Grace to You Devotionals

Devotionals

May 19

Searching for Truth (Bartholomew)

The twelve apostles included "Bartholomew [Nathanael]" (Matt. 10:3).

God knows your heart and will honor your search for truth.

Despite Nathanael's prejudice, Jesus knew he was an honest, sincere, Jewish believer in whom there was no religious hypocrisy or deceit (John 1:47). He truly sought after God and looked forward to the Messiah's coming.

Most of the Jewish people of Jesus' day believed that every circumcised descendent of Abraham was a true Jew and a beneficiary of the Abrahamic covenant. But in Romans 2:28–29 Paul explains that salvation is an issue of the heart, not of national origin: "He is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart." Nathanael was such a man.

He was shocked when Jesus described him as "an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile" (John 1:47) because they had never met before. He was equally shocked when Jesus said He saw him under a fig tree because Jesus was nowhere near that tree. Nathanael immediately realized that Jesus was omniscient—He knew everything! That's why he exclaimed, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel" (v. 49). He had found the Messiah for whom he had searched so long!

The Lord's mention of the fig tree is significant. In that region, fig trees were commonly used as a source of shade and outdoor shelter. Many of the houses in Palestine had only one room, so fig trees became a place to be alone for prayer and meditation on the Scriptures. Quite possibly Nathanael was under the fig tree searching the Scriptures and communing with God when Jesus saw his open heart and his desire to find the Messiah. Jesus personally answered Nathanael's prayer.

When Jesus looks into your heart, does He see a true believer in whom there is no hypocrisy? Nathanael wasn't perfect, but he loved God and was a diligent student of the Word. The Lord did great things through him. I pray that is true of you as well.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask the Spirit to reveal and deal with any hypocrisy you might be harboring.
  • Ask God to increase your desire and capacity to know and love Him.

For Further Study

Memorize Romans 12:1–2 as a defense against hypocrisy.

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 19

Rejoicing in Suffering

“But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation” (1 Peter 4:13).

We should rejoice in trials and persecutions, not for their own sake, but for the benefits that result.

The late D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his classic book Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, made the following careful distinction on what it means to rejoice in persecution: “The Christian is, in a sense, one who must feel his heart breaking at the effect of sin in others that makes them do this [persecute believers]. So he never rejoices in the fact of persecution as such.”

We can draw from this, then, that 1 Peter 4:13 and other verses (notably Matt. 5:11-12), while they encourage the positive attitude of rejoicing in trials, do not mean we should have a masochistic or elitist view of suffering. The joy we are to have should go beyond the pain and heartache of the suffering itself and focus on the ramifications of what God is doing in our life.

Peter begins our verse by asserting that one of those ramifications is enjoying the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. That means we can share, for His sake, in the same kind of suffering and rejection He endured. We should be ready for such persecution whenever we share the gospel or generally identify with Him. The apostles learned this lesson soon after Jesus departed— “rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41). We will increasingly embrace such suffering as a privilege if we heed Peter’s exhortation.

The apostle goes on to give us more motivation for rejoicing. “The revelation of His glory” is a reference to Jesus’ second coming, which in itself ought to bring tremendous joy to all believers. If we have faithfully endured all the persecutions, sufferings, trials, and problems of this life, when our Lord returns we will have genuine reason to rejoice all the more. And it will be with an intense and joyous outburst that exceeds any we’ve had before (see Luke 6:22-23).

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to give you the right motivation to rejoice in the midst of suffering.

For Further Study

Matthew 5:11-12 contains some of the most challenging truth in all the Bible. Commit these verses to memory, and look for opportunities in which they can become real in your experience.

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 19

Reading for Today:

  • 2 Samuel 9:1–10:19
  • Psalm 65:1-8
  • Proverbs 16:20-21
  • John 6:1-21

Notes:

2 Samuel 9:8 dead dog. A “dead dog” was considered contemptible and useless. Mephibosheth saw himself as such in that he knew that he had not merited David’s kindness and that there was no way for him to repay it. David’s offer was an extraordinary expression of grace and beauty to his covenant with Jonathan (1 Sam. 18:3; 20:15,42).

2 Samuel 10:4 shaved off half of their beards. Forced shaving was considered an insult and a sign of submission (Is. 7:20). cut off their garments…at their buttocks. To those who wore long garments in that time, exposure of the buttocks was a shameful practice inflicted on prisoners of war (Is. 20:4).

Proverbs 16:21 sweetness of the lips. “Honeyed words,” which reflect intelligence, judiciousness, and discernment in speech. This refers to eloquent discourse from the wise (v. 24).

John 6:19,20 Jesus walking on the sea. The Synoptics reveal that in fear and the darkness, the disciples thought Jesus was a ghost (Matt. 14:26; Mark 6:49). The Son of God, who made the world, was in control of its forces; and, in this case, He suspended the law of gravity. The act was not frivolous on Jesus’ part, for it constituted a dramatic object lesson to the disciples of Jesus’ true identity as the sovereign Lord of all creation (1:3).


DAY 19: Why were the crowds who followed Jesus a potential liability?

In John 6:2, it says that the multitudes followed Jesus “because they saw His signs.” The crowds followed not out of belief but out of curiosity concerning the miracles that He performed (v. 26). However, in spite of the crowd’s crass motivations, Jesus, having compassion on them, healed their sick and fed them (Matt. 13:14; Mark 6:34).

The crowd’s declaration of Jesus as “the Prophet” (v. 14) is a reference to Deuteronomy 18:15. Sadly, these comments, coming right after Jesus healed and fed them, indicate that the people desired a Messiah who met their physical, rather than spiritual, needs. Apparently, no recognition existed for the need of spiritual repentance and preparation for the kingdom (Matt. 4:17). They wanted an earthly, political Messiah to meet all their needs and to deliver them from Roman oppression. Their reaction typifies many who want a “Christ” that makes no demands of them (Matt. 10:34–39; 16:24–26), but of whom they can make their selfish personal requests.

Jesus “perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king” (v. 15). John supplemented the information in Matthew and Mark by indicating that the reason Jesus dismissed the disciples and withdrew from the crowd into a mountain alone was because of His supernatural knowledge of their intention to make Him king in light of His healing and feeding of them. The crowd, incited by mob enthusiasm, was ready to proceed with crassly political intentions that would have jeopardized God’s will.

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 19 - Hallowing God’s Name

“‘Hallowed be Your name’” (Matthew 6:9).

Scripture (1 Peter 1:16) commands believers to be holy (“hallowed”), whereas it recognizes God as being holy. So attributing to Him the holiness that already is His is how we hallow His name.

As with every other truly righteous action, hallowing God’s name must begin in the heart. Peter reminds us to “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts” (1 Peter 3:15). When we do this, we also sanctify Him as Lord in our lives, as we above all affirm that He exists: “for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).

Discovering and believing scriptural truth about God is also a way to hallow His name. Any deliberate ignorance or wrong doctrine about the Father shows gross irreverence for Him. But if we want to completely hallow His name and have full reverence for Him, we must go on to have a constant awareness of the Father’s presence. David was a great example of this: “I have set the Lord continually before me” (Ps. 16:8).

Perhaps the greatest way of all for us to hallow His name is by following His will—down to the smallest task—making it the entire goal of our lives to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31).

Furthermore, we hallow God’s name by drawing others to Him. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may … glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16; cf. Ps. 34:3).

Ask Yourself

Everything we do, think, say, and communicate is a reflection on the name of God, since we have been called by His name and wear it as our chief identity. When are you most likely to forget that you bear the name of Christ, that you carry the responsibility for doing nothing to defame or discredit it?

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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