Tag Archives: Strenght for today

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Joy of Kindred Spirits

“Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:1).

Despite their shortcomings, people of kindred spirit are precious gifts from the Lord.

Timothy was Paul’s trusted companion in the gospel. In Philippians 2:20 Paul describes him as a man “of kindred spirit.” That is, they were likeminded, sharing the same love for Christ and His church.

Elsewhere Paul described Timothy as his beloved and faithful child in the Lord (1 Cor. 4:17) and fellow worker in the gospel of Christ (Rom. 16:211 Thess. 3:2). Those are significant compliments coming from Paul, whose standard of ministry and personal integrity was very high.

However, as godly and useful as Timothy was, he apparently struggled with many of the same weaknesses we face. For example, 2 Timothy implies he might have been intimidated by the false teachers who challenged his leadership (1:7). He perhaps was somewhat ashamed of Christ (1:8) and tempted to alter his theology to avoid offending those who disagreed with sound doctrine (1:13- 14). He might have been neglecting his studies in the Word (2:15) and succumbing to ungodly opinions (2:16-17). Other struggles are implied as well.

Paul wrote to strengthen Timothy’s spiritual character and encourage him to persevere in the face of severe trials.

Despite those apparent weaknesses, Paul valued Timothy highly and entrusted enormous ministerial responsibilities to him. In addition, Timothy’s friendship and ministry was a source of great joy and strength to Paul.

I pray that you have people of kindred spirit in your life—brothers and sisters in Christ who encourage you, pray for you, and hold you accountable to God’s truth. Like Timothy, they may not be all you want them to be, but they are precious gifts from God. Esteem them highly and pray for them often. Do everything you can to reciprocate their ministry in your life.

If perhaps you lack such friends, seek the fellowship of a local church where Christ is exalted, His Word is taught, and holy living is encouraged. Build relationships with mature Christians who will stimulate you to love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24).

Suggestions for Prayer

Identify three people who are of kindred spirit with you. Pray for them and tell them how much you appreciate their examples and ministries.

For Further Study

Read 2 Timothy 1:1-14.

  • What were Paul’s admonitions to Timothy?
  • How might they apply to you?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthu

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – God Is Spirit

 “‘God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth’” (John 4:24).

God is a person, but He has no physical characteristics.

As we begin our study of God, we must understand first of all that He is a person, not some unknowable cosmic force. In His Word, God is called Father, Shepherd, Friend, Counselor, and many other personal names. God is always referred to as “He,” not “it.” He also has personal characteristics: He thinks, acts, feels, and speaks.

We will learn three aspects of God’s person in the next several days: God is spirit, God is one, and God is three. First, God has no physical body as we have: “God is spirit” (John 4:24), and “a spirit does not have flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39). Paul says He is “invisible” (1 Tim. 1:17). God represented Himself as light, fire, and cloud in the Old Testament and in the human form of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. But such visible revelations did not reveal the totality or fullness of God’s nature.

You may wonder about verses like Psalm 98:1, “His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him,” and Proverbs 15:3, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place.” These descriptions are called anthropomorphisms, from the Greek words for “man” and “form.” They picture God as though He were a man because God has chosen to describe Himself in a way we can comprehend. If He did not accommodate His revelation to our finite level, we would have no hope of understanding Him. You should not take anthropomorphisms literally, however. Otherwise you will have a false view of God that robs Him of His real nature and His true power. Look at Psalm 91:4: “Under His wings you may seek refuge.” God is certainly not a bird, and “God is not a man” (Num. 23:19). He is spirit.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God that He has enabled physical creatures like us to know Him.

For Further Study

Even though God is invisible, “since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made” (Rom. 1:20). Read the response of a godly man to God’s natural revelation in Psalm 104.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Joy Versus Happiness

“Rejoice in the Lord” (Phil. 3:1).

Happiness is related to circumstances; joy is a gift from God.

Not long ago it was common to see bumper stickers proclaiming every conceivable source for happiness. One said, “Happiness is being married.” Another countered, “Happiness is being single.” One cynical sticker read, “Happiness is impossible!”

For most people happiness is possible but it’s also fickle, shallow, and fleeting. As the word itself implies, happiness is associated with happenings, happenstance, luck, and fortune. If circumstances are favorable, you’re happy. If not, you’re unhappy.

Christian joy, however, is directly related to God and is the firm confidence that all is well, regardless of your circumstances.

