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John 3:1-17You Must Be Born AgainRev. Dr. Don L. Davis
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One of the teachers of Israel, Nicodemus, both a Pharisee and member of the Jewish Council, the Sanhedrin, came to Jesus at night. Jesus proclaimed to him that unless one is born again they can neither see nor enter the Kingdom of God. Nicodemus was puzzled, asking whether one who is old cannot enter into the womb a second time to be born. Jesus again asserted that unless one is born of the water and the Holy Spirit they cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Only the Spirit can redeem us. Jesus further assured Nicodemus that God’s motivation in sending him down from heaven was a demonstration of his great love. In fact, he loved us so much he offered his only Son as a ransom for the world. Everyone who believes will never perish, but inherit eternal life. Jesus assured Nicodemus that his mission was not to judge the world, but rather, to save it through God’s expression of love.
Matthew 4:1-11It Is WrittenRev. Dr. Don L. Davis
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After the Lord Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan river, the Spirit of God immediately led him into the desert (traditionally considered to be near the region of Jericho) to be tested by the devil. After fasting forty days, the Scripture testifies that our Lord became hungry, and at that moment of vulnerability and exhaustion, the temptations started. The tempter sought to undermine our Lord’s trust in the Father by tempting him to turn stones into bread, to cast himself down from the pinnacle of the temple so angels could rescue him, and to bow down and worship him, the tempter, in exchange for possession of the world’s kingdoms. In every case our Lord resisted the temptation, quoting God’s Word and standing true to the Father. Our Lord’s stamina and steadfastness reveals his heart for the Father, and serves as a pattern for us as we walk with him during our journey through the season of Lent (and life).
2Corinthians 5:20-6:10Now is the Favorable TimeRev. Dr. Don L. Davis
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Paul interprets to the Corinthians God’s appeal to all humankind through the prophet Isaiah’s call to Israel to both repent and persevere in light of the coming Day of God’s visitation. Paul identifies our new covenant message of grace with this appeal, quoting Isaiah’s call within the favorable time and the day of salvation. Rather than put off any decision regarding God’s offer of grace and forgiveness, Paul challenges the Corinthians (and us) to realize that now, at this hour and in this place, is the favorable time of God’s gracious offer and help. Let us start our Lenten journey by recognizing the opportune moment this is to open our hearts up to God in a new way, for a new working of his Spirit and move of his power.
Matthew 5:21-37The High Standard of the KingdomRev. Dr. Don L. Davis
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As Lord of the Kingdom and Rabbi of God, Jesus not only highlighted the Old Testament truth but broadened and intensified it to reflect the holiness his Kingdom required. While the Law said you should not murder another person, the King said that hating someone is the same as murder. While the Law said do not commit adultery, the King said that looking lustfully at someone is the same as adultery. While the Law said a man can divorce his wife by giving a letter of divorce, the King said that unlawful divorce and remarriage is the same as adultery. While the Law said you must carry out your oaths, the King said don’t make any vows, but a simple yes or no is sufficient. The Kingdom of God and its righteousness intensifies the Law and reveals a high standard that none can keep – without Christ’s forgive­ness and the Holy Spirit, God’s gift to those who believe.
Matthew 5:13-20Living as Salt and LightRev. Dr. Don L. Davis
During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus affirmed that those who believe in him are the salt of the earth. Yet, he affirmed, if that salt loses its taste, its saltiness could not be restored. It would become useless, only to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. He said that we are the light of the world, and that a city set on a hill could not be hidden. He emphasized that people do not light a lamp and put it under a basket. Rather, they put it on a stand where it can illumine everyone and all that is in the house. Jesus affirmed that, in the same way, we must let our light shine before others, so that they might see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven. He declared that until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota or a dot would pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Those who relax the commandment would be least in the Kingdom, and those who taught and did them would be great in the Kingdom of heaven. Our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees in order to enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Luke 2:22-40In The Presence of the PeoplesRev. Dr. Don L. Davis
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When the time came for purification according to the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord as commanded in the Scripture. There was a righteous and devout man in Jerusalem, Simeon by name, who waited for the revealing of the Messiah, to whom it was revealed by the Spirit that he would see the Messiah before he died. After coming into the temple in the Spirit he saw Jesus’ parents with him to do as the Law required. Simeon took the baby Jesus in his arms and blessed the Lord, saying, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” The child Jesus was the salvation of God in the presence of all peoples, the light of the nations and the glory of Israel.
