Devotionals

  • February 8, 2017: He Who Has Ears, Let Him Hear

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Exodus 21-23, Psalm 31, Matthew 13:24-43, Acts 19:1-22 Matthew 13:24-43: More parables, and each of them about the kingdom of heaven, and each with great meaning. The first is the parable of the weeds (13:24-30). A right interpretation of this parable rests on Jesus’ own interpretation given in verses 36-43. Critically, it is important to note that the “field” is not equivalent to “the church,” but to “the world” (13:38). Doubtless, within even the best managed, most holy, and godly of churches, there are weeds as well as wheat, but Jesus’ parable here is not to be interpreted as an excuse for laziness or acceptance of unreformed doctrine or un-revitalized experience of the Christian life. He is considering “the world” and arguing that, as we do not now see as God sees at the final judgment, it is unwise for us to try to “gather” (13:28) before that final day—or…

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    February 7, 2017: Seed and Sower

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Exodus 19-20, Psalm 30, Matthew 13:1-23, Acts 18:18-28 Matthew 13:1-23: One of the most well-known stories that Jesus ever told is this parable of the sower (13:3-8). It is so familiar to many of us as it is such good material for children’s teaching. It is imbibed from such an early age if we grew up in church that it is easy to miss the forest for the trees and fail to see the point. First of all, the great crowds coming to Jesus means that he grabs an impromptu pulpit—in this case a boat—and preaches from it (13:2). They can see him, they can hear him, behind him is no distraction, and the setting (we must presume) was reasonably peaceful. Into this ambience Jesus drops a “parable.” A parable, literally, is something that is thrown along side something else; it is a comparison. It is saying, “This, that you…

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    Colorblind

    By Josh Moody

    Sometimes Facebook juxtaposes just the right pair of posts, just the right images to startle me awake, to catch a new glimpse of truth. Today I saw a such a pair. Post #1, a video: colorblind people see color for the first time with innovative new glasses. Now, I’m going to let you roll that around in your mind for a minute before I hit you with Post #2. A stream of people unable to distinguish red from green, trapped in a world where everything is a muted, muddy brown, suddenly seeing all the great glory of a simple garden, overwhelmed. You see them see colors and suddenly you’re seeing color through their eyes, and you realize how much we take for granted, how much beauty overload we live in all the time. You wonder what else we can’t see, what else is hiding in plain sight. Now. Post #2:…

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    February 6, 2017: Greater Than Jonah

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Exodus 16-18, Psalm 29, Matthew 12:38-50, Acts 18:1-17 Matthew 12:38-50: “Signs” function sometimes in a positive way in the New Testament—John’s Gospel is structured around signs that are given that we may believe, for instance (John 20:30-31). But here the Pharisees are asking for a sign (12:38), really demanding for a sign; it was another way to attempt to put Jesus through a series of tests. Behind it was not an openness to believe, but a rebellious spirit seeking to find ways to trap Jesus, or at least avoid believing. Sometimes today, too, people will say, “If only God did such-and-such for me, then I would believe.” Likely as not, with that attitude, even if “such-and-such” occurred, that individual would find another condition that was necessary that God meet before they would follow him. In other words, the real issue is the heart, which is what Jesus now diagnoses. They…

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    February 5, 2017: A Good Tree

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Exodus 13-15, Psalm 28, Matthew 12:22-37, Acts 17:16-34 Matthew 12:22-37: This passage contains a teaching of Jesus that has troubled the consciences of many sensitive souls down through the years of Christian history. Have I committed the sin against the Holy Spirit, they wonder? Well, it is important, as always, to read these words in context in order to grasp what Jesus is saying, and not simply be scared (or repulsed or turned off or disappointed by) the most “bumper-sticker” worthy or most memorable aspect of these verses. Jesus heals another man (12:22). The people are amazed—could this be the Son of David (12:23)? That is, they are wondering (finally) whether Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the King to come in David’s line. The Pharisees are unable and unwilling to accept such an idea, and being unable to deny the miracles that Jesus is doing, take the only course…

