Devotionals

  • March 9, 2017: Endure and Proclaim

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Numbers 21-22, Psalm 56, Matthew 24:1-14, Romans 6:15-23 Matthew 24:1-14: Having denounced fake religion, Jesus’ disciples point out to him how impressive the temple buildings were. Perhaps they thought that this at least was a sign of something genuine and honoring to God. Jesus, however, prophesies that—which has come true—that even the temple will be destroyed. He is now our temple, and through him we have access to God, we worship in Spirit and in truth. In the next section, Jesus casts his eye towards the end. The key interpretive grid for these verses (which run all the way to verse 51, and that end with a parable that explains his teaching) is that Jesus again and again insists that no one knows the day or the hour when the end shall come (24:36). We are to watch out then for those who come prophesying say, “Here he is,” or…

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    March 8, 2017: True Religion

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Numbers 18-20, Psalm 55, Matthew 23:25-39, Romans 6:1-14 Matthew 23:25-39: Jesus’ denouncement of pharisaic, fake religion continues. Such fake religion is characterized, next, by a concern for external cleanliness over against internal (23:25-26). Washing, ritual cleaning—all these are ways to cover up the malice within. This, then, has a repercussion and an effect. Such fake religion creates “whitewashed tombs” (23:27), movements and people that look great on the outside, but really are hiding death and decay within. And, finally, fake religion has a rather ironic, if not devastating, tendency (23:29-36). First it kills the prophets. Then it builds tombs to commemorate them. To live in the time of a prophet, and to be pierced by his words, is a distinctly uncomfortable experience. Fake religion gets rid of prophets. It does not want to have God’s Word pierce, but rather silent the prophets—even kill them. However, prophets tend (albeit sometimes after…

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    Sola Giveaway

    By Josh Moody

    500 years. 5 Solas. One Night Centered on God. As a thank you for signing up to One Night Centered On God, you can be entered in our $100 giveaway to be used toward exhibit books or music (or both!) during the event on March 17th. Here's how it works. 1. Contact your friends, let them know you are going to One Night Centered on God event on March 17th, and ask them if they would like to attend. 2. Let us know you have invited your friends and would like to be entered by emailing us at conferences@godcenteredlife.projectworldimpact.com and using the subject line "$100 giveaway." 3. That's it. We will notify the $100 giveaway recipient prior to the event with instructions on how to pick up his or her $100 exhibit credit. Tickets and Information The schedule for Sola: One Night Centered on God for Friday, March 17, has…

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    March 7, 2017: Straining at a Gnat

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Numbers 15-17, Psalm 54, Matthew 23:13-24, Romans 5:12-21 Matthew 23:13-24: For Jesus to denounce “woe”—both a warning and a declaration of impending judgment—is a serious enough proposition that it would make the bravest quake for fear and only a fool ignore. What was the the result of these woes? Did they repent? Some perhaps did. Many did not. Let us consider carefully the kind of religiosity that Jesus clearly denounces as not only wrongheaded, but woeful. First of all, they shut the kingdom in other people’s faces and won’t enter themselves (23:13). They do not follow Jesus, and they make it very difficult for other people to do so. How many religions are there that not only oppose Jesus, but do everything they can to stop other people from following Jesus! Then, their proselytism is unbounded: they travel over land and sea just to win a single convert (23:15). Proselytism…

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    March 6, 2017: Don’t Do What They Do

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Numbers 12-14, Psalm 53, Matthew 23:1-12, Romans 5:1-11 Matthew 23:1-12: Matthew 23 is all one piece of cloth, and it is hard to divide it up into sections and look at each part in turn. Throughout it all, Jesus is denouncing fake “religion,” and not only denouncing it, but bringing forward various principles that reveal the typical characteristics of such pharisaic religiosity. The first sign of such false religiosity is impressive teaching but unimpressive living (23:2-3). Rather ironically, then, when we encounter such disparity, we can, if the doctrine is sound, safely emulate the message, but we are to beware of copying the lifestyle of the pharisaic religious teacher. The second sign is that they tend to make following God harder for people, and having made it harder, they won’t actually help the people they teach to meet these increased demands (23:4). It seems impressive to erect high barriers and…

