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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, September 30, 2016

Get on board


Matthew 24:37-41…

Jesus makes a comparison between how it was in Noah’s day with how it will be when Christ returns. In the days before the flood, Noah knew what was coming. For 120 years He was preaching (2 Peter 2:5) and preparing (Hebrews 11:7), but people continued with their normal activities. Despite Noah’s warnings, they remained unaware or unconvinced that destruction was coming upon them. The crisis was unexpected. The unbelievers were not prepared for God’s judgment. Only when it was too late did the people know how wrong they were.

They were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. Jesus had referred to this imagery before (Luke 17:26-27). The point is not that these things were wicked in themselves, but that people are so absorbed in worldly pursuits that they pay no attention to solemn warnings. Some were planning for their future on the earth, but not for their future in eternity. Jesus wanted His disciples to understand the signs of the times, and be ready, unlike those who did not believe and would not understand, and not be ready.

One will be taken and one left. This does not refer to believers being taken out of the trouble, but rather to unbelievers who are taken in judgment during the trouble. Just as people were taken away in judgment by the flood of Noah’s day, so too, will people be taken away in judgment during the return of Jesus. 

One of the many things that separate believers from unbelievers is that believers trust God’s prophetic word. An unbeliever has to be shown these things through experience. If you have to learn this lesson by experience, it will be too late. The time to get aboard the Ark is now.  

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

The question remains


Matthew 24:32-36 / Mark 13:28-32 / Luke 21:29-33…

Jesus uses illustrations to give us a seasonal approach to prophecy. He had spoken about the coming destruction of the temple, and also about the signs of the Second Coming. He says that the signs He had been speaking about would help us recognize when His return is drawing near. It will be just like you can recognize the nearing of summer when a fig tree puts out leaves. We will know when the season is upon us, but we will not know the exact date of His coming. 

Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. The generation that sees the signs will see His return. When the signs of the beginning of the end come, then the end will come relatively quickly, within a generation. Jesus’ words had relevance to those who heard Him speak these words. There was tribulation, and there was destruction. They will also be relevant to the saints of the last days as well. There are some things yet to be fulfilled, in a sense, and the return of Christ will be preceded by these same signs.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Jesus does not allow us to dismiss these words, no matter what generation we are in. There will be deception and destruction, discernment and deliverance. How this looks in each generation may seem different, but it will still be true. The ultimate fulfillment of this is the eternal state.

But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. In the Incarnation, Jesus was still fully God, but He had now also become fully man. In doing so, Jesus voluntarily limited His knowledge to what the Father chose to reveal to Him. So you see, no matter how neatly we can package our prophetic predictions, the question remains. It isn’t, “When is Jesus coming back?” It is, “Are you ready?” 

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Behold, He comes


Matthew 24:29-31 / Mark 13:24-27 / Luke 21:25-28…

It is interesting how, even though we humans are all quite the same in most ways, what brings us distress or delight can be quite different. It can even be that way with the same things. One person loves something, another hates it. One adores something, another wants to avoid it altogether.  Something that brings nothing but satisfaction to one person is the very same thing that brings nothing but sorrow to another.  

So it is with the spiritual life. As a Christian we receive a new set of standards and affections. Things we once despised we are now devoted to. Things we once advocated for we now admonish against. Things that brought us sinful pleasure now bring us spiritual pain. Some things we couldn’t wait for before we never want to see again. Some things we hoped weren’t true we now look forward to. Things we once lived for we are called to die to.

In describing His return, Jesus uses some incredible imagery taken from the Old Testament. It seems unbelievable, but it is oh so true. Scenes in the sky, cataclysm on the earth, and chaos among the people will be as never before. It is quite the dramatic picture. It will be so vivid, and so intense, that some will simply die of fear. Some may want to but won’t be able to.

Think about that for a moment. For the Christian, the Second Coming of Christ will be the time of greatest joy. Yet for the unbeliever, it will be the time of greatest fear. For the Christian, it will only get better from there. For the unbeliever it will only get worse. 

And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call. A real relationship with God, through time and maturation, transmits the character of Christ. Experience only confirms this knowledge, producing trust, which in turn fosters obedience. If living for Christ, winning others to Christ, and edifying our brothers and sisters in Christ isn’t becoming our consuming passion, then are we really worshipping Christ? If you aren’t answering the call now, what makes you think you will receive it when He returns?

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

An unmistakable entrance


Matthew 24:23-28 / Mark 13:21-23…

Jesus had been describing a scenario with many troubles, set for the near future, and also with a more distant fulfillment. When these awful events take place, many will be looking for the appearance of Christ. Yet He would not be found in the places people were saying He was. There are always false messiahs lurking about and looking to lead people into destruction. This would be especially true around the times Jesus was talking about. 

These false people will be very popular because they will manifest power. Yet just because something is real doesn’t mean it is right (Deuteronomy 13:1-4). Just because something looks good doesn’t mean it is good (2 Corinthians 11:4, 13-15). You can have powerful experiences, but again, just because it is “real” doesn’t mean that it is “true”. Not everything that claims to be Christian actually is.

Anything that doesn’t line up with the Jesus of the Bible is a false Christ. Anything that lessens our esteem for Jesus as the omnipotent God who created all things, is eternally self-existent, and became flesh (fully God AND fully man), is not from God. Jesus must be portrayed as the only means of salvation. His centrality and supremacy must be at the forefront of anything that claims to be from God (Revelation 1:8).

See, I have told you beforehand. Many know the signs but don’t know the Savior. They will fall prey to a superstitious type of expectancy, and follow false Christ’s and false prophets. We even see it happening today. It will only increase. True believers won’t be deceived, but the problem is that many are deceived into thinking that they are true believers. A saving faith leads to a living faith. In the end, while there are many who know certain facts, they don’t live the faith, and they will not get away with it (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12).

When Christ comes it will be like lightning in the sky. You won’t miss it, just like you can’t miss the vultures circling around the dead meat. The coming of Christ to the earth won’t be a secret entrance, it will be very visible. The coming of Christ into a life is also not something that can be hidden. It will have manifest evidence. 

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Signs for all times


Matthew 24:15-22 / Mark 13:14-20 / Luke 21:20-24…

Jesus gives instructions to the people in Jerusalem that would be going through a severe time of tribulation. It is clear that He is speaking of the first-century Roman invasion. Yet it is equally clear that Jesus was also referring to a time in the more distant future, because there are other things mentioned that were not fulfilled in the first century.

When looking at an obviously prophetic passage, we are tempted to think it doesn’t apply to us because it was something that happened in the past, or it is something we won’t be around for in the future. Of course, we can go too far in the opposite direction and make the study of prophecy the singular focus of our daily life. The point is that eschatology (the study of the end) should spur us to evangelism (the sharing of the faith) and earnestness (1 John 3:2-3).

There are several things in this passage that apply to us today. The trials that we face are in accordance with the plan of God revealed in His Word. We know that we will face trouble because we stand for the truth. But that doesn’t mean we should put ourselves in harms’ way, or court conflict. Things may get intense, and it’s okay to pray for the suffering to end, and for the strength to endure. Whatever may be going on in our lives, we should always remember that God writes the whole story, so we can trust Him as He brings us through the drama. 

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