Orwell Bible Church

Luke 5

The following is from OBC’s daily devotional for today:

One of Luke’s emphases is on following Christ. here in chapter five two instances of following Christ are given, first when Jesus called peter, James, and John to follow him (vv. 1-11) and then when he called Matthew (vv. 27-28). These followed Jesus to be his particular helpers and representatives in ministry; that is why they abandoned their occupations and devoted themselves full-time to following Christ.

Two miracles are included here—healing a leper (vv. 12-16) and a paralyzed man (vv. 17-26). These miracles substantiated Jesus’ teaching that he is God in the flesh, Israel’s promised King, the Savior.

Included in the events of this chapter are two times when Jesus was opposed by Pharisees (vv. 21-24, 30-32). While the Pharisees adhered to the Mosaic Law they added hundreds of additional man-made commands to it which blinded them to the truth of who Jesus was.

John the Baptist’s disciples fasted and prayed for the messiah to come and thus wondered why Jesus’ disciples didn’t (John the Baptist’s disciples asked this question in v. 33; see Matt 9:14). Fasting and praying for the Messiah to come when he was present is as foolish as not eating at a wedding feast when the bridegroom was present (v. 34) and in the two examples Jesus mentioned in verses 36-39.

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Sin is not conforming to God’s  holy character (Rom 3:23) and disobeying his Word (1 John 3:4). The consequences of sin are separation from God (Eph 2:1), separation from physical life (Jam 2:26), and eternal separation from God in the lake of fire (Rev 20:14-15). The effects of sin are seen throughout this chapter and mankind is unable to escape/save themselves from it.
  2. Jesus—the eternal Son made man, Israel’s Christ, the promised Savior—came to save sinners! Sinners must receive and rest on Christ alone for salvation (“faith”) and must turn from sin with sorrow for and hatred of it (“repentance,” cf. v. 32).

Luke 4

The following is from OBC’s daily devotional for today:

After Jesus’ baptism, which signaled the beginning of his public ministry, he was tempted by the devil (vv. 1-13).  Jesus rebuffed each temptation by quoting God’s written Word.

Jesus’ ministry involved going to synagogues and teaching (vv. 14ff). An example is given in verses 16-20 when Jesus taught in the synagogue of his hometown, Nazareth. He read Isaiah 61:1-2, stopped in the middle of a sentence, and proclaimed that what he read was fulfilled—he was the promised Messiah and he came to save the lost. The rest of Isaiah 61:2 (that Jesus did not read) would be fulfilled at his Second Coming (Rev 19:11ff). The Nazarene Jews did not believe Jesus was the Messiah (v. 22) and Jesus pronounced judgment on their unbelief (vv. 23-27). Though the Jews sought to kill him it was not yet his time and so he simply left them (vv. 28-30).

Jesus continued proving he was Israel’s promised Messiah and King through his teaching and miracles (vv. 31-44).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Temptation is a solicitation to live contrary to God’s revealed character and will. Satan’s first temptation began by questioning God’s authority (Gen 3:1). Temptation is thus an invitation to rebel against God for immediate gratification. Christian, you must respond like Jesus did to every temptation to rebel against God, by resisting the Devil and obeying God (Jam 4:7; 1 Pet 5:9).
  2. Miracles are supernatural acts of God that infrequently occurred in biblical history. Miracles served as supporting signs of God’s messengers and their message, verifying such were truly from him (1 Kings 17:24; Matt 11:2-6; Acts 2:22; 4:29-30; Heb 2:4). Jesus’ miracles proved he was the Savior of sinners by effectively dealing with the effects of sin.
  3. The Kingdom Jesus preached (v. 43) was not different in any way from what God said about it in the OT. Jesus picked up right where the OT prophets had left off. The basic character of God’s promised, coming Kingdom is that God in the flesh will enter a rule of loving sovereignty and fellowship with His people and dwell with them forever (Isa 2:4; 11:6-10; 12:1-6; 32:1-4; 56:6-8; 61:1-9). All the physical, political, moral, ethical, and social blessings that will be present in the Kingdom are based on and flow from God’s spiritual blessings of salvation. Jesus came declaring he was Israel’s promised King, and that Jews must believe him to be that in order to enter the Kingdom.

Luke 3

The following is from OBC’s daily devotional for today:

John the Baptist’s ministry was to call Israelites to repent of their sins, believing that the promised Christ was coming (vv. 1-4). Only then would they be ready to receive him. They publicly testified of their repentance and readiness to receive the Messiah by being baptized (v. 3). True repentance was to be concretely seen in a changed, everyday life (vv. 7-15). They were not to rely on their being Jews (v. 8). God will judge with fire those who do not rightly respond to his Word (vv. 9, 17).

