Devotionals

  • November 22, 2017: Taking a Towel

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Daniel 5-6, Job 20, John 13:1-11, 3 John 1-14 John 13:1-11: The washing of the disciples’ feet by Jesus has taken on various kinds of meanings in popular literature and in the common imagination. But what does it mean? What was it originally intended to convey? The first thing to notice is that nowhere does Jesus institute this practice as a regular and repeatable sacrament. When Jesus instituted the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, he told his disciples to do this as often as they ate it in remembrance of him. But there is no such instruction about the washing of feet. So while there is certainly nothing intrinsically wrong with performing such an action among Christians, there is no need to insist upon it as a common practice, and should not be imbued with special sacramental force. What then does this action mean? John, the author of the Gospel,…

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    November 21, 2017: The Glory of Jesus

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Daniel 3-4, Job 19, John 12:37-50, 2 John 1-13 John 12:37-50: John, the author of the Gospel, now takes a step back to reflect theologically on what is happening in the life and ministry of Jesus. It is all fulfilling what Isaiah long ago, under God’s inspiration, predicted. They did not believe in Jesus in fulfillment of what Isaiah had said. There is a strange comfort in this thought. The temptation is to manipulate people into salvation. Who would not want to do anything to save someone once the stark reality of eternity has settled into the mind? But the truth of the matter is that someone’s ability to be able to “see” and “hear” Jesus is not finally decided by human techniques or even human will. There is a spiritual revealing that must take place. This can alleviate the pressure to maneuver or manipulate people into conversion. We know…

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    November 20, 2017: A Grain of Wheat

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Daniel 1-2, Job 18, John 12:20-36, 1 John 5:13-21 John 12:20-36: Now at this great feast where Jesus was, there is a group of Greeks (12:20)—devout men and women who have come up to Jerusalem for the religious festival. They approach Philip and ask him to give them an audience with Jesus, to see him and meet him (12:21). When news of this development is brought to Jesus, he realizes that his “hour” (always in John’s Gospel meaning the hour of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection) has come (12:22-23). This is then the occasion for a series of important lessons related to the cross. First of all, it is at the cross that the Christ is glorified. This is the hour where he is glorified, not the miracles, not the healings, not the teachings—they, of course, also glorify and honor Jesus. But it is at the cross, this “hour,” where Jesus…

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    November 19, 2017: Hosanna!

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 48, Job 17,  John 12:12-19, 1 John 5:6-12 John 12:12-19: Jesus is now greeted not just with pleasure, but with adulation, praise, and indeed worship. The extent of this fulfillment of Old Testament promises is not grasped at the time, but later the disciples realized all that had been spoken of Jesus was being fulfilled in this extraordinary triumphal entry. Praise and worship is an integral part of being human. Christian and non-Christian, religious and non-religious, are all built for worship. It is part of our imago dei, being made in the image of God. We long for the transcendent, seek meaning and purpose, hunger for a point of adulation and ultimacy. That desire is attempted to be sated by many things: money, sensuality, fame, success, arts, literature, music. But it is at a moment like this that we see evidenced that the human condition finds it sole…

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    November 18, 2017: The Poor You Will Always Have with You

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 45-47, Job 16, John 12:1-11, 1 John 5:1-5 John 12:1-11: What a sweet and beautiful reunion meal this must have been. Jesus is with his friends, Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. And there is Lazarus reclining at the table with them, back from the dead, good as new. Mary then took a pound of pure nard, a very expensive ointment, and anointed the feet of Jesus with the perfume and used her own hair to wipe his feet. The action was a statement of personal devotion to Jesus, as well as an indication of the coming burial of Jesus and being prepared for that moment. It was a beautiful deed. A special moment. A place filled now with the sweet aroma of spiritual worship and adoration. But not for Judas. He immediately thinks of the cost. John tells us that his concern over the expense was not because he was…

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    November 17, 2017: One Man Should Die

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 42-44, Job 15:17-35, John 11:45-57, 1 John 4:7-21 John 11:45-57: To dispel again any misunderstanding that John is somehow anti-Semitic (a strange idea given that John himself was a Jew), note that John is as careful to record the Jewish people who believed in Jesus as much as those who did not. Many Jews now “believed in him” (11:45). Would you now pray that God in his mercy would pour out his love and grace upon the Jewish people? Would you pray that, according to God’s gospel promises, that the hearts of many Jewish people would be for Jesus? Jesus has his opponents still, nonetheless. They are so exasperated by Jesus’ success that all they can do now is to gather in council and discuss together what to do about their problem. They are frightened that everyone will believe in Jesus. And they are frightened of this for reasons…

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    November 16, 2017: Lazarus, Come Out!

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 40-41, Job 15:1-16, John 11:38-44, 1 John 4:1-6 John 11:38-44: The emotion that Jesus feels at death is not yet ended. He is “deeply moved” again. Mourning comes in waves—sometimes wave after wave after wave. Even the strongest Christian can be hit by such “deep emotions,” for even Jesus experienced them. Take comfort, you who mourn: Jesus knows what it is to feel what you feel and can help you in your time of need. Ask him for help now. Jesus gives practical instruction: take away the stone. But practical only if taking into account his miraculous power to raise the dead. And so Martha intervenes, uber-practical as ever: “Lord, by now there will be a stench.” This Lazarus had not just deceased, was not only apparently dead, but had been dead four days. There was no doubt that he was dead, and indeed beginning to rot. Jesus simply…

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    November 15, 2017: I Am the Resurrection and the Life

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 38-39, Job 14, John 11:17-37, 1 John 3:19-24 John 11:17-37: No doubt, one of the hardest things to believe and accept is that we rise again from the dead. After all, who has been through death and come back again to tell us? As the atheist Bertrand Russell famously said when he was asked what he believed would happen to him after he died: “When I die, I believe I rot.” We have seen dead bodies. We are aware of the process of decay. Surely, it is simplest to believe the (perhaps unpalatable) fact that when we die we rot? But what if someone came back from the grave? And so we come to the extraordinary story of Lazarus. A man who died, was called back to life again by Jesus, only to die again before facing the coming final resurrection. In this context, Jesus first declares the beautiful…

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    November 14, 2017: Two Days Longer

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 35-37, Job 13, John 11:1-16, 1 John 3:11-18 John 11:1-16: Lazarus, a friend of Jesus, close to him by personal connection, is sick (11:1). But, says Jesus, this sickness is not a disaster but a disseminator, not a defeat but an ascent, not a disgrace but a revealer of glory: “It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (11:4). A Christian’s sufferings are not his shame but his opportunity to reveal God’s glory. The Puritans used to write to each other that they had had several “good deaths” recently, meaning that those in their parish had died with joy and eyes on glory. Such “good deaths” gave the lie to the claim that death is the end—they witnessed to a hope eternal. Perhaps you are being tested in the area of physical suffering. Remember that in Christ, even your physical…

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    November 13, 2017: No One Can Snatch You from His Hand

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 33-34, Job 12, John 10:22-42, 1 John 3:1-10 John 10:22-42: John loves to throw in the evocative detail: “It was winter” (10:22). Yes, in so many ways. The winter of discontent, as Shakespeare called it; here we might call it the winter of disbelief. The Jewish leaders gather around Jesus and ask him to tell them plainly whether he is the Christ or not (10:24). This is an extraordinary thing to say, given how clear Jesus has been regarding his claims. Jesus replies, “I told you, and you do not believe” (10:25). Why did they not believe? Because they are not “his sheep” (10:26). This gives Jesus the opening to utter one of his most famous and most heartwarming statements: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one can snatch them…

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