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    March 5, 2017: More Than a Question

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Numbers 9-11, Psalm 52, Matthew 22:34-46, Romans 4 Matthew 22:34-46: Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees get their heads together and decide to try a different tactic (22:34). They’ll test him on some of the more fundamental and essential aspects of the Law—what is the greatest commandment (22:36)—and they send another representative to do the testing for them (22:35). The righteous are as brave as a lion, but the wicked cower behind others to do their dirty work for them. Jesus, as ever, answers brilliantly. The Law—not the Bible, note, as this passage is often thought to say—the Law and the Prophets are summarized by a vertical love to God first, and then a horizontal love to each other (22:37-40). Having finally stymied every question that they could think of throwing at him, Jesus now turns the tables and asks them a question (22:41-42). This question is…

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    March 4, 2017: Wisdom Sans Pareil

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Numbers 7-8, Psalm 51, Matthew 22:15-33, Romans 3 Matthew 22:15-33: Having been called out by Jesus for refusing to accept his invitation to the banquet of the king—to come into the kingdom of God—the Pharisees form an unholy alliance against Jesus. They send their disciples, along with the Herodians, to catch Jesus in his words. The Herodians were those who sided with the infamous king; the Pharisees did not cozy up to the royal power. And yet here they are; the enemy of your enemy is your friend, and they come together to try to trap Jesus. The trap is particularly carefully laid. First, there is the flattery (22:16). When someone flatters you, they are setting a trap for your feet. Beware Greeks bearing gifts, and beware Pharisees with smooth tongues singing your praises. But not only are they flattering Jesus, their flattery is intended to force him to be…

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    March 3, 2017: Many Are Invited, but Few Are Chosen

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Numbers 5-6, Psalm 50, Matthew 22:1-14, Romans 2 Matthew 22:1-14: At one level this next parable is quite simple. It is another story that illustrates the meaning and reality of the kingdom of heaven (22:1). The point, of course, is that the king has a feast, invites guests to come, they refuse to come (22:5)—and indeed refuse violently (22:6). The king therefore rejects the original invitees, with justice, and instead goes out and finds others to come. Those originally invited were not worthy (22:8), but from the highways and byways, the main road (22:9), others are brought, both “bad and good” (22:10) (meaning that their innate “goodness” is not the qualification, but the fact that they have been brought in). Still, there is a final twist in the tale. There is a man without a “wedding garment” (22:11), and he is thrown out for not being one of those who had…

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    March 2, 2017: He Is the Owner

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Numbers 3-4, Psalm 49, Matthew 21:33-46, Romans 1:18-32 Matthew 21:33-46: To explain further his radical point that it was the unexpected who truly received Jesus’ message of the kingdom, Jesus now tells another parable (21:33). This one is about a vineyard, a typical symbol for God’s people and for Israel, and about an owner of the vineyard. There are tenants that he leases this vineyard to, and when the master sends his servants to get his payment for leasing the vineyard (the fruits), the tenants violently refuse to pay up (21:35-36). Finally, the owner of the vineyard decides to send his son, thinking that they would surely respect his son. But instead they decide that the moment was ripe for them to kill the son, and heir, and thereafter the vineyard would be theirs (21:39). The question Jesus asks is a stirring one: what will the owner of the…

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    March 1, 2017: Lessons from Tax Collectors and Prostitutes

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Numbers 1-2, Psalm 48, Matthew 21:23-32, Romans 1:1-17 Matthew 21:23-32: In religious circles, “authority” questions are nearly ubiquitous. Who is in charge is a political issue in many institutions and organizations, and the conflict that such questions can cause has been solved down through history through various political resolutions—in our modern Western age most prevalently through different forms of representative democracy of one kind or another. Such political infighting and squabbling is not entirely, I am afraid, left to religious history either. But there is another element that is not political, but theological or epistemological: how do I know what God wants from me? Who is to say? Where is the “magisterium,” the locus of authority? The answer of the Protestant Reformation was that the authority is vested in Scripture, because it is in Scripture that the voice of God, and of Jesus, is clearly heard. The chief priests…

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