Devotionals

  • August 25: No Such Thing as Luck

    By Josh Moody

    by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Esther 9-10, Proverbs 17:15-28, Luke 20:20-26, Philemon 12-25 Esther 9-10: Some of this is hard for us to read, for it seems very much as if the Jewish people—now that they have been relieved of the threat—make the most of their new opportunity to exact revenge (9:1-3). Indeed, a large number of people are killed at the hands of the Jews (9:5-10), and the queen actually asks for another day to continue the killing (9:13). How are we to understand this bloodshed? It is possible, theoretically, that God’s people are exacting revenge injudiciously (it would not be the first time that God’s people have sinned), but we are given no hint in the text that their deeds were wrong—quite the reverse. The large point of Esther is that this story explains the feast of Purim (Pur = lot, celebrating the lot that was cast and turned by…

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    August 24: Tears and Joy

    By Josh Moody

    by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Esther 7-8, Proverbs 17:1-14, Luke 20:9-19, Philemon 1-11 Esther 7-8: Poor Haman, how could things get any worse? He who had thought to destroy God’s people on a whim of personal insult was now found to be begging for his life with the queen (7:7). Esther once more had proved very canny in her maneuvering of the situation. It was on the second day that the king had feasted before she made her request (7:2). And even then, she “set it up” so that the emotional impact of the disaster against her and her people was felt by the king before she revealed that it was Haman who was behind it (7:3-6). Then when the king returned from his furious foot stomping walk in the garden to find Haman begging for his life, it appeared as if he was even then assaulting the queen, and once the…

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    August 23: Astonishing Sovereignty

    By Josh Moody

    by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Esther 5-6, Proverbs 16:17-33, Luke 20:1-8, Titus 3:9-15 Esther 5-6: We are coming closer to the pinnacle of this extraordinary narrative. Esther, canny as ever, puts on her royal robes, marking her out with distinction as holding a special position in the king’s eyes (5:1). She stands in his view, and again she wins his favor, and he extends mercy to her so that she is allowed unbidden into the king’s presence (5:2) and does not suffer death as was the custom for those who dared to attend the king without his explicit previous permission. The king knows that she must have something important on her mind, and so offers to grant her request however large it may be (5:3). Canny again, Esther instead determines to put the king in a yet better mood by inviting him and Haman (her and the Jews' great enemy) to a special…

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    August 22: For Such a Time as This

    By Josh Moody

    by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Esther 3-4, Proverbs 16:1-16, Luke 19:39-48, Titus 3:1-8 Esther 3-4: The plot thickens. Haman is promoted to a position of unparalleled power—right beneath the king (3:1)—and it is the king’s command that all should pay him homage and bow down before him (3:2). But Mordecai refuses (3:2). Why Mordecai refuses is not made explicit, but we may surmise either that it is because the act was equivalent to worshipping a human, or because Mordecai knew that Haman was a “piece of work” and did not want to encourage his nefariousness, or in all likelihood some mixture of the two. At any rate Mordecai’s refusal has serious consequences. Haman decides that merely destroying Mordecai will not sufficiently assuage his wounded pride, but he must take it out on the whole race of Jews (3:6). How often is a personal slight, an offense of a petty pride, the source…

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    August 21: Esther

    By Josh Moody

    by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Esther 2, Proverbs 15:18-33, Luke 19:28-38, Titus 2:11-15 Esther 2: The story continues. The king is looking for a new wife, and he goes about it in a way that only ancient Eastern despotic monarchs could even dream of: he orders that a search be made for the most beautiful young women in the land, that they be gathered to his harem, given all the beauty treatments that money could buy, and each then paraded in front of him one by one so that he could pick the one that took his fancy (2:2-4). It was a sort of perverted version of the show America’s Got Talent. Esther is beautiful, and she is introduced to us now for the first time in the care of Mordecai (2:5-7). She is taken to the king’s palace, too (2:8), and she wins the favor of all those around her (2:15).…

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    August 20: A Smiling Face

