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November 4: Stick to God’s Word

Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 13-15, Job 4, John 8:12-20, 2 Peter 2:10-16 Ezekiel 13-15: Ezekiel is told to prophesy against the prophets of Israel (13:2). The reason for this is because they are prophesying “from their own hearts” (13:2) and they “follow their own spirit” (13:3). In other words, these prophets who claim to be speaking God’s word are actually speaking their own words. They are not truly prophesying God’s word at all, and therefore the true prophet of God’s word, Ezekiel, is commanded to prophesy against the (false) prophets of Israel. As is typical with false prophecy, they are tending to make things seem better than they really are—if your north pole of preaching is what people want to hear (rather than what God is saying), then you will end up preaching things that people want to hear. And what people want to hear is “peace” (13:10). But “there is no peace” (13:10). They...

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November 3: The Power of the Word

Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 9-12, Job 3, John 8:1-11, 2 Peter 2:1-9 Ezekiel 9-12: This section begins with a wonderful, evocative description of the prophet’s experience of hearing God’s word. God “cried in my ears with a loud voice” (9:1). Unmissable, unmistakable, indubitably important: God’s word came to him loud and clear. Those who have the “mark on their forehead” (9:4), who have groaned over the sin of God’s people, shall be safe; the others shall die. All this is extraordinary, and yet God’s judgment over and over again is depicted as revealing “the glory of the LORD” (10:4), and so that “you shall know that I am the LORD” (11:12). We do not think of God’s judgment as honoring to God, but so it is: God’s justice is revealed either in judgment, or in mercy at the cross where his judgment for our sins is taken for us. Justice is necessary; there is evil,...

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November 2: The Worst

Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 4-8, Job 2, John 7:45-53, 2 Peter 1:12-21 Ezekiel 4-8: How do you communicate judgment to a recalcitrant people, a hardened people? In chapter 4, the answer is by Ezekiel being told to dramatically portray siege and judgment upon God’s people. And then in chapter 5, by a razor and shaving hair and casting it to the wind. The strangeness of the prophet’s actions was only matched by the horror of his words: “fathers shall eat their sons in your midst, and sons shall eat their fathers” (5:10). The worst possible perversion of basic human loyalty will come as a result of this horrendous rebellion against God. It goes on and on. “An end! The end has come upon the four corners of the land” (7:2). “Disaster comes upon disaster” (7:26). Hope seems to come in chapter 8. “The hand of the Lord God fell upon me there” (8:1). And he...

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November 1: The Glory of the Lord

Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 1-3, Job 1, John 7:37-44, 2 Peter 1:1-11 Ezekiel 1-3: If Jeremiah’s call is not one to be desired for its own sake, Ezekiel has perhaps an even tougher mandate. He is among the “exiles” (1:1), and in preparation for the tough calling that he is to receive as God’s mouthpiece to these “rebellious” people, Ezekiel sees “visions of God” (1:1). The vision of chapter 1 culminates and expresses the “glory of the LORD” (1:28). Ezekiel is blown away by God’s glory, and hears the voice of one speaking. Such a high vision of God is necessary if Ezekiel is to be faithful to speak God’s word—even if the people of Israel pay that word no attention, and do not approve him for speaking it. It is quite possible they will not hear God’s word spoken through him. “Whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they...

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October 26-31, 2016

In keeping with the Bible reading plan we are using, the last days of each month are designated as “free days.” October 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 October 26-31, but will pick back up on November 1, 2016, with Ezekiel 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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October 25: For All Generations

Today’s Bible Reading: Lamentations 4-5, Song of Solomon 8:8-14, John 7:25-36, 1 Peter 5:8-14 Lamentations 4-5: “How the gold has grown dim” (4:1)! Part of the tragedy of calamity is recalling how wonderful things were before the doom fell. The author of Lamentations does that repeatedly in this chapter, but also describes the horrors of a city that has been sacked and devastated by invasion. Even nursing babies and children are thirsty and hungry (4:4), and there is reliable record of the horror of mothers eating their own children (4:10). When such things happen, what can God’s people do? What can they say? Well, they can ask God to “Remember” (5:1). The first thing to do is to cry out to God and ask for help. And as they ask God to remember, they also themselves remember who this God is that they are asking to help. “But you, O LORD, reign forever; your throne endures...

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October 24: His Mercies Are New Every Morning

Today’s Bible Reading: Lamentations 3, Song of Solomon 8:1-7, John 7:14-24, 1 Peter 5:1-7 Lamentations 3: We come to the heart of Lamentations, or at least to its most famous chapter and verses. Here we find evocative words of great distress that meet the lovingkindness of the person of God. In a brilliant turn of phrase, the chapter begins: “I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath (3:1). And then it carries on in similar vein. God has blocked his prayers (3:8). He is laughingstock of all peoples (3:14). This is how it sometimes feels in life. Sometimes it does feel as if your prayers bounce off the ceiling. Sometimes it does feel as if everyone is laughing at you. Strange as it may sound, it is encouraging to find in Scripture a description of these feelings that do sometimes plague us. But this is not the end of the story,...

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October 23: The Wrath of God

Today’s Bible Reading: Lamentations 2, Song of Solomon 7, John 7:1-13, 1 Peter 4:12-19 Lamentations 2: The anger of God is not a common subject these days. In fact, so rare is it that when we talk of God’s “wrath” it becomes almost embarrassing. It is like mentioning a subject that is impolite, or indelicate, or inappropriate—certainly not politically correct. The result is that when we read preachers from previous generations, a couple of hundred years or so ago, we are so shocked to discover their frequent mention of God’s wrath that we hardly know what to do about it. They preach “Jeremiads,” warnings of God’s coming judgment; they engage in “theological terrorism.” When a contemporary preacher preaches God’s wrath, he is viewed as being manipulative, using “scare tactics.” Well, not so the Bible. The Bible is very clear about the reality of God’s wrath, and this chapter has that wrath of God as a...

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October 22: Gently Weeps

Today’s Bible Reading: Lamentations 1, Song of Solomon 6, John 6:60-71, 1 Peter 4:1-11 Lamentations 1: This Book of Lamentations appears initially to be little more than a rather lengthy “downer,” but once we start to understand its purpose and point, it becomes uniquely edifying. Probably written by Jeremiah (2 Chronicles 35:25), probably after the fall of Jerusalem, it expresses the instruction that we are given to “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15), in a particular way and for a particular purpose. The purpose seems to be to put words to genuine repentance, to empathize with the pain of a person attempting to come back to God “from the dark paths of sin,” so that they might find that God’s love is “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23), the key text of the book. This chapter is filled with “mourning with those who mourn.” The city is “lonely” (1:1), tragically because it was “full of people.”...

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October 21: Longing and Praise

Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 52, Song of Solomon 5, John 6:41-59, 1 Peter 3:13-22 Jeremiah 52: And so we come to the end—or so it must have seemed to many at the time. What could be worse than the litany of destruction and defeat that we read about in this chapter? The horrors visited on Zedekiah and his family, the destruction of Jerusalem, the decimation of the temple, the killing of the priest, the people being taken into exile, the undermining of all the social structures to ensure no rebellion could come from this troublesome country again—even the king Jehoiachin sitting at the king of Babylon’s table with the other kings, albeit seated above them, and even as an act of grace on the part of Babylon, even that is pathetic. How the mighty have fallen. It is no great encouragement to see the president of the country sitting at a foreign ruler’s table, dependent...

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