Today’s devotion comes from Luke 16:14-15.

“Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him.  And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts;  for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.”  Luke 16:14-15.

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Today’s devotion will present some Scriptures which specifically apply to the Pharisees and some Scriptures which more generally apply to others.

“And He said to them (the Pharisees), “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts;  for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.”  Verse 15.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.  So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”  Matthew 23:27.

“They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.”  Titus 1:16.

“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.  For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power;  Avoid such men as these.  For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  2 Timothy 3:1-7.

Today’s devotion will also present some Scriptures which more generally inform us what pleases God and what does not please God: trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.”  Ephesians 5:10.

“10 He does not delight in the strength of the horse;
He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man.
11 The LORD favors those who fear Him,
Those who wait for His lovingkindness.”  Psalm 147:10-11.

We are only pleasing to God if we are in Christ.

“… “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”  Matthew 3:17.

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life;  it is these that testify about Me;  and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.”  John 5:39-40.

“And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.”  1 John 5:11-12.

“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.

Through Him (Christ) then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.  And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”  Hebrews 13:15-16.

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.”  Ephesians 1:3-5.

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 16:1-13.

“Now He was also saying to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and this manager was reported to him as squandering his possessions.  And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you?  Give an accounting of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’  The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me?  I am not strong enough to dig;  I am ashamed to beg.  I know what I shall do, so that when I am removed from the management people will welcome me into their homes.’  And he summoned each one of his master’s debtors, and he began saying to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’  And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’  And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’  Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’  And he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’  He *said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’  And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly;  for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light.  And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.

“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much;  and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.  Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?  And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?  No servant can serve two masters;  for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”  Luke 16:1-13.

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Certainly, Jesus is not teaching us to abuse the trust of our employer and mismanage our employer’s property.  Rather, Jesus is figuratively telling a story to support His point that wealth can be used for others in different and shrewd ways (that can also make friends and benefit one’s self) instead of only using wealth for one’s own greedy personal consumption.  “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.”  Verse 9.

I think of an attorney with whom I shared law office space for many years.  He shared the wealth in different ways with those in his building.  As one example, his clients gave him gifts, because he would sometimes do minor legal services for them for free, and they would give him gifts of a basket of fruit or box of candy or other gifts of food and drink.  Although he had every right to take those gifts home for himself, he would place them on the common area table where the coffee was located to be free for staff, clients, and even visitors to take one item.  We all loved him, and he had a very prosperous law practice.

I also think of a realtor who always insisted on paying me immediately at the time of my service to him.  Although he had every right to mail a check to me at his leisure after he received my invoice, he made me wait in his office while his assistant cut a check for me.  We all loved doing work for him, and he had a very prosperous realty business.

“27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
When it is in your power to do it.
28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back,
And tomorrow I will give it,”
When you have it with you.”  Proverbs 3:27-28.

The following Proverbs also give us some different creative and wise examples of how we can use wealth to help others and also our self.  As I read this Scripture, I think of businesses giving free samples.  Although they are scattering their product, to use the language of the following Scripture, they increase their profit because more people will buy the product if they get to try a sample.  This Scripture also teaches that you can sell a product or service for a fair price, and people will be loyal customers.  By so doing, you will do better than if you tried to maximize profit on each sale.

“24 There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more,
And there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want.
25 The generous man will be prosperous,
And he who waters will himself be watered.
26 He who withholds grain, the people will curse him,
But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.”  Proverbs 11:24-26.

In summary, when we trust God, rather than trust our wealth, we are more willing to share our wealth with others.  “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.  Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.”  1 Timothy 6:17-19.

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 15:11-32.

“And He said, “A man had two sons.  The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’  So he divided his wealth between them.  And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.  Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished.  So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.  And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.  But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!  I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight;  I am no longer worthy to be called your son;  make me as one of your hired men.”’  So he got up and came to his father.  But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.  And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight;  I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet;  and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate;  for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again;  he was lost and has been found.’  And they began to celebrate.

“Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing.  And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be.  And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’  But he became angry and was not willing to go in;  and his father came out and began pleading with him.  But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look!  For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends;  but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’  And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours.  But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”  Luke 15:11-32.

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Other doctrine is like the older son who thinks he has favor of God because he thinks obeys God’s commandments.  “But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look!  For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours;  …”  Verse 29.

But, Reformed Doctrine is like the younger son who has favor of God because he is God’s son.  “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.”  Verse 20.