In Philippians 3:1 Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord” (emphasis added). The Lord is both the source and object of Christian joy. Knowing Him brings joy that transcends temporal circumstances. Obeying Him brings peace and assurance.

Joy is God’s gift to every believer. It is the fruit that His Spirit produces within you (Gal. 5:22) from the moment you receive the gospel (John 15:11). It increases as you study and obey God’s Word (1 John 1:4).

Even severe trials needn’t rob your joy. James 1:2 says you should be joyful when you encounter various trials because trials produce spiritual endurance and maturity. They also prove that your faith is genuine, and a proven faith is the source of great joy (1 Pet. 1:6-8).

You live in a world corrupted by sin. But your hope is in a living God, not a dying world. He is able to keep you from stumbling and make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy (Jude 24). That’s your assurance of future glory and eternal joy! Until that time, don’t neglect His Word, despise trials, or lose sight of your eternal reward. They are key ingredients of your present joy.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank the Lord for any difficult circumstances you might be facing. Ask Him for continued grace to see them through His perspective and not lose heart (Gal. 6:9).
  • Be aware of any sinful attitudes or actions on your part that might diminish your joy. Confess them immediately.

For Further Study

Read Acts 16:11-40.

  • What difficulties did Paul and Silas face in founding the Philippian church?
  • How did God use their difficulties for His glory?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Pursuing the Knowledge of God

 “More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

God’s greatest desire for us is that we seek diligently to know Him.

To know God and all that He has revealed about Himself is the highest pursuit of life. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Prov. 9:10). Such a realization should really be the starting point for all of life’s other pursuits.

As David gave his throne to his son Solomon, his primary counsel was that Solomon know God: “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever” (1 Chron. 28:9).

Knowing God not only determines the quality of one’s present life, but also the destiny of one’s life in eternity. Jesus says, “And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3). Eternal life is simply knowing God in an intimate way for the rest of eternity. It begins here on earth when we believe in Christ and partake of His very nature and life.

How can we know God? The Lord says, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13). Solomon teaches us, “For if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord, and discover the knowledge of God” (Prov. 2:3-5). This pursuit of God must be our top priority in life. Otherwise, it is so easy to be distracted by the pursuit of money, career success, personal power and prestige, or any earthly endeavor that demands our time and energy.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord that you know Him personally.

For Further Study

Read 2 Peter 1:1-11.

  • What are the benefits to those who know God?
  • What qualities should be evident in your life?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – What Matters Most

 “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1).

Compared to walking worthy of Christ, nothing else is really important.

Let’s review what Paul has taught us from Ephesians 4:1-6. God has chosen and called us to be part of His family, and He expects us to act like His children. He wants us to walk worthy of Christ and be unified.

To follow God’s will in this, we must, with His help, deal with our sin and develop godly virtues. Our lives must first be marked by “all humility” (v. 2). We become humble when we see ourselves as unworthy sinners and see the greatness of God and Christ. Pride will always be a temptation, but we can resist it if we remember that we have nothing to be proud about; every good thing we have is from God. He alone deserves the glory; we can take no credit.

Humility produces “gentleness,” which is power under control. Gentle people willingly submit to God and others. They may become angry over what dishonors God, but they are forgiving to those who hurt them.

“Patience” flows from gentleness. A patient person endures negative circumstances, copes with difficult people, and accepts God’s plan for everything.

We must “love” others with a forbearing love. Christian love is selfless, and forbearance keeps us from gossiping about the failures of others and causes us to love our enemies.

“Unity” (v. 3) is the goal of the worthy walk, and only diligent believers who pursue these virtues of the worthy walk will contribute to such unity. Because we have one Body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one Father, we should behave as a unified people. Then we will have the effective testimony God wants for us.

Only one thing really matters from the moment you become a Christian until the day you see Jesus—that you walk worthy of Him. What you own, what you know, and what you do for a living are not all that important.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to give you the resolve to walk worthy every day.

For Further Study

Read Hebrews 11 and perhaps some related Old Testament passages, and note what was representative of the main characters’ walks with the Lord.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur –  Serving the Supreme One

God exalted Christ “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet” (Eph. 1:21-22).

Now and forever Christ is the Supreme One!

Yesterday we saw that Christ has both an exalted name and an exalted, authoritative position. In verses 21-22 Paul elaborates on the extent of Christ’s authority, which is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion.”

