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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, December 22, 2014

Blessed in believing

John 20:24-29…

When the other disciples told Thomas that Jesus had appeared to them, he refused to believe. He insisted that before he would believe he would have to see Jesus with his own eyes, and examine for himself the wounds of Jesus from the crucifixion.  The others had not believed until they had seen Jesus for themselves, so Thomas was not asking for anything more than they got. 

Eight days later, Thomas got his wish. Jesus once again appears in their midst, despite the still locked doors. He repeats the word of peace He had given at their last meeting. Turning to Thomas, Jesus provides the evidence that Thomas had been looking for, challenging him to put away his unbelief.

Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” He does not merely profess a belief that Jesus has risen from the dead. Thomas understands and believes in what the resurrection proved. Jesus was God, and He is Lord. Those eight days were worth the wait.

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus is emphasizing the contrast between those who must see in order to believe, and those who will believe without seeing (1 Peter 1:8-9).

It has been nearly 2000 years since Jesus rose from the dead, and we have been waiting all that time for Him to return to Earth to gather His children. It will be worth the wait (2 Peter 3:9). If you believe the Truth you will know it, whether you see it or not (Romans 15:13).


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Prophesying Pentecost

Mark 16:15-18…

The idea that these Jewish believers in Jesus would go to the Gentile nations to spread the faith was truly revolutionary. In commissioning them, Jesus tells them that signs would follow their preaching (Hebrews 2:3-4). These signs were fulfilled, as the book of Acts shows (Acts 2:41, 43, 5:15-16, 31-32, 16:18, 28:3-5, etc.). They were not intended to be some continuously manifesting evidence or a specific test of faith for today’s preachers or believers.

Jesus gave a thesis statement for the book of Acts in Acts 1:8. The work of tongues was foundational in the development of the church, in its inauguration and the sign of its spread. Jews (Acts 2), the hated, half-breed Samaritans (Acts 8), the Gentiles (Acts 10), and the disciples of John the Baptist, people in transitional period between the OT and the NT Church (Acts 19), all were included in the manifestation of unity and spread of the Gospel.

The tongues represented peoples and nations (cf. Revelation 7:9). The barriers between Jew and Gentile had been broken down (cf. Ephesians 2:11-22). All who believe in Jesus are one in Christ by the Spirit of God (Romans 12:5 / 1 Corinthians 6:17, 12:13). Peter, in Acts 2:17-18, shows us that not only are all people groups potentially included, but all gender, age, and social groups are as well. The point has been made; we are one body in Christ. The rest of the NT writing assumes and asserts that (cf. Colossians 1:6).

People back then and people today still ask what these signs and wonders Jesus was speaking of mean (Acts 2:12). The answer is clear (Acts 2:21 / Romans 10:13).  The only real wall between God and men is sin, and God in Christ has broken down all racial, gender, age, and social barriers to salvation (Colossians 3:11). The inauguration of the Great Commission at Pentecost is cause for celebration, the reason for missions. It is entirely ironic to create a new wall (that these signs must be present today) when it was the old wall that was being torn down.

What are we to do (Acts 2:37)? We are called to identify with Christ, ask for the forgiveness of your sins and be baptized because you believe that all those who trust in Jesus are given the Spirit of God, adopted into His family (Acts 2:38-39). That is the big picture here. 


Saturday, December 20, 2014

The evidence of peace

Mark 16:14 / Luke 24:36-43 / John 20:19-23…

Amidst all of these reports of a stolen body, and the sightings of a risen Jesus, the disciples were meeting behind closed doors because they were still afraid of the Jewish leaders. Now it comes clear as to what has happened as Jesus suddenly appears to all those gathered. He speaks words of peace, but their response was fear (cf. Matthew 14:26). So Jesus proves that He isn’t some ghost by allowing them to examine His wounds and eating a meal with them.

Jesus then symbolically bestows the Holy Spirit upon them, pointing to Pentecost, when they would receive the Spirit and be empowered to fulfill the Great Commission (Acts 1:8). He had risen, and in returning to them He had spoken peace, which is associated with His presence. But He was going to ascend to the Father shortly. He wanted to remind them of what He had said earlier, about not leaving them alone. He would be physically gone, but the Spirit would abide with them and in them (John 14:16-19). He would leave them with a supernatural peace (John 14:27-28 / Philippians 4:7).

We need to know this today. The physical Jesus is not with us on earth, but the presence and power of the Holy Spirit is with all believers (1 Corinthians 6:17, 12:13). That is the evidence of peace (John 16:33 / Romans 5:1-5, 14:17, 15:13 / Galatians 5:22 / 2 Thessalonians 3:16).