Devotionals

  • August 15: Confession and Covenant

    By Josh Moody

    by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Nehemiah 9, Proverbs 12:15-28, Luke 18:1-8, 2 Timothy 3:10-17 Nehemiah 9: The confession begins, and it is worth paying careful attention to how it is done. This is not a “guilt trip” or “beating yourself up”; this is a careful confession of faith, repentance of wrong-doing, that leads to a fresh beginning and a new start (the “covenant”). First, they confess not only their own sins, but also those of their fathers (9:2). In biblical thinking, headship matters. Time and again, you find godly members of God’s people confessing not only their own sins, but also the sins of all God’s people. It is a way of appealing to God for mercy on them as individuals and also on the whole congregation, too. They confess that God is the only true God (9:6). This the death knell of all idolatry, whether of the obvious physical kind or the…

    Continue Reading >

    August 14: Joy!

    By Josh Moody

    by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Nehemiah 8, Proverbs 12:1-14, Luke 17:20-37, 2 Timothy 3:1-9 Nehemiah 8: The reading of the Law is the central component of this book, and in particular the people’s remarkable response to that reading. There are several aspects to take notice of regarding how the teaching of the Bible was communicated. First, it was read (8:3). To gather as God’s people and not actually read the Bible, but have it read as a passage as God’s Word aloud so that the people can hear it—read it as it is, simply read it—that reading of God’s Word is a crucial component to public worship. As the Bible is read, the people’s ears are attentive (8:3). In other words, they are actually listening. When the Bible is read, the people are not daydreaming; they are not channel surfing in their head thinking of TV shows or movies, or playing with their phones…

    Continue Reading >

    August 13: Godly Leadership

    By Josh Moody

    by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Nehemiah 7, Proverbs 11:16-31, Luke 17:11-19, 2 Timothy 2:14-26 Nehemiah 7: The wall has been built, but the work carries on—that is the work of rebuilding God's people which the rebuilt walls represent and protect. Nehemiah first shrewdly delegates. He selects on the principle of faithfulness and being God-fearing (7:2). Those who fear God will do what is right even when they are not directly supervised, and the faithfulness that he has observed is a natural consequence of that principle. In the New Testament too, 1 Timothy 3, leaders are chosen for their faithfulness of character rather than their superlatives of gifting. Faithfulness comes first, and if there is extraordinary ability, too, that is good, but ability without faithfulness is a disaster. Nehemiah gets this right and picks on the basis of being God-fearing and faithful. He then gives clear instructions, in particular that guards should be appointed from…

    Continue Reading >

    August 12: Cunning Enemies

    By Josh Moody

    by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Nehemiah 6, Proverbs 11:1-15, Luke 17:1-10, 2 Timothy 2:1-13 Nehemiah 6: Despite their ongoing success, the enemies continue their attack. Now it is a policy of fear mongering. They wish to make Nehemiah afraid, to make him look bad, to sully his name, and therefore cause his leadership to fail. They begin by inviting him to meet. Nehemiah wisely refuses, understanding that there could be no middle ground between them, and any perception of compromise would only weaken his case and his argument and therefore the project itself. His reply is classic: “I am doing a great work and cannot come down” (6:3). Next, they send an open letter (6:5). That is, it is a letter that anyone who passed the message on to Nehemiah would be able to read. It was a form of public letter, in a sense, designed to spread rumors about Nehemiah that were…

    Continue Reading >

    August 11: A Wise Leader Who Fears God

    By Josh Moody

    by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Nehemiah 4-5, Proverbs 10:17-32, Luke 16:19-31, 2 Timothy 1 Nehemiah 4-5: The next two chapters provide a master lesson in leadership based on the fear of God that is pure but not naive, canny but also generous and openhanded. We meet the enemies, Sanballat and Tobiah, and hear their public gossip despising the works that were going on (4:1-3). Such sneering can have a seriously demotivating effect and must be dealt with. Is the work really as pointless and doomed to failure as they make out? Nehemiah takes the sneering to God in prayer (4:4-5) and carries on building (4:6). The next step is to move from sneering to plotting (4:7-8). They plan to attack. Nehemiah gathers the builders, tells them not to be afraid of their enemies because of who God is, but also motivates them (4:14). They are fighting for their families and their homes.…

