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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.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Straightening up


Luke 13:10-17…

Here was a woman who had a disability, she couldn’t stand up straight, but it didn’t stop her from coming to the synagogue to worship. Even after 18 years of being bound up by Satan her love for God and His Word trumped the physical and emotional pain. Yet it seems so easy for us to find one sorry excuse to stay home from church, rather than find one of the many reasons to go. This woman wouldn’t be held back, but we say we just don’t feel like it. If our prayers go unanswered for a week, we punish God by missing the next.

Jesus could have just gone home after teaching, but He calls out to her, a woman, which would be a scandal in itself. He is breaking the rules of etiquette.

After He heals her, the religious leaders were indignant. He is breaking the rules of ministry. But Jesus exposes their hypocrisy. In their supposed zeal, they show their hearts. They do what needs to be done on the Sabbath day; they are not so strict as to restrict common duties. They don’t call that sinful work. Accordingly, they should care more about a hurting person than a thirsty animal. Ironically, the whole idea of the Sabbath was rest, release, and so the Lord’s words, “Woman, you are freed from your disability” are perfectly in line with God’s will.

Also, this was not just about being hypocritical in their application of Sabbath Law; it was an indication of their disregard for women. They weren’t just rejecting Jesus and His work, they were rejecting her. But men and women are both heirs of God's promises (Galatians 3:27-29). We are to treat each other with dignity and respect, as Jesus demonstrates here.

It is the influence of Satan that tries to keep people from “straightening up”, but it is the nature of Jesus to bend our wills and break the rules when it comes to redemption over religion.  

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Warning label


Luke 13:6-9…

God is looking for the fruit of repentance (Matthew 3:8). Jesus’ warning that the Jews must repent or perish had a nearly immediate, terrible fulfillment. Within a generation, many perished in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. This serves as a warning to everyone (Romans 11:22). The problem isn’t man-made disaster or natural disasters; the problem is sin.

God hates sin, and will punish both individual sinners and nations. The fact that God doesn’t seem to punish sins and sinners immediately doesn’t mean that He approves of the sin, or that He will always allow it to go on without consequence, it is that He is merciful and allowing time to repent. We are now in the “grace period”, but Jesus is reminding us that we are on borrowed time. We need to repent now. I am talking to you, Christian.

Every individual and every nation will be found guilty when measured by the standard of God’s perfect righteousness. But Jesus came to put away the eternal consequences of sin (Hebrews 9:26-28). We’ve been extended a season of grace to become fruitful, so we’ve got to be fruitful. Repentance means we turn from sin, faith means we follow Jesus, spiritual fruit is the result. And don’t be fooled; no fruit, no root.

Jesus was explaining that disasters remind us that no one escapes death, and that we all may die at any time (Luke 13:1-5). Therefore repentance must be our priority, because no one will escape His judgment. The goodness of God has kept the wrath of God from you for now, not forever (Romans 2:4-5). People presume on God’s goodness and think they can just play the game of their lives any old way they want to. Jesus is telling us all: no way.

The fig tree couldn’t know it only had a year left, and neither can you. You can’t afford to wait another minute because you don’t know when your time will be up. The greater the space left for repentance, the greater the wrath of God that is stored up if we don’t.

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

The call of calamity


Luke 13:1-5…

We don’t like to admit it, but disasters are always around us. Sometimes they become more prominent because of their proportion or proximity.  How should we process these things?

Jesus speaks clearly to the matter, citing two well-known instances. One was caused by man, the other by nature. Jesus was warning the disciples against presuming to directly trace the effects of a specific sin to a specific disaster. He wasn’t saying that these people were innocent, but that all are guilty before God. He turns the question from “why did this happen?” into “what does this mean to me?” and from “what about God?” to “what about me?” The tragedies of today and tomorrow speak 4 things to us.

It speaks of reality. We live in a fallen world where these things will happen. We are supposed to weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15 / 2 Corinthians 1:4). But we don’t have to grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Amidst all the calamity, catastrophe, chaos, and confusion, that is the larger point. Are you anchored in eternal reality?

It speaks of revelation. Disasters reveal His reign. He is the Creator and Sustainer (Colossians 1:15-17 / Hebrews 1:2-3). Judgment is coming (2 Peter 3:10-13). We don’t need to judge others, we need to pray for them and to show mercy, and part of that mercy is bringing the gospel message. Are you revealing the eternal truth to others?

It speaks of repentance. This is both our ongoing state of repentance (vs.3), as well as our initial repentance (vs.5). Disasters are most often sudden, and unexpected. Jesus tells us to repent otherwise we might die suddenly and in a state of unbelief. Those who died didn’t think they would die soon; we can suppose that most of them were not ready. Are you remaining ready?

It speaks of redemption. If we do repent we will not suffer eternal death, but receive eternal life. In the midst of destruction, we can hear God’s merciful plea to be reconciled to Him. Don’t turn on Him in anger, and don’t turn away from Him in fear, but turn to Him in faith. Then no matter what happens, you will avoid the ultimate disaster (John 6:37).

Calamities are bound to happen. The question is do you hear what they are saying?  

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