Bible In One Year 2017

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Day 156 of 365 • This day’s reading

Devotional

On the Winning Side


It has been hailed as the greatest sporting victory of all time. Leicester City began the season as 5000:1 outsiders and ended it as champions of England’s Premier League. There were cheers and screams of pure joy from all those on the winning side.



This is, of course, a trivial example. The victory that is at the centre of today’s passages is of a totally different order and significance. But even the tiniest and most insignificant victory gives us a taste of its meaning and joy.



The great victory of God that we read about in the New Testament is foreshadowed in the Old Testament. The ultimate victory of God came with the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus and the outpouring of his Spirit.




Proverbs 14:5-14



1. Victory of goodness



The ‘fool’ in the book of Proverbs does not mean someone lacking intelligence. Rather it means the rebel (especially against God and the laws of decency and justice): ‘the mocker… the foolish… the wicked… the faithless’ (vv.6,7,9,11,14) come to a sticky end (vv.11–14). Their path ends in death.



On the other hand, the book of Proverbs is full of teaching about the importance of righteousness and holiness. We read here about ‘a truthful witness… the upright… the good’ (vv.5,9,11,14).



The implication is that the righteous will in some way outlast death and ‘will flourish’ and be ‘rewarded’ (vv.11–14). In other words, they will ultimately be victorious: ‘a moral life is a favoured life’ (v.9b, MSG).




Lord, help me, by the power of your Holy Spirit, to be faithful in all my ways and do the good works that you have prepared in advance for me to do (Ephesians 2:10).





Acts 2:22-47



2. Victory of Jesus



The church should be a place of ‘celebration, exuberant and joyful’ (v.46, MSG). We should be the most positive people in the world – constantly celebrating Jesus and the victory of God.



On the day of Pentecost, Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, explains the great victory of Jesus. He speaks about his life, ministry, death and, in particular, his resurrection. He gives four reasons why you can be sure that Jesus has been raised from the dead and therefore you can be sure that you will be raised to life with him:




  • Logical

    Satan’s power of death could not possibly be stronger than the power of life in God’s Messiah. Peter explains, ‘God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him’ (v.24).

  • Biblical

    He points out that the resurrection was prophesied in Psalm 16:8–11 (Acts 2:25–28). Peter says, ‘[David] was a prophet and knew that God had promised on oath that he would place one of his descendents on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ’ (vv.30–31).

  • Personal

    Peter gives his own testimony: ‘God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact’ (v.32). Peter says in effect, ‘We have all seen him.’

  • Experiential

    The experience of the Holy Spirit is in itself evidence of the resurrection. After the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus came the final act in his saving ministry: ‘Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear’ (v.33).



    This experience was not confined to those who were present on the day of Pentecost. It is for every Christian. It is for you. ‘The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call’ (v.39). Every time someone experiences the Holy Spirit it is further evidence of the resurrection. Every time you see someone being filled with the Holy Spirit or hear their testimony of how the Holy Spirit has changed their life, it is further evidence of the resurrection.



The Holy Spirit enables us to recognise the truth of the words of Peter: ‘You crucified’ Jesus of Nazareth (v.36). Jesus died for my sins. I killed Jesus. My personal sin was present on the cross. The day I recognised this I, too, was ‘cut to the heart’ (v.37). It is this revelation that leads to true repentance.



The way you receive the promise is by repentance, faith in Jesus, baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit (vv.37–38). The evidence that you have received the Holy Spirit will be seen in a changed life and a transformed community (vv.42–47). The church is not only a place of celebration, exuberance and joy; it should also be supremely a place of love.




  • Love for God

    The church is a place full of love for God. They had a new love for the Bible – ‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching’ (v.42). Much of this teaching is now enshrined in the New Testament.



    They had a new love for the sacraments – ‘They devoted themselves to... the breaking of bread’ (v.42). ‘They broke bread in their homes’ (v.46).



    They had a new love for prayer (v.42). The Spirit-filled church will be a praying church.

  • Love for one another

    The church should be marked by love for one another. They had a new desire to meet together – ‘They devoted themselves... to the fellowship’ (v.42). They continued to meet together and ate together with ‘glad and sincere hearts’ (v.46). There was a new release of finances and generosity in giving (vv.44–45).



    The Spirit-filled church will be a united church.

  • Love for the world

    The church should be filled with a love for the world. They were an outward-focused community performing signs and wonders (v.43). ‘The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved’ (v.47). The Spirit-filled church will be an outward-looking church.




Lord, thank you for the great victory of Jesus over sin and death. Please fill me again today with your Holy Spirit.





2 Samuel 7:1-8:18



3. Victory everywhere you go



The victory of Jesus was foreshadowed in the life of David. There are over a thousand references to David in the Bible. He was an anointed (messiah) king. The Lord gave him ‘rest from all his enemies around him’ (7:1). Nathan the prophet said to David, ‘Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you’ (v.3). ‘The Lord gave David victory wherever he went’ (8:6,14).



We see in David’s prayer an example to follow:




  • Praise for God’s greatness

    David has both a sense of his own unworthiness in the presence of God (7:18) and at the same time, a realisation of the greatness of God: ‘How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you’ (v.22). He praises God for his redemption of his people (v.23).

  • Passion for God’s name

    David is passionate to see God’s name honoured: ‘Do as you promised, so that your name will be great forever’ (vv.25–26).

  • Promise for God’s family

    David trusts in God’s word (v.28). He goes on to ask for one more thing: ‘Bless my family; keep your eye on them always. You’ve already as much as said that you would, Master God! Oh, may your blessing be on my family permanently!’ (v.29, MSG).



    God made a covenant with David. Whereas God had been dwelling in a tent (7:2), he promises to establish a house for David (vv.7,10–11). He promises, ‘I will raise up your offspring to succeed you… I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever… Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever’ (vv.12–13,16).



Only in Jesus were the promises of the Davidic covenant fulfilled. The human kings failed, but there remained the hope of a future king who would fulfil the kingship ideal. Jesus was the son of David (see, for example, Matthew 1:1). As he entered Jerusalem, the people cried out, ‘Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!’ (Mark 11:10).



However, the victory of Jesus and the kingdom of Jesus were far greater than anyone had anticipated. They were achieved not by a conquering king winning physical battles, but by a dying Saviour winning the great spiritual victory over sin, guilt, addiction, fear and even death itself.



We see from the example of Jesus that victory is not always glamorous or even obvious. But God promises you, as he promises David, that he will be with you wherever you go and that, in Christ, ultimately you will be victorious.




Lord, like David, I feel a sense of unworthiness in your presence. ‘Who am I, O Sovereign Lord?’ (7:1). Thank you that in Christ you promise us even greater victories than David over sin, guilt, addiction, fear and even death itself. Lord, I trust today that you will be with me and help me wherever I go.





Pippa Adds


Acts 2:22–41



All Peter’s friends must have been so pleased and proud (in the good sense) when he stood up and gave his first sermon. They had been with Peter through all his ups and downs and failures. Now the anointing of God was on him. The last three years had been a preparation for this moment.



It is wonderful to see people who have been through their struggles finding their calling.