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July 12, 2017: Don’t Look Back

Today’s Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 29, Psalm 137, Luke 9:51-62, 1 Thessalonians 2:10-21 Luke 9:51-62: Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem” (9:51, 53). This is his purpose and goal, and the time has come for him to go in that direction. It is good to have a goal, for without a goal you cannot accomplish much. But while it is good to have a goal, it is no good to have a wrong goal; there is nothing to be gained by efficiently moving in the wrong direction. Jesus has a goal, but it is more than an example of a model of focus and commitment to an end point to plan your life. This shows us that at the heart of Jesus’ ministry is the cross. So many people want to make Jesus merely the good teacher, or the wise philosopher, or the miracle worker; but above all Jesus is the crucified one....

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July 11, 2017: Faithful

Today’s Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 26-28, Psalm 136, Luke 9:37-50, 1 Thessalonians 2:1-9 Luke 9:37-50: Jesus comes down from the mountain and is immediately met by needs. We go to the mountain not to stay there but to come down again and minister to human needs all around us. But that does not prevent the shock of returning to earth with a bump. This boy was in serious trouble (9:39). But the disciples could not help him (9:40). Jesus exclaims, “O faithless and twisted generation”! It is rebuke to us many times that we do less than we could for Christ because we lack faith. Think of it: even the disciples are so rebuked. We too are “faithless” too often. May we today trust Christ with our sufferings, with our brokenness, with our joys, with our leadership decisions, with our families and with our work. All things are possible for the one believes: all things that...

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July 10, 2017: Eyewitnesses of His Majesty

Today’s Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 23-25, Psalm 135, Luke 9:28-36, 1 Thessalonians 1 Luke 9:28-36: The transfiguration was one of the most extraordinary events yet to have occurred and prefigured and previewed the coming glory of Christ, at the cross, in the resurrection, and in his return in glory. Peter was influenced by this vision throughout his life (2 Peter 1:26), being “eyewitnesses of his majesty.”  Note that Jesus has gone to pray. If Jesus prayed, so must we. Let us be diligent in prayer, rejoicing in prayer, seeking God in prayer. It is as he was praying that he was transfigured (9:29). We have a wonderful privilege of being able to draw near to God with confidence in prayer; let us make the most of that, and our lives will increasingly be changed from one degree of glory to another as we behold him with unveiled faces. Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus. Moses for...

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July 9, 2017: Christ Crucified

Today’s Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 20-22, Psalm 133-134, Luke 9:18-27, Colossians 4:10-18 Luke 9:18-27: (v18-20). Peter’s great confession. Peter certainly had his faults—we will read of his denial of Jesus a little later in this story. He was no paragon of virtue, perfect, or without the tendency to open mouth and insert foot. But Peter did, by God’s inspiration, see the truth: Jesus is “the Christ of God.” Would you today ask God for his Holy Spirit to reveal to you (perhaps for the first time, or if not, afresh) that Jesus is the Christ of God? That he is the most important person in all of history? What matters is my response to him? That when all others let me down, Jesus will never let me down. People today, as then, still have many different opinions about Jesus. But what about you? Who do you say he is? (v21-22). Now, again, Jesus tells them not...

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July 8, 2017: Proclaiming the Kingdom of God

Today’s Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 17-19, Psalm 132, Luke 9:1-17, Colossians 4:1-9, Luke 9:1-17:   (v1-6) Jesus’ instructions to the twelve are particular and specific because they are instructions to the apostles, previous to Jesus’ death and resurrection, for a specific mission. But nonetheless they hold important principles for our witness and mission today. They are not to go with so many provisions that they do not need to rely on the generosity of God and the realities of the local situation. Too many of us are so encumbered with possessions that half of our time and energy is spent merely looking after our “toys,” and it limits our ability to have an impact for God. Then, they are to stay in the house where they first go. If they are welcomed, and if there is opportunity, they are not to go from one house to another, seeking better dinner or lodgings...

