Today’s devotion comes from Luke 6:1-5.

“Now it happened that He was passing through some grainfields on a Sabbath;  and His disciples were picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating the grain.  But some of the Pharisees said, “Why do you do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”  And Jesus answering them said, “Have you not even read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him, how he entered the house of God, and took and ate the consecrated bread which is not lawful for any to eat except the priests alone, and gave it to his companions?”  And He was saying to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”  Luke 6:1-5.

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Jesus is not only the Lord of the Sabbaoth;  Jesus is also the Lord of all the other ten commandments and all other rule and authority.

“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;  …  When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us;  and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.  When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.

Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come;  but the substance belongs to Christ.”  Colossians 2:9-10 and 13-17.

“He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.  …”  Ephesians 1:9-10.

“Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”  Galatians 3:24.

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”  Galatians 4:4.

“Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.”  Romans 7:4.

“For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.  I have been crucified with Christ;  and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;  and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”  Galatians 2:19-21.

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free;  therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.  …

You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law;  you have fallen from grace.  For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.”  Galatians 5:1 and 4-5.

“…  If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more:  circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews;  as to the Law, a Pharisee;  as to zeal, a persecutor of the church;  as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,”  Philippians 3:4-9.

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 5:36-39.

“And He was also telling them a parable:  “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old garment;  otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old.  And no one puts new wine into old wineskins;  otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined.  But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.  And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new;  for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’”  Luke 5:36-39.

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Faith in the Law and man’s ability to obey the Law is like the old garment and old wineskins.

Faith in Christ and the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith in Christ is like the new garment and the new wine.

You cannot combine the two.

“Are you so foolish?  Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”  Galatians 3:3.

“You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law;  you have fallen from grace.  For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.”  Galatians 5:4-5.

And, other doctrine based on man’s works, or based on even as little as man’s will, is also like the old garment and old wineskins.

And, Reformed Doctrine based on God’s work and God’s will to provide all that we need for salvation is like the new garment and the new wine.

You cannot combine the two.

Q. 30.  Do such then believe in Jesus the only Savior, who seek their salvation and welfare of saints, of themselves, or anywhere else?

A.  They do not;  for though they boast of Him in words, yet in deeds they deny Jesus the only deliverer and Savior;  for one of these two things must be true, either that Jesus is not a complete Savior, or that they who by a true faith receive this Savior must find all things in Him necessary to their salvation.  Heidelberg Catechism.

Those who live by the Law or other doctrine are like those who drink old wine and think it is good enough.  

God’s grace makes us new creations and enables us to leave the Law and live a new life in Christ.

“Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”  Galatians 3:24-25.

“Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.”  Romans 7:4.

God’s grace also gives us new understanding that Scripture is best summarized by Reformed Doctrine and enables us to leave other doctrine and cling to Reformed Doctrine.  God’s grace gives us faith in God’s work and God’s will to provide all that we need for salvation.

“And He said, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that SEEING THEY MAY NOT SEE, AND HEARING THEY MAY NOT UNDERSTAND.”  Luke 8:10.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature;  the old things passed away;  behold, new things have come.”  2 Corinthians 5:17.

“Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”  Romans 6:4.

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 5:33-35.

“And they said to Him, “The disciples of John often fast and offer prayers, the disciples of the Pharisees also do the same, but Yours eat and drink.”  And Jesus said to them, “You cannot make the attendants of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you?  But the days will come;  and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days.”  Luke 5:33-35.

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Some think it looks righteous to appear somber, sad, and suffering.

And, some are hostile to Christians and criticize Christians no matter what they do:  “and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;  we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’”  Matthew 11:17.

Jesus further said:  “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’  The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’  Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”  Matthew 11:18-19.

There is a time for sadness.

“A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.”  Ecclesiastes 3:4.

There is certainly a time for us to mourn and weep when we suffer or lose loved ones.

There was sadness when Jesus was taken away from His disciples and suffered and died.

But, there was great joy when Jesus was resurrected from the dead and returned to His disciples.  And, there was even greater joy when the disciples received the Holy Spirit.  “And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”  Acts 13:52.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace …”  Galatians 5:22.

Thus, generally, joy is one of the marks of a Christian.  Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit within us, and joy is also a response of a Christian for the great things the LORD has done for us.  

There was joy when the LORD brought back those who were in captivity in Babylon.  But, there is also greater joy for us whom the LORD released from captivity to sin and Satan.

