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October 24, 2017: Hearing, Knowing, Doing, Discerning God’s Will

Today’s Bible Reading: Lamentations 3, Song of Solomon 8:1-7, John 7:14-24, 1 Peter 5:1-7 John 7:14-24: Jesus now begins to teach at the great feast. He does so in the temple, in a public place, ensuring that what he is teaching can be heard. There is nothing wrong, and everything right, with ensuring that God’s Word is proclaimed as clearly, as widely, as publicly, and as powerfully as God wills, in the power of his Spirit. The act of preaching is to put God’s Word center stage—not our own personalities, but the Word of God. The Jewish leaders marvel that Jesus is preaching with such great learning, though he had never formally studied in their religious schools. Part of the witness to Jesus’ divinity is the sheer brilliance of his teaching: no man ever taught thus. He is not only clear, he is deep; he is not only arresting, he is substantial; he is not only...

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October 23, 2017: The Time Has Not Yet Come

Today’s Bible Reading: Lamentations 2, Song of Solomon 7, John 7:1-13, 1 Peter 4:12-19 John 7:1-13: Jesus is in Galilee, not Judea, because he knew the Jewish leaders were seeking to kill him. Sometimes it is the wise course to flee danger, to avoid persecution, and not to rush in where angels fear to tread. Zeal is good, as long as it is combined with knowledge, and sometimes circumspection and prudence is no less zealous and much wiser than fool-hearted enthusiasm. His brothers urge Jesus to go up to Jerusalem for the feast. They argue that if he wants to be a public figure, then he cannot hide away but must show himself in public. But their argument shows that even his brothers do not believe in him. If Jesus' being deserted by some of his disciples must have been hard, surely it was at least equally hard to find that his brothers had little, if...

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October 22, 2017: You Have the Words of Eternal Life

Today’s Bible Reading: Lamentations 1, Song of Solomon 6, John 6:60-71, 1 Peter 4:1-11 John 6:60-71: Some of Jesus’ teaching is harder for people to swallow than other parts. Who could deny that it is good teaching to say “love your neighbor”? But how many are there who find it difficult to chew on that strong meat which says “but also love your enemy”? It is one thing to affirm the Christmas carol that Christ came to bring peace on earth; it is another thing to affirm the Easter truth that no one comes to the Father except through the Son. We should not expect that all truth is widely accepted, or judge whether something is true by the false token of its popularity. Truth is not a democracy, and the road to life is narrow and few find it. This teaching here of Jesus was difficult even for the disciples to understand, mainly, it...

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October 21, 2017: Feed on Jesus

Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 52, Song of Solomon 5, John 6:41-59, 1 Peter 3:13-22 John 6:41-59: Such strong teaching provoked “grumbling” as it so often does. Do not think that past Christian leaders or heroes from yesteryear had no opposition! Spurgeon was so opposed and so shook by his opponents that his wife had posted on the bedroom door for him to read as he left each morning the words of Jesus from Matthew 5:11-12 to rejoice and be glad when people utter all kinds of evil against you. And even Jesus had people “grumble” against him. The nature of the grumbling was also typical: they had known him since he was a kid! What could this mere whippersnapper teach them when they knew his parents and knew he was merely the son of Joseph? Evangelist, pastor, missionary, witness to Christ: be not surprised when people speak falsehood against you. T'was ever thus. And this...

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October 20, 2017: The Bread of Life

Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 51, Song of Solomon 4:8-16, John 6:25-40, 1 Peter 3:8-12 John 6:25-40: Having appeared on the other side with unexpected speed, the crowd find Jesus and ask him when he came there. Jesus, not to be distracted by a simple question of geography and circumstances, gets right to the heart of the matter. They are not seeking him for true spiritual reasons, because they saw the signs, but because they had their fill of food. So often today we too “seek” God for the wrong reasons. We want him for what he can do for us, not for who he is in himself. We want the gifts, but we do not want the giver. How foolish! If the gifts—money, family, creation, art, knowledge—are glorious, how much more so must be the giver of such gifts! See the gifts as pointing to the giver, and go to the source of all bounty,...

