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December 14, 2017: Religion

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 we fail,...

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December 13, 2017: Whom Do You Seek?

Today’s Bible Reading: John 18:1-18, Revelation 10, Job 34:1-20, Jonah 1-4 John 18:1-18: What love is this? Judas, intimate with Jesus and the disciples, knowing where Jesus would be, betrays Jesus. Have you ever been betrayed? Perhaps by someone close to you, near to you, dear to you? Take heart that Jesus is able to help you: “For because he himself suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). Jesus knows our weaknesses and trials, from a personal experience basis, and by the power of God is able to give us the strength we so desperately need. Ask him to help you be faithful even when someone betrays you. There is such power in Jesus’ person and in his words, that when he replies to the soldiers’ questions, “I am he” (18:5), the soldiers draw back and fall to the ground (18:6). There was no way they could have...

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December 12, 2017: Love and Unity

Today's Bible Reading: John 17:20-26, Revelation 9, Job 33:12-33, Obadiah 1-21 John 17:20-26: Jesus’ great prayer also encompasses those who will believe in him. Extraordinary thought: Jesus has in his prayers also those who are not-yet-Christians, but who will become Christians through the testimony, the message, the “word” that Christians deliver. It is easy perhaps to only pray for fellow Christians. Jesus here prays also for those who are not yet believers, but who will become believers. Is this our practice too? Do we have on our prayer list the neighbors, friends, family members, who are not yet Christians but who—according to God’s sovereign power—may one day become Christians? Then Jesus prays several times in various ways that all his followers may be united. He asks that they be “one” just as the Father is in him, and he is in the Father. This is a high and exalted unity, and it is...

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December 11, 2017: Your Word Is Truth

Today’s Bible Reading: John 17:6-19, Revelation 8, Job 33:1-11, Amos 7-9 John 17:6-19: This prayer of Jesus now takes on yet more profound vistas. Jesus has shown himself to the people that God “gave” him (17:6). Our security as Christian followers is not placed in the sincerity of our devotion, but in the foundation of God’s choice of us. What is more, we find that Christ is “praying” for us (17:9). What a sweet thought, to see the Son of God interceding for us. That intercession here model on earth is continued in heaven. The Spirit intercedes (Romans 8:27), and Christ is interceding for us (Romans 8:34). We are able then to be confident in our status before God because of the intercession of Christ! And think on this: Christ is “glorified” in us! (17:10). The glory of God is shone in the disciples of God. Christ’s glory is in us! In the remarkable...

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December 10, 2017: This Is Eternal Life

Today’s Bible Reading: John 17:1-5, Revelation 7, Job 32, Amos 5-6 John 17:1-5: These few words are packed with theology. They are also replete with meaning, significance, and stunning glory! First of all, note the primary locus of Jesus’ glory. It is this “hour”; that is the hour of the cross. If you want to know what most glorifies Jesus, what most exalts him, then it is the cross. There is the glory of God most revealed. This glory is not distinct from the glory that Jesus “had” with the Father before the world existed. It is not, in that sense, a new glory; but it is the glory that Jesus had with the Father before the world existed, now revealed and trumpeted to the universe. The cross demonstrates God’s justice, and therefore glorifies God. No one can say that God does not care about injustice, oppression, evil; he himself in Christ bore the...

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December 9, 2017: Overcome the World

Today’s Bible Reading: John 16:25-33, Revelation 6, Job 31:24-40, Amos 3-4  John 16:25-33: Jesus was speaking to them in “figures of speech”, or using analogy and metaphor—picture language—to explain truths that were beyond their ability to grasp literally. There is a place for not speaking literalistically. A child cannot truly understand what it means to be married, and yet will have questions about a marriage. A wise parent will answer those questions with “figures of speech” rather than literally. Similarly, there are parts of the character and nature of God and God’s plans that are not fully comprehensible to us, and so they are revealed to us in forms of language that speak truly but not exhaustively. What eye has seen, what mind has understood, the wonders that God has prepared for those who love him? (1 Corinthians 2:9). Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and...

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December 8, 2017: That Your Joy May Be Full

Today’s Bible Reading: John 16:12-24, Revelation 5, Job 31:1-23, Amos 1-2   John 16:12-24: Jesus had so much more to say to his disciples than the short time he had with them would allow, and that they were then capable of understanding. So, by the gift of the Spirit, the Spirit would lead them “into all truth” (16:12). What does this mean? It does not mean that we do not need to work hard at accounting, history, or literature; nor does it mean that Christians have a mystical understanding of religious truths otherwise hidden to the rational mind. Jesus here is promising that the Spirit would inspire the apostles to authorize the New Testament. The Spirit “will glorify me” Jesus says, “for he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (16:14). Would you this morning thank God for the Bible? The Bible is not merely a book that tells us what to do....

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December 7, 2017: To Your Advantage

Today’s Bible Reading: John 16:1-11, Revelation 4, Job 30, Joel 2-3 John 16:1-11: The somber words that Jesus has been leaving his disciples with in this, his farewell discourse, are surprising in their intensity. Why does Jesus not put a more positive spin on everything? Because if he tells them the real deal of what may well actually happen to some of them (if not all of them in extreme, all of them to some extent), then they will be more likely to stay the course when it occurs. He is not overpromising and under-delivering. He is giving a fair representation of the worst that could be. He has said these things “to keep you from falling away” (16:1). Let us not shy away from hard truths. A man who is fed only on sweet food will in the end grow sick. We need vegetables as well as meat, we need meat as well as...

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December 6, 2017: Hate

Today’s Bible Reading: John 15:18-27, Revelation 3:14-22, Job 29, Joel 1 John 15:18-27: Hate is a strong word. But the reality is that Christians are hated. They are hated by those who are “of the world” because those people “hate” Jesus. Such shocking language for our politically correct culture. But who can doubt the truth of it when we observe all the persecution that has happened throughout the history of the church. There have been more martyrs in the last hundred years than ever before. And even in the West, where we enjoy religious freedom, there are increasing pressures on such freedom—and behind the pressures on that religious freedom is a barely concealed, vehement opposition to the very existence of Christians (because there is an opposition to the identity of Christ). Of course, we are not to blame our identity as Christians when people are annoyed at us because we are simply annoying! But, at the...

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December 5, 2017: Abide in Love

Today’s Bible Reading: Hosea 13-14, Job 28, John 15:9-17, Revelation 3:1-13 John 15:9-17: What a way to begin this morning—as the Father has loved Jesus, so Jesus has loved us! What an extraordinary thought! That the very infinite, divine, fathomless, unending, unceasing, immeasurable, and immovable love of God the Father to God the Son—that very love is the love with which Jesus loves us! Soak in that truth this morning, my friends; dwell in it, rejoice in it! This is exactly what Jesus then commands us to do: “abide in my love” (15:9). To realize the extent of Christ’s love for us is no small or easy matter. We need power to grasp the height and depth of God’s love. It is a mind-blowing truth—far more complicated than advanced trigonometry, more extraordinary than the intricacies of the cosmology. Abide in this love. But how? Jesus then tells us. “Keep my commandments” (15:10). Unlike many false...

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