“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.  Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba!  Father!”  Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son;  and if a son, then an heir through God.”  Galatians 4:4-7.

Consider the following from the Heidelberg Catechism.  Notice the importance placed on God being our Faithful Father.

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.

Q. 27.  What dost thou mean by the providence of God?

A.  The almighty and everywhere present power of God, whereby, as it were by His hand, He upholds and governs heaven, earth, and all creatures;  so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, and all things come, not by chance, but by His fatherly hand

Q. 28.  What advantage is it to us to know that God has created, and by His providence doth still uphold all things?

A.  That we may be patient in adversity;  thankful in prosperity;  and that in all things which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, that nothing shall separate us from His love;  since all creatures are so in His hand, that without His will they cannot so much as move.

“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.  For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”  Galatians 3:24-26.

“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.  For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba!  Father!”  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”  Romans 8:14-17.

“… 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.

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 15:8-10.

“Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?  When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’  In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  Luke 15:8-10.

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In today’s parable of the Lost Coin, we can see most clearly the common thread between the trilogy of the three parables in Luke chapter 15 of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Prodigal Son.  The trilogy of parables draws attention to God as the One Who seeks and finds lost sinners and Who rejoices over even just one sinner who repents.

Other doctrine presents a god of their desire who submits to the alleged free-will of man.  This god is often frustrated and sad that so many of those whom He would like to save choose to wander and get lost.  

But, Reformed Doctrine presents the Sovereign and Victorious God Who always seeks and always finds those of His elect who are lost.  This God of Scripture is Almighty God and a Faithful Father Who rejoices over His elect Who repents.  

“The LORD your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior.
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”  Zephaniah 3:17.

“For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet,
Until her righteousness goes forth like brightness,
And her salvation like a torch that is burning.
2 The nations will see your righteousness,
And all kings your glory;
And you will be called by a new name
Which the mouth of the Lord will designate.
3 You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD,
And a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken,”
Nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate”;
But you will be called, “My delight is in her,”
And your land, “Married”;
For the LORD delights in you,
And to Him your land will be married.
5 For as a young man marries a virgin,
So your sons will marry you;
And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So your God will rejoice over you.”  Isaiah 62:1-5.

“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
And let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.”  1 Chronicles 16:31.

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 15:1-7.

“Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him.  Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

So He told them this parable, saying, “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?  When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’  I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”  Luke 15:1-7.

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The LORD your God is a “victorious warrior” Who saves all of His elect.  “He will exult over you with joy”.  

“The LORD your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior.
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”  Zephaniah 3:17.

In sharp contrast to God who is like a victorious warrior, we are like sheep.  We are nervous and skittish.  We only care about the general conditions of the pasture.  We couldn’t care less if one of the other sheep wanders off.  All we care about is that there are no wolves in the pasture and that there is plenty of grass to eat and still waters to drink.

Today, we learn about God’s view as the Good Shepherd.  God cares most about not losing one of His sheep:  “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”  And, we know that God does not lose one of His sheep.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;  and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish;  and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all;  and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”  John 10:27-29.

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.

“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all.”  Psalm 103:19.

Article 8.  For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation:  that is, it was the will of God, that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given to him by the Father;  that he should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death;  should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing;  and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment of glory in his own presence forever.  SECOND HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of the Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby of Canons of Dordt.

Other doctrine places its hope on the lost sheep finding its way back home.

But, Reformed doctrine places its hope on the Good Shepherd.

Consider the following from the FIFTH HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of the Perseverance of the Saints of the Canons of Dordt.

Article 3.  By reason of these remains of indwelling sin, and the temptations of sin and of the world, those who are converted could not persevere in a state of grace, if left to their own strength.  But God is faithful, who having conferred grace, mercifully confirms, and powerfully preserves them herein, even to the end.

Article 8.  Thus, it is not in consequence of their own merits, or strength, but of God’s free mercy, that they do not totally fall from faith and grace, nor continue and perish finally in their backslidings;  which, with respect to themselves, is not only possible, but would undoubtedly happen;  but with respect to God, it is utterly impossible, since his counsel cannot be changed, nor his promise fail, neither can the call according to his purpose be revoked, nor the merit, intercession and preservation of Christ be rendered ineffectual, nor the sealing of the Holy Spirit be frustrated or obliterated.

