Year 3 Day 9
Read - Daniel 1v8-21
Message - Scott Woodburn
What advice would you have given to Daniel as he started life in Babylon? Honestly I would have probably told him to keep the head down, work hard and say nothing. When you are a small minority it is probably best not to provoke the majority. Do you agree? Regardless of your opinion, Daniel took a different road.
The young man resolved that he would not defile himself with any of the king's food or drink and asked one of the king's servants for permission to carry out his plan (v8). What was Daniel's problem? I'm sure you are familiar with Jewish dietary requirements which certainly would have made the king's food "unclean". Daniel could not in good conscience eat food that the Word of God declared to be off-limits. Later the Lord would lift the dietary restrictions (Acts 10v9-16) but in Daniel's day the food from the King's table was unacceptable.
Yet dietary restrictions were not the only issue. Imagine Nebuchadnezzar held a feast and dedicated it to his god Nebo. Perhaps at this feast the king praised Nebo for the food and declared Nebo to be the source of every good thing. At such a feast how could an individual like Daniel tuck into his meat and drink? He could not. Years later the church would address similar concerns. The Jerusalem Council urged Christians to abstain from things polluted by idols (Acts 15v20) and Paul stressed that in such matters we must be mindful of our weaker brothers and sisters (1 Corinthians 8). Daniel eating Nebo's food would look like Daniel was giving honour to the false god Nebo...perish the thought!
One more issue was at stake. For Daniel to eat the food from the king's table would be a declaration on Daniel's part that Nebuchadnezzar was his lord. Just as you and I come to the Lord's Supper and declare our communion with Christ, so too would Daniel be declaring a relationship with Nebuchadnezzar by feasting at his table. It goes without saying that Daniel could not countenance such a declaration - Nebuchadnezzar was Daniel's boss but not his lord.
So the young man didn't keep his head down. He asked that he and his friends be tested for ten days by eating only vegetables and drinking only water (v12) and just as Daniel was obedient, the Lord was faithful. The Lord God gave Daniel favour in the sight of Nebuchadnezzar's servant (v9). The Lord God blessed Daniel and his friends physically despite their vegetable and water diet (v15). The Lord God equipped the boys with gifts so that they were found to be ten times better than the magicians and enchanters in Babylon (v19-20). The Lord God gave Daniel a seventy year career in the pagan governments of Babylonian and Persia (v21).
We are to live in this world as exiles and strangers. This place is not our home and we do not recognise the rulers of this world as lord. We can honour the authorities and act as good citizens of the land we are in - this is the will of God and it will silence the ignorance of foolish people (1 Peter 2v15). But we must never compromise our precious faith.
Consider the obedience of Christ Jesus who despite being God was still obedient to death on a cross (Philippians 2v8). The obedience of Christ was perfect and ours will always fall short, but if we love Christ then we will keep His commandments (John 14v15). In this pagan world it is easier to keep the head down, work hard and say nothing but even if we are not looking for trouble it will always find us. Brothers and sisters, fear God and honour Him each day. When it comes to our obedience there can be no compromise.
Q16 Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first transgression? The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself, but for his posterity; all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in his first transgression.
Year 3 Day 8
Read - Mark 8:33
Message - Alan Burke
None of us like it when we are rebuked for what we say or how we behave, we either get defensive or go on the offensive! And we have all said things in the moment that we later regret, we have all said things that we can’t believe came out of our mouths. The disciples are with Jesus, Peter had confessed that Jesus was the Christ, then Jesus predicts His own death, how he would suffer, be rejected and killed but on the third day rise, and Peter rebuked Jesus. I’m sure the disciples were like rabbits in the headlights, looking on, while Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked them, likely silence in the room and after Peter said what he wanted to say, getting it all of his chest. Then Jesus looks around, looks at them all and says “Get behind me, Satan!”!
The Peter who had just confessed that Jesus is the Christ is now told get behind me Satan. Jesus didn’t mince His words. He could have said ‘get behind me you fool’, ‘stop being an Eejit Peter’, ‘wise the bap’ or what ever non Northern Irish sayings there were at the time, but he didn’t. Jesus said to Peter “Get behind me Satan”. He didn’t mince His words, it is a strong, clear rebuke of Peter who had tried to rebuke Him.
