Devotionals

  • August 11, 2017: Lazarus

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Nehemiah 4-5, Proverbs 10:17-32, Luke 16:19-31, 2 Timothy 1 Luke 16:19-31: Perhaps one of the scariest, and most brilliant, stories ever told. In it we are introduced to a rich man who has everything this world can possibly give him. And then to a poor man who has nothing but pain and suffering. Such is the way of the world—but this world is not all that there is. And in the next life, their fortunes are turned. The poor man is at peace with God, while the rich man was in hell “in torment.” The rich man begs Abraham to intercede for him, but there is no way to cross from hell to heaven once the curtain of death has fallen. Then the rich man begs Abraham to send the poor man to warn his family of their danger. Abraham says that they have the prophets, the Bible, already. But the…

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    August 10, 2017: True Riches

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Nehemiah 3, Proverbs 10:1-16, Luke 16:10-18, 1 Timothy 6:11-21 Luke 16:10-18: Following Jesus takes effort and commitment. Jesus explains that in three subsections of this passage. (16:10-13) Continuing Jesus’ thought about money, he now addresses the way to gain true riches—eternal riches of relationship with Jesus now and forever. Our attitude towards money, whether we faithfully invest in heaven, evidences our heart. If you are not faithful with this world’s resources, why would anyone thing you would be faithful with “true riches.” Then comes the famous aphorism: no one can serve two masters. Because of this truth, it is logically impossible to serve both God and money. (16:14-17) This uncomfortable truth causes the Pharisees to respond with ridicule. Note when people cannot stand against the truth by defeating it with argument, they will often resort to name calling and ridicule. Do not be discouraged, for so they treated Jesus too. His…

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    August 9, 2017: The Dishonest Manager

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Nehemiah 1-2, Proverbs 9, Luke 16:1-9, 1 Timothy 6:1-10 Luke 16:1-9: Many people have wrestled with the meaning of this parable, but the important point to remember is that it is a parable. That is, as most parables (though not all), it has one main point which the story is used to illustrate. It is not an allegory, where character and event in the narrative is intended to symbolize some other deeper meaning. As a parable the story works by “throwing alongside” the spiritual lesson a dramatic comparison to illustrate the point. So, here, Jesus asks us to imagine a “dishonest manager.” This man has been—perhaps unfairly, the story does not quite make it clear—dismissed for “wasting” the possessions of his master. He is accused of cooking the books, misusing the boss’s resources, and he is unceremonially fired. Before he leaves, however, he is given the time to come up with…

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    August 8, 2017: Come Home

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Ezra 10, Proverbs 8, Luke 15:11-32, 1 Timothy 5:16-25 Luke 15:11-32: In this famous story, there are three characters: a father and two sons. Let us examine the story from the perspective of each of them to see what we can learn about the nature of God and his love for us. First, the younger son. He treats his father appallingly and also shames his brother and the whole family. He grabs what is to be his only after his father dies. Basically, the message is: Dad, you’re only worth to me what you are worth financially, so let’s have the money now. Having so dishonorably acted, he then goes far away from his father and proceeds to waste the money. Easy come, easy go. But, then, when he is at his wit’s end, he remembers the kind of man his father truly is. Even his father’s hired hands are treated…

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    August 7, 2017: Eating with Sinners

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Ezra 9, Proverbs 7, Luke 15:1-10, 1 Timothy 5:1-15 Luke 15:1-10: Jesus is criticized for eating with “sinners.” There are always people ready to criticize those who go out of their way to reach out to people who are on the margins of society, but there is more going on here than simply that. First, the Pharisees are utterly blind to their own sin. Some love to talk of “sinners” as if that category excluded themselves! We are all “in the same boat”; we are all broken, messed up, sinners. Second, Jesus is demonstrating who God is. God is not the God who stands away from our brokenness and mess and despises us and keeps a distance from us. He, in Christ, came right down to help, to pour out his grace and power, to save us through his death on the cross. Jesus eating with “sinners” epitomizes that love…

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    August 6, 2017: Count the Cost

