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May 5, 2017: King Jesus!

Today’s Bible Reading: 1 Samuel 11-13, Psalm 99, Mark 11:1-11, 2 Corinthians 4 Mark 11:1-11: The triumphal entry—celebrated the world over in churches—but what does it mean? In these first eleven verses, we begin to get a sense of it. Jesus is coming as a king to Jerusalem, as the King, but he is not the king (the Messiah) that many of the people were hoping for. He came riding on a colt, not a war horse; he was not coming in military power, but in saving might. He came humble, he came to die, and so win back for us newness of life in his name. When, then, we celebrate the triumphal entry, we are celebrating the true meaning of the work of Jesus: that he is this King Jesus, the one who rode in humble, on a colt. We are also celebrating the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises—that at least some of...

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May 4, 2017: What Do You Want Jesus to Do for You?

Today’s Bible Reading: 1 Samuel 9-10, Psalm 98, Mark 10:35-52, 2 Corinthians 3 Mark 10:35-52: Two of the disciples try to cut to the head of the line by asking Jesus directly to share in his glory. To sit at his right and his left—the honored positions—in glory. When they ask him, the way they ask exposes their presumption. We want you to do whatever it is we ask! Somewhat wearily (may we say?) Jesus replies, “What do you want me to do for you?” When he is told, he replies that they do not know what they are asking; can they share his cup and be baptized with his baptism—referring to his crucifixion and death. They answer glibly, “We are able.” Jesus tells them that they will face persecution as Jesus will, but what they are asking for is not something that is given away simply for the asking at a moment’s notice. The...

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May 3, 2017: Follow Jesus

Today’s Bible Reading: 1 Samuel 6-8, Psalm 97, Mark 10:17-34, 2 Corinthians 2 Mark 10:17-34: A rich man—all in a rush with business—runs up to Jesus and asks Jesus the question of all questions. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The rich man gets right to the bottom line. What’s the most important question here, let’s cut to the chase. Jesus notices that the epithet with which he addresses Jesus is indicative of a heart confusion. “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” In other words, the rich man rightly called Jesus “Good Teacher,” but he does not yet rightly understand why it is that Jesus is truly good—because Jesus is truly God. Jesus then probes him: you know the commandments. But, fascinatingly, Jesus only quotes from the second table of the Ten Commandments. The first table of the Ten Commandments is to do with love for God....

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Interview with Alec Hill

Alec Hill is President Emeritus of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA. In our interview, Alec discusses his recent battle with cancer and God’s provision through it. Josh Moody: Alec, many of the readers will know about your recent battle with and overcoming of cancer, but for those who don’t can you fill us in with what you’ve been through? Alec Hill: Two years ago, I fainted the day after my youngest daughter’s wedding. Chalking it up to fatigue, I neither informed my wife or contacted a doctor. Very stupid. When I finally told a friend, he scolded me: “Never self-diagnose.” Great advice. One medical test led to another and I found myself sitting across from an oncologist. When he told me that I had something called Myelodysplasia Syndrome (MDS)—a form of bone marrow cancer—I asked him if it was as bad as leukemia. I’ll never forget his reply: “It’s worse.” As he spoke, I grabbed...

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May 2, 2017: Let the Children Come to Me

Today’s Bible Reading: 1 Samuel 3-5, Psalm 96, Mark 10:1-16, 2 Corinthians 1:12-24 Mark 10:1-16: As was Jesus’ custom, when he saw a crowd he taught them (10:1). So many times when we see a crowd, our desire is for them to be entertained or motivated or inspired. But Jesus was a teacher and a preacher. And as such, when he saw a crowd, as was his custom, he taught them. The Pharisees—the religious leaders of the time—came up to him to test him. They had a particularly difficult question to ask him, to see if they could trap and trick him into losing popularity or saying something that was wrong. Those who want to learn come to listen. Those who want to trap or trick come with questions that are the questions of the learner but are the tests of the Pharisee. This question is about divorce. Jesus asks them what Moses said. They give...

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May 1, 2017: Salt and Peace

Today’s Bible Reading: 1 Samuel 1-2, Psalm 95, Mark 9:33-50, 2 Corinthians 1:1-11 Mark 9:33-50: In this astonishing and famous section of Mark’s Gospel, it is important to picture Jesus—as it were—holding one of these “little ones” in his arms as he discourses about trials and tribulations of what we would call “church politics.” To begin with, the disciples are having a dispute. They do not immediately tell him what it is that they are arguing about because they are embarrassed. They are arguing about who is the greatest. So often it is. Those who follow Jesus can too often fall into petty squabbles about which of the followers is greater than the other. Oh that it were not so! We follow after the name of Cephas, or Paul, or (daringly) even assert our names as the greatest. But Jesus shows a better way. The greatest among you, he who wants to be first, is to...

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April 26-30, 2017

In keeping with the Bible reading plan we are using, the last days of each month are designated as “free days.” April 26-30 then are intended to allow you to catch up on reading you may have missed or to study passages more in depth that intrigued you during the first 25 days of the month. With this in mind, God Centered Bible will not have a devotional for April 26-30, but will pick back up on May 1, 2017. We welcome your comments also during these days with insights you’ve found during the first 25 days. To receive God Centered Bible devotionals directly in your inbox, sign up here....

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After 500 Years: One Night Centered on God

Five Solas. Five Speakers. Five hours. God Centered Life Ministries hosted “One Night Centered on God” at College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, on March 17, 2017. One incredible night centered on hearing God’s truth proclaimed and responding in worship—not a normal Friday night and not a normal conference. But why even have such an event? While focused on the Protestant Reformation during its 500th anniversary year, One Night Centered on God utilized the history of the Reformation as a way to remind and exhort believers to live in the present and future in ways that bring glory to God. But why did we need to be reminded of our purpose? What have we forgotten and how have we forgotten it? “Do you hear the people sing?” Can you finish the song lyrics from one of the most popular songs written for the world famous, beloved musical Les Miserables? Do you hear the people...

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April 25, 2017: Impossible? Pray

Today’s Bible Reading: Ruth 4, Psalm 94, Mark 9:14-32, 1 Corinthians 16 Mark 9:14-32: To descend from the mountaintop and find such a commotion! And apparent failure on the part of his disciples. They “were not able” to cast the evil spirit out of the afflicted child. Jesus sighs in exasperation, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” A crowd begins to gather as Jesus asks questions about the condition of the boy, and so he starts to move into action. The father of the child betrays his own lack of faith: “If you can do anything.” Jesus again shows his near exasperation: “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.” Having been so recently revealed, transfigured, and the voice of heaven saying “listen” to Jesus, now Jesus in this non-mountaintop experience is surrounded by a...

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April 24, 2017: Listen to Him

Today’s Bible Reading: Ruth 2-3, Psalm 93, Mark 9:1-13, 1 Corinthians 15:29-58 Mark 9:1-13: Mark 9 verse 1 may refer to the transfiguration, which immediately comes after the otherwise enigmatic statement of verse 1, or it may refer to the kingdom of God that is inaugurated (though not fully) with the death and resurrection of Jesus. Given that Jesus refers to the “kingdom of God” and the transfiguration does not, it seems unlikely that it corresponds with the transfiguration. But given that the transfiguration occurs right after, it seems likely that it does correspond to the transfiguration. The solution is that the transfiguration is itself about something else: it is revealing Jesus and the coming kingdom. Some of those “standing there” saw this foretaste of the kingdom of God coming with power. Peter opens his mouth and proceeds to put his foot in it, once again (9:5). Apparently, though he had confessed Jesus as the...

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