Jesus was baptized, not to show he repented of sin (he had none) but because he was committed to doing what was right (vv. 21-22; cf. Matt 3:15). The Holy Spirit’s coming upon Jesus was God’s public endorsement that Jesus was Israel’s King (cf. Acts 10:38). The Father commended Jesus as the Messiah (v. 22), Israel’s King and sinner’s Savior.

Genealogies in the Bible do not always detail every ancestor; sometimes, as with Luke’s here (vv. 23-38), key representatives are listed. The names here not only show Jesus’ humanity but also that he is David and Abraham’s descendant, and thus able to fulfill the promises God gave to those men (Abraham—Gen 12:1-3; David—2 Sam 7:12-14). As Adam’s descendant he is related to humanity. As the Son of God he is the God-man who would perfectly obey him and bring salvation through his life, death, and resurrection.

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. The necessity, character, and results of repentance. Repentance is turning from sin with sorrow and hatred of it and turning to God with humble love and obedience. One who has truly turned from sin to God/Jesus Christ continually demonstrates that throughout his entire life in personal, practical ways. Who do you love more, yourself, or the Lord Jesus? How is that seen in your thoughts, affections, decisions, priorities, responses, etc.?
  2. John the Baptist’s baptism was a Jew’s public testimony that he repented of his sins and was ready to welcome the coming Messiah. Christian baptism is a new believer’s public testimony that he repented of his sins and believed that Jesus is the Lord God, the Savior, the Christ, Israel’s Messiah (cf. Acts 19:1-5).
  3. Baptism does not result in the forgiveness of sins but is the outward testimony that one’s sins have been forgiven. Have your sins been forgiven? Have you obeyed Jesus by publicly testifying that your sins have been forgiven by being baptized/immersed in water (Matt 28:19-20; Acts 2:41)?

Luke 2

The following is from OBC’s daily devotional for today:

Luke’s aim—providing a solid basis for Christianity centered on the person and work of Jesus Christ—included an orderly account not only of his miraculous conception (1:31) but his birth in Bethlehem (2:1-7) as prophesied (Mic 5:2). The Lord announced the birth of Israel’s promised Messiah through angels to shepherds who worshipped him and spread the news they had heard (vv. 8-20).

As a Jewish child born into a Jewish home when the Mosaic Law was in force, his earthly parents obeyed God’s commands that applied to a first-born son (vv. 21-24). While in the temple, two aged saints, Simeon and Anna, praised the Lord for the privilege of seeing the promised Christ and spoke of him to others (vv. 25-38).

Of the four gospels, only Luke gives the account in verses 41-52. This shows the genuine humanity of the Messiah—his human body and mental capacity grew, he was part of a family, and he obeyed his earthly parents. This account also shows the genuine deity of the Messiah, that he was fully God—he knew his relationship with God the Father.

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. This chapter gives great detail to the full humanity of the Messiah. Read Hebrews 2:14-18 for the importance of this!
  2. Saints such as Simeon and Anna believed God’s promises in the OT regarding the Messiah and were waiting and looking for the fulfillment of such. What are some promises God made elsewhere in the Bible that are awaiting fulfillment? Are you like Simeon and Anna?
  3. Jesus was subject to his earthly parents (v. 51; cf. Phil 2:5-7). Think about all that Jesus was, both before and after his incarnation. And he was subject to his earthly parents! He as a child obeyed God’s commands for children to honor parents (Deut 5:16). Jesus was perfect, but his parents were not. What lessons we must learn from this!

Luke 1

The following is from OBC’s daily devotional for today:

Luke’s two-part account of Christianity provides a solid basis for the faith, centered on the person and work of Jesus Christ. Luke’s gospel details the foundation of Christianity, and his second part, Acts, describes the growth of Christianity.

Verses 5-25 give the background and announcement of John the Baptist’s birth (note what would be John’s character and ministry, vv. 15-17).

Verses 26-38 detail the background and announcement of the birth of Jesus, the Son of the Highest, Israel’s promised King and Messiah (note what would be Jesus’ character and ministry, vv. 31-33).

Verses 39-56 relate Mary’s visit to Elizabeth and Zacharias, and how she praised the Lord for who He is and what He has done and will do.

Verses 57-80 describe the birth of John the Baptist and Zacharias’ praise and prophecy.

