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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, May 29, 2015

Hell to pay


Matthew 18:6-9 / Mark 9:42-50 / Luke 17:1-2…

God is very concerned about the protection of His children. People will intentionally set traps and woe to those people, whether they are false teachers, false converts, or simply malicious non-believers. Indeed, it will happen, but God will levy heavy punishment on the perpetrators. To purposefully cause a child of God to stumble is exacting worse than a death sentence, it is to submit to an eternal sentence.

You see, annihilationism, the idea that an unsaved person who dies is simply extinguished, may sound less “cruel” to people, but it is not at all what the Bible teaches. In fact, it is the very opposite. Jesus was saying here that it would be better that we should be annihilated than suffer the fate that awaits us if we harm one of God’s children.

Also, we want to be careful not to let our own desires drag us down into perdition. Sin is serious business. Apostates and “make-believers” are in more danger than they may realize. If your destination is heaven, your destiny is holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:7-8). How can we say we have our eyes on heaven when we live like hell?

Don’t get between God and His children. Don’t let anything get between God and you. There is a hell, and it is eternal, and without any rest (Daniel 12:1-2 / Matthew 25:46 / 2 Thessalonians 1:9 / Revelation 14:9-11, 20:10-15). Believe me, and believe the Bible, you don’t want to go there. Believe Jesus, and you won’t have to. 

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

The question of authority


Mark 9:38-41 / Luke 9:49-50…

This is an occasion for Jesus to discuss His authority and its delegation. The disciples are suspicious of this exorcist who claimed Jesus’ name, whose faith resulted in miracle-working. Yet the exorcist is not using Jesus’ name as a magic spell, but because he knew and believed Jesus. The truth was that those in the immediate company of Jesus were not the only faithful disciples; there were obviously people taking the words of Jesus and putting them into practice.

This is not about unbelievers, or those who think they can take their own path. Jesus is abundantly clear about people who may look right but not actually be right (Matthew 7:24-27). There are people who are not actively opposing Him, but who are not in active fellowship with Him. Jesus is saying this man is not against us because he was teaching the truth. As God, Jesus knew this, or He would not have accepted him (Matthew 12:30). Anyone being kind to a follower of Christ in those times would have to be a believer himself (Hebrews 10:32-34).  In Matthew 25:31-46 the Lord told us that the same conditions will prevail at the end of the age.

The person closest to Jesus may not be the person used by Jesus at certain moments and in certain instances. Again, this is about humility. “In Jesus name” is not some magical incantation; it is representative of our being under His authority. You can only exercise authority to the extent that you are under authority. Demons know that; do you (Acts 19:13-16 / James 2:19)?

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The greatness of humility


Matthew 18:1-5 / Mark 9:33-37 / Luke 9:46-48…

We should not think that Jesus is simply speaking about how we might lack the purity of a child’s heart. The words of the Lord here are more radical than that.

In today’s society children are safeguarded and seemingly more valued than in Jesus’ day. When numbers of people were tallied, children were not usually included in the count. The parent was always the model for the child, not the other way around. This isn’t about the purity or sincerity of children but about their lowliness, their humility. The small, powerless child is at the opposite extreme from greatness.

Children know instinctively that they are pretty much powerless unless there is a parent around. They don’t necessarily want to be great; they want to be with someone they can trust. Therefore, they turn themselves over to their parents. That is what God wants, for us to trust and treasure Him, like a child to His loving father or mother.

Submission, servant leadership, and good stewardship are how the mature model this. It is humility, trusting in God despite worldly wisdom and concern (1 Peter 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 10:43-44).

Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me. Jesus is also speaking of accepting the hard to accept person. Children are dependent, require care, create a burden, and they are a great responsibility. The greatness of humility is about receiving this type of person.

Yes, all this may be difficult, but if we will humble ourselves, the Lord will lift us up (James 4:10 / 1 Peter 5:6). Like a little child in His arms. 

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