“Rule,” “authority,” “power,” and “dominion” are designations for angelic beings, whether good or evil (cf. Eph. 6:12Col. 1:16). In His incarnation Christ was made lower in rank than the angels that He might suffer death on our behalf (Heb. 2:9). Now He has “become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they” (Heb. 1:4), and the Father commands all the angels to worship the Son (v. 6).

But Christ’s rule extends far beyond angelic beings. In Ephesians 1:21 the phrase “every name that is named” is a general reference to any form of authority—whether angelic or human, eternal or temporal. Now and forever Christ is the Supreme One! Ultimately every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11).

The implications of that truth are staggering. For example Christ precedes the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20, the heart of Christian evangelism and discipleship, with this significant statement: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”

Ultimately your evangelism and discipleship efforts will bear fruit because they are backed by the authority of Christ Himself. Does that encourage you to seize every opportunity to share Christ and His Word with others? It should!

Be faithful today, realizing that you represent the One in whom lies all authority. Nothing can thwart His purposes.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to a lost soul or anyone else you can encourage from the Word. Be sensitive to His leading.

For Further Study

Read Colossians 1:15-23.

  • What was Christ’s role in creation (vv. 15-17)?
  • What is His role in the church (v. 18)? In salvation (v. 23)?
  • What place have you given Him in your life?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Our Unity in Christ

 “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5).

All Christians have a common Lord, common beliefs, and a common public testimony.

Yesterday we looked at what Christians have in common through the Spirit. Today’s verse teaches us what we share through Christ.

Christians have only “one Lord,” the Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 4:12 says, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” Paul says in Romans 10:12, “There is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all.”

Our “one faith” is simply the content of what the revealed Word of God tells us we are to believe. And the primary focus of the Scriptures is Christ. Though we have many denominations and congregations, there’s only one true Christian faith. This faith is what Jude refers to in verse 3 of his epistle: “Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”

Why then do churches differ so much in what they teach? Some of it comes from inadequate study or lack of diligence. Some is from unexamined tradition. The fundamental problem, though, is our humanness—we are fallen, fallible people, and that can color our understanding of Scripture. That’s why it’s so important we not hold too tightly to “our brand” of Christianity, but instead always think matters through biblically and discuss them courteously.

Christians also have “one baptism.” This does not refer to Spirit baptism because that was implied in Ephesians 4:4 with the words “one body.” (As 1 Corinthians 12:13 explains, we all were placed into the Body of Christ by the baptism of the Spirit.) “One baptism” in verse 5 refers to water baptism. When someone comes to believe in the only true Lord, he should be baptized as a public expression of his faith. Public baptism was an essential part of the early church’s testimony to the world. It is no less essential today.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for our Lord Jesus Christ, for our common Christian faith, and for our baptism, by which we identify ourselves with Christ and His people.

For Further Study

  • The church at Corinth did not understand our oneness as believers. Read Paul’s description of them in 1 Corinthians 1:10-17. What were the symptoms of their divisions?
  • What did Paul command them to do?
  • If there are divisions in your church, find ways that you can be a peacemaker.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Our Unity in the Spirit

 “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).

All Christians are part of the same Body, with the same Spirit, who is our pledge of eternal life.

Everything God ever designed for the church is based on the unity of believers. Paul emphasizes that by listing seven “ones” in these verses. One is the key; it is the cause of the worthy walk.

How many bodies of Christ are there? There isn’t a Presbyterian body, a Baptist body, and a Methodist body; nor is there a California body, a Utah body, and a Kansas body. There is just one Body, the church. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). Whatever your race, creed, nationality, or language, when you become a Christian, you become one with every other believer.

Paul’s next point is that there is only one Spirit, who dwells in every believer. First Corinthians 6:19 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?” We “are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22). Individually we are the temple of the Spirit; collectively we are the dwelling of the Spirit.

We are also “called in one hope of [our] calling.” We have only one eternal calling, only one eternal destiny, and the Holy Spirit guarantees our heavenly hope. “You were sealed in [Christ] with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance” (Eph. 1:13-14). He is our down payment, the first installment of our eternal inheritance.

Ephesians 4:4 focuses on the Holy Spirit’s ministry to us: we are placed into one Body by the Spirit, one Spirit dwells in us, and our one hope is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for the Holy Spirit’s ministry in the church and in your life.

For Further Study

First Corinthians 12 has much to say about church unity. Read it carefully, noting in particular what the Spirit does in the Body and what our responsibility is as individual believers.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Trusting in God’s Power

“I pray that … you may know … the surpassing greatness of [God’s] power toward us who believe” (Eph. 1:18-19).

