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December 23, 2017: My Lord and My God!

December 23, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: John 20:24-31, Revelation 20, Job 41:1-11, Zechariah 6-9 John 20:24-31 The story of “doubting” Thomas is at once a strange one, and at the same time an encouraging one. It is encouraging because for many people they find themselves at one point or another in their lives in the shoes of Thomas. It is encouraging to read of someone who approached faith with what appears to be a rather skeptical attitude, and yet came to believe. On the other hand, though, Thomas is accorded the kind of firsthand eyewitness experience which we today do not have. And what is more, while Thomas believes, the story continues with an instruction from Jesus that it is “blessed” to believe without seeing. Indeed, as John gives his summary statement for the whole book in verses 30 and 31, this book is written that we may believe—even without first hand eyewitness…

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December 22, 2017: The Disciples Were Glad

December 22, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: John 20:19-23, Revelation 19, Job 40, Zechariah 1-5 John 20:19-23: Somehow, the doors being locked, Jesus came and stood among them. Jesus’ resurrection body is recognizably him, but yet that body is now able to move through a locked door. This resurrection body is a template of the “spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:44) that those who believe in Christ will all one day receive. Take heart, then, as we all face death: one day we will have this resurrection body! His first words are “peace” (20:19). The presence of Christ among his disciples bears the fruit of the Spirit of Christ: love, joy, and here especially after the trauma of recent days, peace. The way to find peace in our lives is to have our lives centered on the person of Christ. When Christ rules, peace rules; when Christ is the Master, peace is in the household; when Christ is…

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December 21, 2017: I Have Seen the Lord

December 21, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: John 20:10-18, Revelation 18, Job 39, Haggai 1-2  John 20:10-18: While the other disciples went home, Mary, overcome with grief, stood outside the tomb weeping. Still weeping, she looked into the tomb and saw two angels. They were sitting where Jesus’ body had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. What a sight this must have been! Marking the spot, angelically symbolizing the extraordinary event that had taken place, ready to give their heavenly witness to Mary as to what had taken place. Their question is almost incredulous: Why are you weeping? On this of all days! This day most to be rejoiced in! But she is weeping because he does not yet understand, does not yet believe. She thinks someone has taken Jesus’ body. Again, notice the incredulous (not gullible) approach that the first eyewitnesses took to the empty tomb. They took no little convincing. Even seeing…

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A Look at Notable 2017 Publications

December 20, 2017:

As we move closer to the conclusion of the 2017 calendar year, it seems like a good time to look back at some of this year's important publications. It is impossible to keep up with the ever expanding number of books that are published each year, and I make no claims to have surveyed all the possibilities for inclusion on this list. I am thankful for the opportunity once again this year to share these reflections with you. Looking for the Right Gift If you are looking for an inviting book to give as a Christmas present, please allow me to suggest God's Wisdom for Navigating Life: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Proverbs, by Tim and Kathy Keller (Viking). Similarly, I am delighted to draw your attention to an extraordinarily helpful guide on John’s Gospel, John 1-12 For You, by Josh Moody (Good Book Company). I would also heartily recommend Unimaginable: What…

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December 19, 2017: Secret Disciple

December 19, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: John 19:38-42, Revelation 16, Job 38:1-21, Zephaniah 1-2    John 19:38-42: Many legends have been told of Joseph of Arimathea, but so little is truly known about him. Yet what we do know of him is itself instructive. He was a secret disciple of Jesus. But that he was secret—out of fear of the Jewish leaders’ reprimands and reprisals—did not any the less stop him from being a disciple or acting with commendation. He took care of the body of Jesus. He truly was a disciple of Jesus. Secret, yes; ideal, no; but a disciple nonetheless. We can be too harsh with our criteria towards other Christians on occasion. We can make the necessary qualification so high that, if truth be told, we ourselves would not have entered if that had been the high gate that we had had to climb. Let us accept those that want to follow Jesus, even…

