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August 7: Repent

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Ezra 9, Proverbs 7, Luke 15:1-10, 1 Timothy 5:1-15 Ezra 9: Things are going well, but then there is calamitous news. The officials come to tell Ezra that the people had intermarried with the nations who were not following God, and that the leaders and the officials had led the way in this intermarrying (9:1-2). Such actions were serious for several reasons. To begin with, God had commanded them not to marry pagans. Then, the people of the nations were those who performed atrocious acts—such as child sacrifice. And the rationale for the ban on intermarrying was that by forming such marriages between covenant followers of God with those who did not follow God, the result would be at best a form of vapid and godless syncretism, and at worst, in time to come, equally abominable activities which the pagan peoples of the nations had come to be known for. What...

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August 6: Fearing God in Prayer

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Ezra 8, Proverbs 6, Luke 14:25-35, 1 Timothy 4 Ezra 8: The recording of the genealogy of those who returned with Ezra (8:1-14) reveals that there are none of the tribe of Levi (8:15). Therefore, to fulfill obligations in the Law, Ezra recruits successfully (8:16-20). He is careful to ensure that all is done properly and in good order. But it is not just an appeal to the letter of the Law. He proclaims a fast (8:21) so that they might humble themselves before God and seek from him a safe journey. However you parse out the connection between God’s sovereignty and our prayers, it is clear that biblically we pray to the King of Kings, God himself, because he is the Sovereign. Follow Ezra’s example and pray (fast, too, when given medical clearance to do so, and within biblical common sense bounds) to entreat God to protect and provide and...

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August 5: The Hand of God

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Ezra 7, Proverbs 5, Luke 14:15-24, 1 Timothy 3:11-18 Ezra 7: Ezra is now introduced. And we are told “the hand of the Lord his God was on him” (7:6). Nothing matters more than this: that God is with us, that his blessings go before us, that his hand for good is on us. This “hand” was even recognized by the pagan king Artaxerxes who sends him up (7:25). And Ezra himself is aware of it: “I took courage, for the hand of the Lord my God was on me” (7:28). We are being told of the significance of God being with Ezra, blessing him, anointing him, and having his hand rest upon him for good—and the encouragement and strength this gave Ezra (7:28) to act with boldness and leadership. Why was God’s hand upon him? The only suggestion in the text for this blessing through the agency of Ezra (though the ultimate agency...

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August 4: A Joyful Ending

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Ezra 6, Proverbs 4, Luke 14:1-14, 1 Timothy 3:1-10 Ezra 6: Search is made in the records, and it is found that Cyrus had indeed issued a decree concerning the rebuilding of the house of God in Jerusalem (6:1-5)! Darius, therefore, bound by the precedent of his forebear and the law of the land, a law which also kept him established in his seat, commands that the work of rebuilding the temple go forward accordingly (6:6-7). What is more, he commands Tattenai, the governor, to give significant financial and practical help for this rebuilding (6:8-10). And he warns that if his edict is not carried out, then in good Babylonian fashion, the rebel would be impaled, his house destroyed and made a dunghill (6:11). The enemies of God, therefore, “with all diligence” do what Darius ordered (6:13)—do we catch the amused irony of the author with that phrase “all diligence”? Those who...

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August 3: Tactics of Defense

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Ezra 4-5, Proverbs 3, Luke 13:22-35, 1 Timothy 2 Ezra 4-5: A great work is underway, and as usual opposition comes. Consider the cunning of the opposition and its very real threat to the rebuilding project: First, they attempt to infiltrate the ranks of the true followers of God (4:2) and so dilute their faith and compromise their efforts from the inside out. We should always want to include those who do not yet know Jesus and allow, indeed invite, them together with us to explore the Bible. But you cannot unite in the work of God until you are committed to the person of God. It would be counterproductive to have people who do not follow God be involved in the leadership of the church or a Christian organization, or be the messengers of a message which they do not believe. Second, they spread words of discouragement (4:4). If our enemy is...

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August 2: Joy and Tears

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Ezra 3, Proverbs 2, Luke 13:10-21, 1 Timothy 1:12-21 Ezra 3: This chapter records how the Israelites first rebuilt the altar and then began the work of rebuilding the temple. What caused them to begin this great work, and what was the effect of their faithfulness? They began because “fear was on them because of the peoples of the lands” (v. 3). Their “fear” was first a fear of God, and then also a desire to witness to the peoples around them. They fearfully wished to reestablish God’s honor in their midst. Fearing God and Christ’s love can both compel us to witness to those around (2 Corinthians 5:14). They began because they were obedient to the stipulations of God’s Word. They did “as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God” (v. 2). When we are diligent in our study of the Bible, it must lead us...

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August 1: God’s Purposes Cannot Be Thwarted

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Ezra 1-2, Proverbs 1, Luke 13:1-9, 1 Timothy 1:1-11 Ezra 1-2: As prophesied by Jeremiah, according to God’s word, the people return from exile. God uses Cyrus, whom Isaiah calls God’s “shepherd.” Though he does not “know God,” he will still be used by God to glorify God. The rest of these two chapters unfold as they tell the story of this wave of God’s people returning from exile and set up the context for the story of Ezra. Consider, then, the remarkable sovereignty of God. Cyrus is used by God to accomplish his purposes even though he does not have a personal relationship with God, or know God himself at all. Do we think that God’s power is limited by the spiritual commitment of our political overmasters? Certainly, democracy and the freedom to vote put us in a different position—one of greater responsibility—than that exiled people under the rule of a...

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July 26-31, 2016

In keeping with the Bible reading plan we are using, the last days of each month are designated as “free days.” July 26-31 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 July 26-31, but will pick back up on August 1, 2016, with Ezra 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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July 25: With God, Failure Is Never the End of the Story

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 34-36, Psalm 150, Luke 12:49-59, 2 Thessalonians 3:14-18 2 Chronicles 34-36: The story finally ends on a note of strange hope—Cyrus proclaiming the rebuilding of the temple (36:22-23). But in the meantime, we must wade through the good, the bad, and the ugly in terms of further kings. Josiah was a good king (34:2). He started young: a mere eight years old (34:1). Let us not think that the young can do nothing for God. Out of the mouths of babes comes truth on occasion, and an eight-year-old can witness to God as well as any of us, sometimes better than the rest of us. Josiah “purged” Judah and Jerusalem of idolatry (34:3), and then began to repair the temple (34:8). In the midst of the repairs, a book is discovered (34:14-15). Think how degraded the worship of God was when The Book, the Word of God, is so...

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July 24: The Consequences of Ruler-ship, for Good or Ill

by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 30-33, Psalm 149, Luke 12:38-48, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 2 Chronicles 30-33: By the end of these chapters we feel like asking, “How long, O Lord?” (Psalm 13). But to begin with, we read more of the good king Hezekiah. He institutes a Passover feast (2 Chron. 30). He sends letters throughout the country calling on God’s people to repent and celebrate the Passover (30:1). Some laugh at his proclamation, but many come to the feast (30:10-13). The worship of God is put in order, with provision made for the priests so they could perform their duties, and “there was great joy in Jerusalem” (30:26). Let us gather together in rejoicing as we come before God, humbly, with repentance, finding him to be the delight of our lives and the joy of all nations. Then comes the infamous invasion of Sennacherib (32:1). Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah prayed and “cried...

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