The same divine power that created, sustains, and controls the universe secures your salvation.

God’s power is awesome! David wrote, “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Thine is the dominion, O Lord, and Thou dost exalt Thyself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from Thee, and Thou dost rule over all, and in Thy hand is power and might; and it lies in Thy hand to make great, and to strengthen everyone. Now therefore, our God, we thank Thee, and praise Thy glorious name” (1 Chron.29:11-13).

In Ephesians 1:19 Paul focuses on one key feature of God’s power: His ability to secure the salvation of His people. And he prays for you to understand the surpassing greatness of that truth.

The Greek word translated “power” is dunamis, from which we get dynamite and dynamo. This power is active, dynamic, and compelling—and it is mightily at work on your behalf. You might not always sense it, but it’s there nonetheless.

Peter expresses the same thought in 1 Peter 1:5, where he says you are “protected by the power of God through faith” in Christ. In that verse “protected” means “to keep or guard” and reflects Peter’s confidence that salvation is inviolable.

The same limitless power that created, sustains, and controls the universe saved you and keeps you saved. That’s why Jesus said no one can snatch you out of the Father’s hand (John 10:29). Not even Satan has the power to do that. Paul confidently added that nothing therefore can separate you from God’s love (Rom. 8:38-39). That’s the confidence you should have as you live each day.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for greater spiritual enlightenment and a clearer understanding of your security in Christ. Nothing will rob you of your assurance quicker than unconfessed sin. If that has happened to you, confess it immediately and turn from it. Then ask God to restore to you the joy of your salvation.

For Further Study

Read 1 Chronicles 29:11-13.

  • What prerogatives did David attribute to God (vv. 11-12)?
  • What was David’s response to God’s power (v. 13)?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Maintaining a Clear Perspective

“I pray that . . . you may know . . . what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Eph. 1:18).

How you perceive your spiritual resources dictates how you live.

Throughout Ephesians 1 Paul is clearly struck with the magnificence of our inheritance in Christ. Here he prays that we will know the riches of its glory.

Some commentators see “His inheritance” as a reference to believers, who are God’s inheritance or special possession (v. 14). That view stresses the value God places on us as believers, as demonstrated in Christ’s death, the forgiveness of our sins, and the abundant grace that He lavishes on us (vv. 7-8).

Others see it as referring to the believer’s inheritance, which Paul calls “His inheritance” because God is its source. Just as “His calling” (v. 18) issued from Him and was received by believers, so His inheritance issues from Him.

Both views are theologically sound but the second seems more consistent with Paul’s emphasis in verses 11 and 14. In either case Paul’s point is clear: redemption and its accompanying blessings are so profound that we must have supernatural help to understand them. That’s why he prayed for our enlightenment (v. 18).

Such enlightenment is crucial because how you perceive your spiritual resources dictates how you live. If, for example, you realize you have every resource for godly living (Eph. 1:3), you are less likely to succumb to temptation. Knowing God has given you His very best in Christ (Rom. 8:31) assures you that He won’t withhold lesser things, so you’ll not tend to worry about earthly needs. Understanding that you have already received “grace upon grace” (John 1:16), abundant life (John 10:10), and “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3) gives you confidence that God’s future grace and resources will be more than sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9).

Let that motivate you to praise your rich and glorious God for His rich and glorious inheritance!

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the privilege of being His child.
  • Memorize Ephesians 1:3 and 2 Peter 1:3 and recite them often as anthems of praise for the Lord’s abundant grace.

For Further Study

Read 2 Corinthians 11-12.

  • What kinds of trials did Paul face?
  • How did God respond to Paul’s prayer to remove his “thorn in the flesh”?
  • How might Paul’s response influence you when you face difficulties?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Understanding Your Calling

“I pray that . . . you may know what is the hope of [God’s] calling” (Eph. 1:18).

The hope of your calling is grounded in God’s promises and in Christ’s accomplishments.

In Ephesians 1:3-14 Paul proclaims the blessings of our salvation. In verse 18 he prays that we will comprehend those great truths, which he summarizes in the phrase “the hope of His calling.”

“Calling” here refers to God’s effectual calling—the calling that redeems the soul. Scripture speaks of two kinds of calling: the gospel or general call and the effectual or specific call. The gospel call is given by men and is a universal call to repent and trust Christ for salvation (e.g., Matt. 28:19Acts 17:30-31). It goes out to all sinners but not all who hear it respond in faith.