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. The virgin conception of the Messiah, Israel’s King and Savior. Mary was legally married to Joseph (“betrothed,” v. 27) but by Jewish custom was not yet living with him. God promised that Israel’s promised Messiah and King would be a descendant of David yet rule forever (2 Sam 7:13; Isa 9:6-7). This required a human being descended from Abraham and David who was also God. Mary believed God’s message (unlike Zacharias, v. 18), but was puzzled about the mechanics of becoming pregnant without a man. Verse 35 (and Matt 1:18, 20) teach that the life-giving Spirit enabled Mary to miraculously conceive a child that was the permanent union of the eternal Son of God with a human nature.
  2. Note the different names, titles, and descriptions of Jesus: Son of the Highest (v. 32); descendant of King David (v. 32); eternal ruler and king of Israel (v. 32); holy (v. 35); Son of God (v. 35); the anticipated Deliverer of Israel (from their enemies, v. 71, and their sins, vv. 77-79); fulfilling God’s promises to Abraham (vv. 73ff).
  3. We see different responses to God’s Word here from Zacharias (vv. 18-20, 64-65, 68-79), Mary (vv. 38, 46-55), and Elizabeth (vv. 42-45). Faith is a right response to revelation—truth—God gave. Faith believes, welcomes, accepts, depends on, and submits to. God gave his Word so his people will have certainty, have a sure hope, praise him, pray, and obey and serve him. 

James 5

The following is from OBC’s daily devotional for today:

In verses 1-12 James encourages Christians who experienced pressure and persecution from unbelieving wealthy landowners. James wrote this for Christians to hear and not so much for their persecutors (OT prophets spoke of God’s judgment on ungodly nations oppressing Israel to encourage Israel that God would judge such). Also, verse 12 begins with “therefore…,” showing that verses 1-6 was written for James’ Christian readers.

In verses 1-6 James helps Christians see their situation from God’s perspective: He will completely ruin ungodly oppressors (vv. 1-3) as he sees all their deeds (vv. 4-6). In verses 7-12 James encourages Christians to persevere in the faith.

Those who have a living faith must look to the Lord in every circumstance of life (vv. 13-18). The “anointing with oil” (v. 14) could refer to medicine; it does not refer to a church sacrament; it was most likely done as a symbolic act, showing that the church really prayed for the sick Christian.

James closes his letter urging Christians to help, strength, and rescue doubting, wandering Christians with weak faith (vv. 19-20).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Faith is not a leap in the dark or just “believing.” True, living faith knows, loves, and submits to God’s truth in the Bible.
  2. A living faith believes that Jesus is coming again (vv. 7-8). Such faith is eager and patient, knowing that when Christ returns he will justly judge evil doers and establish his people.
  3. God “works” when godly Christians truly believe in and depend on him through prayer (vv. 16-18). Don’t let sin affect your relationship with other Christians, live a godly life, and pray!
  4. Christians are responsible for one another’s perseverance in the faith (vv. 19-20). God uses such efforts to help believers continue in the faith and thus avoid eternity in hell. How are you involved in your brothers’ and sisters’ lives?

James 4

The following is from OBC’s daily devotional for today:

Here James addresses how a living faith in Jesus Christ responds to worldliness (being controlled by the sin nature instead of the Holy Spirit). Such worldliness is seen in self-centeredness (vv. 1-10), not loving other Christians (vv. 11-12), and ignoring God in daily life (vv. 13-17).

Over time, a believer’s love for Christ can cool (Rev 2:4) and lose sight of God’s holiness (2 Cor 7:1). A Christian can become focused and centered on himself and gratifying sinful desires. This is described in verses 1-5 and the biblical solution is prescribed in verses 6-12.

Christians can also forget how Christ loved them when they criticize and tear down other Christians (v. 11a). This happens by failing to believe and obey God’s law of love (v. 11) and taking God’s place as final judge (v. 12).

Last, Christians can ignore God in their daily lives when they make plans without God (vv. 13-14). This happens when Christians assume that tomorrow will be the same as today (v. 14a), thus forgetting how fragile and short life is (v. 14b). Instead, Christians should submit everything to God’s will (v. 15) rather than ignoring him, which is proud (v. 16) and sinful (v. 17).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. It is easy to think of worldliness in terms of external things. Truly, such can be evidences of worldliness, but the root is in the heart (Matt 12:34; Mark 7:21-23). One can have a worldly heart and yet look “righteous” on the outside.
  2. A critical spirit is easy to get, hard to lose, and is a mark of worldliness (being controlled by the sin nature rather than the Holy Spirit).
  3. There are aspects of God’s will that are known to us because he has told us in Scripture (this is called his declared will) and there are aspects of his will that are unknown to us because events have not yet occurred (this is called his decreed will). Deuteronomy 29:29 describes these two aspects of God’s will. What is your response regarding God’s declared will and his decreed will?