Now some context for what had just happened, Mark doesn’t mention it, but in Matthew we are given a fuller account. There moments earlier before Jesus had rebuked Peter we learn that Jesus had said ‘you are now Peter meaning rock, and on this rock I will build by church’ (Mt 16:18). And now Jesus is rebuking him in a way that makes the things that we have said seem nice in comparison, Jesus calls Peter Satan, the one who is the father of lies, the one who who is a devouring lion (1 Pet 5:8), the archetype of the Antichrist.
Also in Matthew’s gospel were also told in the temptation of Jesus by Satan Jesus “said Get behind me Satan”. This rebuke of Peter by Jesus is just like that of Satan’s in the wilderness because Peter had set himself against the plans of God, he may not have known it, he may not have understood what he was doing, but he had rejected the word of God from the lips of Jesus the Christ!
Half truths can be worse than outright errors. Think about it, Peter was right, Jesus is the Christ, but he was wrong in what that would mean. As Jesus makes clear the issue for Peter is that he did not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men. Peter’s motives may have been well founded, he desires in a sense to help, the rest of the disciples would have likely patted him on the back for it, but Jesus reproves him so harshly and in no greater way to make sure that he knew and we know that what ever our motives, if we reject the teaching of scripture, it doesn’t matter if it it is the words of Jesus or any part of it, then whether you understand you know what you are saying or not you are acting as a disciple of Satan, not as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Peter’s motive was irrelevant, what mattered was the truth of God’s word incarnate before them.
So what about us, do we have good motives, are we trying to help, are we being applauded by the world but are we missing the point and begin so focused on this life that we have missed why we are here, that we are so focused on begin inoffensive that we may as well be in league with Satan for we tell half truths, partial truths, pick the stuff that we want? I hope not, I hope we desire to please God more than man, I hope that we have in mind the things of God rather than man, do we? Are we unwittingly acting as a disciple of Satan?
Q15 What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?
The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein thy were created, was their eating the forbidden fruit. (Gen. 3:6)
Year 3 Day 7
Read - Daniel 1v1-7
Message - Scott Woodburn
The book of Daniel starts in an incredibly sombre manner. The city of Jerusalem was besieged by the Babylonians and eventually captured (v1). King Jehoiakim would prove to be one of the last kings of Judah and tragically he did not reign well. Jehoiakim had killed the prophet Uriah (Jeremiah 26v20-23) and had deliberately taken God's Word and burned it in a fire pot (Jeremiah 36v23-24). God's judgement would be poured out upon Jehoiakim and the nation of Judah. The temple would be destroyed in 587BC and some of vessels used in the worship of God would be taken to Babylon where they would be placed in the treasury of Nebuchadnezzar's false god (v2).
Nebuchadnezzar also had a thirst for the "great and good" of Judah. He commanded that members of the royal family, the nobility and well educated young people would be taken from Judah to Babylon where they be forced to serve Nebuchadnezzar and learn the language of the Chaldeans (v3-4). This act ensured that any future resistance in Judah would lack leadership. Nebuchadnezzar was neutralising potential threats by relocating them to Babylon.
If this wasn't bad enough these exiles would be utterly dependent on their new foreign master. He fed and watered them and even educated them in the ways of his empire (v5). To add further insult to injury Nebuchadnezzar changed the names of his captives. Four of the young men were called Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (v6) with these names all pointing directly to God. Daniel means "God is my judge", Hananiah means "God is gracious", Mishael means "Who is like God?" and Azariah means "God is my keeper".
But these young men weren't at home anymore, they had been taken captive by a foreign king and they now made their bed in a foreign land. Everything had changed and even their new names would underline their distance from Jerusalem. Daniel would be called Belteshazzar which means "Bel protect his life" Who was Bel? One of the false gods of Babylon. Hananiah would take the name Shadrach which means "The command of Aku" Who was Aku? Another false god. Mishael would be called Meshach which means "Who is like Aku?" and Azariah was called Abednego which means "Servant of Nebo" Who was Nebo? You guessed it, another false god.
A blind man on a galloping horse could see what Nebuchadnezzar was doing. His captives were to be so integrated into Babylonian society that they would eventually become willing servants of their new King. Their names had been changed and they would be surrounded at every turn by the false gods and idols of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar was building his kingdom with no room for alternative opinions and so he sought to erase the culture, identity and faith of his new servants.
What are we to make of these opening verses? Let me give you one simple reminder - God is sovereign over the sunniest and darkest of days. Long before Daniel saw the palaces of Babylon another young man called Joseph was an unwilling visitor to Egypt. Both stories are remarkably similar in that God positioned His people in powerful positions in foreign kingdoms. Both Joseph and Daniel never forgot home but equally both honoured the Lord far beyond the borders of Israel.
