Rejecting the World’s Passing Pleasures

“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Heb. 11:24-25).

The world has little to offer compared to the riches of Christ.

For forty years Moses enjoyed the best of everything Egypt had to offer: formidable wealth, culture, education, and prestige (Acts 7:22). Yet he never forgot God’s promises toward his own people, Israel.

Then, “when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel. And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian. And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him; but they did not understand” (vv. 23-25).

Somehow Moses knew he was to deliver his people from Egyptian oppression. Although it would be another forty years before he was fully prepared for the task, by faith he forsook the pleasures and prestige of Egypt and endured ill-treatment with God’s chosen people.

Humanly speaking, Moses made a costly choice. He seemed to be sacrificing everything for nothing. But the opposite was much more the case since Moses considered “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the [greater] reward” (Heb. 11:26).

Sometimes obedience to Christ seems very costly, especially when evil people prosper while many who faithfully serve God suffer poverty and affliction. Asaph the psalmist struggled with the same issue: “Behold, these are the wicked; and always at ease, they have increased in wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure” (Ps. 73:12-13).

But be assured that the eternal rewards of Christ far outweigh the passing pleasures of sin. The wicked have only judgment and hell to look forward to; you have glory and heaven. So always choose obedience, and trust God to guide your choices, just as He did with Moses.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God that the righteous will one day be fully rewarded.
  • Seek God’s grace to be obedient when you’re faced with difficult choices.

For Further Study

  • Read Stephen’s account of Moses in Acts 7:20-39.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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Defeating Death

“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come. By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones” (Heb. 11:20-22).

Faith triumphs over death.

Commentator Matthew Henry said, “Though the grace of faith is of universal use throughout the Christian’s life, yet it is especially so when we come to die. Faith has its great work to do at the very last, to help believers to finish well, to die to the Lord so as to honor Him, by patience, hope and joy so as to leave a witness behind them of the truth of God’s Word and the excellency of His ways.”

God is honored when His people die triumphantly. When we’ve lived a life to His glory, and joyfully left the world behind to enter into His presence for all eternity, He is pleased, for “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones” (Ps. 116:15).

Many believers who have dreaded facing death have experienced a special measure of God’s grace that made their final hours the sweetest and most precious of their lives.

Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph are examples of men who faced death with great faith and confidence. Each “died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth” (Heb. 11:13). They hadn’t seen all God’s promises fulfilled, but by faith they passed them on to their children.

These men didn’t have perfect faith. Joseph was exemplary, but Isaac and Jacob often vacillated in their walk with God. Yet each ended his life triumphantly. That’s the reward of all who trust God and cling to His promises.

Like every believer before you, you haven’t seen the fulfillment of all God’s promises. But certainly you’ve seen far more than Isaac, Jacob, or Joseph did. How much more then should you trust God and encourage those who follow you to do the same?

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for His marvelous grace, which triumphs over sin and death.

For Further Study

  • Read the final words of Jacob and Joseph in Genesis 48:1—49:33 and 50:22-26.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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Living a Satisfied Life

“All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. “And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them” (Heb. 11:13-16).

Resting in God’s promises brings true satisfaction.

I remember watching in horror and disgust as angry mobs swept through Los Angeles, killing people and setting thousands of buildings on fire. Under the cover of chaos, countless people ransacked and looted every store in sight. I saw entire families—moms, dads, and little children—loading their cars and trucks with anything they could steal.

That was the most graphic demonstration of lawlessness I’ve ever seen. It was as if they were saying, “I’m not satisfied with the way life’s treating me, so I’m entitled to grab everything I can—no matter who gets hurt in the process.”

Perhaps we don’t realize how selfish and restless the human heart can be until the restraints of law and order are lifted and people can do whatever they want without apparent consequences. Then suddenly the results of our godless “me first” society are seen for what they are. Instant gratification at any cost has become the motto of the day.

That’s in stark contrast to people of faith like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who trusted in God even when their circumstances were less than they might have expected. God promised them a magnificent land but they never possessed it. They were, in fact, strangers and refugees in their own land. But that didn’t bother them because they looked forward to a better place—a heavenly city.

Their faith pleased God and He was not ashamed to be called their God. What a wonderful testimonial! I pray that’s true of you. Don’t let earthbound hopes and dreams make you dissatisfied. Trust in God’s promises and set your sights on your heavenly home.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the blessing of a satisfied heart.

For Further Study

  • Memorize Psalm 27:4.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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Stepping out in Faith

“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Heb. 11:8).

The life of faith begins with a willingness to forsake everything that displeases God.

Abraham is the classic example of the life of faith. As the father of the Jewish nation, he was the most strategic example of faith available to the writer of Hebrews. But the people to whom Hebrews was written needed to understand that Abraham was more than the father of their race; he also was, by example, the father of everyone who lives by faith in God (Rom. 4:11).

Contrary to popular first-century Jewish thought, God didn’t choose Abraham because he was righteous in himself. When called by God, Abraham was a sinful man living in an idolatrous society. His home was in the Chaldean city of Ur, which was located in ancient Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

God’s call to Abraham is recorded in Genesis 12:1-3: “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Note Abraham’s response: “So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him” (v. 4). He listened, trusted, and obeyed. His pilgrimage of faith began when he separated himself from the pleasures of a pagan land to pursue God’s plan for his life.