James 3

The following is from OBC’s daily devotional for today:

A living faith recognizes the power of the tongue (speech, vv. 1-5a) and the influence of an untamed tongue (vv. 5b-12, in other words, not controlled by the Holy Spirit). James’ test of the genuineness of a professing believer’s faith is addressed in verses 9-12—true believers must use their God-given gift of speech to both praise him and bless others. If only one of those happens, that is not a characteristic of true, living faith.

True believers are distinguished from false believers by their decisions and lifestyle (vv. 13-18). One should not say he’s a Christian if his lifestyle shows he is still controlled by the world, his sin nature, and Satan. Unbelievers are controlled (“hearts,” v. 14) by their own sinful impulses and orientation (“bitter envy and self-seeking,” v. 14), demonstrating they are characterized and controlled by the world, the flesh, and the devil (v. 15). Their sinful view and assessment of how to live (“wisdom”) is seen by the results and effects of their envious and selfish actions and decisions (v. 16).

True believers are controlled by the Holy Spirit (“from above,” v. 17). A Christ-like life is essential evidence that the Holy Spirit indwells and controls a believer (vv. 13, 17-18; cf. Gal 5:22-23).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Christians must be controlled by the Holy Spirit for their tongues to be controlled.
  2. The world considers God’s truth and godly living to be foolish.
  3. Everyone makes decisions based on what they believe; belief controls decisions, and decisions show belief. This is “wisdom.” The “wisdom” of the world, sin-nature, and Satan makes decisions from the perspective of this life. One controlled by God’s wisdom makes decisions from the perspective of God’s truth.
  4. True wisdom—the correct and skillful application of God’s truth to life—is only found in God (Job 28:20, 23), is given by him (1 Kings 3:9, 12; Jam 1:5-8), and is characterized by a reverent faith in Jesus Christ, exclusively loving, obeying, and worshiping him (the “fear of the Lord,” Job 28:28).

James 2

The following is from OBC’s daily devotional for today:

A living faith does not treat people differently based on externals (vv. 1-13). God gives salvations’ blessings to every person who believes in and loves him, regardless of their wealth or worldly position. Yet partiality and favoritism dishonors those whom God has chosen to honor, and honors those who dishonor God. Living faith obeys Christ’s law of loving others regardless of wealth, clothing, or status. anything less is sin which will be shown to be such at the judgment.

A living faith is a working faith (vv. 14-26). If one says he trusts Christ but his life is characterized by sin and disobedience he does not have living faith. Demons have a right knowledge and fear of God, yet they have no spiritual life and are damned. James is not saying sinners are saved because of or on the basis of works (which Paul deals with, Eph 2:8-9). James deals with the necessary and true evidence of genuine faith (which Paul also taught, Eph 2:10). A living faith is shown by works.

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Salvation is received by faith that loves the Lord and submits to him.
  2. Judging people to be good or bad solely on the basis of externals is sin. God never does this, and those whom he graciously and mercifully saved must not either. Favoritism is just as much sin as adultery and murder are.
  3. Living faith is proven by concrete actions showing you love other Christians (vv. 15-16) and obey God’s every command (vv. 21-23). What does your life say about your faith?

James 1

The following is from OBC’s daily devotional for today:

James was Jesus’ half-brother (Gal 1:19) and here wrote to Jewish Christians who lived outside of Palestine (Jam 1:1). His letter focuses far more on how Christians should live than on what they believe. Both are essential. If the readers did have true, genuine, living faith, then that faith must and will be seen in everyday, practical life (2:17, 2). This is what James wrote about!

True believers respond to trials with praise (vv. 2-3), perseverance (v. 4), and prayer (vv. 5-8). They recognize the brevity of life and so do not put stock in externals but in the Lord’s promises (vv. 9-12).

In verses 12-18 James addresses when Christians are tempted to sin. Temptation is an allurement to sin arising from one’s sin nature. True faith endures rather than yields to temptation, not blaming God for being in an unavoidable circumstance.

