December 2, 2017: Love and Obedience

December 02, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: Hosea 4-6, Job 24, John 14:15-21, Revelation 1:9-20 John 14:15-21: In so much of our thinking, love is discontinuous from performance, action—and certainly from obedience. Our affectional life is distinct from our duties, we often think. It is hard for us, then, to understand the kind of connection that Jesus makes frequently in this passage. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Really? Yes! Love for Jesus necessitates obedience—not perfect obedience, for none of us is perfect. He who says he has no sin deceives himself. We all fail to keep and obey all that God says. But the one who loves Jesus will aim to, attempt to, and gradually increase in obedience of Jesus. Think of the implications of this truth. How can you grow in your Christlikeness? By growing in your Christ-love! That means that the royal road to godliness is not mere discipline, but devotion…

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December 1, 2017: Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled

December 01, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: Hosea 1-3, Job 23, John 14:1-14, Revelation 1:1-8 John 14:1-14: The disciples are naturally enough disturbed, indeed “troubled,” by the news of Jesus’ imminent death and departure. Jesus therefore commands them not to be troubled (14:1). But there is no point giving such a command without following up with a reason, which Jesus straightaway does. Too many times people give commands of a spiritual kind without providing reasons of a practical nature. This can all too often lead to guilt. Why are we not to be troubled with all the difficulties we face? How can we avoid such troubled feelings? Jesus tells us that at root the issue is faith. “Trust in God; trust also in me.” There is a battle in all of our hearts to choose between anxiety and faith. Where there is faith, there is no room for anxiety; and where there is anxiety and troubled feelings,…

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November 25, 2017: Glorified

November 25, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: Daniel 10-12, Job 22, John 13:31-38, Jude 17-25 John 13:31-38: At this most profound turn of events—as Jesus turns his thoughts and attention decisively to the cross—he utters words that must have been deeply surprising at the time, and still a surprise today. “Now is the Son of man glorified” (13:31). Really? As he is betrayed, the Son of Man is glorified? As he is vilified and falsely accused? As he is beaten and mocked? As nails are driven through his hands? As he dies on the cross—a place of excruciating (note the derivation of that word) torture and shameful despair? Yes, now Jesus is glorified. Our concept of glory is so far removed from that of Jesus’ that it is hard for us to grasp what it is that he could have meant. But even in our own experience, we know something of this truth. The runner who stops…

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November 24, 2017: It Was Night

November 24, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: Daniel 9, Job 21:22-34, John 13:18-30, Jude 8-16 John 13:18-30: Strange thought. Even in the betrayal of Jesus, the Scriptures are being fulfilled. We tend to think that God has a plan for the good things in our lives, but what about the terrible things? Does God still reach to control those events that threaten us, terrify us, or undermine us? Some people think that God looks the other way when evil occurs, and that they need to hold to this view of God in order to protect his reputation as being fully good. But look! Here is the greatest evil ever done, and not only is God in control of those events of betrayal, but they are what was predicted by the Old Testament and they must take place! It is at our darkest moments, the moments of betrayal, that God is working out his plan of salvation. No cross,…

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November 23, 2017: Servant Leadership

November 23, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: Daniel 7-8, Job 23:1-21, John 13:12-17, Jude 1-7 John 13:12-17: Jesus now explains the reason for the foot washing. At the root of it is the importance of them correcting their misunderstanding about his Lordship, his rule, and the nature of the authority that he wields. He is the Lord, and yet his Lordship is not in diametric opposition to his ministry of serving. He is the teacher, and yet his majestic doctrine and powerful proclamation do not exclude him from the role of a servant. We tend to think that if someone is a king, a boss, a president, then he cannot also be a servant, much less a menial one. But that is the wrong way of thinking about Jesus. Jesus is another kind of Lord, one that functions not the way that we think authority functions. Ever since the fall of man, we have associated authority with…

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November 22, 2017: Taking a Towel

November 22, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: Daniel 5-6, Job 20, John 13:1-11, 3 John 1-14 John 13:1-11: The washing of the disciples’ feet by Jesus has taken on various kinds of meanings in popular literature and in the common imagination. But what does it mean? What was it originally intended to convey? The first thing to notice is that nowhere does Jesus institute this practice as a regular and repeatable sacrament. When Jesus instituted the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, he told his disciples to do this as often as they ate it in remembrance of him. But there is no such instruction about the washing of feet. So while there is certainly nothing intrinsically wrong with performing such an action among Christians, there is no need to insist upon it as a common practice, and should not be imbued with special sacramental force. What then does this action mean? John, the author of the Gospel,…

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November 21, 2017: The Glory of Jesus

November 21, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: Daniel 3-4, Job 19, John 12:37-50, 2 John 1-13 John 12:37-50: John, the author of the Gospel, now takes a step back to reflect theologically on what is happening in the life and ministry of Jesus. It is all fulfilling what Isaiah long ago, under God’s inspiration, predicted. They did not believe in Jesus in fulfillment of what Isaiah had said. There is a strange comfort in this thought. The temptation is to manipulate people into salvation. Who would not want to do anything to save someone once the stark reality of eternity has settled into the mind? But the truth of the matter is that someone’s ability to be able to “see” and “hear” Jesus is not finally decided by human techniques or even human will. There is a spiritual revealing that must take place. This can alleviate the pressure to maneuver or manipulate people into conversion. We know…

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November 20, 2017: A Grain of Wheat

November 20, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: Daniel 1-2, Job 18, John 12:20-36, 1 John 5:13-21 John 12:20-36: Now at this great feast where Jesus was, there is a group of Greeks (12:20)—devout men and women who have come up to Jerusalem for the religious festival. They approach Philip and ask him to give them an audience with Jesus, to see him and meet him (12:21). When news of this development is brought to Jesus, he realizes that his “hour” (always in John’s Gospel meaning the hour of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection) has come (12:22-23). This is then the occasion for a series of important lessons related to the cross. First of all, it is at the cross that the Christ is glorified. This is the hour where he is glorified, not the miracles, not the healings, not the teachings—they, of course, also glorify and honor Jesus. But it is at the cross, this “hour,” where Jesus…

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November 19, 2017: Hosanna!

November 19, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 48, Job 17,  John 12:12-19, 1 John 5:6-12 John 12:12-19: Jesus is now greeted not just with pleasure, but with adulation, praise, and indeed worship. The extent of this fulfillment of Old Testament promises is not grasped at the time, but later the disciples realized all that had been spoken of Jesus was being fulfilled in this extraordinary triumphal entry. Praise and worship is an integral part of being human. Christian and non-Christian, religious and non-religious, are all built for worship. It is part of our imago dei, being made in the image of God. We long for the transcendent, seek meaning and purpose, hunger for a point of adulation and ultimacy. That desire is attempted to be sated by many things: money, sensuality, fame, success, arts, literature, music. But it is at a moment like this that we see evidenced that the human condition finds it sole…

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November 18, 2017: The Poor You Will Always Have with You

November 18, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 45-47, Job 16, John 12:1-11, 1 John 5:1-5 John 12:1-11: What a sweet and beautiful reunion meal this must have been. Jesus is with his friends, Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. And there is Lazarus reclining at the table with them, back from the dead, good as new. Mary then took a pound of pure nard, a very expensive ointment, and anointed the feet of Jesus with the perfume and used her own hair to wipe his feet. The action was a statement of personal devotion to Jesus, as well as an indication of the coming burial of Jesus and being prepared for that moment. It was a beautiful deed. A special moment. A place filled now with the sweet aroma of spiritual worship and adoration. But not for Judas. He immediately thinks of the cost. John tells us that his concern over the expense was not because he was…

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