Devotionals

  • January 16, 2017: Do Not Worry

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 36, Psalm 16, Matthew 6:25-34, Acts 9:20-43 Matthew 6:25-34: This section is justly famous, wonderfully practical, and precious to Christians down through the ages. It begins with “therefore,” and as always when we see a “therefore,” we should ask “What is it there for?” In other words, what is this instruction building from in the previous section? The answer here is that Jesus, having talked about money and our need not to serve money, now tells us not to be anxious. For one great source of anxiety is material anxiety, anxiety over possessions and provision. But if we are serving God, then we have no cause to worry—which Jesus will now explain. He begins with a series of questions. This is brilliant teaching because the psychological experience of worry is often rooted in asking the wrong questions in our minds and hearts, as one thought races around another thought,…

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    January 15, 2017: Serve God

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 34-35, Psalm 15, Matthew 6:16-24, Acts 9:1-19 Matthew 6:16-24: Continuing his teaching on “practicing our righteousness,” Jesus now moves on from prayer to its logical and often paired companion: fasting (6:16-18). Christian fasting is distinctive and distinguished by its concern not to show off before others. In fact, when someone fasts, they are to avoid looking gloomy or emphasizing their emaciated feelings from lack of food, but instead of making it obvious by what they wear that they are fasting, they are to anoint their heads and wash their faces—to look and come across as not fasting. The reason for this is so that the fasting will be seen by the Father God and not others, and the Father God will reward us for the fasting. What exactly fasting is, how it is to be performed, when, and with what wise, even medical, counsel, is beyond the confines of…

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    January 14, 2017: Practicing Righteousness

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 32-33, Psalm 14, Matthew 6:1-15, Acts 8:26-40 Matthew 5:33-46: Having focused on how we are to behave in terms of human relations, Jesus now turns to the matter of “practicing our righteousness” (6:1), which in this context means the practice of “religion” in relationship to God. He tackles two matters head on—both of which are often disputed and have serious consequences if misunderstood—that of money and prayer. In either case, whether of giving or prayer, Jesus’ chief concern is that we not do what the “hypocrites” do (6:2, 5). The hypocrites, literally actors, are not those who simply are going through the motions without meaning what they are doing at all; they are not entirely faking it. The temptation of this “hypocrisy,” so characteristic of the Pharisee, is far more insidious and difficult to avoid, or diagnose. The point is that with both prayer and giving,…

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    January 13, 2017: Love Your Enemies

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 31, Psalm 13, Matthew 5:33-46, Acts 8:1-25 Matthew 5:33-46: We have already, yesterday, commented on the repeated refrain that structures this middle section of the Sermon on the Mount—“you have heard that it was said…but I say to you.” This claim of Jesus to be the authoritative interpretation of the Scriptures, against the views of the Pharisees of his day, leads him to establish the spirituality of the commands. God is interested in our inner life, in the thinking of our hearts and the feeling of our minds, as much as outward conformity to the externalities of obedience. Now a similar thrust shapes the next section of commands, and they conclude with such an overarching demand that there is no way that the only intention of these commands can be practical obedience. Jesus concludes by telling us that we must be “perfect,” and not just perfect by a human…

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    January 12, 2017: Mind and Heart

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 29-30, Psalm 12, Matthew 5:21-32, Acts 7:39-60 Matthew 5:21-32: As we enter into this middle section of the Sermon on the Mount, before we come to the particularities of exactly what it is that Jesus is commanding, it is important to notice and reflect upon the basic repeated structure and refrain. Jesus begins by saying in verse 21, “You have heard that it was said.” After their hearing what has been said, he then develops his argument with an authoritative statement: “But I say to you” (5:22). That statement, that structure, that repeated refrain, occurs again in the next section (5:27-28), and in one form or another runs through this middle section of the Sermon on the Mount. Now it is important we grasp clearly what it is that Jesus is saying by this repeated refrain and structure. It is impossible that he is denying or undermining or countermanding…