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December 18, 2017: The Fulfillment of Scripture

December 18, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: John 19:28-37, Revelation 15, Job 37, Habakkuk 1-3    John 19:28-37: Even at this moment all is happening according to plan—or more specifically according to the promise of the Old Testament Scriptures. Take comfort that not only is it true that nothing that happens is outside of the sovereignty of God, but also that the rescue of God is according to that same sovereign plan. This was no mistake; it was happening as God intended. Finally, Jesus says, “It is finished” (19:30). He has accomplished the work that he was given to do (17:4). The salvation of God, the satisfaction of God’s wrath, the rescue of his beloved, are all accomplished at this moment. There is no need for any more sacrifices, no need for any more atonement or propitiation or expiation: it is done. It is over; it is “finished.” Every time we are tempted to think that our sins…

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December 17, 2017: Look at the Cross

December 17, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: John 19:17-27, Revelation 14, Job 36:16-33, Nahum 1-3   John 19:17-27: Jesus is crucified. Could it be? What kind of world do we live in where the most righteous, the most humble, the most glorious, the most extraordinary person who ever was, is killed for being who he was? The answer: the kind of world that needs saving through the sacrificial death of the Son of God. Any theology of humanity that does not take into account the depravity displayed by the necessity of the cross is failing to take into account who we are at our most terrible: lost. At the same time, any kind of theology that fails to take into account the wondrous person of God revealed at the cross is failing to take into account who God is at his most glorious: love. At the cross, who we are is never more clearly revealed. And, at the…

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December 16, 2017: King Jesus

December 16, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: John 19:1-16, Revelation 13, Job 36:1-15, Micah 6-7  John 19:1-16:     By this point Pilate is desperately trying to have someone take the responsibility for Jesus out of his hands. In order to achieve a lesser end of Jesus’ significant humiliation and physical torture, he has him flogged. Such floggings were no minor corporal punishment, but could themselves kill a man. The soldiers mock Jesus, dress him as if he were a king, and sneer at him while they hit him. Pilate brings him out: “Behold the man” (19:5). In other words, you have no reason to be threatened by this pitiful human being. Don’t keep on seeking the death penalty. But the chief priests are not satisfied and insist on him being crucified—and then heap more pressure by disclosing that Jesus, according to their understanding, has blasphemed by calling himself the Son of God. This worries Pilate even more…

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December 15, 2017: We Are Barabbas

December 15, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: John 18:28-40, Revelation 12, Job 35, Micah 4-5 John 18:28-40:    Irony and drama—the drama of salvation. The religious hand Jesus over to Pilate to be crucified. Pilate, representative of the Roman Empire, the pagan empire that they so despised. And, ironically again, they do not ever enter the “governor’s headquarters” so that “they would not be defiled” (18:28). Here they are committing religious murder, charging an innocent man with a crime he did not commit, convicting him of death through trumped up charges without any due process of law at a kangaroo court, handing him over to the occupying forces, like Vichy regime traitors handing over a rescuer of the nation to the occupying powers—and they are worried about defiling themselves! But such is blindness, and especially religious pride. A man can go to church, worship and praise his God, yet kill his fellow man, wound the love of his…

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December 14, 2017: Religion

December 14, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: John 18:19-27, Revelation 11, Job 34:21-37, Micah 1-3 John 18:19-27: Peter became one of the greatest Christian leaders ever to walk the earth, and yet here we meet him at his worst. It bespeaks the genuineness and reliability of the Bible that it does not sugarcoat the failings of its heroes. They have clay feet. They even deny the Lord—and do it repeatedly. Peter’s failings are a testimony to what a pious and godly man can do under pressure. You who think you stand be careful lest you fall. If we think we could never do what Peter did, imagine whether we would ever be as great a leader as Peter was. If he was capable of denying the Lord, then surely we need to seek the empowering of the Spirit—that Peter experienced in fullness at Pentecost—and be careful and not rush in where angels fear to tread. And when…

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