The wickedness of Joseph's brothers and the wrath of Daniel's new boss Nebuchadnezzar would be sovereignly and providentially overruled by Almighty God. Everything had changed for the four young Judeans but they would soon realise what I hope you remember today - God is sovereign over the affairs of humanity. If you feel the sun on your face or if the darkness chills your bones, trust the Lord and rest in Christ. He is working out His good plan and whoever believes in Jesus will never be put to shame.
"You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good" (Genesis 50v20)
Q14 What is sin? Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.
Year 3 Day 6
Read - Mark 8:31-32
Message - Alan Burke
Suffering, rejection and death! Three words that I’d say if someone told you lay ahead in your future you wouldn’t want to hear. Suffering, rejection and death! Not one of us likes to suffer, there is not one of us that likes to be rejected and although death comes to us all it is one of those things that we do not like talking about or being faced with. If someone gave you an option, before you lay decision and one would lead to suffering, rejection and death the other would lead to triumph what would you choose? I’m going to assume triumph, yet Jesus came to suffer, to be rejected and to be killed and that in this, in His suffering, rejection and death He would rise victorious, defeating death that we might escape the wrath of God that is due to us for sin. For we have sinned against a Holy God, in though word and deed, not only that we are by our natures sinful.
As we pick up today remember that Peter had just confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah but now as Jesus speaks plainly to these He tells them the reason that He came it was indeed to suffer, be rejected and killed. These words thought were not what the disciples had expected, believed or wanted. The people of God looked to passages like Isaiah and Psalm 22 and dismissed that they spoke of the Messiah, they interpreted that it was his people who would suffer these things but not their Christ, not their Messiah, they knew he would be a triumphant King, who would reign over them in righteousness as the prophet Isaiah foretold (Isa. 9:7), but they did not understand that it would mean that He would first have to suffer, be rejected and die.
This is not the kind of thing the followers of Jesus wanted to hear, imagine giving up everything to follow a man who you thought was going to change the world, that He was going to start a revolution that’s going to change the world. Then He tells you He’s on a mission to suffer and die. What Jesus was saying to them is unlike the parables that came before, here He taught them plainly about it so they could be in no doubt what to expect.
Jesus here wasn’t outlining one of many future possibilities, He was making it clear that this is what He had came to do, and that this is what was going to take place. It wasn’t that He would possibly suffer, it was that He would suffer, it wasn’t that He would possibly be rejected, bur rather He would be rejected, it wasn’t that He would possibly be killed it is that He must be killed and three days later rise. Then Peter the one who had confessed that Jesus is the Christ, well for him this was too much, it messed with his head, everything he had known or wanted, or expected, was being messed with by Jesus, and he took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him.
I suspect though, that part of Peter’s problem was not only how Jesus had totally messed with their Messianic expectations, but that if these words were true, and they would have know Jesus’ words to be true from their time with Him, that there were implications, very real implications for them. If their master would be rejected, if He would suffer and die, then what could they expect as His followers to that Jesus would make clear.
In the midst of this prediction that He would suffer, be rejected and killed there was also great hope. For although what lay ahead was suffering that would see Him rejected and scorned, it would also lead to His resurrection, when He would be exalted as King of kings and Lord of lords. Later in Mark’s gospel in chapter 10:45 Jesus made it clear to them why it was to be this way, for the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (10:45). For Jesus had come, no matter how hard that moment Peter found it to understand, to die, and by his death that we might live, He had come to pay the penalty of sin, so that we would escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin. Believer know this day that Jesus has taken all the punishment for your sin, all of it, and that you are clothed in the righteousness of Christ the Suffering Saviour.
Q13 Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?
Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God. (Gen. 3:6–8,13, Eccl. 7:29)
Year 3 Day 4
Read - 2 Thessalonians 3v6-18
Message - Scott Woodburn
Do you know how many days you have left before you can retire? I once knew a man who could tell you almost to the second the day of his retirement - he couldn't wait! Equally a good friend of mine has retired and he would love nothing more than to be back at work - he laments growing old! In Thessalonica there were some who retired early from their work. They hadn't reached the age of retirement (such a thing didn't exist in the ancient world) instead they had grown idle, perhaps seeing work as irrelevant in light of Christ's return.