    Continue Reading >

    August 10: Each Part Does Its Work

    By Josh Moody

    by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Nehemiah 3, Proverbs 10:1-16, Luke 16:10-18, 1 Timothy 6:11-21 Nehemiah 3: This chapter lists all the teamwork that comes into play, the various groups of people as they now build as Nehemiah had led them to do. It takes every part of the body to do its task.  Reading 1 Corinthians 12:12-20, we find the same principle at work: "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. "For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if…

    Continue Reading >

    August 9: Leadership

    By Josh Moody

    by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Nehemiah 1-2, Proverbs 9, Luke 16:1-9, 1 Timothy 6:1-10 Nehemiah 1-2: It is hard, if not impossible, to comment on all the good things in these two chapters regarding faith, leadership, and God's answer to prayer. Note, for example, Nehemiah's interest in the work of God (1:2). We are always to be interested in how the kingdom is growing and being fruitful all around the world. Then note his personal commitment to God’s work. Having heard of the dire situation, he mourns and is deeply moved (1:4). We are not only to be interested in what is happening, but to realize that we ourselves are involved. When one part of the body suffers, we all suffer. We are all commissioned by God to build his church and seek first his kingdom. Then note Nehemiah's prayer (1:5-11), which relies for its power upon his understanding of God’s Word…

    Continue Reading >

    August 8: Our God Is an Awesome God

    By Josh Moody

    by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Ezra 10, Proverbs 8, Luke 15:11-32, 1 Timothy 5:16-25 Ezra 10: The principle at stake here is one that is reaffirmed in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 7:39), but it is important to understand the nature of the problem. What mattered was not the “race” of the people concerned—Israel was always meant to be a light to the nations, and God’s church is a people from every tribe and nation and tongue. No, the issue was the faith of those involved. To marry—purposefully, rebelliously—someone who does not follow God is to cause a split in the household: between you and your spouse, and even more so between you and your children, confusing their identity and their loyalty to God. It is certainly possible for God to use such marriages for his glory, and the extreme example of the exiles here to “put away their wives” (10:19) is…

    Continue Reading >

    August 7: Repent

    By Josh Moody

    by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Ezra 9, Proverbs 7, Luke 15:1-10, 1 Timothy 5:1-15 Ezra 9: Things are going well, but then there is calamitous news. The officials come to tell Ezra that the people had intermarried with the nations who were not following God, and that the leaders and the officials had led the way in this intermarrying (9:1-2). Such actions were serious for several reasons. To begin with, God had commanded them not to marry pagans. Then, the people of the nations were those who performed atrocious acts—such as child sacrifice. And the rationale for the ban on intermarrying was that by forming such marriages between covenant followers of God with those who did not follow God, the result would be at best a form of vapid and godless syncretism, and at worst, in time to come, equally abominable activities which the pagan peoples of the nations had come to be…

    Continue Reading >

    August 6: Fearing God in Prayer

    By Josh Moody

    by Josh Moody Today’s Bible Reading: Ezra 8, Proverbs 6, Luke 14:25-35, 1 Timothy 4 Ezra 8: The recording of the genealogy of those who returned with Ezra (8:1-14) reveals that there are none of the tribe of Levi (8:15). Therefore, to fulfill obligations in the Law, Ezra recruits successfully (8:16-20). He is careful to ensure that all is done properly and in good order. But it is not just an appeal to the letter of the Law. He proclaims a fast (8:21) so that they might humble themselves before God and seek from him a safe journey. However you parse out the connection between God’s sovereignty and our prayers, it is clear that biblically we pray to the King of Kings, God himself, because he is the Sovereign. Follow Ezra’s example and pray (fast, too, when given medical clearance to do so, and within biblical common sense bounds) to entreat God to…

    Continue Reading >