Daily Archives: April 12, 2018

April 12: Costly Grace

Deuteronomy 23:1–25:19; 2 Corinthians 6:1–13; Psalm 39

When we say something hurtful to a friend or a family member, we know we can’t just ignore the harm we have caused (we should know, anyway). In order to repair the relationship and earn back trust, we have to acknowledge the rift we’ve created. But when it comes to our relationship with God, we don’t always look at it the same way. Sometimes, consciously or unconsciously, we belittle the incredible love that He has shown us.

When we don’t acknowledge our sin as an act of rebellion, we feel far from God. We’ve created this great divide because we’ve tarnished our relationship with Him. In Psalm 39, the psalmist is in great agony over his sin—to the point where he acknowledges that people are nothing and his life is vanity: “Surely a man walks about as a mere shadow” (Psa 39:6).

Without God, life is meaningless. The psalmist acknowledges that his transgression has done great harm. He turns to God and says: “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?” (Psa 39:7). At the heart of that cry is a need for redemption from a God that answers. He provided a way of salvation—one that was incredibly costly through Christ. In 2 Corinthians, Paul stresses the importance of not taking this great gift for granted: “Now because we are fellow workers, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain.… Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation!” (2 Cor 6:1–2).

Paul’s call is urgent because Jesus’ coming to earth wasn’t a small gesture. It was incredible. If we aren’t amazed at it, if we scorn it (even by accident), we may miss out. We have a greater hope than the psalmist was ever able to realize; his broken cry would not be fully answered for centuries. So today, when you hear God’s call, don’t respond with silence. Respond with a thankful heart.

Are you ignoring sin in your life? How can you live with a thankful heart, since Christ has bought you with such a great sacrifice?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]


[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

April 12 Evaluating Your Righteousness

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6).

✧✧✧

Your relationship with God is the measure of your righteousness.

Righteousness” means “to be right with God.” When you hunger and thirst for righteousness, you passionately desire an ongoing and ever-maturing relationship with God Himself.

Righteousness begins with salvation and continues in sanctification. Only after you abandon all self-righteousness and hunger for salvation will you be cleansed from sin and made righteous in Christ. Then you embark on a lifelong process of becoming as righteous as Christ—a process that will culminate when you are fully glorified in His presence (Rom. 8:29–30; 1 John 3:2). There’s always need for improvement in this life (Phil. 3:12–14), but satisfaction comes in communing with Christ and growing in His grace.

You can know if you’re hungering and thirsting for righteousness by asking yourself some simple questions. First, are you dissatisfied with your sin? Self-satisfaction is impossible if you are aware of your sin and if you grieve when you fall short of God’s holy standard.

Second, do external things satisfy your longings? A hungry man isn’t satisfied until he eats. A thirsty man isn’t satisfied until he drinks. When you hunger and thirst after righteousness, only God’s righteousness can satisfy you.

Third, do you have an appetite for God’s Word? Hungry people don’t need to be told to eat. It’s instinctive! Spiritual hunger will drive you to feed on the Word in order to learn what God says about increasing in righteousness.

Fourth, are you content amid difficulties? A hungry soul is content despite the pain it goes through, because it sees every trial as a means by which God is teaching greater righteousness. If you react with anger or resentment when things go wrong, you’re seeking superficial happiness.

Finally, are your hunger and thirst unconditional? The rich young ruler in Matthew 19 knew there was a void in his life but was unwilling to give up his possessions. His hunger was conditional.

Christ will fully satisfy every longing of your heart, and yet you will also constantly desire more of His righteousness. That’s the blessed paradox of hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Read Psalm 112 as a hymn of praise to God.

For Further Study: Read the following verses, noting how God satisfies those who trust in Him: Psalm 34:10; 107:9; Isaiah 55:1–3; John 4:14; 6:35.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 115). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

APRIL 12 THE TRANSFORMED LIFE

He that taketh not his cross…is not worthy of me.

Matthew 10:38

Many of the great evangelists who have touched the world for God, including such men as Jonathan Edwards and Charles Finney, have declared that the church is being betrayed by those who insist on Christianity being made “too easy.”