Paul was clear in his rebuke for such individuals. The brother who was idle and refusing to follow Apostolic teaching was to be avoided (v6). That doesn't sound very gracious does it? Perhaps not, but we will see later that it had a gracious purpose. Idleness was not an option for the Thessalonians. Paul urged them to imitate his own work ethic (v7). Paul had not been idle in Thessalonica but worked night and day so that he would not be a burden to any of his brothers and sisters (v8).
The Apostle by virtue of his office certainly had the right to be waited upon by the church (v9a) but he didn't demand the right. Instead he worked hard among the Thessalonians to set an example to be followed (v9b). While the church was waiting for the return of Christ they were to be engaged in their daily work. An individual who wasn't prepared to work, shouldn't have expected to eat (v10). Those who weren't busy at their work tended to be busybodies, sticking their nose into business that didn't concern them (v11) and so, Paul couldn't have been clearer, the idle Christian should do their work quietly and earn their own living (v12).
The rest of the church were to keep on doing good and working hard (v13) and if they came across and idle brother or sister, they were to take note of that individual and have nothing to do with them (v14). What was Paul's goal in such teaching? A lazy individual who experienced isolation from his church should feel ashamed (v14b). They weren't an enemy of the church but as the church family shunned the lazy brother, that individual would be moved to repentance (v15).
Times have certainly changed since Paul wrote this genuine letter with his own hand (v17). We can't imagine withholding food from a fellow Christian in 2022 so how should we apply this teaching to the modern church? Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? In most organisations 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. If this is true of the local church then we have failed to heed God's Word. Why do some church members carry great responsibility while others are happy to do nothing? Why do some Christians keep busy while others are busybodies? Why do modern Christians need to be begged into service? A colleague once remarked "I'm tired of having to fight with Christians to get them to do Christian things."
In answer to these questions and my colleague's statement I humbly suggest that modern Christianity has replaced its zeal with self-centred laziness. Professing Christians treat the church like Tesco, expecting service on demand and their needs to be put first but never, ever will they stack the shelves. Brothers and sisters it wasn't supposed to be this way! The church is a body and if 80% of it refuses to work then no wonder our fellowships are weak.
Paul speaks to our modern ears and compels us to receive his teaching. We are to carry our weight in the local church, we are to excel in doing good and if we have grown idle then we are to repent. Why? Because as the Thessalonians well knew - Christ is coming. When the Lord pierces the sky, may we be found alert rather than idle.
"Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all." (v16&18)
Q12 What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the estate wherein he was created? When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death.
Year 3 Day 3
Read - Mark 8:27-30 (Focus v29)
Message - Alan Burke
We have been think about the question, or rather questions of Jesus here in this passage this week, where Jesus asks His disciples ‘who do people say that I am?’ And ‘Who do you say that I am?’. So I ask you ‘who do you say Jesus is?’ I’m not asking who you are, what you have done, or anything else for that matter, I’m asking ‘Who do you say Jesus is?’. That might seem pretty obvious to you, Jesus question after all wasn’t concerned about anything other than His identity, who they confessed Jesus to be. But for many they have fallen into the trap of thinking what maters isn’t who Jesus is, it is what we have done, who we are, our history, how we’ve tried to live a good life, how we’ve been kind, but these things do not matter. For soon enough we won’t even be a footnote on the pages of history but it will matters then as it matters now who we say Jesus is for the gospel is about Jesus and it is only good news if we understand who He is.
There are many who can say lots about Jesus, but they are just like those who said Jesus was John the Baptist, Elijah one of the prophets. Their answers had the one thing in common and that is they failed to understand. You may know about Jesus, you know that He is the Son of God, you know what the scriptures teach, you know that He is the Promised King, you may be able to say all these things and more, you may even be able to say that Jesus is the Christ, but it must impact your life. It is not enough to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah and do nothing more than simply make a mental note of it, the knowledge of who Christ is it demands a response, and that response is either you will bow willingly or unwillingly.
If you confess that Jesus is the Christ then what it should mean is that you at its most basic level, is that you believe the truth of the gospel, that Jesus died for your sins, He rose again, that you are justified by faith in His name and His sacrifice. It means that we trust in that He has done it all, faith begins with belief but it is more than that for it is a personal commitment to God in Christ. It’s more than putting our hand up at a meeting and praying the ‘sinners’ prayer, but commitment to God. It should impact how you live today right now, for He’s the Anointed one, the Messiah, the Christ, the one who calls you to live for Him, it means that you live your life in light of that, when it costs you, when you want to do something else, when you want to live in your own way, you seek to live for Him.