Despite our tendency, we should also not place our hope in the general condition of our city, state, nation, or world.  

Consider righteous Lot.  Lot was in the midst of the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  God did not improve nor preserve the condition of the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  God delayed their destruction for His purpose of the salvation and other good of His elect, but God reduced those cities to ashes after rescuing righteous Lot.

“and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter;  and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment,”  2 Peter 2:6-9.

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”  2 Peter 3:9.

God accomplishes all of His good pleasure.  God saves all of His elect.  Total Perfect Triumph!

Throughout Scripture, we see that “Salvation belongs to the LORD”.  Psalm 3:8.

“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.

“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.

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;  and these whom He predestined, He also called;  and these whom He called, He also justified;  and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”  Romans 8:29-30.

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 14:34-35.

“Therefore, salt is good;  but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned?  It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile;  it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  Luke 14:34-35.

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“You are the salt of the earth;  but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”  Matthew 5:13.

Reformed Doctrine is our salt.

Our salt (Reformed Doctrine) makes us distinctive.  It sets us apart from other doctrine.  Hopefully, this message has come through these Reformed Doctrine Daily Devotions which often contrasts other doctrine with Reformed Doctrine.

Other doctrine focus on man and what man should do.

But, Reformed Doctrine focuses on God and what God has done.

Other doctrine trust and teach man’s works, man’s wisdom, and man’s alleged free-will.

But, Reformed Doctrine trusts and teaches God’s works, God’s wisdom, and God’s will.

Other doctrine resist God’s “Unconditional Election” and cling to man’s alleged free-will.

But, Reformed Doctrine joyfully embraces God’s “Unconditional Election” describing it as “the fountain of every saving good”.  Article 9 of FIRST HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of Divine Predestination of the Canons of Dordt.

Reformed Doctrine teaches that we should not trust in man but that we should trust in God to provide all that is needed for salvation from the beginning to the end:  from the beginning of God’s “Unconditional Election” through God’s “Limited Atonement” through God’s “Irresistible Grace” to the end of God’s “Preservation of the Saints”, the “U”, “L”, “I”, and “P” of “TULIP” as more fully taught in the Canons of Dordt.

But, sadly, many Reformed and Presbyterian denominations and churches copy other denominations, churches, and charities who are praised by man for their social missions, music, and fellowship fun activities that appeal to earthly senses, and they neglect Reformed Doctrine over time.  They become embarrassed by Reformed Doctrine and minimize it or hide it, and over time, they lose Reformed Doctrine.  They lose their salt and their reason for existence.

Let others get praise from man.

But, let Reformed Doctrine glorify God.

“For You, O LORD, have made me glad by what You have done,
I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.”  Psalm 92:4.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;”  1 Peter 2:9.

In conclusion, let us not lose our salt.  “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.  Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.”  2 Timothy 1:13-14.  “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”  2 Timothy 1:7.

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 14:25-33.

“Now large crowds were going along with Him;  and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.  Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?  Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’  Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.  So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”  Luke 14:25-33.

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Today’s devotion leads us to consider the supreme value of the kingdom of heaven.  The language of today’s Scripture should be considered figurative language, not literal language.

For example, obviously, we are not called to literally hate our wife or hate our family.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, …  So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;”  Ephesians 5:25-28.

“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”  1 Timothy 5:8.

Rather, today’s Scripture teaches us that the kingdom of heaven is worth all that we have:  all of our possessions (verse 33), all of our time (even if it encroaches on our “family time” which is the meaning of verse 26), and all of our focus on our own pride and our own passions and desires (our life, verse 26).

In a sense, we hate our own life by hating our own pride and our own self-righteousness.

“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 3:9.

In a sense, we hate our own life by hating our own passions and desires.

“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”  Galatians 5:24.

We may not be called by our Lord to give up all of our possessions or all of our family time or to die as a martyr.  But, whatever our Lord calls us to do or to give up, the kingdom of heaven is worth it.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again;  and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”  Matthew 13:44-46.

In comparison to the supreme value of the kingdom of heaven (also known as knowing Christ), the total value of all that we have is the equivalent of rubbish.  “… 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,”  Philippians 3:8.  We are losing nothing compared to what we are gaining.

Whatever our Lord calls us to do or to give up or to suffer, that is our cross to bear.  And, with the call, our Lord gives us all the grace that we need to bear our cross.  “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake;  for when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 14:16-24.

