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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.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Herod was haunted


Matthew 14:1-2 / Mark 6:14-16 / Luke 9:7-9…

He had put John the Baptist to death, but now another man was going about and through his actions was laying claim to authority, proving it in both word and deed. People were thronging to this new man, and Herod knew he was in trouble. He knew he had wrongly imprisoned and killed John, so he thought that this was a manifestation of menace sent by God to torment him. 

Anything that threatens the comfortable status quo of our spirituality sets us on edge. Suddenly our personal power structure is in jeopardy, and we will be looking and listening for anything to relieve our haunted heart. People will come and tell you everything you want to hear, and if you don’t know God, or if you are currently turned away from Him in rebellion, you will naturally incline towards whatever it is that resonates with your rebellious soul.

People will use all sorts of amusement, medication, busyness and whatever else their mind can think of to try and avoid and abate their own torment. But you can’t kill a guilty conscience on your own. You have to let Jesus be Jesus, or you will suffer in superstition. Yes, you can harden yourself, but even the calcified conscience can be crushed open by the power of God. This new man must take over (Galatians 4:19 / Ephesians 4:17-24). When Jesus begins to ascend the throne, you had better abdicate or you will be a miserable shell of self-menace trapped in the haunted prison of your own heart. 

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Friday, April 29, 2016

I tell you


Matthew 10:17-42…

Imagine what these disciples must have been thinking and feeling. There was certainly an air of anticipation, but there surely was also an air of apprehension. They were now going to be “out front” as it were, “without” Jesus in the way they were used to. How often it is that we fear leaving the comfortable confines of church and community, and striking out into the situations of other lives on behalf of Jesus.

This is especially so when we are reminded that many will not receive our message. Some will be excited, but some will be enraged (2 Thessalonians 3:2). Even some people who seem close to us might “throw us under the bus”. People will rise up against you because they are victims of the Enemy (2 Timothy 2:26), and the enemy wishes to cause them to rise against Jesus, who is the victor over you (2 Corinthians 5:14-19). Still, the Lord is with us (2 Thessalonians 3:3).

He tells them to prepare for the worst. Yet even when it seems like all is despair, there are still moments of deliverance (2 Corinthians 1:8-10). Even when faced with death, there is still final deliverance; and our final answer (1 Peter 3:15) will be made right (Daniel 3:16-18 / 2 Timothy 4:18). This is all part of being conformed to the image of our Master (Philippians 3:10).

Jesus has got us covered. His eye is on the sparrow, He knows our every move, our gains and losses. He is most intimately involved with those who are His. And we are the most precious thing to Him. Jesus came to deliver us from the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15), and our whole Christian lives are journeys where we are being delivered from fear and into faith. Jesus comforted them and He comforts us with these same truths (Hebrews 13:5-6).

There will be reward for those who lose their former lives for the sake of Jesus, and those who hear Him will be granted the ability to speak for Him, and to hear Him all the more. It is a glorious thing to know, that we would be able to declare the eternal truth about our eternal God and to be a member of the eternal family in our coming eternal home. This is the antidote to the terror of the temporary.

I tell you the truth.    

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

I send you


Matthew 10:1-16 / Mark 6:7-13 / Luke 9:1-6…

Now Jesus applies what He had said to them; they were going to be the answer to their own  prayers He asked them to pray about sending laborers into the harvest (Matthew 9:37-38).  He is applying this to you as well. You are to pray for laborers to be sent for the harvest, and be about laboring in the harvest too.

So now these disciples who have seen Jesus do all these wonderful things, but who have also seen Jesus be rejected, they are gathered by Him, empowered by Him, and sent out. They probably reasoned within themselves that they would not be able to do what He had called them to do. But if Jesus has the power, and is the power, then He has the power to give the power.  

You know yourself and your failures, flaws, fears, and frustrations, all too well. You know who Jesus is, too. You protest, saying, “I haven’t been given the powers they have”. Haven’t you? It is no real surprise that Jesus calls on you to do something extraordinary, although you wonder why He would choose you to do it. But you’re no different than the original disciples. Jesus has always been the master at turning weaknesses into strengths and making useless people useful.

It isn’t that Jesus is giving us all the power to physically raise the dead, but to be involved in raising the spiritually dead. He has given us the power to raise ourselves from out of the worldly dead and into the godly people we ought to be, to die to self (Mark 8:35 / John 12:26 / 1 Peter 4:1-12) and become people who can live for Christ (Philippians 1:21 / Galatians 2:20), win others to Christ (1 Corinthians 9:19-27 / James 5:19-20 / Proverbs 11:30 / Luke 5:10), and edify our brothers and sisters in Christ (Ephesians 5:18-21 / Romans 15:1-6).

