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Our DAILY GOSPEL DEVOTIONAL is the story of Jesus from Incarnation to Ascension. This is a chronology and harmony of the gospel accounts in which the ongoing narrative and doctrinal context are carefully considered. In one year we reflect on every passage of every gospel.
May God bless you as we follow the disciples on the journey through the earthly life of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

It’s for the best


John 16:5-15…

Jesus was looking to engage the disciples in a discussion about His departure. Earlier, they had asked Jesus about where He was going (John 13:36, 14:5). But now, knowing He is going, they become preoccupied with themselves and their sorrow. This caused them to overlook the advantages that would be brought about by Jesus’ departure, both for themselves and for the continuation of His mission.

Jesus had told them of the results of our union with Him, the provisions as well as the persecutions.  Now He once again instructs them about the Holy Spirit, who would be with them in all of these things.  When we are caught up in our own circumstance, we fail to focus on other people, and fail to realize that what may seem like the worst thing is often the best thing for us. The Holy Spirit was literally a God send.

The role of the Spirit in the world is conviction (vs.8-11). He convicts people of the sin of refusing the person of Jesus (John 14:6). He convicts people of their lack of righteousness compared to Jesus (Romans 3:23). He convicts people that evil has been judged, and will be cast out (John 12:31 / Colossians 2:15). When we witness of sin, righteousness, and judgment, the Holy Spirit will work in people’s hearts to convict of the message of Christ. 

The role of the Spirit in the believer is communication (vs.12-15). Christ said that the Spirit would not only bring all the former teachings of Jesus to their remembrance, but that He would also further reveal the truth about Jesus to the Apostles. The writings of the New Testament bear witness, the Scriptures are evidence of what Jesus was talking about (1 Corinthians 2:16).

For us today, the Spirit illuminates that written Word, and exalts Jesus Christ through our experience with that Word in living it out. The Spirit reveals the Son, who expresses the Father. God is communicating, but we must be tuned in to His frequency if we want to hear Him and to have others hear Him through us. We often miss the power because we ignore the provision. If you want to be filled with the Spirit you need to be filled with His Word.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The truth about hate


John 15:18-16:4…

Jesus had just been speaking of the results of our union with Him. Being connected with Him leads to the life of Christ being manifest in us, with prayerful, obedient, fruitful and loving joy being characteristic of our lives. Having said that, Jesus now tells them of some other things they can expect. He tells His disciples that they will be hated and persecuted for His name’s sake.

Jesus gives three main reasons why the world hates Christians. First, it is because we are no longer identified with the world (vs.19). Second, because we are now identified with Christ (vs.20). Third, the world rejects Christians because they are ignorant of God (vs.21).

Jesus says the world is guilty because they have rejected His words (vs.22-23), His works (vs.24), and the Old Testament witness (vs.25). But while the world has rejected the words, works, and witness of God, the disciples have not rejected God, and they will have the Holy Spirit as a witness to them and through them (vs.26-27).

Jesus tells us of these events ahead of time so that we may be prepared. To be forewarned is to be forearmed (cf. 2 Peter 3:17). This is especially true when it comes to religious leaders. While the world rejects Christians, the false religious leaders will do more than reject, they will try and suppress and even silence the voice of Christ through His disciples.

The true gospel offends people. It reminds us that we are in bondage to sin and on our way to hell apart from God’s offer of salvation in Christ. Believers are not to expect popularity in the world when we are true to His Word (2 Corinthians 2:15-16 / James 4:4). Our job is not to serve the crowd, but the Crown. 

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Remaining relevant


John 15:1-17…

There are many profound and yet perplexing things about this text. The wonderful things Jesus says have to be matched by wondering what He means. Can we really get what we ask for? Can we really be full of joy? Can a real branch be cut off? The truth is that we can get real twisted by this text, and the depths of this text are an ongoing treasure to be discovered. We can be sure that abiding in Christ is the point, and to abide means to remain.

These words of Jesus are proof that we cannot simply rely on a few moments of inspiration and devotional reading here and there if we are to really grow as God wants us to. We cannot simply skim the surface, we have to stay with it; we have to dive into the depths if we want to reach the heights. Keeping His commandments, loving one another, and bearing fruit to the glory of God as real disciples and friends of Jesus, this means that we have to have a real attachment to Him.

There are so many great promises in the Word of God to get a hold of, but in grabbing hold we need to be aware of something. These things are not so much about having a tool as it is about becoming a tool. The Bible is a tool, yes, but it is a tool designed to make us a tool in God’s hands much more so than it is a tool in our hands. And again, to abide means to remain, that is, we become the tool over time.

Jesus gives us the characteristics of authentic branches. They bear the fruit of Christ’s character, living through God’s Word and prayer. They want to obey God’s commandments and they love other Christians.  The idea is not about imperatives, but indicatives. In other words, it is not that if we stay in touch with Him we can use these promises like a tool. No, it is that abiding in Him turns you into His tool, and these promises become our experience. 

There is a difference between abiding and appearing. People can seem real, sound real, and simulate the real. The test is that when they are pruned back, do they grow back? 

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