“But He said to him, “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many;  and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come;  for everything is ready now.’  But they all alike began to make excuses.  The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it;  please consider me excused.’  Another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out;  please consider me excused.’  Another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’  And the slave came back and reported this to his master.  Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’  And the slave said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’  And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.  For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.’”  Luke 14:16-24.

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Other doctrine trust in the invitation and their own wisdom and alleged free-will.  Other doctrine trust in “Resistible Grace”.

But, Reformed Doctrine trusts in God bringing or compelling them to come into the kingdom.  “Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’”  Verse 21.  “And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.”  Verse 23.  Reformed Doctrine trusts in “Irresistible Grace”, the “I” of “TULIP, the Reformed Doctrine of Salvation.

We notice that none of those who were invited came to the dinner.  “But they all alike began to make excuses.”  Verse 18.

Today’s Scripture should make those shudder in fear who trust in the invitation and in their own wisdom and free-will.  “For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.”  Verse 24.

“Total Depravity”, the “T” of “TULIP”, helps us understand why we should not trust in our wisdom and will to accept the invitation.  Scripture teaches that man is dead in sin and does not understand nor seek God nor do good, and that man is hostile to God and enslaved to sin and Satan.  Romans 3:10-18, Romans 8:7, Romans 6:20-21, Colossians 1:21, and Ephesians 2:1-3.

In a nutshell, we should not trust in man.  We should trust in God to provide all that is needed for salvation from the beginning to the end: from the beginning of God’s “Unconditional Election” through God’s “Limited Atonement” through God’s “Irresistible Grace” to the end of God’s “Preservation of the Saints”, the “U”, “L”, “I”, and “P” of “TULIP”, the Five Points of Calvinism, Reformed Doctrine of Salvation, as more fully taught in the Reformed creed Canons of Dordt.

“5 Thus says the LORD,
“Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind
And makes flesh his strength,
And whose heart turns away from the LORD.
6 “For he will be like a bush in the desert
And will not see when prosperity comes,
But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness,
A land of salt without inhabitant.
7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD
And whose trust is the Lord.
8 “For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor cease to yield fruit.”  Jeremiah 17:5-8.

In conclusion, there is only one Gospel, only one “Good News”.  God brings or compels His elect to come into His kingdom.  “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.  God does not make room for the other doctrine which trust in man, the invitation and their own wisdom and alleged free-will.  “For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.”  Verse 24.

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 14:12-15.

“And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment.  But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you;  for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

When one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”  Luke 14:12-15.

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Other doctrine teaches that those who are saved contributed something to their salvation to prove themselves worthy of salvation, whether it be works or just the alleged free-will to be saved.

But, Reformed Doctrine teaches that those who are saved contributed nothing to their salvation to prove themselves worthy of salvation.  They were “dead in sin” and “children of wrath” deserving the wrath of God as stated by the following Ephesians 2:3-8 Scripture.   They did not seek God, but were hostile to God, and enslaved to sin and Satan (Romans 8:7, Colossians 1:21, Romans 7:14-15, Romans 3:10-11).  They were “by nature neither better nor more deserving than the others, but with them involved in one common misery” as stated by the following quote from the Canons of Dordt. 

Today’s Scripture uses figurative language of “the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind” to figuratively represent those whom one would normally not invite to a luncheon or dinner.  These figures also represent those whom many would think that God would not invite them to the kingdom of God, “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.”  1 Corinthians 1:27-29.

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, God hath decreed to give to Christ, to be saved by him, and effectually to call and draw them to his communion by his Word and Spirit, to bestow upon them true faith, justification and sanctification;  …

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, as its fruits and effects, according to that of the apostle:  “He hath chosen us (not because we were) but that we should be holy, and without blame, before him in love,”  Ephesians 1:4.”   FIRST HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of Divine Predestination of Canons of Dordt. 

 

Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.  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.  For by grace you have been saved through faith;  and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Ephesians 2:3-8.

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 14:7-11.

“And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place.  But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’;  then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  Luke 14:7-11.

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“6 Do not claim honor in the presence of the king,
And do not stand in the place of great men;
7 For it is better that it be said to you, “Come up here,”
Than for you to be placed lower in the presence of the prince,
Whom your eyes have seen.”  Proverbs 25:6-7.

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;  do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  Philippians 2:3-8.

“You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders;  and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:5-7.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;  against such things there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.  Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.”  Galatians 5:22-25.

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