LUKE

Luke is the third of the four gospel accounts. The author is the only gospel writer (in fact, the only New Testament writer) who is not Jewish. A statement by Paul in Colossians 4:10-14 identifies Luke as a Gentile (presumed to be Greek) and a physician.

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The Fragrance Of Christ

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us to triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?”
– 2 Corinthians 2:17 –

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MARK

Mark is the second and shortest of the four gospel accounts. The author’s given name is John, though we typically refer to him by his surname, Mark. He lived with his mother, Mary, in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12), but left to join Paul on his first missionary journey (Acts 12:25; 13:13). Paul was upset that John Mark turned back before the first journey was ended, and thus refused to take him on his second journey (Acts 15:37). Instead, John Mark went on a second journey with his cousin Barnabas (Acts 15:39; Colossians 4:10). About 10 years later, we find that Paul considered John Mark to be a fellow worker (Philemon 1:24) and eventually sought to have him by his side at Rome (2 Timothy 4:11).

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We Are Not … Peddling The Word Of God

“For we are not, as so many, peddling
the word of God; but as of sincerity,
but as from God, we speak in the
sight of God in Christ.”
– 2 Corinthians 2:17 –

It is an unfortunate truth that not all who preach and teach the gospel message do so with integrity. In fact, Paul declared there to be many “…peddling the word of God…”, whom he labeled as “…deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:13). With some in Corinth casting doubt on the apostle’s legitimacy, he affirmed that he was not among the gospel peddlers. Let us consider Paul’s conduct with the word of God as evident through three characteristics he makes mention of.

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MATTHEW

Matthew is the first and longest of the four gospel accounts. The author was Jewish by birth and called to be an apostle of Christ (Matthew 10:1-4). His Greek name is Matthew, his Hebrew name is Levi. Matthew worked as a tax collector for the Roman government among his own people until Jesus called him to be a disciple (Matthew 9:9).

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Follow Me

In the gospels we see Jesus inviting those who would become His apostles to “follow” Him. In John 1:40, John the Baptist pointed Andrew and another disciple to Jesus who bid them to “Come and see,” and so they followed Him and stayed the entire day with Him. On the next day, the Lord called Philip to “follow Me” (John 1:43), which he did, also bringing his friend Nathanael to the Lord. In Matthew 4:19, Jesus approached four fishermen (Peter, Andrew, James, and John) and called them to follow Him, that they should become fishers of men. And in Matthew 9:9, Matthew heard Jesus call out “Follow Me,” which he did, leaving his tax office behind.

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MALACHI

The book of Malachi closes out the Old Testament. The prophet’s name is mentioned in 1:1, but nowhere else in the Bible. His name is descriptive and quite appropriate for his message. Malachi means “my messenger.” He focused on the duties and failings of the Levitical priests of his day, whom he described as “the messenger of the LORD of hosts” (2:7). In 3:1, Malachi foretold the coming of John the Baptist, identified as “My messenger” who “will prepare the way before Me” (cf. Mark 1:1-4). And then in the latter portion of 3:1, Malachi spoke of Jesus as “…the Lord, whom you seek … even the Messenger of the covenant…”

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Covid-19 Vaccines & the Mark of the Beast

For the past 14+ months, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought with it a lot of restrictions and constraints. For a good part of that time, we in Ontario have been under lockdowns, shutdowns, or stay-at-home orders. When the CDC and other drug regulatory agencies across the globe began to give the green flag for vaccines from various pharmaceutical companies, there was an understandable prospect of hope, the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel.” At the same time, there has been skepticism and uncertainty about the safety of the vaccines, given the speed with which they were developed or the efficacy they will have on the virus variants. And then for some, there is a concern that it is not just a vaccine, but could it be the mark of the beast?

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ZECHARIAH

Zechariah was the son of Berechiah and grandson of Iddo, who himself was a prophet (Zechariah 1:1). He was a priest who went to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel (Nehemiah 12:1, 4, 16) at the end of the Babylonian captivity. He and Haggai were contemporaries and worked together to urge the people to rebuild the temple of God in Jerusalem (Ezra 5:1; 6:14). The message he bore to the people from God was, “Return to Me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you” (Zechariah 1:3). Evidence of their return would be the rebuilt temple (4:6-10) and their ongoing obedience to the Lord (7:4-7).

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Spiritual Olympians

Exactly two months two months from today, the 2021 Summer Olympic games are set to begin in Tokyo, Japan. I don’t know about you, but I am excited to watch the best athletes from across the world participate in a wide variety of sports and athletic disciplines. The agility and ability of the men and women who will compete will be wonderful to see.

Olympians train for years to be at their absolute peek when the games begin. Their devotion to both physical and mental conditioning is exemplary. They are fixated with achieving the pinnacle of their respective sports. Few actually make it to the top, and those who do have a host of hungry competitors ready to defeat them.

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