Jesus laid down the terms of Christian discipleship, and there are some among us who criticize: “Those words of Jesus sound harsh and cruel.”

This is where we stand: Receiving Jesus Christ into your life means that you have made an attachment to the Person of Christ that is revolutionary, in that it reverses the life and transforms it completely! It is complete in that it leaves no part of the life unaffected. It exempts no area of the life of the total man.

By faith and through grace, you have now formed an exclusive relationship with your Savior, Jesus Christ. All of your other relationships are now conditioned and determined by your one relationship to your Savior.

To receive Jesus Christ, then, is to attach ourselves in faith to His holy person, to live or die, forever! He must be first and last and all!

Lord, Your call upon my life is total. But there are times when I feel pulled in other directions that may not be pleasing to You. Give me grace and strength to keep You in first place in my life.[1]


[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

April 12, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

3 With the dawning of each new day, prayer is renewed, with the hope that the Lord will soon respond. The “morning” is symbolic of a renewal of God’s acts of love (cf. La 3:23). The change from darkness to light brings with it the association of renewed hope. In the early morning hours (cf. 55:17; 88:13; 92:2) the psalmist sought the Lord (his covenantal God) in prayer because he knew that Yahweh would not forsake him. It is to this end that he presented God with his “requests” (or “offerings”; see Notes). During the day he waited “in expectation” to see what the Lord would do for him.[1]


5:3 David’s prayers were not spasmodic but regular. Every morning the Lord heard his voice. Every morning the man of God prepared a sacrifice of praise and prayer and watched for the Lord to reveal Himself during the day. Too often we do not watch for God’s responses. “We miss many answers,” said F. B. Meyer,” because we get tired of waiting on the docks for the returning ships.”[2]


5:3 In the morning … In the morning. These words have led many to label this a morning psalm (cf. Ps 3:5).[3]


5:3I prepare a sacrifice for you is difficult in the Hebrew, which could also be rendered as in the ESV footnote, “I direct my prayer to you.” The mention of the morning here, and the Lord’s house in v. 7, favors “sacrifice”; the idea here is that the prayer comes in the context of a faithful worshiper who receives assurance and expresses personal consecration by way of these ordinances; it is small wonder that such a person will watch, looking around and ahead in expectant faith.[4]


5:3 This psalm is sometimes called a “morning psalm” and underscores the importance of a daily devotional time. Much depends upon how we start each day, and what better way to begin the day than with a personal time of meditation. An intimate fellowship demands communication. The breakdown of communication presupposes disruption in fellowship (cf. Gen. 3:8). Therefore, to enjoy fellowship with the Creator, one must make time to communicate with Him. God speaks to man through His Word (103–105; 119:9–16); man talks to God through prayer andthen listens for the divine response (cf. 1 Sam. 3:3–15; Matt. 7:7, 8). One cannot live a Spirit-filled life without daily direction and sustenance from God (cf. Prov. 3:6; John 6:33–35).[5]


5:3 In the morning is repeated and indicates the time of the prayer (88:13). Plead my case is literally “prepare” or “set in order.” While it could mean preparing a sacrifice, there is no other indication that a sacrifice was being offered. Instead, it was more likely preparing words (Jb 32:14) in a request for vindication.[6]


[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 115). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 553). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 5:3). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (pp. 945–946). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Ps 5:3). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Warstler, K. R. (2017). Psalms. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 821). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

APRIL 12 BELIEVE WHAT GOD SAYS HE WILL DO FOR US

Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the LORD.

ACTS 3:19

True faith requires that we believe everything that God has said about Himself, but also that we believe everything He has said about us!

Until we believe that we are as bad as God says we are, we can never believe that He will do for us what He says He will do. Right here is where popular religion breaks down. It never quite accepts the severity of God or the depravity of man. It stresses the goodness of God and man’s misfortune. It makes sin a pardonable frailty and God is not too much concerned about it—He merely wants us to trust in His goodness.