The effectual call is given by God only to the elect. By it He speaks to the soul, grants saving faith, and ushers elect sinners into salvation (John 6:37-4465Acts 2:39). All who receive it respond in faith.

The hope that your effectual calling instills is grounded in God’s promises and Christ’s accomplishments (1 Pet. 1:3), and is characterized by confidently expecting yet patiently waiting for those promises to be fulfilled. It is your hope of final glorification and of sharing God’s glory when Christ returns (Col. 3:4). It is a source of strength and stability amid the trials of life (1 Pet. 3:14-15). Consequently it should fill you with joy (Rom. 5:2) and motivate you to godly living (1 John 3:3).

As you face this new day, do so with the confidence that you are one of God’s elect. He called you to Himself and will hold you there no matter what circumstances you face. Nothing can separate you from His love (Rom. 8:38-39)!

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the security of your salvation.
  • Ask Him to impress on your heart the blessings and responsibilities of your calling.
  • Live today in anticipation of Christ’s imminent return.

For Further Study

Joshua’s call to lead Israel was not a call to salvation, but it illustrates some important principles for spiritual leadership. You might not see yourself as a spiritual leader, but you are important to those who look to you as an example of Christian character.

Read Joshua 1:1-9 then answer these questions:

  • What were the circumstances of Joshua’s call (vv. 1-2)?
  • What promises did God make to him (vv. 3-6)?
  • What did God require of him (vv. 7-9)?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Receiving Spiritual Enlightenment

 “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened” (Eph. 1:18).

Spiritual enlightenment doesn’t come through self-effort or introspective meditation but through God’s Holy Spirit.

Our society has been enamored with the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment, especially since the influx of Eastern thought into the West during the 1960s. Now we are drowning in a sea of false religions and New Age philosophies.

True enlightenment continues to elude many because they have denied its source and have turned to gurus and teachers who have no light to give. They propagate self-effort and introspective meditation, but spiritual enlightenment doesn’t come through such means. It comes only through the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14-16). That’s why Paul prayed that God Himself would enlighten the hearts of the Ephesian believers (Eph. 1:18).

We might expect Paul to pray for enlightened minds rather than hearts, but that’s because we associate the word heart with emotions rather than with thought. But in Hebrew and Greek thinking, the heart was considered the seat of knowledge, thinking, and understanding. For example, Jesus said that evil thoughts come out of the heart (Matt. 15:19). Emotions are important, but they must be guided and controlled by an enlightened mind.

How does the Spirit enlighten you? As you pray and study God’s Word, He transforms and renews your mind (Rom. 12:2) by filling you with “the knowledge of [God’s] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9). He teaches you to recognize and uphold what is excellent so that you will be “sincere and blameless” before God (Phil. 1:10). He implants biblical truth into your thinking so that your responses become more and more like Christ’s.

How wonderful to know that each moment of the day God is working within you in such a way. Be diligent to pray and spend time in the Word so that your spiritual progress will be evident to all (1 Tim. 4:15).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the Spirit’s transforming work within you.
  • Reaffirm your love for Him, and express your willingness to be changed by His Spirit in any way He sees fit.
  • Be alert for attitudes or actions that need to be changed. Rely on His grace and strength in doing so.

For Further Study

Read Genesis 27–33, noting how God used the events of Jacob’s life to transform his weak spiritual commitment to one that was strong and unconditional (see especially Gen. 28:20-2232:9-12).

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Effect of Patience

“Walk . . . with patience” (Ephesians 4:1-2).

Patience is crucial to our testimony.

The virtues of Ephesians 4:2-3 enable the church of Jesus Christ to have a powerful witness. Many think the key to evangelism is following a specific course or method, but according to Jesus, the greatest way to get people to believe the gospel is through our love and unity (John 17:21). Though evangelistic methods are important, often they aren’t as effective as they could be because of the church’s poor reputation among unbelievers. If the church were full of people who had genuine humility, gentleness, and patience, others would be more inclined to listen to what we say.

Sir Henry Stanley traveled to Africa in 1872 to find Dr. David Livingstone, the famous missionary and explorer, who had lost contact with the European community. After finding him, Stanley spent several months with Livingstone, who by that time was an old man. Apparently Livingstone didn’t say much to Stanley about spiritual things—he just continued about his business with the Africans. Stanley observed that throughout the months he watched him, Livingstone’s habits, especially his patience, were beyond his comprehension. Stanley could not understand Livingstone’s sympathy for the pagan Africans, who had wronged Livingstone many times. For the sake of Christ and His gospel David Livingstone was patient, untiring, and eager. He spent himself for his Master.