It is.essential that we get the answer to this question right and we live in response to the truth of what that means, because if we don’t if we get it wrong then eternity is at stake. For one day we will all have to stand before the Lord Jesus, on that day we will all bow the knee, and we will all confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father but unless we’ve got it right before that day, unless we have repented and believed, unless we know Him as the Christ now then on that great day when Jesus separates the sheep from the goats, the sheep being those who are his and the goats those who do not know Him, well the goats, they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous, those who are his sheep go to eternal life with him, so the answer for all of us is really important (Phil 2:9-11, Mk 1:15, Matt 25:31-46).
Q11 What are God’ s works of providence?
God’ s works of providence are, his most holy, (Ps. 145:17) wise, (Ps. 104:24, Isa. 28:29) and powerful preserving, (Heb. 1:3) and governing all his creatures, and all their actions. (Ps. 103:19, Matt. 10:29–31)
Year 3 Day 2
Read - 2 Thessalonians 3v1-5
Message - Scott Woodburn
It is said that when Charles Spurgeon was asked about the secret to his powerful ministry he replied "my people pray for me" It remains a challenging statement. Even the giants of the faith need prayer. Paul understood this long before Spurgeon and he urged the Thessalonians to pray for him and his companions (v1).
Paul's desire was straightforward enough - that the Word would go forward with power and be honoured among those who heard it (v1b). This remains the pressing need in any church in any nation. We preach Christ crucified and we must pray that this Word would speed ahead and be met with good fruit. This work relies on the activity of the Holy Spirit, only He can convict sinners and raise the spiritually dead to life. As the Word is preached in your church, do you pray that it would be met with success?
Additionally Paul asked that the Thessalonians would pray for Paul's deliverance from wicked and evil men (v2a). The ministry of the Gospel will always know opposition. Sometimes this comes from outside the church but more often it comes from inside. Paul reminds us that in every fellowship "not all have faith." (v2b). That's a sombre statement isn't it? Perhaps you don't see it but not everyone in your fellowship is a Christian. They might look the part and sound the part but ask yourself, why do they attract gossip? Why do they never seem to be happy? Why does their conversation drip with discontentment and accusation? Paul's answer would be "not all have faith."
It isn't all doom and gloom. Paul knew this too and reminded the Thessalonians that the Lord is faithful (v3). There might be those who oppose the Gospel and stir up division but the Lord establishes His people and guards them against Satan's schemes (v3b). Therefore Paul was confident that the Thessalonians would listen to his words and carry out his commandments (v4). The Lord had established the Thessalonian church in the faith, He had enabled them to endure the attacks of the enemy and now He was working obedience in them.
As Paul sought the prayers of the Thessalonian church, he responded to them in prayer. His desire was that the Lord would direct their hearts in one direction. Not to self-praise or bitterness or division but instead to the love of God and steadfastness of Christ (v5). We would do well to pray the same. Our hearts our deceitful and wicked, they are like little magpies which chase after the latest shining thing. May the Lord direct our hearts to Him and may He cause us to be steadfast in Christ.
Spurgeon understood what we may have forgot. If a church is to grow and a preaching ministry succeed, then the people of God must understand that the work belongs to the Lord. We must seek Him in prayer and call upon Him earnestly.
Are you convicted by this? If so, so what? You could start the work of prayer tomorrow or at the next less busy moment...or...or....we could pray now...
Father God, I call upon you today and I pray for my minister. May you protect him from the schemes of wicked men. May the barbs of the enemy not cause him hurt. I pray for his ministry and I ask that he would be diligent in preparation and preach truthfully in the pulpit. May the Word speed forward and be honoured as many respond to it in repentance and faith. Father you are endlessly faithful and so I ask that you would establish my church in the faith and protect our fellowship from the evil one. May my church be marked by eagerness in hearing the Word and zealousness in obeying the Word. Lord God, direct our sinful hearts away from this world and instead may they be focused on your love and the steadfastness of Christ. Forgive my apathy in prayer! Hear me today as I call upon you. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Q10 How did God create man? God created man male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.
Year 3 Day 1
Read - Mark 8:27-30 (Focus v29)
Message - Alan Burke
Jesus had asked His disciples ‘who do people say I am?’ Now He flips the question round, the Rabbi asking the question of his disciples to teach them. They had now been with Jesus for some time, they had heard and seen, alright they might have not heard and seen very well, they might not have understood most of the time. But Jesus asks them, what about you, who do you say that I am.
