Hate is No Surprise

Today’s reading is John 15.

It is surprising to me how many times throughout the Scripture the Holy Spirit prepares us for hate. Considering how good, loving, compassionate, and kind Jesus was, it is amazing that He was hated. But He was. In fact, so hated, He was taken to the cross. This was the very point those around Him didn’t grasp. If He was the Messiah, even if hated, He shouldn’t suffer for it. And this is, perhaps, one of the largest aspects of following Him that we miss today. If we are walking in the footsteps of Jesus, we heedlessly believe, everyone should like us. The world and the worldly will be so impressed with our Christlike love and compassion that they will long to hear what we say (if we are doing it right). The world shouldn’t hate us, we think. If they do, we are doing it wrong, we believe. And yet, Jesus prepares His followers again and again and again. It will not be different for us. Hate is no surprise. The world is going to hate us. The world is going to make us suffer for it. Obviously, we aren’t trying to be hated. But be ready. And be ready to keep loving one another and also loving those who hate us. That is what Jesus did when hated.

Tomorrow’s reading is John 16.

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They Wish to see Jesus

Today’s reading is John 12.

Alright. I admit it. I have yet to hear a good explanation of why the Holy Spirit had John include this bit about the Greeks who wanted to see Jesus. I’m sure there is some contextual point that a great scholar could pull out and explain. However, I do think it shows the place of the disciple. These Greeks hadn’t come to see Philip. They hadn’t come to see Andrew. They hadn’t come to see any of the disciples. They had come to see Jesus. What is the disciple’s role, to show people Jesus. That is still our role. I have to especially remember that when I’m preaching. People aren’t coming to see me. They are coming to see Jesus. If too much of me gets in the way, I’m clouding the proper view. The same is true for everyone. We are disciples. What we are doing isn’t about us, it is about Jesus. Let’s make sure we are showing people Jesus today.

Tomorrow’s reading is John 13.

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If They Kill Us, So What?

Today’s reading is Matthew 10.

I sometimes have the idea that if I share the gospel at just the right time in just the right way, everyone will accept it. However, if anyone knew exactly the right time and exactly the right way, surely it was Jesus. And look what happened to Him. They killed Him. However, when they killed Him, He was resurrected. Certainly, the pain Jesus went through was no picnic, but ultimately, He had nothing to fear from those who executed Him. In like manner, if those who killed Him decided to kill us, so what? All they are accomplishing is ushering us into the very presence of our Savior and King Jesus Christ. We have nothing to fear and nothing worthwhile to lose. Let’s share the gospel in the light and on the rooftops. Let’s expose what Jesus has said and taught and done. Let’s be unashamed and unafraid. And if they kill us, so what?!

Monday’s reading is Matthew 11.

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Today’s reading is 2 Corinthians 6.

We tend to romanticize Paul’s suffering. What I mean is we think it is very cool that Paul was willing to suffer so much for Jesus. But what if a fellow asked to preach for your congregation who had just been let out of prison for being at the center of a riot? And it wasn’t the first time that had happened? The powers that be in the culture were letting it be known that he was a arrogant troublemaker? He can’t seem to go into a town without some trouble being stirred up? And now he has decided to preach for your congregation? It doesn’t seem so cool at that point, does it? And that is exactly what Paul was defending against. His opponents were trying to convince the Corinthians to dismiss Paul as a troublemaker. Surely, if he was really on God’s side, these awful things would not be happening to him. They were trying to heap shame on Paul and any who would listen to him. But Paul turned it on its head. His suffering was, in fact, his calling card of authenticity. After all, isn’t that exactly what happened to Jesus? What else could we expect to happen to his greatest spokesperson? Let us be unashamed not only of Christ and the gospel but even of the “shame” that will be heaped on any who proclaim it. That has been the way proclaimers have always been treated. Let us lift them up and lift up the gospel no matter the consequences.

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Corinthians 7.

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Blinded from the Light

Today’s reading is 2 Corinthians 4.

We’ve all heard about being blinded by the light. In fact, Paul had experienced that once. But what about being blinded from the light? The god of this world is actively working to blind the folks we speak to from the light. Keep that in mind when folks call us names, belittle us, shame us. They will call us haters. They will call us evil. They will come up with names to describe God’s doctrines that sound awful in their attempts to get us to back off from God’s teaching in the Bible. How should we respond? With love and kindness and truth. We do not need to be quarrelsome. We must continue to be courteous to all (see Titus 3:1-2). But we do not need to be ashamed either. We will be afflicted, but not crushed. We will be persecuted, but not forsaken. Let us believe and speak as Paul did. Let us not lose heart because the light momentary affliction we will feel here is preparing an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. Yes, the god of this world is fighting against us, but our God always wins!

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Corinthians 5.

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Saving the Gentiles

Today’s reading is 1 Peter 4.

There is a common idea floating around today among those who call themselves Christians. The idea is if we want to save people, we need to become more like them. Thus, Christians are encouraged to hang out with those still living in sin even while they are committing their sins. Go to their parties, drink at their bars, support their events that promote sin, etc. By doing this, we are told, they will know we aren’t “holier-than-thou” and that we really do love them. We are even told stories about Gentiles who were impressed and said nice things about Christians who behaved this way. Here’s the rub. That is simply not what the apostle Peter says to do. He says we’ve already spent enough time living like the Gentiles. We’ve already spent enough time in their parties, at their bars, at their events. Peter even admits, “Yes, the non-Christians will malign you.” But that didn’t change his stance. We don’t save the Gentiles by acting like the Gentiles. Those Gentiles who will be saved, will be saved by seeing our holy and honorable conduct and realizing as much as they want to malign us, they really don’t have a leg to stand on. Then they ask us about our hope. In this way, save the Gentiles. God’s way.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Peter 5.

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One Mind, One Spirit

Today’s reading is Philippians 1.

As did the Philippians, we have opponents. Really we have one true opponent and those who surrender to him whether knowingly or unknowingly. But what an opponent. Remember what we learned about our enemy and his minions from Paul’s letter to theĀ Ephesians? They are beyond our ability to fight. And yet we must fight. Paul explains to the Philippians one key to the fight. While a congregation is made up of many individuals, it must fight the enemy as a unit. It must fight as one body. But that is demonstrated by having one mind and one spirit. Like a single body led by one spirit and governed by one mind, a congregation of God’s people must strive side by side for the faith of the gospel as one. The fight against the enemy is hard, let’s not make it worse by getting at odds with one another. One mind. One spirit. United. Let that be our goal.

Tomorrow’s reading is Philippians 2.

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