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June 7, 2017: Simeon and Anna

Today’s Bible Reading: Luke 2:21-40, Ephesians 4:1-16, Psalm 119:49-56, 1 Kings 11 Luke 2:21-40: These early days of Jesus as he fulfills all the law and perfectly is the fulfillment of all the law promised. The sacrifice his parents offer (2:24) is the sacrifice for those who cannot afford much (Lev. 12:8). Note that poverty can be combined with great piety. Then comes aged Simeon, hoary-headed and devout and righteous—see how his age (“now you are letting your servant depart in peace”) is combined with prophetic zeal and having the Holy Spirit upon him. Our old people may be filled with the Spirit with passionate commitment to the cause of Christ. May we, like Simeon, to the end of our days be moved by the Spirit and loving Jesus and looking forward to heaven. Simeon’s prophecy in verses 34-35 seems a bit of a mixed blessing. But such is true Christianity and the true Christ:...

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June 6, 2017: True Good News

Today’s Bible Reading: Luke 2:1-20, Ephesians 3:14-21, Psalm 119:41-48, 1 Kings 9-10 Luke 2:1-20: Luke carefully sets this most momentous birth in the realm of the historical and the factual: “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered” (2:1). Note: it is important for us to remember that Jesus’ birth is not simply a story but a historical event. There was a time, there was a place, there was a moment when the Savior of the world, God Incarnate, was born. Scandalous, and miraculous, and wondrous. Mary gives birth and, famously, he is laid in a manger (a feeding trough for animals). What humility is this, what gracious condescension, what stunning love and mercy—that God himself would deign to come down so low as to be born in a mere manger. At a human practical level, it was simply because “there was no place for them...

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June 5, 2017: The Way of Peace

Today’s Bible Reading: Luke 1:67-80, Ephesians 3:1-13, Psalm 119:33-40, 1 Kings 8 Luke 1:67-80: Now is Zechariah’s song, and it is structured around the “visitation” (1:68, 78) that Zechariah saw that God was bringing about through his prophet John, and was in fulfillment of the Old Testament promises and prophecies (Genesis 50:24, 25). Christ shall be a “horn of salvation” (1:69: 1 Samuel 2:1 / 2:10). It is fulfillment of the promises given to Abraham: Christ is the fulfillment of Genesis 12:1-3. His ministry will lead to a time when God’s people can serve God “without fear” (1:74)—that is without the trembling anxiety that comes from being in the “hand of our enemies” (1:74). John himself is not the Messiah; instead his ministry is to “go before the Lord to prepare his ways” in fulfillment of Malachi 3:1. All this expresses the “tender mercy of our God,” to give knowledge of salvation to his people...

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June 4, 2017: The Hand of the Lord

Today’s Bible Reading: Luke 1:57-66, Ephesians 2:11-22, Psalm 119:25-32, 1 Kings 6-7 Luke 1:57-66: Now it is Elizabeth’s turn to give birth. Her neighbors hear of the extraordinary birth—to one so old (Luke 1:18)—and they rejoice with her (1:58). Note when someone else has great mercy shown to them, some extraordinary blessing or other, our response is to be joy for them and with them. It is all too easy to rejoice when others do less well than you, and to feel worse when they do better than you. But a sign of Christian maturity is to be able to rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn—and not vice versa. She says that the child’s name is to be John. Zechariah, when asked, writes (because he still cannot speak) that the child’s name is John. He does not say that he is to be called John but simply that his name...

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June 3, 2017: God My Savior

Today’s Bible Reading: Luke 1:39-56, Ephesians 2:1-10, Psalm 119:17-24, 1 Kings 4-5 Luke 1:39-56: Mary is so excited about the news that she has to go and tell Elizabeth. As soon as she enters the house—crying out eagerly for Elizabeth—the baby in Elizabeth’s womb hears the greeting and leaps for joy. John the Baptist, in Elizabeth’s womb, is already performing his task of pointing people to the Messiah! Even in the womb God’s Spirit is at work. How can any think that a child in the womb is a mere bundle of cells when God’s Spirit animates and enables such a child to leap for joy! Elizabeth speaks a blessing on Mary. Why? Because she has believed what the Lord spoke to her. Note there is great blessing for believing God’s Word. Would you take time now to remind yourself of this truth and commit again to believe what God says to you in the...

