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June 10, 2017: Beloved Son

Today’s Bible Reading: 1 Kings 15-16, Psalm 119:73-80, Luke 3:21-38, Ephesians 5:1-21 Luke 3:21-38: Jesus is baptized too—but his baptism is unlike any others, and yet a template of all of us in Christ by faith, united with him. The heavens are open, the Holy Spirit descends on him in bodily form, like a dove. An extraordinary, miraculous sign that defies logical explanation. It soars above (not against) our humanistic-level thinking to stare into the face of the infinite. And also hear his voice: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (3:22). This declaration by God the Father towards God the Son is extraordinary for many reasons. First of all, it declares the divinity of Jesus for all to hear. And then second, we hear modeled for us the archetypal father-son relationship of love and approval. God the Son is approved of by God the Father; he is loved by God the...

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June 9, 2017: Spirit and Fire

Today’s Bible Reading: 1 Kings 13-14, Psalm 119:65-72, Luke 3:1-20, Ephesians 4:25-32 Luke 3:1-20: There is much to learn from John the Baptist, in many ways the archetypal preacher and witness to Jesus Christ. Note how Luke not only places John in a clear historical context (3:1-2), but also prioritizes the work of the Word. Among all these great things, it is almost as if he is saying, there is one yet so much greater that it becomes the unconscious climax of his prose: “the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness” (3:2). This is the great priority not only of John’s life, but of God’s work in the world. Give yourself to the Bible, to follow God’s Word, to hiding his law in your heart that you might not sin against him, to prioritizing what he prioritizes: God’s Word. John’s ministry is also in fulfillment of the great Old...

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June 8, 2017: Our Father’s House

Today’s Bible Reading: Luke 2:41-52, Ephesians 4:17-24, Psalm 119:57-64, 1 Kings 12 Luke 2:41-52: What a rare, precious gift of insight into the development of not just a godly man, but the God Man! At 12 years old, many a boy of talent verges on the preciousness, plain spoken, if not presumptuous and arrogant. Do we see these traits in Jesus, with his quick-witted response to the question posed him by his exasperated parents? Or do we see trace of the uniqueness of Christ in his prioritization of the “father’s business”? Or do we see a model for all of us, even 12 year olds, to be active in putting first God and the Father God? Note first that his parents go up to the temple “according to custom” (2:42). While some change agents feel they must be changing everything all the time, Jesus’ parents apparently understood the importance of, where the Bible does not...

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June 7, 2017: Simeon and Anna

Today’s Bible Reading: Luke 2:21-40, Ephesians 4:1-16, Psalm 119:49-56, 1 Kings 11 Luke 2:21-40: These early days of Jesus as he fulfills all the law and perfectly is the fulfillment of all the law promised. The sacrifice his parents offer (2:24) is the sacrifice for those who cannot afford much (Lev. 12:8). Note that poverty can be combined with great piety. Then comes aged Simeon, hoary-headed and devout and righteous—see how his age (“now you are letting your servant depart in peace”) is combined with prophetic zeal and having the Holy Spirit upon him. Our old people may be filled with the Spirit with passionate commitment to the cause of Christ. May we, like Simeon, to the end of our days be moved by the Spirit and loving Jesus and looking forward to heaven. Simeon’s prophecy in verses 34-35 seems a bit of a mixed blessing. But such is true Christianity and the true Christ:...

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June 6, 2017: True Good News

Today’s Bible Reading: Luke 2:1-20, Ephesians 3:14-21, Psalm 119:41-48, 1 Kings 9-10 Luke 2:1-20: Luke carefully sets this most momentous birth in the realm of the historical and the factual: “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered” (2:1). Note: it is important for us to remember that Jesus’ birth is not simply a story but a historical event. There was a time, there was a place, there was a moment when the Savior of the world, God Incarnate, was born. Scandalous, and miraculous, and wondrous. Mary gives birth and, famously, he is laid in a manger (a feeding trough for animals). What humility is this, what gracious condescension, what stunning love and mercy—that God himself would deign to come down so low as to be born in a mere manger. At a human practical level, it was simply because “there was no place for them...

