Tabletalk Devotions with R.C. Sproul

Duration: 365 days

With Spirit and Fire

Matthew 3:11–12 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I…. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (v. 11)

John Calvin looked to John the Baptist’s condemnation of the Pharisees and Sadducees as an example of how the church should deal with those especially hard in heart. He comments on Matthew 3:7–10 that “those whose habits of uttering falsehood to God, and of deceiving themselves, lead them to hold out hypocrisy and pretension, instead of the reality, ought to be urged, with greater sharpness than other men, to true repentance.” At times only strong confrontation will rescue the soul of a professing believer who has grown complacent and presumed upon the Lord’s grace (18:15–20James 5:19–20).

Matthew 3:7–10 is clear that the Sadducees and Pharisees needed such upbraiding. These Jewish leaders during the Lord’s earthly ministry were often at odds because of their conflicting theological opinions. The party of the Sadducees was a kind of priestly aristocracy not against conforming to Roman customs and law. They also denied the bodily resurrection of God’s people, but the idea that they accepted only the five books of Moses as Scripture is probably mistaken. Like the Pharisees, they submitted to the entire Old Testament. On the other hand, the Pharisees added the oral law — traditions that people followed as a guide to the Torah, that is, the Scriptures. The Pharisees were not priests but scholars who affirmed the resurrection and were popular with the people. Despite their disagreements, both groups united against John and later, Jesus. After all, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Both groups had seats on the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of the Jews, and many of them apparently felt that Abrahamic descent guaranteed them a place in the kingdom (v. 9).

It is one thing to reject John the Baptist, but quite another to deny the One whom he precedes. John promises in today’s passage that the Messiah will baptize not just with water but with the Spirit and fire (v. 11), an image with double meaning. The long awaited flame of the Holy Spirit will purify the soul and eventually remove all corruption from those who submit to the Son of David (Isa. 1:24–26). But those who continue in their rejection of this king will find only a fiery destruction (Isa. 66:15–16Matt. 3:12).

CORAM DEO: LIVING BEFORE THE FACE OF GOD

The purifying work of the Holy Spirit commences in the believer when he first turns to Christ. Sometimes the Spirit works on us in the fire of adversity, through which the Lord promises to take us for His good purposes (Isa. 43:1–7). When we face trials in our lives we have an opportunity to prove our faith and reliance on God. If you face trouble this day, consider how the Lord may be using it to purify your soul.

For further study:

Deut. 4:32–40

The Bible in a year:

Exodus 2–4

INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

All the Men of the Bible

Duration: 365 days

Benjamin [Bĕn’jamĭn]—son of the right hand.

1. The youngest son of Jacob and the only one born in Canaan; founder of a tribal family. His mother, Rachel, who died in giving birth to Benjamin, named him with her last breath Benoni “son of sorrow.” Jacob changed the name to Benjamin (Gen. 35:18, 24).

THE MAN BELOVED OF JEHOVAH

The prophecy of Jacob regarding Benjamin is short and easily verified. Personal courage and martial temperament, a characteristic of the Benjamites throughout history, are before us in Benjamin as a ravening wolf devouring the prey and dividing the spoil. Benjamin was the last, the bravest and the best-beloved tribe of all the tribes of Israel, the center of the affections of the whole family, and the dwelling place of the beloved of the Lord (Deut. 33:12).

Some Benjamites of the Bible are the second of the Judges, Ehud, Saul, the first of Israel’s kings and Saul of Tarsus, who was “not a whit behind the chiefest of the apostles.” Although “the smallest of the tribes” (1 Sam. 9:21), Benjamin was not to be despised. Christ came from a small village. In the division of the land, as Joshua records it, Jerusalem was assigned to Benjamin (Josh. 18:28)—a fact referred to by the psalmist, “There is little Benjamin their ruler.” Between the shoulders of Benjamin, the God of Israel caused His name to dwell. In Benjamin He “covered Israel all the day long.”

The tribe of Benjamin, as the seat of God’s love, ought to be the meeting place for all Israel; Jerusalem is so, in a figure. It has open gates for all the tribes of Israel.

2. A son or descendant of Harim who put away his foreign wife (Ezra 10:32).

3. A son of Bilhan and a great-grandson of Benjamin (1 Chron. 7:10).

4. One who took part in the repair of the wall (Neh. 3:23).

5. Another who did the same (Neh. 12:34). Also the name of one of the gates of Jerusalem (Jer. 20:2; 37:13; 38:7; Zech. 14:10).

Devotional content drawn from All the Men of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer. Used with permission.

T.G.I.F. – Today God is First

Duration: 365 days

THE PURPOSE OF CRUCIBLES

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart. – Proverbs 17:3

This proverb describes one of God’s strangest mysteries. It is a description of God’s formula to refine the human heart in order to bring out its finest qualities. The significant leaders who make the greatest mark for the Kingdom had to experience their own crucible and fire. Without it, the dross can never be removed from the human heart. Without it, the encumbrances weigh us down. God understands the human heart. He understands that for us to become all that He hopes for us, there are seasons of fire. Joseph went through many tests. Succeeding in the test qualified him for greater responsibility. The greater the use in the Kingdom the greater the crucible to prepare the right foundation. Some of God’s greatest crucibles are found in the workplace where we live every day: the employee who betrays our trust, the client who refuses to pay, the vendor who falls short of our expectations.

Each of these is a test from God to find out how we will respond. What tests are being brought your way today? His grace has been provided that we might pass the tests that He brings before us. Should we fail, we need not fear. His grace is sufficient for this as well. Ask God for the grace to walk with Him in whatever tests He has placed before you this day. He is able to accomplish what He wants for you.TGIF, Today God Is First. Copyright © 2016 by Os Hillman. All rights reserved. www.MarketplaceLeaders.org

The Plan

Duration: 365 days

PROPHECY THREAD OF WEEK 38

Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary Definition of Truth:
Conformity to fact or reality; exact accordance with that which is, or has been, or shall be. The truth of history constitutes its whole value. We rely on the truth of the scriptural prophecies.

MESSIAH WILL HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT

Jesus was filled with divine power when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. This is how John the Baptist knew it was the Messiah, which in itself is the fulfillment of a personal prophecy the Father gave to John (Jhn 1:33). A measure of this same power that Jesus had with the Holy Spirit is available to all who believe in Him (Act 2:1-4).

PROMISED

THE SEVEN SPIRITS OF GOD

Isa 11:2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—

FULFILLED

JESUS THE LAMB OF GOD

29 AD, 27 AD (U)

Jhn 1:32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.

Jhn 1:33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’

Prophecies declared are in blue, prophecies fulfilled are in red, prophecies currently being fulfilled are in green, and prophecies to be fulfilled are in orange. Bold historical context dates are from Jeff Swanson’s The Plan dating system, and dates marked (U) are Archbishop Ussher’s 1658 dating system.
** The date of this prophecy is in its referential context: the verse has been moved to the time frame of its contextual orientation.

Excerpts drawn from The Plan: The Chronology of God’s Word from Creation to Completion, published by The Plan Bible™, Inc. Copyright © 2010, 2012.  All rights reserved worldwide. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. WARNING: This book is not transferable. It is for your own personal use. It cannot be sold, shared, or loaned as that is an infringement of the copyright. No portion of this book may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the publisher.