In his account How I Found Livingstone, Stanley wrote, “His religion is not of the theoretical kind, but is a constant, earnest, sincere practice. It is neither demonstrative nor loud, but manifests itself in a quiet practical way, and is always at work. . . . In him religion exhibits its loveliest features; it governs his conduct not only towards his servants but towards the natives . . . and all who come in contact with him.”

I’m not suggesting that you never talk about the gospel. But realize that what you say will have far greater effect when you live in harmony with what the gospel teaches. If the world could see a clear picture of Jesus Christ through the unity of the church and its humble, gentle, and patient people, our evangelism would be sped along on wings!

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that you would live in a way that glorifies God and attracts others to the Savior.

For Further Study

Read Matthew 5:13-16.

  • What did Christ mean by being salt and light in the world?
  • Think of specific ways you can obey the command in verse 16.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Praying for Believers

“For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you, and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers” (Eph. 1:15-16).

Your love for other Christians is as much a mark of true faith as your love for God.

The Ephesian Christians demonstrated two important characteristics of genuine Christian faith: faith in the Lord Jesus and love for fellow believers.

“Faith in the Lord Jesus” implies both an affirmation of Christ’s deity and submission to His sovereignty. Because He is God, He is the Sovereign Lord, so we must obey what He commands (John 14:151 John 2:3-6).

Your “love for all the saints” is as much a mark of true faith as your love for God. John said, “The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now” (1 John 2:9). In that passage “light” is a metaphor for righteousness and truth, and “darkness” is a metaphor for sin and error. It is sinful and erroneous to claim you love God if you have no love for other believers. Those who love God will love fellow believers as well.

If you love others, you will pray for them and praise God for their spiritual progress—as Paul did for the Ephesians—and they will do the same for you. That’s a wonderful dynamic within the Body of Christ, and one that you must diligently pursue.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • If you haven’t done so already, start a prayer list of individuals for whom you will pray each day. List their names and some specific requests. Record answers to your prayers as you see God moving in their lives.
  • Remember to thank God for their spiritual progress as well as praying for their needs. Let them know you are praying for them. That could be a source of great encouragement for them.
  • If you are at odds with another believer, seek to reconcile immediately (Matt. 5:23-24) so your witness will be strong and the Lord’s name won’t suffer reproach.

For Further Study

Read Philippians 1:9-11 and Colossians 1:9-14.

  • What requests and concerns did Paul express in his prayers?
  • Do your prayers reflect Paul’s priorities? If not, what adjustments must you make to have a more biblical pattern of prayer?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Are You Gentle?

 “Walk . . . with all . . . gentleness” (Ephesians 4:1-2).

To become more gentle, begin by looking closely at your attitudes.

We’ve determined that gentleness is essential for those who want to walk worthy. How can you tell if you’re gentle? I’ll give you some practical questions so you can evaluate yourself honestly.

First of all, are you self-controlled? Do you rule your own spirit (Prov. 16:32), or does your temper often flare up? When someone accuses you of something, do you immediately defend yourself, or are you more inclined to consider whether there’s any truth in what’s being said?

Second, are you infuriated only when God is dishonored? Do you get angry about sin or when God’s Word is perverted by false teachers?

Next, do you always seek to make peace? Gentle people are peacemakers. Ephesians 4:3 says they are “diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” If someone falls into sin, do you condemn or gossip about that person? Galatians 6:1 instructs us to restore sinning brothers “in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Gossip and condemnation divide believers; forgiveness and restoration unite them. Gentle people don’t start fights; they end them.

Fourth, do you accept criticism without retaliation? Whether the criticism is right or wrong, you shouldn’t strike back. In fact, you can thank your critics, because criticism can show you your weaknesses and help you grow.

Finally, do you have the right attitude toward the unsaved? Peter says, “Always [be] ready to make a defense to every one who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15). If we’re persecuted, it’s easy for us to think, They can’t treat me like that—I’m a child of God. But God wants us to approach the unsaved with gentleness, realizing that God reached out to us with gentleness before we were saved (Titus 3:3-7).

Consider carefully your answers to these questions, and commit yourself to being characterized by gentleness. Remember that “a gentle and quiet spirit . . . is precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:4).