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June 5, 2017: The Way of Peace

Today’s Bible Reading: Luke 1:67-80, Ephesians 3:1-13, Psalm 119:33-40, 1 Kings 8 Luke 1:67-80: Now is Zechariah’s song, and it is structured around the “visitation” (1:68, 78) that Zechariah saw that God was bringing about through his prophet John, and was in fulfillment of the Old Testament promises and prophecies (Genesis 50:24, 25). Christ shall be a “horn of salvation” (1:69: 1 Samuel 2:1 / 2:10). It is fulfillment of the promises given to Abraham: Christ is the fulfillment of Genesis 12:1-3. His ministry will lead to a time when God’s people can serve God “without fear” (1:74)—that is without the trembling anxiety that comes from being in the “hand of our enemies” (1:74). John himself is not the Messiah; instead his ministry is to “go before the Lord to prepare his ways” in fulfillment of Malachi 3:1. All this expresses the “tender mercy of our God,” to give knowledge of salvation to his people...

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June 4, 2017: The Hand of the Lord

Today’s Bible Reading: Luke 1:57-66, Ephesians 2:11-22, Psalm 119:25-32, 1 Kings 6-7 Luke 1:57-66: Now it is Elizabeth’s turn to give birth. Her neighbors hear of the extraordinary birth—to one so old (Luke 1:18)—and they rejoice with her (1:58). Note when someone else has great mercy shown to them, some extraordinary blessing or other, our response is to be joy for them and with them. It is all too easy to rejoice when others do less well than you, and to feel worse when they do better than you. But a sign of Christian maturity is to be able to rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn—and not vice versa. She says that the child’s name is to be John. Zechariah, when asked, writes (because he still cannot speak) that the child’s name is John. He does not say that he is to be called John but simply that his name...

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June 3, 2017: God My Savior

Today’s Bible Reading: Luke 1:39-56, Ephesians 2:1-10, Psalm 119:17-24, 1 Kings 4-5 Luke 1:39-56: Mary is so excited about the news that she has to go and tell Elizabeth. As soon as she enters the house—crying out eagerly for Elizabeth—the baby in Elizabeth’s womb hears the greeting and leaps for joy. John the Baptist, in Elizabeth’s womb, is already performing his task of pointing people to the Messiah! Even in the womb God’s Spirit is at work. How can any think that a child in the womb is a mere bundle of cells when God’s Spirit animates and enables such a child to leap for joy! Elizabeth speaks a blessing on Mary. Why? Because she has believed what the Lord spoke to her. Note there is great blessing for believing God’s Word. Would you take time now to remind yourself of this truth and commit again to believe what God says to you in the...

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June 2, 2017: Incarnate

Today’s Bible Reading: Luke 1:26-38, Ephesians 1:15-23, Psalm 119:9-16, 1 Kings 2-3 Luke 1:26-38: How different is the response for Mary than for Zechariah! Mary is a virgin and is favored by God. The Lord is with her. When the angel comes to her and speaks these words, the young woman is understandably “afraid.” When she is told that the greeting of the angel prefigures great favor and the extraordinary fulfillment of God’s Old Testament promises regarding the Messiah, sitting on the throne of his father David, and Son of the Most High, she asks a question: “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (1:34). What makes her question, apparently like that of Zechariah’s (1:18), receive the response articulated in verse 35, rather than of verses 19-20? Zechariah’s response indicated a lack of faith (“because you did not believe my words,” 1:20) and was underlined by his spiritual maturity in contrast with that of...

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June 1, 2017: The Certainty

Today’s Bible Reading: 1 Kings 1, Psalm 119:1-8, Luke 1:1-25, Ephesians 1:1-14 Luke 1:1-25: The Gospel of Luke is written by a medical doctor, who was a companion of Paul’s, for a specific purpose: “that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” (1:4). In other words, the point that Luke is making, and seeking to establish, is that the things that “Theophilus” (a prominent, perhaps wealthy, Christian to whom the letter is dedicated, and who either literally or symbolically represents believers who “love God”) has been taught are certain, true, reliable, and to be trusted as verifiably accurate and real. Luke writes, in both of his two volume account of Christians origins (Luke and Acts were probably originally distributed as a two volume set on Christian origins, see Acts 1:1), in order that people might know that the things about Jesus are definitely true. He writes therefore an “orderly” account, well...

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