He Is Not Here, But Has Risen

Today’s reading is Luke 24.

“While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.'”

What else do we need to say?

He is risen. He is risen indeed!

Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 24.

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What’s Up with Barabbas?

Today’s reading is Luke 23.

What on earth is this about a guy named Barabbas? Okay, okay, you may have read the other gospel accounts about this guy and understand what is going on. But imagine for a moment that this was your first exposure to the gospel story. Luke doesn’t give us many details. All we have is some rebellious, murdering insurrectionist who gets to go free because the people ask that he be set free while innocent Jesus gets executed essentially for the same kinds of crimes Barabbas actually committed. And in this trade off, we see a powerful picture of what is actually happening as Jesus dies on the cross. A man, whose name literally means “son of the Father” by the way, guilty of insurrection and murder should go to the cross. He should be executed for his crimes. However, he doesn’t. On the other hand, a man, whose name means “God is salvation” by the way, completely innocent should never see a cross. But He does. Barabbas is us. We are the children of the Father who are guilty. We deserve the death. However, we are released. Jesus endures the death in our place. The one contrast between us and Barabbas is he was freed because the word of the people prevailed, we are freed because the Word of God prevailed. I often wonder how Barabbas behaved after witnessing Jesus condemned for his crimes and sins. How should he have behaved? How should he have thought of and related to Jesus from that day forward? That leads me to wonder about me. How should I behave? How should I relate to Jesus? What about you?

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 23.

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Who Am I?

Today’s reading is Luke 9.

Don’t miss this. Peter’s good confession in Luke 9:20 is significant. We have heard it our whole lives and might be tempted to rush through it, thinking, “Oh yeah! I know this part.” But this is what the entire book of Luke is about. This is what all four of the gospels are about. We tend to read these gospels like modern biographies. We want to hear about the birth, what was going on in the world, a chronology of events, a precise accounting of conversations and actions, leading to the subjects death. We get confused when each of the gospels gives a differing presentation of some of those facts. They change the order of events. They don’t give exact records of the conversations. They don’t give all the details of everyone who was involved. And they even do that in some pretty significant places and events. Ancient biographers were not interested in that kind of presentation. I don’t just mean the Bible authors, I mean ancient biographers in general. The gospel authors were writing biography the same way the ancients did. Don’t misunderstand. They didn’t make stuff up. They didn’t lie. They didn’t invent the stories. But they were not interested in giving a detailed chronology of events, actions, and conversations. Their goal was not to explain what the subject of the biography did or what people did around him. Their goal was to explain who the subject of the biography is. Therefore, they crafted the events, actions, and conversations together to make that point. That is what these gospels are about. Each is written from a different perspective, with a different audience in mind, driving home a slightly different nuance of meaning. But each one is designed to prompt this one conclusion: Jesus is the Christ of God. He is the anointed Lord, Savior, King, Priest. Follow Him. Become like Him. Keep reading Luke and see how every event, every action, every conversations points to this one fact: Jesus is the Christ of God. Then believe it and have life in His name.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 9.

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All for Edification

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 14.

Let everything be done for edification, Paul says. Why? Because love builds up (see 1 Corinthians 8:1). And what is the most excellent way? Love. What is the greatest principle? Love. Thus, pursuing love doesn’t mean simply having warm emotional feelings about people. It means when I gather with the brothers and sisters, what I’m most concerned about is not proving how awesome, talented, or gifted I am. Rather, I’m most concerned about building up the people around me. Realize what this means. The rules of 1 Corinthians 14 aren’t about the rules, they are merely the practical outworking of loving my brothers and sisters. When we “go to church,” we need to make sure all we do is for edification. We need to make sure all we do is out of love.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Corinthians 15.

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Today’s reading is Matthew 24.

I admit that the devotional for Matthew 24 is always the hardest for me to write. I know I’m in the minority regarding what I believe this chapter is about. I’m an amillennialist, so I don’t believe it is about a coming rapture. But though I am not what is called a hyper preterist or a realized eschatologist (if you don’t know what those terms mean, don’t worry too much about it), I do believe the whole chapter is about the destruction of Jerusalem and not at all about the end of the world or our future. However, there are parallels for us. Namely, false christs and false prophets will arise. In fact, no matter what view you take on this chapter as a whole, surely you can see the danger. Our enemy will use false gods, false teachers, false doctrines, false gospels, false anything to turn us away from the truth. Here is where the danger deepens: he doesn’t always use obvious falsehoods. He will even use very compelling falsehoods that seem to be accompanied by great signs and come so close as to take great discernment to distinguish from the truth. But God has revealed His truth. Do not be deceived by the devil’s deceptions masquerading as truth. Get in the Word. Stay in the Word. Don’t be swayed from the Word. Only truth will set you free.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 25.

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A Slave of Christ

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 7.

What a great equality Paul declares among Christians. Those who were slaves that became Christians had been freed by Christ from their sins. All Christians are freedmen of the Lord. Those who were free that became Christians were submitting to the yoke of Jesus Christ. All Christians are slaves of Christ. It seems a paradox, but what an amazing thing it is. The greatest freedom we can possibly have comes not from pursuing the greatest freedom we can possibly have, but by pursuing slavery to the greatest Master we can ever have: Jesus Christ. Be free. Become Christ’s slave.

Monday’s reading is 1 Corinthians 8.

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Set Your Mind on Things Above

Today’s reading is Colossians 3.

What are you thinking about today? Where is your head? Where is your heart? We have been raised with Christ to a new life through our baptism into His death. We have been seated in heavenly places above all of this earthly mess even though we are still living down here in all this. To make it from day to day, since our bodies are still situated in the earthly mess, we must set our hearts and minds on the things above. This means renewing our thoughts, resetting our values, redirecting our goals to be with Christ who is seated in the heavenly places. Where are you looking today?

Tomorrow’s reading is Colossians 4.

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