And Peter replies “You are the Christ”
This is the first confession of who Jesus is. This is the first confession of Jesus as the Christ, many have heard His teaching, seen Him preform miracles, experienced his healing power, the crowds perused Him, many were amazed, yet they didn’t know who He was and this is the first time we have a confession of anyone other than the demons of who Jesus is. The title “Christ” comes from the greek word Christos, it means “anointed one” or “one anointed by God.”The word Christos corresponds to the Hebrew word messiah, which also means anointed one. In a sense anyone who is anointed by God is a “christ”, but Peter’s confession is that Jesus is the anointed one, the Christ, the Messiah.
Peter confesses that Jesus is “the Christ”, is because he believes that Jesus is the who would fulfil the covenant promises of God. What a change there had been in this Peter, he was there among the disciples on the boat that we though about a couple of weeks ago who were worried about their bread, back in v14. They had just seen Jesus feed the four thousand and there they were worried about bread, they didn’t understand the reality of who they were with but now Peter gets it.
Peter get’s it, or does he?
Well he does and he doesn’t.
Peter at this stage is like the man who had just been healed in Bethsaida, the man who at first saw Ents walking around, people as tress, Peter could see but he couldn’t see clearly. Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ but still didn’t understand what this meant. Look to what comes next, v32 for although Peter has just confessed that Jesus is the Christ but then Peter in v32 takes Jesus aside and began to rebuke Jesus, the reason why was that Jesus had just told them that he must be killed and after three days rise again (31). Then look to v33, this Peter who had just confessed that Jesus is the Christ is told rebuked by Jesus and told “Get behind me, Satan!”.
Peter saw but he didn’t see, just like the man who was asked in Bethsaida by Jesus do you see anything, this question of the disciples by Jesus was do you see, but just like the blind man initially the disciples did not see clearly. Although had got the right answer what he understands by that answer isn’t right, not yet anyway, for Peter confessed but he didn’t understand fully yet.
Now we are in chapter 8 and there are 16 chapters. This confession comes right in the middle, Peter has sight but it is more like Ents walking around, tree people than seeing clearly, people as people. So we are right in the middle of Mark’s gospel, this is the middle, not at the end, not at the beginning, when these disciples come to this understanding that Jesus is the Christ. There is still much for them to learn, they have a long way to go, and just like these disciples we all have. For spiritual maturity doesn’t happen over night, it continues on, but crucially important is that everything that follows for these disciples and for us must begin with the knowledge, the confession that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one of God, the Messiah, and it is only the beginning of the road of discipleship.
Q9 What is the work of creation?
The work of creation is, God’ s making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good. (Gen. 1, Heb. 11:3)
Year 2 Day 365
Read - 2 Thessalonians 2v13-17
Message - Scott Woodburn
Hey you! Never get tired of hearing the Gospel. Did you hear me? Never get tired of hearing the Gospel. See the Gospel? Never get tired hearing it. Do you know the Gospel? Never get tired of hearing it. I hope my point is clear. Never get tired of hearing the Gospel.
The Gospel of Christ declares that Jesus was crucified for our sins and raised for our justification. It is good news to those who are perishing. It answers the bad news of the fall, the curse, sin and death. The Gospel is simply glorious. By faith in Christ the dead are raised to spiritual life.
As chapter two comes to a close Paul again expresses his thankfulness for the Thessalonians (v13a). He loves these men and women because the Gospel has brought wonderful transformation to their lives. What does the Gospel look like in Thessalonica? Paul outlines the good, good, good news. Firstly, the Thessalonians were chosen by God "as the firstfruits" (v13). This doesn't mean that somehow the Thessalonians were the first ever people to be saved. Instead Paul once again reminds us that before the foundation of the earth, God chose us for salvation (Ephesians 1v3-4). This wasn't because we were better than the rest. We were lost, doomed and damned with nothing to offer the Lord. Yet, by grace, He redeemed us. He loved us before we loved Him.
The Thessalonians had been chosen for salvation and for sanctification by the Spirit and the Word (v13b). The Lord reaches into the pit of humanity and plucks sinful humans from the filth, but He doesn't leave them the way that He found them. He sanctifies us by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and by the application of His Word to our souls. As we attend to the ordinary means of grace (the Word, the Sacraments and prayer) an extraordinary work is taking place - we are being sanctified...we are being made more and more holy and more and more dead to sin...we are being made more like Jesus.
