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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.

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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Monday, October 20, 2014

I AM with you


John 14:15-31…

Sometimes we may feel as if we have been left alone, abandoned, and we’re afraid. The comforts we have relied on have come crashing down. Chaos abounds, and confusion sets in. Where will we turn? Who can understand? Who can help? What shall we do? All seems lost.

The disciples knew this feeling exactly. Jesus, this wonderful teacher, miracle worker, God manifest in the flesh, was going away. Think about how that must have hit them like a ton of bricks. How in the world would things ever come together again? Life was shattered.

Their answer is our answer, too. Jesus was not leaving the disciples alone. God would be with them by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. The world cannot recognize or receive the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14), but Christians do (1 Corinthians 12:13).  He’s the answer.

The Spirit’s power is indispensable. The evidence of our love for Jesus is that we obey His teaching, which is most manifest by our love for other believers. The power to do that comes from God; we are given the Holy Spirit as a gift, and the Spirit helps us to trust and obey God.

The Spirit’s presence is everlasting. He comes from the Father to stay forever within the believer. The Spirit makes Jesus real. He mediates the life of Christ to the believer. He is our comforter, and teacher, reminding us of biblical truth and the things concerning Christ.  He pours out God’s love to us (Romans 5:1-5), and makes us a temple (1 Corinthians 6:19).

Jesus did what He had to do, and after He had defeated Satan on the cross (Colossians 2:13-15), the Holy Spirit would come. He would make real the presence of Jesus, explain the words of Jesus, and give us the peace of Jesus. We are not alone, we will not be abandoned, and we do not have to be afraid.  The “I AM” is always with us (Hebrews 13:5-6). 

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