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October 19, 2017: Walking on Water

Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 50, Song of Solomon 4:1-7, John 6:16-24, 1 Peter 3:1-7 John 6:16-24: After such extreme exertions, you would think there would be a period of extended recuperation. But now we come to one of the most astonishing—and famous—miracles of them all. God neither slumber nor sleeps, and while the incarnate Jesus was fully human, he was also fully God, and his power is displayed in this walking on the water. So often we limit what God can do to our pint-sized human expectations of the possible. Can a ministry survive in such a tough area? We determine it by statistics. Can a new work of the gospel thrive in this country of the world which has so long been resistant to the gospel? We determine it by the track record of history. Can the Western world again see revival? We extrapolate from tend lines and sociological analyses and determine the answer...

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October 18, 2017: 5,000

Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 49, Song of Solomon 3, John 6:1-15, 1 Peter 2:18-25 John 6:1-15: Jesus is followed by a large crowd because they saw the signs he did healing the sick. Sometimes people will be drawn by our deeds of mercy, as much as Christ’s deeds of miraculous mercy. George Whitefield had his orphanage, as did Spurgeon; there is a place for doing good deeds in the name of Christ. If someone’s felt needs are met, they are more likely to hear you speak of their real needs. But such signs as these were never meant merely to be charitable deeds: they were “signs” pointing to Christ as God. Similarly, when we live for Christ, we are to accompany it with speaking for Christ. Good living will only attest to us being good people, unless witness to Christ accompanies good living with good news speaking. Jesus asks a question to test Philip: where is the...

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October 17, 2017: Testimony

Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 47-48, Song of Solomon 2, John 5:31-47, 1 Peter 2:9-17 John 5:31-47: The conflict is heating up, and Jesus now begins to clarify what sort of testimony there is that he is who he says he is. Unlike false religions, Christianity does not ask us “just to believe” without any evidence, facts, or testimony. The faith of the Christian is based upon truth, and—while that faith is a supernatural gift—it is in principle no different from the trust that is accorded another person when they give evidence of being trustworthy. God’s evidences to us are not the evidence of empirical science; they are the evidences of history, in which God has revealed himself; the evidences of Scripture, through which God has revealed himself; the evidences of relationship, of the God of love reaching out to his beloved that the beloved might trust him. Jesus describes the testimony of John the Baptist. John the...

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October 16, 2017: Honor the Son

Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 44-46, Song of Solomon 1, John 5:16-30, 1 Peter 2:1-8 John 5:16-30:   Behind the opposition of the Jewish leaders (again, the “Jews” in John means not just those who are Jewish, but the particular Jewish leaders who were in opposition to Jesus), there is a deeper reason than merely the Sabbath. They discern that Jesus is claiming an equality with God. So often people pick fights over lesser matters as a wedge issue to gain leverage for reason of a more major matter in the background. At root, when someone opposes Christ, they are opposing his claim to Lordship, Sovereignty, and Divinity. Sometimes, we find ourselves baulking at a circumstance in our life, a disappointment, or frustrated by a part of the Bible that we cannot get our minds around, when really we are objecting to the Kingship claim of Jesus in our lives. Long experience of godly disciples, as well...

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October 15, 2017: Sin No More

Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 39-43, Ecclesiastes 12, John 5:1-15, 1 Peter 1:17-25 John 5:1-15: It’s feast time (5:1), but in the midst of this feast there is profound suffering (5:3). How often is this the case! While celebration mounts, pain increases; while parties abound, panic shouts; while the affluent indulge, the afflicted are rejected. Notice: Jesus “saw him.” Oh, afflicted one, Jesus sees you! He is not ignorant of your difficulties, blind to your tears. He keeps your tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). He knows, he sees. You can trust him for a good plan, despite evil. In this world we will have trouble, but he has overcome the world! The man who was lying there had been an invalid for 38 years. No short amount of time was this. What is more, he had no one to help him attend the rudimentary, perhaps superstitious, medical treatments on offer in that place at the pool...

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