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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.

Monday, August 03, 2015

The quality of trustworthiness

Luke 16:9-13…

Jesus is teaching about how to live wisely in anticipation of His return. He urges us to invest in our eternal future by using our “worldly wealth” in an appropriate way. Money is for building treasure in heaven and you can’t serve both God and money. Our use of our resources is an indicator of where our true loyalties lie. The truth is that you cannot be trusted with truth unless you can be trusted with money.

Sometimes the worst thing that can happen to someone who isn’t building quality into their lives is for them to have some easy success. They may have some success, but they cannot handle success, and they wind up back where they started and usually even worse.  For many people, what they need isn’t success in their life, but stability in their soul.

Even small things matter; faithfulness to a little thing is a big thing. The little only becomes much when you use it (Mark 4:24-25).  Doing the right thing with what you have now shows that you will do the right thing if given more. Being a person who is faithful with someone else’s stuff proves that one is ready for their own stuff. If you can’t be a good subordinate, you won’t be a good supervisor. Invest in other’s lives and other’s will invest in yours (Luke 6:38).

Are you building up the things that make you trustworthy? Can people trust you because you take care of the details? Can people trust you because you know what is important? Can people trust you because you care about their stuff?  Can you be trusted with more things, with better things, with control of things?  

Your influence is beyond money, it includes time, talent, and treasure. You cannot serve both sides at once: who are you serving at this moment? Are you giving glory to God through the stewardship of small things, lesser things, and other people’s things? The most important ability is dependability. You can cultivate that, but are you serving yourself or your Savior? If all you do is act entitled, you won’t be a person who is entrusted. 


Sunday, August 02, 2015

The merciful master

Luke 16:1-8…

The steward in this story was not careful with the stuff entrusted to him. He was apparently using the debtor’s payments for his own pleasure. The master heard the news and told him he was fired. But his master mercifully gives him time to prepare his books for an audit.

The steward struggles with what to do. He was caught and in trouble. His options are limited and he doesn’t like his choices. When the people found out he was a crook who would hire him?

He puts together a shrewd plan. Before the news spreads that he has been fired, he calls on the debtors, and quickly gets them to settle their accounts. They do so willingly because the steward gives them a substantial discount. In this way the debtors see the steward as a hero who had helped them negotiate a lesser fee for their final bill, instead of as a rascal who had been squandering their payments to his master.

The master realizes what the steward has done, but he considers what the alternatives might have been. He also realizes that the people will be praising the master for his generosity in lowering the bills. If he goes back and annuls what the steward had done, their joy in him will turn to anger. The master proves himself to indeed be a merciful and generous man. He allows the steward to go free and the accounts to be settled. The steward had risked everything on the master’s good nature, and he won. 

Jesus is not teaching people to commit fraud, compromise with evil, or act entirely in one’s own self-interest. He isn’t saying we can buy our way to heaven. The emphasis is on living in the light of eternity. We have been unjust, but we have been given a merciful “grace period” to settle our accounts. Like the unjust steward, we must recognize the hopelessness of our situation, and turn to the one source of our salvation, our generous Master.

There will come a day where we will be called to account. It does us well to make preparation before then. Are you placing your total trust in the Master’s mercy? 


Saturday, August 01, 2015

Lost and found

Luke 15:11-32…

Jesus had been responding to the grumbling of the Pharisees at His response to sinners. This parable serves as His final, forceful revelation of their hearts. For the religious leaders listening to Jesus, this was a humiliating exposure of their hypocrisy.

The story paints the younger son as being very impatient and imprudent. There is no attempt to minimize the seriousness of his sins. Jesus did receive sinners, but He never minimized sin. This represented those people whom the religious leaders thought Jesus shouldn’t associate with.

Yet, while the younger son’s sins were great, so was his repentance. When he finally realized his folly, against his earthly father and his Heavenly Father, it caused him to look for forgiveness.  His repentant spirit is reflected in his deep sense of unworthiness. He does not claim any rights, he only hopes for mercy. This represented those people who had turned to Jesus. 

The father had allowed the younger son to go his own way, but he never left his heart. He ran to meet the son as soon as he saw him returning. The father did not force the son to grovel. He instead restored him and started rejoicing. This represented the loving heart of the Heavenly Father, who willingly grants forgiveness, and rejoices in the return of the wayward.

The older brother refused to join in the celebration. He thought his father’s favor was because of his good works, and expected his younger brother to have been disowned due to his bad works. He actually thought that he had been entirely faithful, but he disobeyed his father by not participating. It was not the younger brother’s sins which caused the father’s celebration, but his repentance. The older brother not only failed to comprehend grace, he resented it. The older brother represented the religious leaders who were grumbling against Jesus.

Both sons were equally in need. One simply had needs that are more outwardly evident. The truth is we all need Christ and an understanding of God’s heart for the lost. Understanding grace means you look for the lost and rejoice when they’re found.