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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.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The precedent for preeminence


Matthew 20:20-28 / Mark 10:35-45…

The ambition: Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.
The inquiry: Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?

The answer: We are able.
The insight: You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.

The anger: And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers.
The implementation: whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave.

It is not simply a matter of suffering, and not simply a matter of service, it is a matter of self-denying self-sacrifice, not self-indulgent service for self-exalting status. Submission makes us a servant to others; thus submission is the surrendering of our independence. In submission we place the interests of others above our own personal interests (Romans 15:1-2 / Philippians 2:1-4), which enables us to humble our thirst for recognition.

God is the key and Christ is the model and the means for submission. The submission we are to have one to another is to imitate Christ’s submission (Philippians 2:5-13). Peter also makes God the focus of submitting to governmental authority (1 Peter 2:13-17), to workplace authority (1 Peter 2:18-20), and to those who cause them suffering (1 Peter 2:21-25, 4:19).

In the eyes of the world, the greatest is the one who has no one over him. In the kingdom of God, Jesus said that whomever would be the greatest would be the servant of all (Mark 9:33-37). Submission is the attitude which underlies servant leadership. When we subordinate our interests to those of the ones we lead, we die to self (Matthew 10:38-39 / Mark 8:34-35 / Luke 9:23-24 / John 12:24-25). In this way we become models of submission to the church (1 Peter 5:1-7). 

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Just keep following

Matthew 20:17-19 / Mark 10:32-34 / Luke 18:31-34…

Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. They were all in wonder and many were worried.

Everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. In our walk with Jesus, everything that God has ordained for your life will be accomplished, too.

But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said. Even His closest disciples didn’t really understand what He was now saying, and what it all meant for the future.

But don’t forget one thing…the true disciples kept right on walking with Jesus. Where else were they to go (John 6:68)? Even though they didn’t fully as yet understand what He was saying, and wondering why He was going where He was. It sounded like trouble. But they still followed.

It is worth the trouble to follow Him into trouble. Every commandment of Christ is for our best, and it is done from a heart of love (cf. Deuteronomy 33:2-3). He may seem to be a dead end to you at times, but He will rise again, you’ll see. That is, if you keep following (1 Corinthians 15:1-2). Those who follow Jesus follow all the way through death and home to heaven. 

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Grace isn’t fair


Matthew 20:1-16…

The setting of this parable was the conversation Jesus just had with the rich man, and the following discussion with the disciples (Matthew 19:16-30). Just before giving this parable, Jesus issued a warning, “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” At the end of this parable, Jesus says again, “So the last will be first, and the first last.”  Since this warning both precedes and follows the parable, it is evident that the parable was told to explain the warning.

The story starts out with a normal plot, with a landowner hiring day workers. But as the day came to the end, the landowner did something very unusual. He paid those who had worked the least amount of time the same as those who worked all day. Naturally, the workers who had been there all day complained. They thought it was unfair that the men who worked only a little should get just as much as they did.

But the landowner reminded them of the facts. They needed work, and he graciously gave them a job. He then paid them a fair wage, one they had agreed to. Other workers were simply blessed beyond that, and this was the prerogative of the landowner. There was no law that said he had to pay everyone proportionately. That ended the discussion.

Yet the story isn’t simply about money, wages, rewards, or recompense, but about attitude. The Lord is the landowner, and the vineyard represents His kingdom. We are the workers, and the wages are about God’s rewards for faithful service. But the length of service and the amount of work does not determine what the reward is. God’s economy of grace is not the same as the natural order people expect.

It is when people start comparing what God has given to other believers that they begin to judge God’s fairness. Two things happen when you compare with others: you covet or you complain. You covet what others do have and complain about what you don’t have. The warning to each of us is not to be proud of what we have done and expect more than those whom we think have done less. Anything and everything we are able to do for and in the kingdom of God is simply the result of His grace (1 Corinthians 15:10). We must serve Him faithfully, trusting His just and generous character (1 Corinthians 15:58).

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