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Ezra 8, Proverbs 6, Luke 14:25-35, 1 Timothy 4 Luke 14:25-35: Jesus is surrounded by all the markings of great success because “great crowds” accompanied him. With such popularity, you would have thought that he would do all that he could to keep in the good favor of the people. He would lace his words with carefully designed appeals to the popular mood of the crowd, imitating their desires, become a voice for their passions, making sure that he is the apple of the eye of this great crowd that follows him. But Jesus does none of that. Instead, he shoots straight and talks straight, and indeed tells the crowd to “count the cost” of following him. We too are not to use hidden or deceptive means to win followers. We are to avoid manipulation, deceit, worldly cunning, political backbiting, or smooth talking. Jesus did not engage in salesmanship to win…

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    August 5, 2017: A Great Banquet

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Ezra 7, Proverbs 5, Luke 14:15-24, 1 Timothy 3:11-18 Luke 14:15-24: Jesus’ teaching about dinners and banquets, and the seats of honor at such celebrations, causes one of his listeners to offer a pious exclamation. “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” (14:15) No doubt expecting his well-worn piety to be met with little more than a nod of approval, instead Jesus tells a story that is both alarming and inviting—depending on the attitude of the listener. A great banquet is given—the banquet of heaven. The man who is having the banquet issues invitations. But the invited guests all begin to make excuses. It is a familiar scene. When someone has a wedding party, some guests will come, some will not be able to attend, some will make forlorn excuses. Here, the first two excuses are to do with the burden of business. They have…

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    August 4, 2017: The Paradoxical Virtue of Humility

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Ezra 6, Proverbs 4, Luke 14:1-14, 1 Timothy 3:1-10 Luke 14:1-14: (14:1-6) It’s another Sabbath encounter. Some background here may help. Because the Israelite people had been sent into exile for breaking God’s law, worshipping idols, and breaking the Sabbath, the Pharisees—known for their purity—were focused on ensuring that such liberalization of God’s intention could not happen again. Therefore, Jesus’ apparent infringements of the Sabbath, even for obvious humanitarian need, and even if miraculous by methodology, still provoked suspicion and indeed wrath. They had overreacted to a liberalization idolatry to produce a legalism that was, in its own way, equally idolatrous. Jesus takes this man suffering from edema of some sort, dropsy, and asks a dramatic question, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” (14:3). They have nothing to say in response. Jesus then asks a follow-up question to underline the confusion in their minds. If a…

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    August 3, 2017: Blessed Is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Ezra 4-5, Proverbs 3, Luke 13:22-35, 1 Timothy 2 Luke 13:22-35: (13:22-30) A person comes to Jesus with an apparently important and genuine question: will only a few be saved? But while it is an important question, it could be used to hide from the yet more important question: are you yourself saved? Jesus will not let this question about “how many” are saved remain in the realm of the merely theoretical. His reply then is direct, personal, and practical: “strive to enter through the narrow door” (13:24). In other words, what we really need to concern ourselves with is not the precise number of people who are going to be saved but whether we ourselves are saved, and to do everything (“strive”) to ensure that we are. It is a temptation to turn theology into a battle of wits or a theoretical exercise. Sometimes people will come to us with…

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    August 2, 2017: Glorious Things

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Ezra 3, Proverbs 2, Luke 13:10-21, 1 Timothy 1:12-21 Luke 13:10-21: (13:10-17) A woman who is disabled has been so for 18 years. Can you see her? Bent over, unable to straighten herself, pain etched into the lines on her face, brought low in her broken body. Jesus speaks, lays hands on her, and she is “immediately” healed. She glorifies God. What an extraordinary transformation! The disabled have become able bodied—in a moment, at a word of command. Look at that face of that woman now transformed into joy! And if you can capture that image in your mind, that change from the disabled to the delightfully healed and rejoicing, put next to it the image of this synagogue ruler. He is “indignant.” He is angry! Why? What could possibly make him angry? Because Jesus has healed on the Sabbath. What extraordinary small-minded pettiness. There is this woman, previously so…

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