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    February 4, 2017: A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Exodus 10-12, Psalm 27, Matthew 12:1-21, Acts 17:1-15 Matthew 12:1-21: Jesus and his disciples are going for a Sunday afternoon stroll. It’s the Sabbath, literally, and the disciples are hungry. They are walking through grain fields, and so the disciples start to pick the heads of the grain and start to chew it—a simple way to get some sustenance, cause no damage, and generally make the most of what is around you. However, the “Pharisees”—those Pharisees—they say that by doing this, the disciples are breaking God’s law: Exodus 20:10 said you should do no work on the Sabbath. And so they interpreted this innocent activity of the disciples as doing “work.” How picky, how precious in a negative sense, now small minded and straining at a gnat to swallow a camel! Astonishingly, Jesus actually takes the time to engage with them and attempt to reason with them from Scripture. He…

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    February 3, 2017: Come to Me, and I Will Give You Rest

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Exodus 7-9, Psalm 26, Matthew 11:20-30, Acts 16:16-40 Matthew 11:20-30: Now comes some uncomfortable hearing for those who had been following Jesus’ career so far, listened to his teaching, and even witnessed his miracles. These towns in Galilee—Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum—had not repented at Jesus’ presence, teaching or miracles (11:20). How could such a thing be! How could the Son of God walk and his people not follow where he walked? He came to his own and his own received him not (John 1:11). By contrast, says Jesus, those Gentile, pagan towns of Tyre and Sidon, and even that city of ill-repute, Sodom, would have repented if they had heard Jesus preach and seen Jesus do miracles (11:21). The application of this series of startling “woes” is quite readily apparent with a moment’s thought. What is our response to all that we have heard? It is easy to let familiarity breed…

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    The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Evangelists: Habit 7

    By Josh Moody

    Today's post is the last in our series entitled "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Evangelists" by Ministry Council member Rob Wolgemuth. Read the introduction here, Habit #1 here, Habit #2 here, Habit #3 here, Habit #4 here, Habit #5 here, and Habit #6 here.  Habit #7: Practice good works. Neither Whitefield or Moody viewed preaching as their only area of Christian calling. Whitefield felt a strong calling to start an orphanage in the colony of Georgia, and then put significant time and effort into raising funds to operate it. He also brought (as part of his entourage) a couple of orphans with him from England. Additionally, Whitefield had a strong ministry to slaves in the southern colonies. At his funeral it was said that he did more to convert the 18th century slave in the American south than any man ever before him (I learned this in Dr.  John…

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    February 2: Wisdom Justified by Her Deeds

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Exodus 4-6, Psalm 25, Matthew 11:1-19, Acts 16:1-15 Matthew 11:1-19: After giving these instructions to his disciples, Jesus himself goes from there to teach and preach in their cities. If we want to train others to do ministry, we need to do ministry ourselves. You cannot sit in an ivory tower telling people what to do unless you also are willing to wash dishes, get your feet wet, roll up your sleeves, and do discipleship and teaching and preaching, and serve too. John the Baptist has a question. Is this the Christ, or is he still to come (11:3)? John was now in prison and hearing of all that Jesus was doing (11:2). On the one hand, he was encouraged by the apparent fulfillment of so many prophecies, but on the other hand, John’s suffering and the lack of an immediate and total kingdom establishment may have led John to…

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    The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Evangelists: Habit 6

    By Josh Moody

    Today's post is part of a series entitled "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Evangelists" by Ministry Council member Rob Wolgemuth. Read the introduction here, Habit #1 here, Habit #2 here, Habit #3 here, Habit #4 here, and Habit #5 here.  Habit #6: Surround yourself with like-minded people. Both books (Dallimore and Torrey) speak extensively of Whitefield and Moody’s close colleagues. George Whitfield had men like Charles Wesley and his brother John Wesley by his side at Oxford and after. He traveled with a man named William Seward and a small group of other supporters through the American colonies, Seward became a type of personal/PR assistant to Whitefield. D.L. Moody frequently had men like Henry Varley, Ira Sankey and Dr. Torrey by his side. I think it is apparent that these great men didn’t “do ministry” alone but as part of a team of like-minded individuals, sharing the plow and…

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