God Centered Bible – Daily Devotions

December 26-31, 2016

December 26, 2016:

In keeping with the Bible reading plan we are using, the last days of each month are designated as “free days.” December 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 December 26-31, but will pick back up on January 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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December 25: The Sun of Righteousness

December 25, 2016:

Today’s Bible Reading: Malachi 1-4, Job 42, John 21:15-25, Revelation 22 Malachi 1-4: The new temple had been completed, through the ministry of Haggai and Zechariah, but the great promised messianic age had not yet dawned. Why not? Malachi prophesies to explain the sins that God’s people were committing, and continues to look forward to the dawning new day of the coming of the Christ. The conviction that Malachi sought to bring to God’s people can be seen through these chapters by noticing the repeated inquiry, questioning, objecting of God’s people to the prophet’s intended preaching for conviction. They are not sure how it is true that God has loved them (1:2). The promised blessings of the covenant are not evident, so they doubt God’s love for them. God replies that his covenant commitment to his people is unwavering—a text quoted by Paul in the New Testament (1:2b-3/ Romans 9:13). The priests are told…

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December 24: Hopes and Fears

December 24, 2016:

Today’s Bible Reading: Zechariah 10-14, Job 41:12-34, John 21:1-14, Revelation 21 Zechariah 10-14: I wade into these chapters with trepidation, for they are on the one hand filled with New Testament promises, resonant in our ears—“Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered (13:7)”; “thirty pieces of silver (11:12-13)”; and echoes of other words, truth such as they will call upon the name of the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:2). In large degree, the picture is of God bringing restoration for his people, unity, the removal of idols, and at the same time there being a great and terrible day yet further ahead when there will be judgment for those who do not turn to God. But throughout it all, there are images that are hard to penetrate, and picture language belies literalistic interpretation, or at least apparently so. Like much of so-called apocalyptic language, the point is somewhat in the effect—a bright…

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December 23: Seasons of Joy

December 23, 2016:

Today’s Bible Reading: Zechariah 6-9, Job 41:1-11, John 20:24-31, Revelation 20 Zechariah 6-9: Chapter 6 begins with yet another vision—Zechariah is packed with such visions. This one is particularly hard to interpret. As one commentator said, we are very much in the dark as to its meaning in any particularities, though opinions multiply. In general, it is a vision of God’s control, his sovereignty, and his power. As such, the chariots of God’s sovereignty give comfort to this people of God so recently returned from exile. Now comes, in the second half of chapter 6, another Messianic prophecy of blessing and fulfillment of the work of this Joshua to another Joshua (=Jeshua=Jesus) and his kingdom. Chapter 7 has a question from God’s people about fasting. They had been in mourning regarding their sins in exile, and the question is whether they should continue in that situation now that they had returned. In reply, Zechariah…

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December 22: Not by Might

December 22, 2016:

Today’s Bible Reading: Zechariah 1-5; Job 40; John 20:19-23; Revelation 19 Zechariah 1-5: Zechariah prophesied, like Haggai, to the exiles who had come back to Jerusalem, now urging them to repent, and giving them assurances and hope of God’s future blessing. He reminds them in chapter 1 of what their forefathers had done, and why they had gone into exile (1:2). He therefore calls on them not to make the same mistake but to “return to” God (1:3). Then come various visions of encouragement of God’s purpose for his people, fulfilled in Christ, and in the expansion of Christ’s kingdom. All people are to “be silent” before this great God (2:13). In essence, God will perform his work by his own power and might, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts” (4:6). Such greatness may seem unlikely at the time, but instead of despising the day…

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December 21: A Time to Invest

December 21, 2016:

Today’s Bible Reading: Haggai 1-2, Job 39, John 20:10-18, Revelation 18 Haggai 1-2: When God’s people returned from exile, they began to rebuild the temple, but after a little while they lost impetus and direction and gave up and stopped the rebuilding. Haggai, under God’s direction and by God’s inspiration, now comes and preaches to God’s people to keep on building. First, he addresses their excuses. They are saying it is not the right time to build (1:2). The economy was bad (2:17), and therefore it was easy enough to make the argument that no more building should be taking place. The budget was not healthy, therefore reduce your expenditures, and certainly do not continue on an expensive capital campaign. But, asks God, if the issue really is the “time,” then how come it is, apparently, nonetheless the right “time” for you to be invested in your “paneled houses” (1:4)? In other words, the…

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December 20: Promises

December 20, 2016:

Today’s Bible Reading: Zephaniah 3, Job 38:22-41, John 20:1-9, Revelation 17 Zephaniah 3: Chapter 3 continues Zephaniah’s denouncement of God’s people, and God’s judgment upon sin and wickedness. In particular, the leaders of God’s people have let her down: Her prophets are fickle, treacherous men; her priests profane what is holy; they do violence to the law (3:4) But God, nonetheless, has a plan of restoration and one that will include all nations. So that, “all of them may call upon the name of the LORD” (3:9). And now “that day” is also a day of hope and salvation: On that day you shall not be put to shame because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me; for then I will remove from your midst your proudly exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain (3:11) The humble and the lowly “shall seek refuge in the LORD”…

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December 19: Hide Yourself in Him

December 19, 2016:

Today’s Bible Reading: Zephaniah 1-2, Job 38:22-41, John 19:38-42, Revelation 16 Zephaniah 1-2: Zephaniah is prophesying during the days of good King Josiah’s reforms. In his prophecy, he speaks of the “day of the LORD,” a fearsome day of judgment, and then also speaks of the blessing and bounty that will come to those who seek the Lord (more on that in chapter 3). God’s fearsome coming judgment is described in multiple ways: I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth (1:2) This day is, in some sense, imminent, or “near” (1:7). We should not think of it as something long delayed. It will suddenly come—like a thief in the night (1 Thess. 5:2). It is near and “hastening fast” (1:14). It will be terrible: A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom,…

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December 18: Tread on High Places

December 18, 2016:

Today’s Bible Reading: Habakkuk 1-3, Job 37, John 19:28-37, Revelation 15 Habakkuk 1-3: Though Habakkuk is a brief book, it is filled with important truth and is profound in its own way. Covering all the ground of these three chapters in short expanse is therefore a challenge—and probably not really possible. Basically, Habakkuk is asking and receiving answers regarding God’s use of non-pure, even violent, means to accomplish his ultimate ends. Assyria was used by God to discipline his people; Babylon was then used by God to judge Assyria. Babylon itself would fall to Persia. And through it all, God’s purposes stand. Here is the location and context for that most famous of verses in the book of Habakkuk—three times quoted in the New Testament (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38): “…the righteous shall live by his faith.” (2:4) In the midst of many things that we do not understand, the righteous person is…

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