Matthew 4:12-23The Messiah Commences His MinistryRev. Dr. Don L. Davis
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After his baptism by John, Jesus was led up by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting for forty days and nights, he was hungry. Although tempted three times by the twisting of Scripture by Satan, the Lord triumphed over him, quoting God’s holy Scripture and refuting the devil’s lies and attacks. Having withstood the devil’s assaults and temptations, our Lord returned to Galilee in the power of the Holy Spirit and began his ministry of kingdom proclamation and demonstration. It was there, in Galilee, that he called his first four disciples, gathering to his side those apostles who would accompany him throughout his earthly ministry. Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah of God, who fulfilled the Scripture’s prophecy, proclaiming the Kingdom come throughout the land.
Matthew 3:13-17The Beloved Son of the FatherRev. Dr. Don L. Davis
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When Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan, he approached John to be baptized by him. John found Christ’s request unacceptable, saying that he was the one who needed to be baptized by Jesus. Jesus answered John that they should go ahead and do it, so as to fulfill all righteousness. So John went ahead and baptized the Lord, and when Jesus came up out of the waters, the skies opened up and John saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove and coming to rest on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Jesus is the true beloved Son of the Father.
Ephesians 1:3-14Spiritual Blessings in Heavenly PlacesRev. Dr. Don L. Davis
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Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed those who believe with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. In Jesus we have been chosen before the world began to be holy and without fault in God’s eyes; we were purchased by the Son, redeemed by his blood, forgiven that we might praise God, preserved by the Holy Spirit, who guarantees our eternal security. This great salvation was planned by the Father, purchased by the Son, and preserved by the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 20:13-2:23The Flight to Egypt, The Return to NazarethRev. Dr. Don L. Davis
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After the Magi had departed from their trip to see the Messiah child, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and told him to rise and take Mary and the child to Egypt and remain there, for Herod was about to search for the child to destroy him. Joseph departed and came to Egypt and remained there until Herod’s death. When Herod saw that the Magi did not return after seeing the child, he was furious and ordered all male children in Bethlehem and the region who were two years and under to be killed, according to the time specified by the wise men. Joseph, Mary and our Lord avoided the brutal slaughter of the innocents by fleeing to Egypt. After Herod died, an angel of the Lord again appeared to Joseph in a dream commanding him to return to the land of Israel. On returning, being warned about Herod’s son in Judea, Joseph withdrew to Galilee, and settled in a city called Nazareth. In this lowly place, our Lord would grow to manhood, and be prepared for his great work as Messiah of God.
Isaiah 11:1-10The Righteous Reign of the BranchRev. Dr. Don L. Davis
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From the stump (lineage) of Jesse will come the Messiah, he who will be filled with the Spirit of the LORD, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, and the knowl­edge and fear of the LORD. He will reign over the nations of the world with righteousness, and during his rule all creation shall be transformed. The wolf will dwell with the lamb, the leopard with the young goat, and the calf and the lion together. Nothing will hurt or destroy in all the holy mountain of the LORD, for the reign of Jesse’s branch will bring everlasting peace and joy. As those whose entire lives are anchored in the promise of the Messiah’s return, let us announce his Kingdom to come, and yearn for his righteous reign, the authority and rule of the great King, Son of Jesse, Son of David, and Lord of all.
Matthew 24:36-44No One Knows The DayRev. Dr. Don L. Davis
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Jesus told his disciples that no one (including the angels!) knows either the day or the hour of the return of the Son of Man to earth. Only the Father knows what day and what the precise moment he has reserved for our Lord Jesus to return to earth. We must, therefore, be ready, for the Son of Man will come at a time that no one is expecting. Let us be watching and waiting, for soon and very soon the Lord will come, with his reward with him, to give to each one what they deserve. We will be attentive and alert, sober and ready, for we do not know when our Lord Jesus will arrive. Still we cry, Maranatha!
Colossians 1:11-20The Preeminence of ChristRev. Dr. Don L. Davis
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Paul, in writing to the Colossian believers, prayed that they might be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy. He gave thanks to the Father on their behalf, the same God who qualified them to share in the inheritance of the saints in light, the same God who delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of his beloved Son, in whose name we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. In his creedal like statement regarding Christ’s exaltation and divinity, Paul asserted that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, for by Jesus all things were created in heaven and earth, visible and invisible; all things were created through him and for him. Our Lord Jesus is before all things, and the sustainer of all the universe. God has also made him the the head of the body, the church; the exalted Jesus is also the beginning, even the firstborn from the dead. Paul suggests that Jesus has been magnified by God in this way because God desires that in everything he might be preeminent. In our Lord all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him, the Father has reconciled to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. No statement in Scripture so succinctly describes the supremacy of Christ.