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    January 11, 2017: Salt, Light and the Bible

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 27-28, Psalm 11, Matthew 5:13-20, Acts 7:1-38 Matthew 5:13-20: This part of the Sermon on the Mount, in the section we are reading this morning, comprises two distinct sections and aims and goals. In the first, verses 13-16, Jesus is thinking about the witness, the lifestyle, the impact on the world, of this little fledging group of disciples, and he is teaching them about that and what it means to shine their light in the world. In the second section, verses 17-20, Jesus is countermanding a false impression that might be given by his authoritative style of teaching: he is not undermining or denying or undoing anything that has been written so far in the Bible (in what we call the Old Testament, aka the Law and the Prophets), but instead is fulfilling it all. Let’s look very briefly at these two sections separately. In the first, Jesus has…

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    January 10, 2017: Blessed

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 25-26, Psalm 10, Matthew 5:1-12, Acts 6 Matthew 5:1-12: These Beatitudes, which begin and launch and frame the Sermon on the Mount, are so rich with meaning and practical powerful impact, that to tackle them as one in a single devotional is nigh on impossible. I have preached several times on the Sermon on the Mount, and the Beatitudes in particular, and you can find more commentary there—and elsewhere. Probably the best book published on the Sermon on the Mount as a whole, in the last 100 years at least, is Martin Lloyd-Jones’ The Sermon on the Mount. The first thing to get clear about these Beatitudes is the meaning of the word “blessed.” To be blessed does not merely mean “to be happy” (though it certainly includes that). It has the intention of a declaration of what is truly the best kind of life to live. That person,…

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    January 9, 2017: Follow Jesus

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 24, Psalm 9, Matthew 4:18-25, Acts 5:17-42 Matthew 4:18-25: Jesus calls Peter and Andrew with a simple and profound utterance: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (4:19). They were already fishermen—fishers of fish. But Jesus was now calling them to be fishers of men. They were being tasked with a new role, not any more employing their skills for the fishing trade, but now using those skills for a different goal and aim—to catch men. Instead of taking fish from life to death, they were take men from death to life. How well Jesus knew those he was calling! He termed the call of discipleship and the call to follow him and to evangelism and shepherding in terms that those he was calling could understand. They knew what it was to be fishermen. They were, perhaps, owners of a small fishing business—or the equivalent thereof—they…

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    January 8, 2017: The Kingdom of Heaven

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 21-23, Psalm 8, Matthew 4:12-17, Acts 5:1-16 Matthew 4:12-17: The arrest of John had some impact on Jesus, in that hearing of his arrest “he withdrew into Galilee” (4:12). Perhaps he withdrew to pray, or re-gather for the next great stage of his ministry now that John, his forerunner, had been arrested. At any rate, he also then lived in an area that meant that Isaiah’s great prophecy, Isaiah chapter 9, would be more precisely fulfilled. And from that time on, he began to preach, as his core message and overall theme, the coming of the kingdom of heaven: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (4:17). The kingdom of heaven was at hand for Jesus was at hand. The King was there, and his kingdom was coming. It would be proclaimed by Jesus, established through the great work of his on the cross, preached to the…

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    January 7, 2017: Temptation

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 18-20, Psalm 7, Matthew 4:1-11, Acts 4:23-37Matthew 4:1-11:  Jesus’ temptation functions at two levels for us. First, it tells us that Jesus was tempted in every way as we are—yet without sin—and so encourages us that he is able to empathize with our weakness (Hebrews 4:15); that no temptation has seized us except that which is common to man, and God will provide a way out so that we can stand up under it (1 Cor. 10:13); and that if we (in Christ’s power) resist the devil he will flee from us (James 4:7). It also tells us that Jesus, unlike Israel, was faithful in the wilderness, did not give in to temptation, and so Jesus is able to be our perfect righteousness and “fulfill all righteousness” (as Jesus had said in Matthew 3:15). In this devotional I am going to focus on the first of the two themes,…

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