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October 2: Unmasking Delusion

Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 3-4, Ecclesiastes 2:1-16, John 1:19-28, James 1:12-18 Jeremiah 3-4: We begin to see why he was called the weeping prophet! One controlling metaphor goes through these chapters, a picture that is common to the prophets in general, a picture of the rebellion of God’s people: adultery, prostitution, sexual immorality. “You have played the whore with many lovers” (Jeremiah 3:1) This picture is used of the idolatry of God’s people. They were: “…committing adultery with stone and tree.” (Jeremiah 3:9) That is, the adultery is not literal physical adultery—though many of the idolatrous practices may have involved adulterous liaisons—but a spiritual adultery of idols of rock and tree. The reason for this metaphor is the intimacy of the relationship that is intended between God and his people: “Surely, as a treacherous wife leaves her husband, so have you been treacherous to me, O house of Israel, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:20) God’s people had become fooled by idolatry: “Truly...

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October 1: Foolish As Well As Fallen

Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 1-2, Ecclesiastes 1, John 1:1-18, James 1:1-11 Jeremiah 1-2: The “weeping prophet.” Why should we read such words that are only bound to make us miserable? Well, to begin with, the purpose is not depressive but repentant. The key call to Jeremiah has a dual purpose (a doubled-edged sword): “…to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:10) Jeremiah is not only to announce judgment, he is also to prepare for a new building and new planting. Once judgment is announced (as Jonah found to his dismay with Nineveh), it’s announcement is a final call to repentance. If warning, tinged with conviction, does not suffice to generate a return to God, then perhaps a final declaration will generate that movement. For some in Jeremiah’s day, there was no doubt a response—though as a whole there was not a response of repentance. Jeremiah’s ministry, the...

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September 26-30, 2016

In keeping with the Bible reading plan we are using, the last days of each month are designated as “free days.” September 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 September 26-30, but will pick back up on October 1, 2016, with Jeremiah 1. 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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September 25: Tremble at God’s Word

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 65-66, Proverbs 31, Luke 24:45-53, Hebrews 13:9-25 Isaiah 65-66: The end of Isaiah is cosmic in scope, but at its heart it has a spiritual principle that is picked up by Paul over and over again in his letter to the Romans, and is centered on the ministry of Jesus. God was found by those who did not seek him (65:1), while he spread out his hands to a rebellious people (65:2). What is going on is that Israel, God’s people, who apparently seek God, are actually keeping God at arm's length. They say (to God!) “Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you” (65:5). But God will reach out to all nations to bring all peoples to himself. Grace is at work, and those who submit to God and his grace, not salvation by works or their own self-righteousness, will be saved. Such is...

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September 24: Rend the Heavens

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 62-64, Proverbs 30, Luke 24:36-44, Hebrews 13:1-8 Isaiah 62-64: Beautiful words, but what do they mean? We start by hearing of God’s care for his people. “For Zion’s sake,” “For Jerusalem’s sake” (62:1); God gives himself for the sake of his people. This atoning, substitutionary, redemptive focus goes throughout these chapters. We are told that his people will have a “new name” (62:2). “Delight,” “Married,” “A City Not Forsaken” (62:4, 12). And for this end we are to seek his kingdom with all that is in us, “Give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem” (62:7). Seek first the kingdom of God. Or, as William Carey famously said, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” Somehow—and here in these pages it is not as clear as it will be in the New Testament—God’s wrath, and his salvation, are working together as an expression of his covenant love (Isaiah 63). God...

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September 23: Centered upon God

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 59-61, Proverbs 29:15-27, Luke 24:28-35, Hebrews 12:14-39 Isaiah 59-61: It begins with a great promise: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;” (Isaiah 59:1) But then goes on to explain that their sin had led to a breach: “The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths… Therefore justice is far from us.” (Isaiah 59:8-9) What is the answer to this situation, this strange and difficult conundrum, that God is the Savior and able to save, and yet at the same time that God’s people are not acting in ways that concord with a saved people? The answer, Isaiah sees, is that God himself will intercede. “He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation...

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September 22: Conviction for Healing

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 56-58, Proverbs 29:1-14, Luke 24:13-27, Hebrews 12:1-13 Isaiah 56-58: There is blessing on offer in Isaiah 56, along with command, “keep justice” (56:1), and promise for “an everlasting name that shall not be cut off” (56:5). But Israel’s leaders are irresponsible—they are “blind” and “without knowledge” (56:10). They are drunkards, “let us fill ourselves with strong drink” (56:12). In fact, there are signs of their difficulties: “the righteous man perishes” (57:1). Sometimes godly people are taken through death to eternal life to save them from the calamity of the situation around them. The wicked of Israel had been debaucherous and practiced infanticide (57:5)—unwanted babies are a natural result of flagrant immorality. They have kept on with this, not let it weary them; they were not “faint” (57:10). But their “idols” (57:13) will not deliver them. The way of God is different. “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is...

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September 21: A Word That Shall Not Return Empty

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 54-55, Proverbs 28:15-28, Luke 24:1-12, Hebrews 11:32-40 Isaiah 54-55: In these chapters there is given a multitude of reasons to sing for joy. Throughout all is the conviction that God will restore the fortunes of his people through the promised salvation—ultimately through the Christ. Listen to some of these promises: For the children of the desolate one will be more  than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 54:1) It is too easy for us to think that natural situations, ability, character, family will determine spiritual fruitfulness. Not so, says the Lord. Therefore: Enlarge the place of your tent (Isaiah 54:2) And: For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you. (Isaiah 54:7) What is more: O, afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and lay your foundations with sapphires. (Isaiah 54:11) And perhaps even more wondrously: no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall...

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September 20: Him Who Died for You

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 51-53, Proverbs 28:1-14, Luke 23:50-56, Hebrews 11:17-31 Isaiah 51-53: More ground breaking, astonishing prophecies from Isaiah! First, God’s people, in Isaiah 51, are told to be comforted, to look to the “rock” from which they were hewn (51:1). Remember Abraham. Remember Sarah (51:2). Remember how God rescued them from Egypt. If God can do all that, can he not again rescue them? Then in Isaiah 52, they are told to wake up! Good news is coming; in fact, in the famous words, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news” (52:7). God’s servant, this suffering servant, shall act “wisely” (52:13), and as he was so marred and wounded, so shall his blood “sprinkle nations” (52:15). There is a redemptive act that is coming. Isaiah 53 is worth studying at length, memorizing, taking on board, letting it affect every part of your mind and heart. Isaiah 53:6 is but...

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September 19: Not Forgotten

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 49-50, Proverbs 27:15-27, Luke 23:44-49, Hebrews 11:1-16 Isaiah 49-50: I have often thought when looking at these momentous chapters of Isaiah, “Who is equal to these things?” Well is Isaiah often said to be the greatest of the Old Testament prophets. Chapter 49 deals with the disappointment of God’s people, their fear that he will forget them or no longer use them. But God says, “I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (49:6). “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you” (49:15). It is hard to imagine a mother forgetting her nursing child—surely not! And yet even if that were possible, which it is at least highly unlikely, it is simply impossible that God will forget his...

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