“When the LORD brought back the captive ones of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter
And our tongue with joyful shouting;
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
We are glad.”  Psalm 126:1-3.

“Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones;
And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.”  Psalm 32:11.

“You have put gladness in my heart,
More than when their grain and new wine abound.”  Psalm 4:7.

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 5:29-32.

“And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house;  and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them.  The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?”  And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”  Luke 5:29-32.

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“But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”  James 4:5.

“Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed;  and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.  Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline;  therefore be zealous and repent.”  Revelation 3:17-19.

The sinners and tax collectors were not more humble, nor more prone to seek God and repent, than the righteous.  

Nor were the Gentiles more humble, more prone to seek God and repent, than the Jews.

“…  Not at all;  for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;  as it is written,

“THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS,
THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;
ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS;
THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD,
THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”  Romans 3:9-12.

God unconditionally chose those whom He desires to save according to His purpose, including granting the saving gifts of repentance and faith to those whom He chose. 

Consider the following of what the Canons of Dordt state in part in FIRST HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of Divine Predestination.

“Article 7.  Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, he hath out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of his own will, chosen, from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault, from their primitive state of rectitude, into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom he from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect, and the foundation of Salvation. 

This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than the others, but with them involved in one common misery, …

Article 9.  This election was not founded upon foreseen faith, and the obedience of faith, holiness, or any other good quality of disposition in man, as the pre-requisite, cause or condition on which it depended;  but men are chosen to faith and to the obedience of faith, holiness, etc., therefore election is the fountain of every saving good;  from which proceed faith, holiness, and the other gifts of salvation, and finally eternal life itself, …”

“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;  but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.  But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”  1 Corinthians 1:26-31.

“And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.”  Romans 9:23-24.

“When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.”  Acts 11:18.

Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | November 26, 2018

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me”

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 5:27-29.

“After that He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me.”  And he left everything behind, and got up and began to follow Him.”  Luke 5:27-29.

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Today’s Scripture presents a more powerful example of Jesus’ power and authority over men.

It is impressive that Jesus could command simple fishermen to follow Him and they immediately left their nets and followed Him.  See Mark 1:16-20.  But, it is more impressive that Jesus could command a shrewd tax collector (who was a professional at resisting the pleas of taxpayers and who also was a sinner who was not afraid of God nor man) and he left everything and followed Him.

It is impressive that the fishermen left their livelihood.  But, it is more impressive that the tax collector “left everything behind” including both a very lucrative source of income for himself and the responsibility for which he could be held accountable for leaving whether to Rome or to another government entity for whom he had the responsibility to collect taxes.  It is reasonable to infer that he risked being punished by death or by imprisonment.

If Jesus had such power and authority over a tax collector named Levi, we can every confidence in Jesus’ power and authority over us. 

Other doctrine teaches man’s alleged free-will.

But, Reformed Doctrine teaches God’s “Irresistible Grace”. 

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”  John 6:37.

“for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:13.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6.

God accomplishes all of His good pleasure.  Total Perfect Triumph.

“9 “Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;
11 Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man of My purpose from a far country.
Truly I have spoken;  truly I will bring it to pass.
I have planned it, surely I will do it.”  Isaiah 46:9-11.

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 5:17-26.

“One day He was teaching;  and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem;  and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing.  And some men were carrying on a bed a man who was paralyzed;  and they were trying to bring him in and to set him down in front of Him.  But not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus.  Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”  The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies?  Who can forgive sins, but God alone?”  But Jesus, aware of their reasonings, answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts?  Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins have been forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?  But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,”—He said to the paralytic—“I say to you, get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.”  Immediately he got up before them, and picked up what he had been lying on, and went home glorifying God.  They were all struck with astonishment and began glorifying God;  and they were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen remarkable things today.”  Luke 5:17-26.

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What a presentation by God of Jesus’ authority to forgive sins!  First, “there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem”.  Second, the paralyzed man came from above, through the roof, right in front of everyone.  Third, Jesus did not heal him first, but rather forgave him first, to emphasize the focal point of this presentation so they would best consider the authority of Jesus to forgive sins.

We need healing of our diseases and afflictions.  But, above all, what we need the most is the forgiveness of our sins.

“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”  Colossians 1:13-14.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.  …”  Ephesians 1:1-8.

Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | November 23, 2018

“I am willing; be cleansed.”

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 5:12-16.