That takes as much supernatural, Holy Spirit power as anything any other disciple has ever done. 

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

I pray for you


Matthew 9:35-38…

Jesus was going about His business, teaching, preaching, and healing, showing His power over all affliction and disease as proof of who He was and is. Yet the demonstration of who He is was not just through power, but also through pity (Matthew 14:14, 15:32).

He was meeting needs in great numbers, but He saw greater needs than numbers. People had problems, but their greatest problem is that they were lost, and had no one to guide them. Jesus is the One to whom we guide people, and Jesus will guide them when He has them, but who will guide them to Jesus in the first place? Who will continue to shepherd them as a servant of Jesus through the problems of life?

You may have strong and right convictions, but the bridge between your conviction and their connection is true compassion (Ephesians 4:15). Do we bear witness to the truth by our compassion for the crowds, the masses of lost people in our own little slice of the world? If you think you are a devoted disciple, but are not developing a compassion for others, you’re not loving God as well as you think you are (Leviticus 19:18 / Matthew 7:12, 22:35-40 / Mark 12:28-34 / Luke 10:25-28 / Romans 13:8-10 / Galatians 5:14 / James 2:8).

This is a call to souls. This is not just a prayer for missionary workers, or evangelists, but for true disciples, who are always about the missionary task because they are always out to serve the Lord by living for Christ, winning others to Christ, and edifying their brothers and sisters in Christ. So whether it is saving souls, strengthening saints, or sending servants, they are living witnesses. We must pray, and we must also realize that we are the answer to the prayer that someone would “pass by” the one in need. Put your hands together to pray for the harvest, and stretch your hands out to gather it. 

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

I marvel at you


Matthew 13:53-58 / Mark 6:1-6…

Jesus was coming back to Nazareth, where He grew up (Luke 4:16), but where He had been violently rejected (Luke 4:29). The disciples followed along, because true disciples follow their Master (John 8:12, 10:27, 12:26). We don’t walk perfectly, but as we get to know Him we will follow along even when it means risk (Acts 15:25-26).

Jesus went to church and taught the Bible, just as He had done before (Luke 4:17-21). At first they were impressed by His teaching, astonished by His wisdom and power. Soon, however, they were offended, and their unbelief was manifest. Familiarity had bred contempt.

Is not this the carpenter…? The people that have known you, the folks that have seen you grow up, and the community that knows where you came from, it can be hard for these people to accept your advances in the faith. Many times others don’t accept the “new you” because they haven’t known the power of change themselves. But you have to believe that people can change, because if you don’t, you are denying the power of God, and you have no hope for people, and that includes yourself. God can change that stubborn person; He changed you, didn’t He?

And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. It was not that He couldn’t but that He wouldn’t. Sometimes we get so settled in our routines, or so satisfied by other things that the things that ought to be continually cherished become the mere motions of a soul empty of energy. Contempt for the preaching of the gospel, corporate worship and Communion will not go unnoticed by God (2 Chronicles 36:15-16). The progression from apathy to abandonment and antagonism of God’s Word will lead to spiritual starvation (Amos 8:11-14).

While on earth, there were two things that made Jesus marvel. He marveled at the faith of those who we would expect to have unbelief (Matthew 8:5-13 / cf. Matthew 15:21-28), and at the unbelief of those who we would expect to have faith.

Jesus marvels at you, but which way?

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Monday, April 25, 2016

I hear you

Matthew 9:32-34…

Of course, Jesus is once again fulfilling His messianic call (Isaiah 35:5).

Of course, just because Jesus ordered the demon out of the man, and his speech resumed immediately doesn’t mean that anyone who cannot see, speak, or hear is demon possessed or has some curse (cf. John 9:1-5).

Of course, it wasn’t that all of them thought all the right things about Jesus. Some were beginning to recognize who He was, but many were just enthralled at the spectacle.

Of course, the religious leaders would have none of it. How we interpret the movements of God, and the facts about Jesus reveals the condition of our heart. Are you happy when people are helped, or do you immediately attribute everything to ulterior motives and sinister means?

Of course, Jesus knew that this would be so (Matthew 13:14-15). Those that have no fellowship have no faith, and therefore have no reason to see or hear what Jesus has to say, even denying His obvious presence among them in power.

Of course, for those whom it is granted to see and hear, the move of God is a wonderful thing to behold and be a part of (Matthew 13:16 / Acts 10:38).

Of course, it can be quite easy to slip into cynicism and lose sight of the truth in the search to prove or preserve our position.

Of course, you can hear what I’m saying, can’t you?

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