So it is with you if you’re a man or woman of true faith. You’ve forsaken sinful pleasures to follow Christ. And as your love for Christ increases, there’s a corresponding decrease in worldly desires.

I pray your focus will continually be on fulfilling God’s will for your life, and that you’ll always know the joy and assurance that comes from following Him.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask God for the grace and spiritual fortitude to walk by faith today.

For Further Study

  • Memorize 1 John 2:15 as a reminder to remain separate from the world.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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Building a Picture of Salvation

“By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household” (Heb. 11:7).

The ark is a beautiful picture of salvation by grace through faith.

God called Noah to a gargantuan task. Conservative figures estimate that the ark was about 438 feet long, 73 feet wide, and 44 feet high. That makes it almost one-and-a-half times the length of a football field and more than four stories high. Its three decks totaled almost 96,000 square feet with a total volume of about 1.3 million cubic feet. Naval engineers concur that its shape and dimensions constitute an incredibly stable ship design.

But beyond the enormity of its size and precision of its measurements, the ark is a wonderful illustration of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. For example, Noah was instructed to cover the ark inside and out with pitch (Gen. 3:14). The Hebrew word for pitch has the same root as the word for atonement. The pitch kept the waters of judgment from entering the ark just as Christ’s atoning blood keeps judgment from the repentant sinner.

The ark was large enough to hold two of each species of animals plus every person who turned to God for safety. Only eight persons chose to be saved on God’s terms, but had more come, surely He would have accommodated them. It is His desire that none perish, but that all come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). Those who perished in the Flood did so because they rejected God’s means of salvation.

Similarly, Jesus’s blood is sufficient to atone for every sinner and every sin since man’s fall in the Garden of Eden. No one who comes to Him will be cast out (John 6:37), yet so few avail themselves of His gracious provision (Matt. 7:14).

Noah was a man who “walked with God” (Gen. 6:9), yet he wasn’t without sin. That’s obvious from his drunken and immodest behavior after the Flood (9:20-21). But Noah, like every true believer, was justified by God’s grace, his faith being counted as righteousness. That has always been the basis of salvation (Gen. 15:6;Rom. 4:5).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for His amazing grace, by which He saved you and continues to cleanse you from every sin.

For Further Study

  • Read Romans 4:1-8.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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Seeking God’s Reward

“He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).

All who come to God in faith will receive the reward of eternal life.

We’ve seen that without faith it’s impossible to please God. And the first step in faith is believing that God exists. In addition, we must also believe that He answers our prayers—more specifically, that He redeems those who come to Him in faith.

Scripture repeatedly tells us that God not only can be found, but also desires to be found. David said to his son Solomon, “If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever” (1 Chron. 28:9). The Lord says in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jesus said, “Everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened” (Luke 11:10).

At first glance those verses may seem to contradict Paul’s teaching that “there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside” (Rom. 3:11-12), and Jesus’ statement that no one can come to Him unless the Father draws him (John 6:44). But really they’re two sides of the same theological coin.

On one side you see man believing God and receiving Christ for salvation. On the other you see God enabling man to do so. Prior to salvation, a person is spiritually dead and utterly incapable of responding to the gospel. God must grant him or her saving faith. That’s why the Bible contains statements like, “To you it has been granted for Christ’s sake . . . to believe in Him” (Phil. 1:29); “As many as had been appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48); and “The Lord opened [Lydia’s] heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul” (Acts 16:14).

God is the Great Rewarder, extending His love and grace to all who call upon Him. “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed” (Rom. 10:11).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • If you’ve been praying for someone’s salvation, don’t become discouraged. Only God can grant saving faith, but He gives us the privilege of participating in His redemptive work through faithful prayer and evangelism (Rom 10:1).

For Further Study

  • Memorize Ephesians 2:8-9.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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Walking by Faith

“By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God” (Heb 11:5).

When you walk by faith, you enjoy intimacy with God.

Our second hero of faith is Enoch. Genesis 5:21-24 records that “Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah. Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”

What a wonderful epitaph: “Enoch walked with God.” His life exemplifies the walk of faith. Adam and Eve had walked with God in the Garden of Eden, but their sin separated them from such intimacy. Enoch experienced the fellowship with God they had forfeited.

Enoch’s faithful walk pleased God greatly. And after more than three hundred years on earth, Enoch was translated to heaven without ever experiencing death. It’s as if God simply said, “Enoch, I enjoy your company so much, I want you to join me up here right now.”

Like Enoch, there is coming a generation of Christians who will never see death. Someday—perhaps soon—Jesus will return for His church, “then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up . . . in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17). Enoch is a beautiful picture of that great future event, which we call the rapture of the church.

As you walk with God, He delights in you. You’re His child and your praises and fellowship bring Him joy. Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones.” Even death itself simply ushers you into His presence for all eternity.

Let the joy of intimacy with God, and the anticipation of seeing Christ face to face—either by rapture or by death— motivate you to please Him more and more each day of your life.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the promise of Christ’s return.

For Further Study

  • Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
  • What events surround the rapture of the church?
  • How were the Thessalonians to respond to Paul’s teaching about the rapture?
  • How should you respond?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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