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July 7, 2017: Child, Arise

Today’s Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 15-16, Psalm 130-131, Luke 8:40-56, Colossians 3:15-25 Luke 8:40-56: More amazing miracles, and amazing compassion on the part of Jesus too. Jesus returns and the crowd welcomes him, for they have been waiting for him. How good it is to wait with eagerness to hear from Jesus. Let us get up each morning, open our Bibles, and sit before Jesus eagerly expecting to hear from him. Jairus, a synagogue ruler, has a twelve-year-old daughter who is dying. Note that high achievement in religion, and attainment of religious position, is no barrier against painful and personal suffering. At least Jairus goes to Jesus for help. He has some faith at work within him. Jesus makes the journey, and Luke tells the story masterfully. The crowd is pressing on him. It’s like a football game crowd longing to see, and if possible touch, their hero. People are everywhere. Jesus is making his way to...

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July 6, 2017: Declare How Much God Has Done for You

Today’s Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 12-14, Psalm 129, Luke 8:26-39, Colossians 3:1-14 Luke 8:26-39: Jesus now goes to the Gerasenes, which is “opposite Galilee” (8:26). Jesus has not just gone on a sailing trip, but has arrived to deal with the demoniac. This man was being tortured and traumatized by demon possession. Note again that the New Testament does make a distinction between demon possession and illness. This man was not merely ill, though we are sure that his demonic possession made him sick; there was at root a devilish cause to his circumstances and behavior. The demon on seeing Jesus recognized him and begged to not be tormented. How is it that someone who has so tormented a poor human being can itself beg for clemency? What trickery is this! For Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man, and the unclean spirit is as it were “playing for time,”...

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July 5, 2017: He Even Commands Winds and Water

Today’s Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 10-11, Psalm 128, Luke 8:16-25, Colossians 2:16-23 Luke 8:16-25: Three more moments that underline the power and importance of God’s Word. First, from verses 16-18 Jesus teaches in parabolic language about the importance of using God’s Word openly and boldly. You don’t light a lamp and then cover it up; in the same we are to be witnesses to Christ and boldly share the light of God’s Word. Preachers are especially not to hide the truth but to proclaim it with clarity and brightly and openly. We are to be careful then how we hear, for the one who is ready to receive will find they receive more, whereas the one who refuses will not in the end receive anything. All stands by the proclamation of, and the reception of, the gospel, the Word of God. To underscore this reality, then come along Jesus’ mother and brothers (8:19-21). What could...

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July 4, 2017: Good Soil

Today’s Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 7-9, Psalm 127, Luke 8:1-15, Colossians 2:8-15 Luke 8:1-15: Jesus continues to preach and evangelize the kingdom of God. The twelve disciples are with him as are Mary, Joanna and Susanna. Mary had had “seven demons” cast out of her—a surely dramatic conversion. Joanna was from a more reputable background, indeed of high influence, the wife of Herod’s household manager—her conversion was nonetheless radical if less dramatic. And then Susanna, who is neither elite nor charlatan in background—but whose conversion, if more standard by the world’s standards, is also radical and real. Note: it is possible for us to judge people by where they came from, but what matters is not what our background is but what our response to the gospel is. Your conversion story may be dramatic, or not; your background may be elite, or not; you may come from a so-called “normal” background, or not. All that...

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July 3, 2017: Love Much

Today’s Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 5-6, Psalm 126, Luke 7:36-50, Colossians 2:1-7 Luke 7:36-50: In many ways one of the most important stories in the Bible for clarifying the nature of the gospel today is in front of us this morning. A “woman of the city” who is a “sinner”—almost certainly together intended as euphemisms for a prostitute—comes to Jesus while he is reclining at table at a Pharisees house. She does not merely greet Jesus (itself would have appeared suspicious enough) but touches him: she wets his feet with her tears, wipes his feet with her hair, kisses his feet and anoints them with oil. Perhaps understandably the Pharisees are somewhat askance, and remark to each other that surely Jesus could not be a prophet for he would know what kind of woman it was who was treating him in this way. However, Jesus knew full well who she was, and it was done to be...

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