“While He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man covered with leprosy;  and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”  And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing;  be cleansed.”  And immediately the leprosy left him.  And He ordered him to tell no one, “But go and show yourself to the priest and make an offering for your cleansing, just as Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”  But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses.  But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.”  Luke 5:12-16.

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In this chapter and the previous chapter, we read about the power of Jesus to heal.  Today’s Scripture emphasizes the willingness of Jesus to heal.  In order for God to heal us or otherwise do miracles for us, we need God to have both the power and the willingness to do so.

Here is what the Heidelberg Catechism states about the power and the willingness of God.

Q. 26.  What believest thou when thou sayest, “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth”?

A.  That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (who of nothing made heaven and earth, with all that is in them;  who likewise upholds and governs the same by His eternal counsel and providence) is, for the sake of Christ His Son, my God and my Father;  on whom I rely so entirely, that I have no doubt but He will provide me with all things necessary for soul and body;  and further, that He will make whatever evils He sends upon me, in this valley of tears, turn out to my advantage;  for He is able to do it, being Almighty God, and willing, being a faithful Father.

“Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”  Matthew 7:9-11.

“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’  For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things;  for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”  Matthew 6:31-32.

“… In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.  ”  Ephesians 1:4-8.

“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”  Romans 8:32.

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 5:1-11.

“Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret;  and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake;  but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets.  And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land.  And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat.  When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”  Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.”  When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break;  so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them.  And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink.  But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!”  For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken;  and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.  And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.”  When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.”  Luke 5:1-11.

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Why are we so eager to believe that Jesus can cast out demons but so reluctant to believe that Jesus can catch men?!

In the last chapter, we read about the authority and power of Jesus to cast out demons.  In this chapter, we read about Jesus’ authority and power to catch men (“they left everything and followed Him.”), and we also read about Jesus’ authority and power to make those men able to catch other men (“And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.”).

Other doctrine puff up alleged free-will of man as if the will of man is stronger than the will of God.

But, Reformed Doctrine recognizes what Scripture teaches about both the Almighty and Sovereign God and the weaknesses of man.  Reformed Doctrine presents true summary of Scripture in “TULIP”, the Reformed Doctrine of Salvation.  The point of focus for this devotion is “Irresistible Grace”, the “I” of “TULIP”.  

Here is what the Canons of Dordt state in part about “Irresistible Grace”, the “I” of “TULIP” in the section titled “THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof”:

Article 11.  But when God accomplishes his good pleasure in the elect, or works in them true conversion, he not only causes the gospel to be externally preached to them, and powerfully illumines their minds by his Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God;  but by the efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit, pervades the inmost recesses of the man;  he opens the closed, and softens the hardened heart, and circumcises that which was uncircumcised, infuses new qualities into the will, which though heretofore dead, he quickens;  from being evil, disobedient and refractory, he renders it good, obedient, and pliable;  actuates and strengthens it, that like a good tree, it may bring forth the fruits of good actions.

Article 12.  And this is the regeneration so highly celebrated in Scripture, and denominated a new creation:  a resurrection from the dead, a making alive, which God works in us without our aid.  But this is in no wise effected merely by the external preaching of the gospel, by moral suasion, or such a mode of operation, that after God has performed his part, it still remains in the power of man to be regenerated or not, to be converted, or to continue unconverted;  but it is evidently a supernatural work, most powerful, and at the same time most delightful, astonishing, mysterious, and ineffable;  not inferior in efficacy to creation, or the resurrection from the dead, as the Scripture inspired by the author of this work declares;  so that all in whose heart God works in this marvelous manner, are certainly, infallibly, and effectually regenerated, and do actually believe.  –  Whereupon the will thus renewed, is not only actuated and influenced by God, but in consequence of this influence, becomes itself active.  Wherefore also, man is himself rightly said to believe and repent, by virtue of that grace received.”

Article 14.  Faith is therefore to be considered as the gift of God, not on account of its being offered by God to man, to be accepted or rejected at his pleasure;  but because it is in reality conferred, breathed, and infused into him;  or even because God bestows the power or ability to believe, and then expects that man should by the exercise of his own free will, consent to the terms of that salvation, and actually believe in Christ;  but because he who works in man both to will and to do, and indeed all things in all, produces both the will to believe, and the act of believing also.

