in obedience to Paul’s command and his apostolic authority. The ability to cast out demons was a special ability of Christ’s apostles (Mark 3:15; 2 Cor.12:12).

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.

July 10 - Differences in Houses

“‘The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. . . . The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against the house; and it fell—and great was its fall’” (Matthew 7:25, 27).

With most tasks in life, it comes down to two choices: doing it the easy, convenient way, or choosing the difficult but rewarding way. In Jesus’ illustration, the foolish man chooses the easy way to build his house, but the wise man chooses the hard way. The former settles for a convenient section of sand in a desirable location, but the latter searches diligently for a rock foundation on which to build.

Why is the easy way so attractive? First, it is appealing to those in a hurry who want only to please themselves. Within the church, the foolish don’t care how their methods line up with God’s Word. They just want quick results—simple to see and easy to measure. Thus the foolish are satisfied with easy evangelism and cost-free discipleship.

Second, people prefer the easy way because they are superficial. Such ministry requires little planning and effort and not much concern for quality results. That house is all about instant gratification rather than the enduring reward found in plumbing the spiritual depths.

Jesus had another description of the superficial, foolish person as one “who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away” (Matt. 13:20–21). By contrast, the genuine believer counts the cost, builds the wise house, and then “work[s] out [his] salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).

Ask Yourself

Think of an “easy way” you’ve taken in your life. What convinced you to do it? Think also of a time when you truly did things the “right way.” Examine the difference in results.

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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