Suggestions for Prayer

If any of these questions have pointed out deficiencies in your gentleness, ask God to strengthen those areas.

For Further Study

  • Paul was often criticized by those who wanted to usurp his authority over the church. Study Paul’s response to such people in 2 Timothy 2:24-26.
  • Think about this passage’s application to events in your life.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Embracing the Truth

“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed” (Eph. 1:13).

The gospel is true because Jesus is true, not simply because Christians believe in Him.

After stating salvation from God’s perspective in verse 12, Paul here states it from man’s perspective. Faith in Christ is your response to God’s elective purpose in your life. Those two truths—God’s initiative and man’s response—co-exist throughout Scripture.

Paul rightly called the gospel “the message of truth” because truth is its predominant characteristic. Salvation was conceived by the God of truth (Ps. 31:5); purchased by the Son, who is the truth (John 14:6); and is applied by the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). To know it is to know the truth that sets men free (John 8:32). Believers are people of the truth (John 18:37), who worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), and who obey the Word of truth (John 17:17).

Yet as profound and powerful as God’s truth is, people have rejected, neglected, redefined, and opposed it for centuries. Some, like Pilate, cynically deny that truth even exists or that it can be known by men (John 18:38). Others foolishly think that denying truth will somehow make it go away.

Perhaps you’ve heard someone say, “Jesus may be true for you but that doesn’t mean He has to be true for me.” That view assumes that belief somehow determines truth. But just the opposite is the case. Truth determines the validity of one’s belief. Believing a lie doesn’t make it true. Conversely, failing to believe the truth doesn’t make it a lie.

The gospel is true because Jesus is true, not simply because Christians believe in Him. His resurrection proved the truth of His claims and constitutes the objective basis of our faith (Rom. 1:41 Pet. 1:3).

You enter this day armed with the message of truth and empowered by the Spirit of truth. Truth is your protection and strength (Eph. 6:14). Lost souls desperately need to hear that truth. Represent it well and proclaim it with boldness.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank the Lord that by His Spirit He has enabled you to understand His truth (1 Cor. 2:14-16).
  • Ask for wisdom and boldness to speak His truth in love (Eph. 4:15).

For Further Study

Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 and Acts 17:30-31.

  • What key elements of the gospel does Paul list?
  • What is the relationship between Christ’s resurrection and God’s judgment on sinners?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Righteous Anger

 “Walk . . . with all . . . gentleness” (Ephesians 4:1-2).

Our anger must be under control and should occur only for the right reason.

After the previous lesson, you might think that Christians must always be quiet and passive, never getting upset or angry about anything. Actually, believers do have the right to get angry, but only under certain conditions. Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be angry and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” So there is a certain kind of anger that isn’t sinful. It must be under control, and it must be resolved expeditiously.

Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit.” Someone who is out of control is vulnerable. He falls into every temptation, failure, and weakness. On the other hand, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city” (16:32). One who rules his spirit has power and energy, but it’s under control. That same power and energy out of control creates nothing but chaos and sinfulness. Those who are easily angered are not gentle.

Gentle people, on the other hand, control their energies and strengths, but they do have a tough side. They don’t back away from sin or cease to condemn evil. Since the gentle person submits himself to God, he becomes angry over things that offend God, not himself. If someone offends him personally, he doesn’t seek revenge. But when God is maligned, the lion in him roars. Such anger is called righteous indignation. Under God’s control, anger reacts when it ought to react, for the right reason, and for the right amount of time.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask forgiveness if you are apt to get angry for the wrong reasons. Commit yourself to being gentle when you ordinarily would flare up in anger. If you don’t get angry when you see evil, ask God to make you sensitive to what He hates.

For Further Study

  • At the very time Moses was receiving God’s Law on Mount Sinai, the Israelites were involved in idolatry and debauchery. Read Exodus 32. What was Moses’ reaction to their sin?
  • Did he hold a grudge against them (vv. 31-32)?
  • How can Moses’ example be a pattern for your life?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur 

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Gentleness: Power Under Control

“Walk . . . with all . . . gentleness” (Ephesians 4:1-2).

The antidote to our vengeful, violent society is biblical gentleness.

A popular bumper sticker says, “Don’t Get Mad—Get Even.” People demand what they perceive to be their rights, no matter how the demand harms others. Some go to court to squeeze every last cent out of those who hurt them. More and more violent crimes are committed each year. We need a strong dose of biblical truth to cure these attitudes. The biblical solution is gentleness.