We have been called to this by the Gospel so that we may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (v14). What does this mean? Brothers and sisters, the Gospel promises us glory. This life is not all that there is. The one who dies in Christ will open their eyes and behold the beauty, majesty and glory of Jesus. The Gospel does this! It moves us from a place of crossing our fingers to the solid ground of hope in Christ. One day we will be with Jesus in glory.
Paul urged the Thessalonians to stand firm in the glorious Gospel. They were to hold fast to the Apostolic teaching that they had received by the spoken word and by the letters of the Apostle (v15). We never graduate from truth. We never move on from the Word of God. If we have received the Gospel, we are to stand firm in it. If we have believed the Gospel, we are to cherish it. If we have heard the Gospel, we are to keep on hearing it.
Brothers and sisters, marvel at the glorious Gospel and never, ever, ever, ever, get tired of hearing the Gospel "for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, 'The righteous shall live by faith.'" (Romans 1v16-17)
And so with this reminder, Paul pronounces a good word (a benediction) upon the Thessalonians. To them and to you "may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word." (v16-17) Amen!
Q8 How doth God execute his decrees? God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence.
Year 2 Day 364
Read - Mark 8:27-30 (Focus v27-28)
Message - Alan Burke
We have all come across people who have many wonderful ideas of who Jesus was and is. I’ve heard many things that I just have no idea how people ever came to that conclusion. Here in Mark’s gospel Jesus asks the question of His disciples, "Who do people say that I am?” and “Who do you say that I am?”. This question although many people today disregard it, and many people have quite wonderfully wrong ideas, this question is one of the most vial, crucial questions not only for those disciples who were with Jesus but for all of us, ‘Who do you say that Jesus is?’
This question marks the turning point in this gospel, for up until now the focus had been primarily been on Jesus’ Galilean ministry. From this point on in the Gospel of Mark the focus is on Jesus’ journey to the cross, to Jerusalem, to the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Only after those events would the fullness of this confession of Peter be understood.
Here Jesus asks the question, it is a preparatory question “Who do people say I am?”. It isn’t that Jesus didn’t know, it is that He wants the disciples to think through all that people were saying. As they give the answer of the average man and woman think of Jesus. From their responses it is clear that people have a multitude of different ideas. In a sense v28 is just giving us some of what we have heard before.
First we are told is that people say Jesus is John the Baptist.
Now that’s not surprising, that’s what Herod Antipas thought and some others. In part this was because of the fame of John, and most people in Galilee had never see John or heard him preach but they had heard of Him on the grape vine. Yet John was the one who was preparing the way who would come, who was more powerful than him, the one whom the thongs of his sandals John was not worthy to stoop down to unite (1:7).
Others think Jesus is Elijah.
Now there is a reason for this, it’s not that they just pick an Old Testament prophet out of the hat and say this one, if they had done that they could have had any number of names mentioned here. Elijah is significant because in the last book of the the Old Testament, Malachi, God make the promise in chapter 3:1 and 4:5 that Elijah would return before the Day of the Lord and the Messiah came. They expected Elijah to return and in part that was because Elijah did not die for he went up to heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11). So some were thinking to themselves that Jesus was Elijah who had come.
While others were saying that Jesus was one of the prophets that God had sent throughout their history.
There is one thing all these answers have in common, and it’s this. These answers show a failure to understand who Jesus was and is, they are inadequate. They fall short, they miss the point, they may as well be stabs in the dark for they miss the truth of who Jesus was and is. Notice there is nothing said of the people saying that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Holy one of God, the demons had a better idea who Jesus is than the people of God.
There are lots of people today that have an idea of Jesus, often it is more influenced by anything other than the bible. Some think that He was good man, some put Him in the category of a moral teacher along with Socrates, Confucius, the Buddha, Islam teaches that He was a prophet, there are others who think Jesus is a fairy story, but it matters for all of us. It is so essential that we get the answer to this question right because if we don’t, if we get it wrong, then eternity is at stake. Jesus is the Christ who came to suffer, be rejected, die and rise again that we might be saved from our sin, for all who repent and believe He gave the right to become children of God, know that He is the Christ, the Messiah. Is He your Christ?
Q7 What are the decrees of God?
The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. (Eph. 1:4,11, Rom. 9:22–23)