Genuine, living faith is proven by how one responds to Scripture (vv. 19-27). A living faith eagerly accepts Scripture, exerts effort to learn and be transformed by it, and faithfully obeys it by loving needy Christians and living in holiness in the world (vv. 19, 21-22, 25-27). In contrast, a false faith merely hears and does not obey, being controlled by anger and sin, thus deceiving oneself by thinking they’re okay and don’t need to change.

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Trials will come. It is part of living in a sin-cursed world. The issue here isn’t if or even when trials will come but how, Christian, will you respond to them? Will you stop following Christ because you think that will make your life easier? Note where your focus is then: on yourself! Look to Christ, trust in him, live by faith, not sight!
  2. Christian, you still have a sin nature and live in a Satan-controlled, sinful world. You will be tempted to sin! Don’t blame God and thus make yourself out to be a victim. Resist temptation, trusting the Lord for strength to do so (Matt 26:41; 1 Cor 10:13).
  3. Scripture is God’s tool showing you what you’re like now and who you should be like, the Lord Jesus Christ. When God shows you this, don’t get angry, be humble, grateful, devoted, and obedient.

1 John 4:19-5:21

One who professes to love God whom he hasn’t seen but doesn’t love Christians disobeys God’s command, thus proving his profession of salvation to be a lie. Those who are born again become God’s children and God’s children love their Father and one another and obey him (4:20-5:5).

True believers believe that Jesus was fully God and fully man (5:5-12). “Water” refers to Jesus’ baptism, and “blood” refers to his death. “Water” and “blood” are mentioned because Jesus’ ministry began at his baptism and ended with his death. Both symbols testify that Jesus was fully human and God. This is essential truth, because if Jesus had died only as a man his death would not provide atonement for sinners.

When Christians pray to God according to his will as stated in Scripture, they confidently pray that God will answer (vv. 14-15) Christians must pray that believers would persevere in the faith and thus not continue in sin. If a professing Christian leaves Christ and returns to a life character by sin, there is no longer a need to pray for perseverance as he did not.

Unbelievers are under Satan’s control, live lives characterized by sin, and worship and serve idols. Believers are the exact opposite because God gave them new life (“born again,” v. 18), and rightly see and discern truth from error (v. 20).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. John wrote this letter so that believers would know that they had eternal life (v. 13). Believers can—and should—know that they have eternal life. This is called assurance of salvation and considers God-given salvation from the believer’s perspective. Eternal security considers salvation from God’s perspective. The believer’s experience and assurance of his salvation may not be strong because of sin. John’s letter gives clear truth from God whereby believers can know. Do you?
  2. While living in a sin-cursed, Satan dominated, idolatry filled and devoted world, Christians must keep themselves from such and devote themselves entirely to the Lord Jesus Christ (vv. 18-21).

1 John 3:24-4:19

The following is from OBC’s daily devotional for today:

Believers have the Spirit of truth and must distinguish between truth and error. The proof that genuine believers have the Holy Spirit is they (1) obey God’s truth (3:24) and (2) believe God’s truth (4:2, 6).

True believers have been loved by God, love God, and love one another (4:7-19).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Christian, you must discern and distinguish true Christianity from false Christianity. In Scripture Jesus gives the criteria by which you must evaluate (judge) false teachers: full belief in and confession of all Christian truth. A particularly essential aspect of such obedience is love for other Christians. Identifying errant, false Christianity does so to protect the church and honor Christ, and thus requires saying, “That is a false teacher” and having nothing to do with such a one (separation).
  2. Christians can and must be assured that they have eternal life. The evidences or tests of true Christianity that John gives here are: (1) right belief in Christian truth, 4:6, 15; (2) love for other Christians, 4:7-8, 11, 20-21; (3) the Holy Spirit’s internal testimony, 4:13; and (4) obedience to God’s commands in Scripture, 3:24.
  3. In 4:7-19 John touches on key, essential salvation truths. Listed in their proper order they are:
    1. God is pure spirit, invisible, 4:12
    1. God is love, 4:8, 16
    1. God loved sinners, 4:10
    1. God the Father sent God the Son into the world so that the Son became a man (incarnation), 4:9-14
    1. The incarnate Son died as a substitute for sinners, bearing/enduring God’s wrath they deserved (propitiation), 4:10
    1. God gives life to spiritually dead when they hear the gospel so that they turn to, trust in, and live for and like Jesus Christ (are born again), 4:7, 9, 15-16
    1. The Triune God indwells believers, 4:12-13
    1. Believers love one another, 4:7
    1. Believers have assurance of and confidence in God’s salvation through Jesus Christ, 4:17-19