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June 2, 2017: Incarnate

Today’s Bible Reading: Luke 1:26-38, Ephesians 1:15-23, Psalm 119:9-16, 1 Kings 2-3 Luke 1:26-38: How different is the response for Mary than for Zechariah! Mary is a virgin and is favored by God. The Lord is with her. When the angel comes to her and speaks these words, the young woman is understandably “afraid.” When she is told that the greeting of the angel prefigures great favor and the extraordinary fulfillment of God’s Old Testament promises regarding the Messiah, sitting on the throne of his father David, and Son of the Most High, she asks a question: “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (1:34). What makes her question, apparently like that of Zechariah’s (1:18), receive the response articulated in verse 35, rather than of verses 19-20? Zechariah’s response indicated a lack of faith (“because you did not believe my words,” 1:20) and was underlined by his spiritual maturity in contrast with that of...

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June 1, 2017: The Certainty

Today’s Bible Reading: 1 Kings 1, Psalm 119:1-8, Luke 1:1-25, Ephesians 1:1-14 Luke 1:1-25: The Gospel of Luke is written by a medical doctor, who was a companion of Paul’s, for a specific purpose: “that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” (1:4). In other words, the point that Luke is making, and seeking to establish, is that the things that “Theophilus” (a prominent, perhaps wealthy, Christian to whom the letter is dedicated, and who either literally or symbolically represents believers who “love God”) has been taught are certain, true, reliable, and to be trusted as verifiably accurate and real. Luke writes, in both of his two volume account of Christians origins (Luke and Acts were probably originally distributed as a two volume set on Christian origins, see Acts 1:1), in order that people might know that the things about Jesus are definitely true. He writes therefore an “orderly” account, well...

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May 26-31, 2017

In keeping with the Bible reading plan we are using, the last days of each month are designated as “free days.” May 26-31 then are intended to allow you to catch up on reading you may have missed or to study passages more in depth that intrigued you during the first 25 days of the month. With this in mind, God Centered Bible will not have a devotional for May 26-31, but will pick back up on June 1, 2017. We welcome your comments also during these days with insights you’ve found during the first 25 days. To receive God Centered Bible devotionals directly in your inbox, sign up here....

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May 25, 2017: Go, Tell

Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 23-24, Psalm 118, Mark 16, Galatians 6 Mark 16: The end of Mark’s Gospel is famous for the second half of chapter 16 being—as the modern translations put it—“Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9-20.” We will focus on the first half of the chapter, therefore, show why it holds its own integrity on its own merits, before making some comments on the second half of the chapter. Remember that these women (16:1) had noticed where Jesus was buried (15:47). They go there very early on the first day of week to honor the body, “anoint him.” But on arriving they discover that the stone had been rolled away (16:4). This alone is extraordinary for these large stones would have taken several grown men to move at all. More extraordinary still, when they enter the tomb, they see a young man dressed in a white robe—presumably an angel—sitting on...

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May 24, 2017: Dead and Buried, but Not the End of the Story

Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 22, Psalm 117, Mark 15:42-47, Galatians 5:13-26 Mark 15:42-47: This passage informs us of the burial and the burial place of Jesus, showing us where he was buried. It helps us with the apologetic that perhaps the disciples went to the wrong tomb when we realize that his burial place was known. Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, and “himself looking for the kingdom of God”—that is with some nascent faith in Christ as the king in that kingdom of God—asks for permission to take the body of Jesus to provide him a proper burial. What great act of piety this is to care for Christ in such a way. Jesus is granted a dignified burial. Joseph uses his influence to gain access to Pilate, and ensures that Jesus is buried with propriety according to the customs of the time. Note sometimes people in positions of prominence, with...

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