The world might interpret gentleness or meekness as cowardice, timidity, or lack of strength. But the Bible describes it as not being vengeful, bitter, or unforgiving. It is a quiet, willing submission to God and others without the rebellious, vengeful self-assertion that characterizes human nature.

The Greek word translated “gentleness” was used to speak of a soothing medicine. It was used of a light, cool breeze and of a colt that had been broken and tamed, whose energy could be channeled for useful purposes. It also descrbes one who is tenderhearted, pleasant, and mild.

Gentleness is not wimpiness though. It is power under control. The circus lion has the same strength as a lion running free in Africa, but it has been tamed. All its energy is under the control of its master. In the same way, the lion residing in the gentle person no longer seeks its own prey or its own ends; it is submissive to its Master. That lion has not been destroyed, just tempered. Gentleness is one facet of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23). It is also a key to wisdom. James asks, “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom” (3:13). Verse 17 says, “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.”

Even if gentleness is not valued in our society, it is crucial to our godliness. Seek it diligently and prayerfully.

Suggestions for Prayer

If you tend to be at all vengeful or unforgiving, ask God’s forgiveness and His help to forgive those who hurt you. Seek to be gentle with them instead.

For Further Study

Throughout most of 1 Samuel, King Saul repeatedly tries to capture David and kill him. Read 1 Samuel 24. How did David demonstrate his gentleness in the face of his hostile enemy?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Contentment: How to Enjoy it

“Let your way of life be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

Your relationship with God allows you to enjoy genuine contentment.

In view of yesterday’s lesson, you may be asking, “But how can I enjoy contentment and be satisfied with what I have?” You can begin by realizing God’s goodness and believing that He will take care of you since you are one of His children. You can claim again the promise in Romans 8: “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (v. 28).

Second, you should truly realize that God is omniscient—He knows all things and all your personal needs. He recognizes your individual needs long before you do and even before you pray about them. Jesus affirms, “Your Father knows that you need these things” (Luke 12:30).

You can also enjoy contentment by remembering that what you want or need is one thing; what you deserve is another. The patriarch Jacob confessed, “I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which Thou hast shown to Thy servant” (Gen. 32:10). Contentment will more likely be yours if you consider that God’s smallest favor or blessing to you is more than you deserve.

Ultimately, however, real contentment will be yours if you have vital communion with God through Jesus Christ. Then, like the apostle Paul, temporal things will not matter so much: “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8).

Suggestions for Prayer

God may or may not grant you some new blessing today or this week. In any case, pray that you would be content.

For Further Study

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Opposite of Covetousness

 “Let your way of life be free from the love of money, being content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5).

If you are content with what God has given you, you will not be a person who is covetous or a lover of money.

I once had a man come into my church office and confess the sin of gluttony. When I told him he did not look overweight, he answered, “I know. It is not that I eat too much but that I want to. I continually crave food. It’s an obsession.”

Covetousness is very similar to that man’s gluttonous attitude. You do not have to acquire a lot of things, or even anything at all, to be covetous. If you long to acquire things and are focusing all your attention on how you might get them, you are guilty of covetousness.

It is not wrong to earn or possess wealth. In the Old Testament, Abraham and Job had tremendous wealth. A number of faithful New Testament believers were also fairly wealthy. The problem comes when we have a greedy attitude that craves money above everything else. Paul warns us, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang” (1 Tim. 6:10). Loving money is perhaps the most common form of covetousness; it is akin to lusting after material riches in various forms.

No matter how it appears, this kind of covetousness breeds the same spiritual result—it displeases God and separates us from Him. More income, a bigger house, nicer clothes, a fancier car can tempt all of us.

But the Lord wants you to be free from the materialism that so easily controls your non-Christian neighbors. Your earthly possessions are only temporary anyway. You will lose them all one day soon enough. So God tells you and me to be “content with what you have” (Heb. 13:5), realizing that we have “a better possession and an abiding one” (10:34) in our salvation.

Suggestions for Prayer

Is there any covetousness or materialism in your life today? Confess it to the Lord, and pray that He would give you a renewed desire to trust Him rather than uncertain wealth.

For Further Study

Read Luke 12:13-34.

  • Make a list of the things that illustrate how God cares for our material needs.
  • How does the rich fool’s attitude contrast with what Jesus teaches in verse 31?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

http://www.gty.org/