    By Josh Moody

    by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Esther 1, Proverbs 15:1-17, Luke 19:11-27, Titus 2:1-10 Esther 1: We begin the famed, beautiful, astonishing story of Esther. Chapter 1 sets the stage. The king has a feast for his officials and servants (1:3), showing his riches and greatness for 180 days (1:4). It is followed by a feast for all the people in Susa—a massive, expensive, exuberant, no-holds-barred, alcohol-infused party (1:5-8). It goes on for seven days (1:5). At the end of those seven days, the king, in good spirits (a somewhat amusing euphemism for someone who presumably now has been drinking non-stop for a week) ordered that his wife appear before them all (1:11). He wanted to show off her beauty. For some reason, the queen refused this request (1:12). We can speculate—and it is not hard to do—why she would refuse. It would have seemed demeaning perhaps, embarrassing, lecherous, undermining of her royal…

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    August 19: Remember, O God!

    By Josh Moody

    by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Nehemiah 13, Proverbs 14:19-35, Luke 19:1-10, Titus 1:10-16 Nehemiah 13: If you are ever discouraged that the work you are called to appears endless, or that you are one moment doing well and the next moment all is going wrong, or that time eats away at your finest endeavors, or that what you manage at one point to do faithfully, later on you must battle again to attain obedience in a particular area of your life—in short, if you ever wonder whether what you are doing is really having any impact, read this chapter! Nehemiah has achieved the most remarkable reforms, and yet as soon as his back is turned, it all goes to pot again. The issues are various, but one in particular is quite remarkable. The priest Eliashib, as soon as Nehemiah was temporarily out of the picture, installed the great enemy of God’s people…

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    August 18: Joy!

    By Josh Moody

    by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Nehemiah 12, Proverbs 14:1-18, Luke 18:31-43, Titus 1:1-9 Nehemiah 12: As the book draws to a close, we are left with a picture of well-ordered and exuberant joyful celebration. All the priests and Levites are appropriately given their right station and role (12:1-26). And then when it comes to the dedication of the wall—the formal, joyful setting apart of this edifice to God and his glory—the Levites and the singers are there to lead in worship (12:27). Nehemiah, in particular, appoints two great choirs for giving thanks (12:31). There is a procession, one to the south, and the other choir to the north, and both choirs and the leaders and all the singers were in the house of God, and great sacrifices were made, and “the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away” (12:43). It is good to celebrate God’s victories. There are moments to gather together and…

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    August 17: Put Your Life on the Line

    By Josh Moody

    by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Nehemiah 11, Proverbs 13:13-25, Luke 18:18-30, 2 Timothy 4:9-22 Nehemiah 11: The commitment to renewal of the city continues to spread. Already, we note the leaders are living in Jerusalem (11:1). Though that seems a passing note, it is actually highly significant. It is sometimes said that you need to live where your ministry is. There is normally (all other things being equal) little point trying to have a ministry in one area while living in an entirely different area. There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but especially when (as in this case in Jerusalem at the time) the place where the ministry is happening is no longer a desirable location to live, it is hard to have genuine credibility if you do not live where you are ministering. It is more than “putting your money where your mouth is”; it is “putting your life where…

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    August 16: Covenant Commitment

    By Josh Moody

    by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Nehemiah 10, Proverbs 13:1-12, Luke 18:9-17, 2 Timothy 4:1-8 Nehemiah 10: The signers of the covenant (10:1-27) and the stipulations of the covenant (10:28-39) are listed in this chapter. This covenant is an Old Testament covenant; it is worth comparing with similar “covenants” adopted from time to time by Christian churches. A fairly typical Baptist covenant can be found in the back of many an old hymnal: https://goo.gl/Cjylg4. A statement including a statement of faith and responsibilities of membership from the UK can be found here: http://goo.gl/fKVI2l. A membership process without an explicit covenant but including typical membership commitments could be found here: http://goo.gl/MxzSBo. In the New Testament you find such renewal breathing through its pages in the Spirit of Christ and his grace: Acts 2:42-47. In Christ, such statements of commitment are not to be made in a spirit of legalistic nit-picking but of genuine spiritual and…

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