2Thessalonians 3:6-13Doing GoodRev. Dr. Don L. Davis
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Paul commanded the Thessalonians, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from any brother who walked in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that they had received from the apostles. Hearing that some walked in idleness as busybodies, Paul was insistent with all the churches that others should imitate his example, for he was neither idle among them, nor did he and his company eat anyone’s bread without paying for it. They worked day and night with toil and labor in order that they might not be a burden to the Thessalonians, even though as apostles they could have insisted on support from them. Paul reminds them that he gave the command that if anyone was unwilling to work, not to let that person eat. He exhorted them in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly, to earn their own living, and never to grow weary in doing good.
Luke 20:26-38Children of the ResurrectionRev. Dr. Don L. Davis
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On one occasion there came to Jesus some Sadducees, those who denied the resurrection, and sought to make a silly argument to Jesus concerning the resurrection and marriage. They gave an illustration, alluding to the biblical injunction that Moses wrote that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. A woman marries seven brothers and after each marriage was left a widow. Finally, she died; they asked whose wife would she be in the Kingdom. Jesus denounced their question, spirit, and argument. Their errors reflected that they knew neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. In the Kingdom, there will be no marriages, for while children of this age marry and are given in marriage, those who inherit the resurrection neither marry nor are given in marriage. They do not die anymore, and are equal to angels as the very children of God, being sons of the resurrection. Regarding the resurrection, Jesus says that even Moses showed in the Exodus text about the bush, he calls the Lord, the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Jesus said that our God is not God of the dead but of the living, for all live to him.
Psalm 149High Praise and Two-Edged SwordsRev. Dr. Don L. Davis
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In Psalm 149, the psalmist calls for the congregation to praise the LORD, singing to him a new song in the assembly of the godly. Israel is exhorted to be glad in his Maker, and to do it with dancing, making melody to God with both tambourine and lyre. Because the LORD takes pleasure in them, adorning the humble with salvation, the godly are to exult in glory, singing for joy on their beds. The psalmist suggests that the high praises of God should be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands, to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples, to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron, to execute on them the judgment written! The honor for all the LORD’s godly ones is to present high praises to God and to engage in spiritual warfare, smashing down the plans of the enemy.
Luke 18:9-14The Pharisee and Tax CollectorRev. Dr. Don L. Davis
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Jesus told a parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt. Jesus said that two men went up into the temple to pray, one was a Pharisee, and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed proudly to God, thanking him that he was not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this poor fellow, the tax collector. He reminded God that he fasted twice a week and gave tithes of all that he received. The tax collector, on the other hand, stood far off, and would not even lift up his eyes to heaven. In contrast to the Pharisee, he beat his breast, and said to God, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ In summarizing the meaning of the parable, Jesus said that the tax collector went down to his house justified, rather than the Pharisee. Why? “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Luke 18:1-8The Persistent WidowRev. Dr. Don L. Davis
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Jesus told his disciples a parable that reminded them that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. Jesus said that in a certain city, a judge resided who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and demanding that the judge give her justice against her adversary. For a time, the judge refused her request, but after some time he said to himself, that although he neither feared God nor respected man, the constant bothering of this widow inclined him to grant her justice, in order that she wouldn’t beat him down by her continual coming. Jesus summarized the rewards of the widow’s persistence. He asked his audience to hear the words of the unrighteous judge. He then argued that surely God will give justice to his elect who, like the widow, cry to him day and night. He won’t delay long over them, but rather grant them speedy justice. Still, Jesus said, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? God rewards the persistent petition of his children.
Luke 17:11-19The Cleansing of the LepersRev. Dr. Don L. Davis
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On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers met him, standing at a distance. The ten lifted up their voices crying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When Jesus saw them he told them to go and show themselves to the priests. As the ten went, they were cleansed! One of the ten, when he realized he was healed, turned back, and was praising God with a loud voice. He came before Jesus, fell on his face, giving him thanks. This leper was a Samaritan. After this Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Jesus said to the Samaritan leper now cleansed: “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” Amazingly, sometimes the ones who respond to the Lord Jesus are those doubly repulsive to the righteous – a leper, and a Samaritan.
Luke 17:5-10Increase Our FaithRev. Dr. Don L. Davis
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In commenting on the disciples plea for the Lord to increase their faith, the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” Jesus puts this teaching on faith in the context of understanding our duty as servants. Jesus asked if any master would first order a servant after a long day in the field to come in at once, and recline at table? Rather than this scenario, Jesus said that the master would tell his servant to prepare his supper, and dress properly, and serve him while he ate and drank, and afterward they could eat and drink. After all that work, Jesus asked if the master would thank the servant because he did what was commanded. The rhetorical reply is no, he would not. Jesus concludes by saying, “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ ” We must recognize that living by faith in our Lord’s Word and keeping his commands is our duty; we serve the Lord Christ!