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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 18, 2017

Justified prayer


Luke 18:9-14…

These prayers reflect the pride and self-righteousness which the Lord will judge when He returns, and the repentance and faith which He will reward when He returns.

Justification means being declared righteous before God. Often overlooked is the fact that when the Pharisee prayed he was thanking God. He was not saying how great he was by himself. He knew he needed help, but felt that his cooperation with God is what justified him. This is subtle but is explained by saying that for some to justify is to be made righteous rather than to be declared righteous.  The difference is the difference between a saving faith that relies on an external atonement for sin and a misplaced faith that relies in an internal abatement of sin.

This is the great danger, the teaching that the imparted righteousness whereby we can indeed do good works is the grounds of our justification, instead of the imputed righteousness of Christ to our account. Our good works give evidence to our faith (Matthew 7:20 / James 2:18) but they do not save us (Romans 3:20). God does indeed develop righteousness in everyone to whom He imputes righteousness, but we never achieve perfection in this life (Philippians 3:4-19).Works are the fruit, not the root of justification (Ephesians 2:8-10).

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. Justification cannot be done on the basis of our works, but must be based on the merits of Christ (Galatians 2:16). We can never earn, deserve, or merit God’s forgiveness. What we must do is to accept the sinless life and atoning death of Jesus Christ as our substitute. Christians should be thankful that we have been given a measure of freedom from the power of sin in this life, but we must be careful to never equate this with our righteous standing before God. You are not to thank God for your righteousness compared to others, but thank Him for His righteousness accredited to you because of the Atonement (2 Corinthians 5:21). 

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Praying for His return


Luke 18:1-8…

Jesus had been speaking on being prepared for His return, and the coming kingdom of God. Here He continues. He is not just giving them some random teaching about persisting in prayer so that you will move God to action. He had told them about the difficulty of the coming times. In light of that, many may give up their prayer life. He encourages us to remain steadfast. He is speaking about having, not just a saving faith, but a living faith.

This is about continuing to pray, that is to trust, that Jesus will one day return and that ultimate justice will one day be done. Jesus wants believers to avoid the traps He had just spoken of (Luke 17:22-37). He wants them to avoid following after false prophets who promise signs and wonders and a false presence of the kingdom, the trap of overzealous expectation. He also wants them to avoid the trap of falling back into a routine life of worldly preoccupation which lacks a passion for His return, marked by a lack of prayer.

Jesus will return, and He will vindicate Himself, and His church, and His people, those who have trusted in Him, who have had to suffer injustice on account of following Him.  It is a promise, and each day is one day closer to its fulfillment (Romans 13:11). Are we acting as if we believe that? It is easier to just sort of give up and coast along. But it is not the right thing to do (1 John 2:28). Jesus wants us to continue to fight the uphill battle of faith (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Faithfulness through all the trials and troubles of life, in the midst of this wicked world, is an act of worship (cf. Philippians 2:14-15). Are we living for Christ, winning others to Christ, and edifying our brothers and sisters in Christ? We may think so, but remember none of this is truly being done if it is not bathed in persistent prayer.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The days are coming


Luke 17:22-37…

When responding to the Pharisees, Jesus focused on His first coming. When instructing His disciples, He stresses His second coming. The coming of the kingdom of God means blessings to those who are saved, yet the emphasis here is on the judgment of God which will come upon the lost sinners at His return.

Jesus says that there will be difficult times ahead. Accordingly, many will be seeking for signs of the coming kingdom. So there will be those who are deceiving and those who are deceived about Jesus. Yet we are not to go looking after signs, and we are not to follow the false prophets, because the second coming of Christ will be unmistakable, and the timeline of redemption will be fulfilled. We will not be ready for the Second Coming unless we understand His cross, and remain devoted to the Scriptures. There is a danger of over-zealous expectation.

There is also a danger of worldly preoccupation. Those who dismissed Noah’s preaching and carried on as before were taken away to judgment (2 Peter 2:5), and it came very suddenly. Those who mocked Lot and despised the warnings of the destruction of Sodom were also taken away suddenly to judgment (2 Peter 2:6-7). When Jesus speaks of Lot’s wife (Genesis 19:26), He is not speaking so much of a return to the world, but a reluctance to break with it.

It will happen again. People will be going about all their regular activities, and be caught unawares. Jesus describes a terrible separation that will happen. The wheat and the weeds, the good and the evil, the converted and the unconverted, they will be made distinct forever. These are the words of warning from our Savior, and they weren’t to the wicked religious leaders but to those who said that they believed in Him! Jesus was warning that people will be taken away, by death, and into hell.

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