To believe thus is to ground faith upon falsehood and build our eternal hope upon sand. God has spoken. We are all under solemn obligation to hear the affirmations of the Holy Ghost.

To manipulate the Scriptures so as to make them excuse us, compliment us and console us is to do despite to the written Word and to reject the Living Word. To believe savingly in Jesus Christ is to believe all He has said about Himself and all that the prophets and apostles have said about Him.

A dreamy, sentimental faith which ignores the judgments of God against us and listens to the affirmations of the soul is as deadly as cyanide. A faith which passively accepts all of the pleasant texts of the Bible while it overlooks or rejects the stern warnings and commandments of those same Scriptures is not the faith of which Christ and His apostles spoke![1]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

April 12 Jesus Clarifies Murder’s Definition

You have heard that the ancients were told, “You shall not commit murder” and “Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, “You good-for-nothing,” shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, “You fool,” shall be guilty enough to go into fiery hell.—Matt. 5:21–22

Throughout history, most decent people rest assured that at least one sin they have not committed is murder. The conventional wisdom limits murder to physically taking another person’s life. But Jesus’ teaching on murder shatters the self-righteous complacency of so many good people.

God’s original command “you shall not commit murder” was of course scriptural (Ex. 20:13). But the Jewish practice of taking murder cases to civil court fell well short of the biblical standard in three ways: it did not prescribe the death penalty (Gen. 9:6), it did not take God’s holy character into consideration (His role in meting out judgment, the sinfulness of taking a life made in His image, or the general disobedience to the law), and it said nothing about the heart offense of the murderer. These omissions ignored David’s statement in Psalm 51:6, “You [God] desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.”

With the transitional words, “But I say to you,” Jesus begins to point us to a scriptural understanding of murder and its implications. Murder goes much deeper than physically taking someone’s life. It originates with evil thoughts in the heart, and is still a serious sin, whether or not it culminates in violent action against another person.

ASK YOURSELF

If Jesus is making this harder than before, then what’s so freeing about being free from the law? Why is this more helpful than a black-and-white statute?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 111). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

April 12 Leaving No Cause

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed.

1 Peter 3:15

It’s not likely, but according to the apostle Peter, there is a remote possibility that you may suffer for being righteous. Indeed, many Christians suffered for their obedience to Christ in the early church, but others suffered for their disobedience. When a Christian disobeys God’s Word, the world senses a greater justification and freedom for hostility. Even godly Christians should not be surprised or afraid when the world treats them with hostility.

A passion for goodness is no guarantee against persecution. Doing good only reduces the likelihood of it. No one did more good than Jesus, yet a hostile world eventually killed Him. Nevertheless, your life should be above reproach so critics will have no justification for any accusations against you.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 117). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

April 12, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

119:154 The writer asks God to serve as His advocate and His life-giver. Grievous charges have been made against him; he needs a defender. He has been persecuted to the point of exhaustion; he needs a new infusion of life.[1]


119:154 Plead my cause The word riv often appears in legal contexts to refer to a legal dispute, but can also mean something as basic as “quarrel.”

redeem me Emphasizes deliverance from bondage through outside help. See 103:4 and note.

preserve my life The psalmist repeats this request three times in Stanza 20 (vv. 154, 156, 159). It is the dominant expression that defines God’s help.[2]


119:154 Plead my cause. This phrase comes from the courtroom. The psalmist asks the Lord to intercede for him before his enemies.[3]


[1] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 746). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 119:154). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 850). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

Would Christ have had to die for the social justice gospel to be true?

Would Christ have had to die for the social justice gospel to be true?If the answer is no … if social justice has, de facto, become the gospel itself, and our goal is simply to “redeem” the culture” then Jesus would not be needed as a Savior, but merely as an example. Without personal redemption,…

via Would Christ have had to die for the social justice gospel to be true? — Monergism.com Blog Feed

Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
6 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Matthew 18:1-6 (NKJV) 

The Bible is the Word of God. It is inerrant, inspired, and our final…

View original post 1,473 more words