Devotionals

  • Election Year Exiles

    By ruth

    When we read the New Testament in present day America, it is always with a degree of imaginative removal, like watching a period piece on PBS. We cock our head: you don’t say! There always seem to be sandals and dusty robes, grapes and flatbread, lots of sheep…bleating.  Peter and Paul and all those Marys — they look dirty, but somehow pristine; wisdom makes them seem to glow. They look like Morgan Freeman, or Gandalf, and when they say curious things, it’s hard to separate what’s cultural from what’s timeless. It’s easy to relegate Biblical themes to a Roman Empire movie set — for example, assuming that idolatry was an ancient problem, or that modesty is now outdated. Likewise, the idea that we are all aliens and strangers is hard to grasp in our patriotic “Christian country.”  After all, the early Christians (and for that matter, the Jews) lived in…

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    October 7: Wall of Bronze

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 14-15, Ecclesiastes 5, John 2:12-25, James 3:13-18 Jeremiah 14-15: The section begins with a problem. There is an economic downturn, a serious recession, brought on this agrarian society by that terror of the ancient world: “drought” (14:1). What is the cause of it? Because the Israelites know that God is the cause, ultimately, of all, they turn to God and ask him to have mercy on them, improve their economy, and send rain again on their land (14:7-9). But it is too late (14:10-11). “He will remember their iniquity and punish their sins” (14:10). In fact, Jeremiah, “Do not pray for the welfare of this people” (14:11). It is too late. Jeremiah is astonished—as any of us would be when being told that a certain church, for instance, simply needs to closed down. He says that the other prophets are telling the Israelites that all will be well (14:13).…

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    October 6: Swimming Against the Stream

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 12-13, Ecclesiastes 4, John 2:1-11, James 3:1-12 Jeremiah 12-13: Jeremiah has a question for God, a question that many of us have asked on occasion too. This question (12:1) is essentially, “Why do the wicked prosper?” In particular, he has in mind those who are “treacherous.” Why is it that people who betray you, who stab someone in the back, who take good deeds and make foul rumors of them, why is it that people who are bad do well in life? This is a common question that many people have asked. Some people seem to think that the Bible teaches that the reason why people are to be good is that if we are good, we will do well in life. Certainly, in some instances and on some occasions there is a one-to-one correlation between upright, moral behavior and financial and other forms of prosperity. But in many…

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    Welcome to October!

    By ruth

    Why should we care about politics? What good could possibly come from an election cycle such as this? Don't politicians just create more problems for us than anything else? If you are honest with yourself, perhaps as you sit down to read this article you have a very similar reaction to politics as Charlie Brown in the cartoon below: Why would a ministry such as God Centered Life devote an entire month to the topic pre-election politics? Actually, the reason is in order to not discuss politics at all! Instead, we all need to be reminded that as followers of Jesus, politics and the election cycle must be understood in light of who God is and the kingdom of heaven. We cannot rightly live in our world as Christians without understanding that the rulers of this world are ultimately ruled by the great Ruler and King of the entire universe.…

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    October 5: Old and New

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 10-11, Ecclesiastes 3:16-22, John 1:43-51, James 2:14-26 Jeremiah 10-11: All true spirituality begins with an open ear to what God is saying. “Hear the word that the LORD speaks to you” (10:1). Are we listening to what God is saying? Are our ears attentive to the Scriptures? Do we set aside time not simply to skim across the surface, or learn a few Bible verses, or check a daily devotional time off our list of to-dos, but actually to listen to what God is saying to us through his Word? Many times it is surprising to people how often God’s Word does actually address the questions that they are facing in their daily lives. God’s Word is not simply an ancient word, it is also a contemporary word, a word that speaks today. Israel, in particular, needed to “Learn not the way of the nations” (10:2), which meant not…

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    October 4: Knowing and Doing

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 7-9, Ecclesiastes 3:1-15, John 1:35-42, James 2:1-13 Jeremiah 7-9: Jeremiah is told to make a public pronouncement—to stand “in the gate of the LORD’s house” (7:2). He is publishing a press release in the religious media; he is hammering his 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg. What is it that he must so publicly announce? Throughout these two chapters two points are being made, here introduced at the start: 1) If they repent, in practice and in deed and not merely in theory, then God will relent from his punishment: “Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place” (7:3). 2) They are to beware of taking their confidence from a mere formal allegiance to the things of God, the notional reliance on the ceremony and ritual of Old Testament piety: “Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of…

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    A Primer on Justification: Part 5

    By ruth

    This article is the fifth in a ten-part series by Dr. Ryken that we will gradually make available in the coming weeks. Find the other articles: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.    The Basis for Justification On what legal basis does God grant the gift of his righteousness? The Bible teaches that God “justifies the wicked” (Rom. 4:5). But if we are in fact wicked, how can he declare us to be what we are not? And how can he justify the wicked without being considered wicked himself? It would be an outrage for a righteous God simply to overlook or to excuse sin. If he intends to justify sinners, therefore, he must have some legitimate judicial basis for doing so. “Justification is not a synonym for amnesty,” writes John Stott, "which strictly is pardon without principle, a forgiveness that overlooks—even forgets—wrongdoing and declines to bring it to justice. No, justification is an act of…

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    October 3: Proclaim God’s Word

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 5-6, Ecclesiastes 2:17-26, John 1:29-34, James 1:19-27 Jeremiah 5-6: The prophet depicts a running to and fro on the streets of the city looking for just one person who is doing what is right (5:1). But none can be found! For surely they use the religious jargon (“As the LORD lives”), but they swear falsely (5:2). How common it is for countries and churches, which have long lived on the abundance of God, to learn to take his name upon the lips but without living out the reality of his name in their lives. We can too easily go through the motions, become Christians in name only, and not “do justice” or “seek truth” (5:1). It was the priest and the Levite who passed by the man in need, while it was the good Samaritan (from a despised raced) who fulfilled the law of God to love his neighbor…

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    October 2: Unmasking Delusion

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 3-4, Ecclesiastes 2:1-16, John 1:19-28, James 1:12-18 Jeremiah 3-4: We begin to see why he was called the weeping prophet! One controlling metaphor goes through these chapters, a picture that is common to the prophets in general, a picture of the rebellion of God’s people: adultery, prostitution, sexual immorality. “You have played the whore with many lovers” (Jeremiah 3:1) This picture is used of the idolatry of God’s people. They were: “…committing adultery with stone and tree.” (Jeremiah 3:9) That is, the adultery is not literal physical adultery—though many of the idolatrous practices may have involved adulterous liaisons—but a spiritual adultery of idols of rock and tree. The reason for this metaphor is the intimacy of the relationship that is intended between God and his people: “Surely, as a treacherous wife leaves her husband, so have you been treacherous to me, O house of Israel, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah…

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    October 1: Foolish As Well As Fallen

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 1-2, Ecclesiastes 1, John 1:1-18, James 1:1-11 Jeremiah 1-2: The “weeping prophet.” Why should we read such words that are only bound to make us miserable? Well, to begin with, the purpose is not depressive but repentant. The key call to Jeremiah has a dual purpose (a doubled-edged sword): “…to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:10) Jeremiah is not only to announce judgment, he is also to prepare for a new building and new planting. Once judgment is announced (as Jonah found to his dismay with Nineveh), it’s announcement is a final call to repentance. If warning, tinged with conviction, does not suffice to generate a return to God, then perhaps a final declaration will generate that movement. For some in Jeremiah’s day, there was no doubt a response—though as a whole there was not a response…

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