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January 16: A Kingdom of All Nations

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 36; Psalm 16; Matthew 6:25-34; Acts 9:20-43 Genesis 36: Not the most inspiring list of names, or natural place to go, for a piece of devotional literature! It gives us an opportunity, though, to remind ourselves of some hermeneutical (=right approach to interpreting the Bible) tools. When we come across a passage in Scripture, we ask ourselves what the author’s intent is—that is, we ask, “Why is this here?” or particularly, “What was the purpose of the author in writing this part of the story?” Behind this question is the assumption that the author of the book or passage had a purpose, that he knew what he was doing, and that he is trying to communicate something to us that is worth listening to. However, we should also ask not just the question about the human author, but also a question related to the divine author. That...

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January 15: The Seed

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 34-35; Psalm 15; Matthew 6:16-24; Acts 9:1-19 Genesis 34-35: At this point in the unfolding story of Genesis, it is well to take stock and remember what the arc of the narrative is and how it connects to some of the rather disturbing elements of these and surrounding chapters. In the beginning, we remember, God created everything and it was good (Gen. 1:31). However, people rebelled against God, were cast out of paradise, and in the curse that their rebellion brought upon them, God also pronounced a blessing (Gen. 3). Out of the seed of woman will come One who is to crush the serpent (Gen. 3:15), this “serpent crusher,” Redeemer/Savior figure. Who is this Redeemer? When is he coming? That is the constant question that hangs over Genesis, and indeed over the whole of the Old Testament. The seed is carried through Eve, the mother of...

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January 14: Has He No Wound?

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 32-33; Psalm 14; Matthew 6:1-15; Acts 8:26-40 Genesis 32-33: In the middle of this story of the apparent reconciliation between Jacob and Esau, there is the well-known mysterious account of Jacob’s wrestling with God (32:22-32). He is wounded by that wrestling (32:25, 31) and is told that because he has wrestled both with God and with men and prevailed, his name will be changed (32:28). No longer will he be called Jacob but Israel, meaning, of course, “he strives with God” or “God strives.” This Old Testament patriarch now, at this moment, has his name changed from Jacob, the deceiver, to Israel, the man who wrestles with God. And it is that name “Israel” that God’s people carried from thereon. Around this extraordinary encounter, there is the story of how Jacob sends ahead herds, flocks, and gifts to Esau (32:13-21), and how Esau appears to have forgiven...

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Sermon Video: How to Live Successfully as a Christian in a Pagan Empire

Below, on January 10, 2016, Josh Moody preached a message on “How to Live Successfully as a Christian in a Pagan Empire” in the sermon series “Biblical Answers to Life’s Big Questions.” Taken from Daniel 1, this message describes three things to help us live faithfully in our culture: perspective, contextualization, and knowing where to draw the line. ...

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January 13: God, Not gods

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 31; Psalm 13; Matthew 5:33-48; Acts 8:1-25 Genesis 31: If things could not get any stranger in Jacob’s wandering dealings with his family and relatives, they are nonetheless getting to the point where Jacob is finding his way back to Canaan (31:3). Jacob notices (“quelle surprise,” what a surprise!) that Laban no longer regards him in the way he once did (31:1-2). It would not take a rocket scientist to figure out why; after all, Jacob, through his selective breeding techniques, has basically taken from Laban’s hand much of his wealth. So Jacob—preemptive strike—calls a meeting with his wives, out in the fields away from listening ears (31:4). He tells them the situation and gets their support for leaving their father and taking with them much of their father’s wealth (31:5-16). Rachel and Leah agree (was this the only time they agreed on anything?) and flee secretly...

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January 12: Only God Is Enough

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 29-30; Psalm 12; Matthew 5:21-32; Acts 7:39-60 Genesis 29-30: So Jacob runs away from the wrath of his brother Esau to his mother’s brother, Laban (29:1-14). The deceiver (Jacob), however, is about to get some of his own medicine as he is deceived by Laban (29:15-30). In familiar form, to those who have read the story of Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob falls in love with Rachel while meeting her at the watering hole, the well (29:9-12). He offers to work seven years for Laban if he will give Jacob his daughter Rachel as the prize (29:18). These kind of arrangements seem unbearably patriarchal to us, but the story is not concerned with passing judgment at this moment, though on the whole the scenario is clearly described in a way that is meant to turn the stomach. Laban apparently agrees—though he only says it would be better...

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January 11: Encountering God

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 27-28; Psalm 11; Matthew 5:13-20; Acts 7:1-38 Genesis 27-28: Jacob, the deceiver, well-named, now deceives Isaac at the prompting and urging of his mother (27:1-29). Is this a mother playing favorites? Or is it a mother trying to ensure that what God had promised regarding Jacob as the seed-bearer for the promise of God would actually come true? Either way Isaac is wrongfully deceived, as is Esau (27:30-41). It is arguable that having randomly despised his birthright, this blessing—the blessing given to the oldest son and attached to the birthright—had already in effect been removed anyway. Perhaps Isaac was trying to give Esau a blessing through the back door to inappropriately reinsert Esau’s heritage after he had despised it. At any rate, old and blind Isaac (27:1) is readily deceived (27:35). He blesses Isaac (27:27-29), has no blessing of primogeniture to give to Esau afterwards (27:37-40), and...

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January 10: God’s Sovereign Blessing

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 25-26; Psalm 10; Matthew 5:1-12; Acts 6 Genesis 25-26: The chapter in Abraham’s earthly sojourn has come to an end (25:7-11). Beforehand, he married again, and was careful to ensure that Isaac, the seed of the promise of God, was protected against rivalries from other children by his later marriage (25:1-6). Next we come to the story of Isaac. Rebekah is barren, and Isaac asks God to intervene for his wife, and God does (25:21), and she is pregnant with twins. These twins are jostling, wrestling as it were, even in her womb; and she asks God why, given that the children are clearly an answer to prayer, should they apparently already be in trouble (25:22). God answers that there are “two nations” in her womb, this conflict and competition that is already apparent will, as God prophecies, become more marked through the lives of Esau and Jacob...

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January 9: From One Generation to the Next

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 24; Psalm 9; Matthew 4:18-25; Acts 5:17-42 Genesis 24: A beautiful story, but what are we to learn from it? Abraham makes his servant promise to find a wife for his son from a member of his own tribe and clan (24:1-9). Immediately, we sense the significance with which Abraham attaches to keeping the promises of God going from generation to generation. In the New Testament Paul tells the Corinthians that they are free to marry whomever they wish as long as she/he is “in the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:39). A union with an unbeliever can certainly be redeemed by the Lord---God is gracious and merciful---but it is not to be planned; instead, we are to seek to find someone who is a good fit and who is a fellow passionate seeker after God, a real regenerate Christian. The story unfolds in dramatic fashion. The servant prays...

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January 8: A City Still to Come

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 21-23; Psalm 8; Matthew 4:12-17; Acts 5:1-16 Genesis 21-23: Finally, Isaac comes, and his name meaning laughter is apparent in the laughter that was given to Sarah at his birth, having borne Abraham a son in their old age (21:1-7). The son of Hagar (Abraham’s concubine) also later laughs, mocking Isaac (21:9). This is salt to Sarah’s wound, and she demands that Hagar and her son be put away (21:10). Abraham is not pleased (21:11), but at the intervention of God who promises to bless his son by Hagar, he does as he wife wishes (21:12-14). Hagar is desolate. In a moment of extraordinary pathos, she leaves her son to die in the wilderness, and cannot look upon him as he dies and so goes a bowshot away to mourn in utter defeat (21:14-16). God again intervenes, rescues this little family, and begins to establish them (21:17-21)....

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