Devotionals

  • Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility

    By Josh Moody

    What does the Bible say about divine sovereignty and human responsibility? Much high end research has been done on this challenging topic. This paper is a mere summary of the work done by many scholars, but it may be helpful for some because a) it is brief, b) it uses simple straightforward language, and c) it addresses a matter of theological importance. D.A. Carson, How Long, O Lord? (IVP, 1990) J.I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (IVP, 1986) Summary: People sometimes feel that a belief in the all-powerful God of the Bible necessitates a kind of philosophical fatalism. For instance, people ask, “If God is all powerful and all loving, why do people suffer?” Or, again, people ask, “If God is all powerful, why pray?” These questions are at root confusions about the relationship between the sovereignty of God and human responsibility. According to the Bible, the sovereignty of God and human…

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    September 13: Be Strong; Fear Not!

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 34-36, Proverbs 24:23-34, Luke 22:63-71, Hebrews 8:1-6 Isaiah 34-36: Isaiah 36 introduces the remarkable story of Jerusalem’s rescue from the hand of the Assyrians, but that story is connected organically to the succeeding chapter, and we shall then deal with that story tomorrow in that connection. Isaiah 34 and 35 first announce a worldwide judgment and then point to the means of salvation and rescue from that judgment. Isaiah 34 announces to the globe (“Draw near, O nations, to hear,” 34:1) that the LORD is “enraged against all the nations” (34:2). The universal sinfulness of humanity is taught in various places in the Bible, and it is necessary to remind ourselves of it, not so that we can be “negative” or “put people down,” much less decrease the intrinsic value and worth of each other, but so that we can rightly find the remedy. We all, in our honest moments,…

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    September 12: Relying on God

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 31-33, Proverbs 24:1-22, Luke 22:54-62, Hebrews 7:11-28 Isaiah 31-33: One significant theme echoes throughout Isaiah 31-33 as it is introduced in the very first verse (31:1): Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord! Israel was tempted to rely on Egypt—the local superpower—and to rely on horses, the cavalry, and chariots, the equivalent of tanks and brigades of armored forces. All these looked “very strong.” It is so easy for us, too, to “rely” upon such things, to look to that which seems evidently to be “strong,” and to do what seems therefore the most natural and sensible thing to do, but which is, nonetheless, not the most sensible and realistic course of action.…

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    A Primer on Justification: Part 2

    By ruth

    The Centrality of Justification Having described our predicament in all its miserable detail, the apostle Paul announces that a legal remedy has been made available: “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known” (Rom. 3:21). The words “but now” mark a major transition in Paul’s argument. More than that, they introduce the great turning point in the history of salvation. Up to this point we stand condemned. God’s perfect law tells us that we cannot be declared righteous at the bar of God’s justice. But now a righteousness from God has been revealed. God has provided the way for us to be declared righteous. Or, to put it in the biblical way, he has provided a way for us to be justified. There is more to salvation than justification by faith. Yet without exaggerating its importance, it must be said that this doctrine holds a place near the…

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    September 11: In Him Is Your Strength

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 29-30, Proverbs 23:19-35, Luke 22:47-53, Hebrews 7:1-10 Isaiah 29-30: Ariel here in Isaiah 29 is probably Jerusalem (“the city where David encamped,” 29:1; “Mount Zion,” 29:8), and the prophecies here spoken probably relate to Jerusalem’s rescue from the attack of the Assyrians, their destruction by the Babylonians, and then desolation by the Romans. In the midst of this upcoming initial rescue and then calamity is spiritual teaching that at once upbraids Israel, and speaks to us of where we should put our trust in times of calamity. They were going to find help from Egypt when they were attacked by another one of the neighbors, attempting to play a game of alliance and counter-alliance, when all along the real problem they were facing, and the true solution, were much simpler. The words of Isaiah 30:15 put it brilliantly: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and trust…

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    September 10: Salvation and Judgment

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 27-28, Proverbs 23:1-18, Luke 22:39-46, Hebrews 6:13-20 Isaiah 27-28: In Isaiah 27 God speaks comfort to his people about their upcoming deliverance from the Assyrian army. This comfort is spoken of in a more general way, such that it can apply to us and encourage us. In Christ, there is rescue from our ultimate enemy, and there is safety and redemption in him. Leviathan is punished (27:1), and at the same time God’s vineyard, his people, is watched over and protected (27:2). He keeps it “night and day” (27:3). And in days to come his people shall blossom and fill the whole world with fruit (27:6). But despite all these great promises, his people had not responded, and so (27:11) there will be a time—a time of exile—which will be followed by a time of return from exile (27:13). Isaiah 28 has much warning and judgment which is good…

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    A Primer on Justification: Part 1

    By ruth

    The Need for Justification Picture the scene: An accused criminal stands before an impartial judge to receive his just sentence. The legal proceedings begin with a court official reciting the laws of the kingdom. As he listens, the criminal starts to realize that he is doomed to be condemned, for it turns out that he has violated every single law in the book. Whatever the charge, he is certain to be found guilty. When the judge finally turns to the defendant and asks how he pleads, the man is speechless. He stands before the judge in mute terror, unable to utter anything in his defense. This is the desperate legal predicament described in the opening chapters of Romans. Humanity stands in the dock. The religious and the irreligious, Jews and Gentiles, believers and atheists—everyone must appear before God’s throne for judgment. The standard for justice is God’s perfect law. By…

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    September 9: Joy and Peace

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 24-26, Proverbs 22:17-29, Luke 22:31, Hebrews 6:1-12 Isaiah 24-26: Judgment once more, but interleaved with salvation and mercy. Extraordinary words. Again we come to chapters of Isaiah that are not only brilliantly poetic but also profoundly significant and spiritually resonant. There are far horizons here, beyond where we are even today, that speak of distant judgment, and final salvation. “Behold the LORD will empty the earth and make it desolate” (24:1). There will be a whole new heaven and a whole new earth, and there will be a time of judgment for all people in this world. It will come irrespective of class or wealth: “as with the buyer, so with the seller” (24:2). This is because there is a “curse,” the original curse that comes from the garden of Eden, “Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt” (24:6). But then a little…

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    Ministry Council Interview

    By ruth

    Today we are pleased to be joined by God Centered Life Ministry Council Member Dr. David Dockery. Dr. Dockery is the current president of Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois, and has served in several key strategic areas of leadership in the church. In this interview, Dr. Dockery will be responding to questions covering topics such as challenges to living as a Christian in our culture, being a Christian who engages effectively with our culture, being an effective God-centered minister of the gospel, and how to effectively reach out to college students. We hope that you will be better equipped, engaged, and empowered to live a God-centered life as we together learn from the wisdom and insight of Dr. Dockery!  1) God Centered Life Ministries exists to raise a generation living for God. Dr. Dockery, what do you think are going to be some of the greatest challenges that the…

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    September 8: Correct and Encourage

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 21-23, Proverbs 22:1-16, Luke 22:24-30, Hebrews 5 Isaiah 21-23: When we think of “vision,” we tend to think of a positive dream of the future. But here the “vision” of chapter 22 is far more a vision of judgment. Nonetheless, there is hope (22:20), ultimately of a messianic kind (22:22). I want to spend time this devotional reflecting on the dynamic tension that Isaiah here incorporates into his prophetic vision—on the one hand judgment, on the other hand hope—and ask ourselves whether we tend toward one or the other side of this double-edged sword of Scripture. It is all too easy to reflect a desire to please in the heart of the person who is skilled at ingratiating him or herself into the hearings of others, to begin to reflect that in a message and an idea about God that is solely positive. On the other hand, it is…

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