In briefest summary to use an analogy, God irresistibly draws His elect to Jesus that can loosely be compared to the authority and power of a fisherman to draw fish out of the sea and into his boat.  The fisherman does not coax or persuade the fish to come into the boat.  The fisherman simply uses a line or a net to pull the fish out of the sea and into his boat.  But, to some extent, a fish can resist being pulled up and into the boat and sometimes can break the line or the net or get off the hook or out of the net;  whereas, no one can resist God.

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”  John 6:37.

This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.”  John 6:39.

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him;  and I will raise him up on the last day.”  John 6:44.

Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | November 21, 2018

“I was sent for this purpose.”

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 4:38-44.

“Then He got up and left the synagogue, and entered Simon’s home.  Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Him to help her.  And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her;  and she immediately got up and waited on them.

While the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him;  and laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them.  Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, “You are the Son of God!”  But rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Christ.

When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place;  and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them.  But He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.”

So He kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.”  Luke 4:38-44.

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Jesus did heal, and the crowds loved it and wanted to keep Him for themselves, but Jesus stayed focus on His purpose and resisted their agenda for Him.

In considering Jesus’ statement in verse 43 (“I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.”), we remember the purpose from the following verses in the same chapter.

“THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME,
BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR.
HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES,
AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND,
TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED,
TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.”  Luke 4:18-19.

There is a lot of different good things that we can do.  But, we must not let those good things prevent us from accomplishing our purpose as a church and also as individual Christians. 

As a church, social ministries can be good, but too often we see social ministries take over a church, and thereby, the focus and emphasis on preaching and teaching is crowded out and diminished.

As a Christian, we can be flattered as the crowd flattered Jesus.  As a Christian, we can see genuine needs as Jesus saw the genuine needs for healing.  But, we must remember our purpose and resist hijacking by others of the God-given agenda for us.

God has given us specific spiritual gifts to accomplish His specific purpose to do certain works.  And, we also do not have unlimited time and unlimited energy.  We need to stay focused and accomplish God’s purpose for us. 

“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.  …

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;  until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”  Ephesians 4:7 and 11-13.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10.

“for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:13.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6.

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 4:31-37.

“And He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and He was teaching them on the Sabbath;  and they were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority.  In the synagogue there was a man possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Let us alone!  What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have You come to destroy us?  I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”  But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet and come out of him!”  And when the demon had thrown him down in the midst of the people, he came out of him without doing him any harm.  And amazement came upon them all, and they began talking with one another saying, “What is this message?  For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits and they come out.”  And the report about Him was spreading into every locality in the surrounding district.”  Luke 4:31-37.

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If Jesus, “the Holy One of God”, has such total and perfect authority and power over demons such as He had over the man in the synagogue, then we can every confidence that God has such total and perfect authority and power over our natural condition of “Total Depravity”.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”  Ephesians 2:4-7.

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”  1 Corinthians 1:30-31.

Here is what the Canons of Dordt state in part in the section titled “THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof”:

“Article 11.  But when God accomplishes his good pleasure in the elect, or works in them true conversion, he not only causes the gospel to be externally preached to them, and powerfully illumines their minds by his Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God;  but by the efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit, pervades the inmost recesses of the man;  he opens the closed, and softens the hardened heart, and circumcises that which was uncircumcised, infuses new qualities into the will, which though heretofore dead, he quickens;  from being evil, disobedient and refractory, he renders it good, obedient, and pliable;  actuates and strengthens it, that like a good tree, it may bring forth the fruits of good actions.

Article 12.  And this is the regeneration so highly celebrated in Scripture, and denominated a new creation:  a resurrection from the dead, a making alive, which God works in us without our aid.  But this is in no wise effected merely by the external preaching of the gospel, by moral suasion, or such a mode of operation, that after God has performed his part, it still remains in the power of man to be regenerated or not, to be converted, or to continue unconverted;  but it is evidently a supernatural work, most powerful, and at the same time most delightful, astonishing, mysterious, and ineffable; not inferior in efficacy to creation, or the resurrection from the dead, as the Scripture inspired by the author of this work declares; so that all in whose heart God works in this marvelous manner, are certainly, infallibly, and effectually regenerated, and do actually believe. – Whereupon the will thus renewed, is not only actuated and influenced by God, but in consequence of this influence, becomes itself active.  Wherefore also, man is himself rightly said to believe and repent, by virtue of that grace received.”

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;  and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”  Ezekiel 36:26-27.

“for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:13.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6.

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