We’ve Already Won

Today’s reading is John 16.

When I read the last verse of today’s reading, I can’t help but think of the Israelites heading into the Promised Land. Multiple times, God spoke of the land He had already given them (cf. Deuteronomy 9:23). That is, even before they took possession, God had already overcome Canaan land. When they listened to God and maintained their covenant relationship with Him, they overcame. We are not looking for military conquest today. However, we are at war. The world is fighting with all of its might. Often, that is discouraging and disheartening. Of course, I can’t tell you what the casualties will be. As we watch those casualties, it is painful. Especially when those who cave to the world are close to us. However, we are fighting on the winning side. No matter what it may look like, God always wins. In fact, through Jesus Christ He has already won. The world is already conquered. God is already victorious. Whose side will you be on today?

Tomorrow’s reading is John 17.

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Common Temptations

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 10.

For a long time, I got the meaning of 1 Corinthians 10:13 exactly backwards. I have read it for most of my life as saying God let’s everyone get tempted in the same ways as I have, so I am obviously able to overcome the temptations. WRONG! Paul’s point is for me to take a look at what has happened to everyone else who plays around with and lingers in temptation. In the specific context, he is addressing the Corinthian desire to eat in the idols’ temples. He encourages them to look at how everyone else handled the temptations present in eating before idols. The Israelites ate and drank before the idol, then they rose up to play. That is, eating before the idol led to certain sin (Exodus 32). The Israelites started committing immorality with the daughters of Moab, and it led them to idolatry and destruction (Numbers 25). The Israelites put God to the test, and were destroyed by serpents. Interestingly, the very deliverance for them, the bronze serpent, later became a stumbling block of idolatry (Numbers 21, 2 Kings 18). Paul’s point is to notice how people commonly react to these common temptations. They fall. Then they get judged. What makes me arrogantly think I’ll be different from everyone else in the face of these very common temptations. Sadly, for the longest time, due to an unfortunate verse and paragraph break in the printed version of the Bible I use, I’ve missed Paul’s real point. Yes, God has provided a way of escape. But the way of escape is not right up close to the temptation. The way of escape is to flee the temptation. In context, to flee from idolatry. But really, if I would overcome sin, I must flee what tempts me. After all, my temptations are common to men and women of all time. How has everyone reacted when they cozied up to temptation? They have fallen. I will too. It is high time to take God’s path of escape by fleeing. That is my goal today. How about yours?

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Corinthians 11.

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Let the Day of the Lord Govern Today

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 5.

Deliver such a one to Satan? Are you kidding me? That will not look good on us. He might claim we are abusing him. He might sue us. Our neighbors might think we are mean. Society might judge us as harsh and unloving. Yet, between now and the day of the Lord, he might just repent because of this action and on the day of the Lord his spirit will be saved instead of condemned. Not to mention, if the church doesn’t take this action between now and the day of the Lord, he will almost definitely lead others to sin and destruction. No doubt, delivering an impenitent sinner to Satan is painful and fraught with temporal, cultural, societal dangers today. But the Day of the Lord is coming. We need to let the Day of the Lord govern today. And, to be sure, Paul’s application in this chapter is only one of a myriad of arenas in which we need to let the Day of the Lord govern today. I get it, we are living in today, but today will be over in just a few hours. The Day of the Lord will linger forever once it comes. Don’t live for today; live for the Day of the Lord.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Corinthians 6.

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Humble Exiles

Today’s reading is 1 Peter 5.

Christ’s exiles are holy and honorable, but we must also be humble. In other words, we don’t get all uppity about our holiness or our honorableness. We recognize Satan is on the prowl. He is looking to destroy our holiness and our honorableness. And we are not so holy or honorable that we can’t fall prey. We must humble ourselves before God and one another. We must walk in humility in order to be exalted by God. We must walk in humility to have victory. Thank God for the victories of holiness and honorableness He has granted in our lives, but let’s not get lax. Keep up your guard. Keep up your humility.

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Peter 1.

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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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The Monster

Today’s reading is Revelation 12.

You’ve seen the movie or heard the stories. The Hero wants to marry the would-be bride, but first he must rescue her from the monster. That is our story now. We’ve met the Hero. We’ve met the Bride. Now meet the Monster. The dragon, the serpent of old, the devil himself. The dragon would have the Bride sacrificed on his altar, a meal for his supper. The Monster has lost one battle already, being cast from heaven. But he stands on the shore of the sea and wages war on the Bride. Will the Monster win? Will the Hero arrive in time to save the day? In this chapter we are left merely at the point of battle. If it were a movie on TV, it is time for a commercial break. What will happen next? Of course, you already know my answer. And if you’ve read ahead you can see. But appreciate for now the terror of facing the dragon, the Monster that wages war. Yes, victory is coming, but don’t be deterred by the battle; it is exactly what God said would come. Hang on, though, because Jesus always wins!

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 13.

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Don’t Get Evangelism Backwards

Today’s reading is Matthew 14.

One of Satan’s biggest tricks is to give us something really close to the gospel truth, but different enough to miss the boat in such subtle ways we never realize it is happening. Sadly, he has done that with Jesus feeding the 5000. Because of this, and one other example, many get evangelism exactly backwards. They see Jesus feed these people miraculously and start teaching that the mission of the kingdom is to make sure no one is hungry. “We need to feed people just like Jesus did,” we are told. “And when we do that, we earn the right to teach them the gospel.” But that isn’t what happened here at all. Jesus didn’t feed people, then earn the right to teach them. These people followed Jesus to hear His teaching and because they did so got into hardship. Then Jesus fed them. Certainly, all Christians do good deeds and all Christians help as they have opportunity with folks in urgent need, but lets not get evangelism and the gospel backwards. Let’s keep the real mission the real mission: saving souls with the gospel. That is real disciple making.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 15.

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