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April 8, 2017: Disciple

Today’s Bible Reading: Joshua 18-19, Psalm 78:40-72, Mark 3:1-19, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20: Mark 3:1-19: Jesus’ opponents are now watching him closely—but not in a good way. They are watching to see if they can trap him in what he does or what he says. They want to “accuse” him. Irrespective of their ill intentions, Jesus, in his mercy and love, goes ahead and heals the man on the Sabbath. He attempts to use the healing as an object lesson: should you do evil on the Sabbath (that is to plot to kill Jesus) or good (that is to heal this person). They are against him doing something on the Sabbath—even something good—while on the Sabbath they are breaking God’s law by plotting to kill him. How blind is sin. A great crowd follows Jesus—so large he has to push off shore in a boat to stop from being crushed by them. He commands the evil spirits...

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April 7, 2017: New Wine and New Wineskin

Today’s Bible Reading: Joshua 15-17, Psalm 78:1-39, Mark 2:18-28, 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 Mark 2:18-28: Jesus was constantly attacked by the Pharisees for seeming—in their eyes—to take liberties with the law. They wanted him to stick to their particular human interpretation of the law and not stray one inch either way, and it was a formula for controlling him and bringing him back into line with their theories about what was right and proper. It starts with a debate about fasting. John’s disciples fasted, but Jesus’ do not. Fasting—if medical condition allows and not taking it to dangerous extremes—is a perfectly valid way to find extra time to pray and read the Bible. When you fast, it is remarkable how much more time you have. You are not eating, you are not preparing food, you are not cleaning up after meals. You gain so much extra time to focus upon God with seriousness and intensity. But...

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April 6, 2017: What a Savior!

Today’s Bible Reading: Joshua 13-14, Psalm 77, Mark 2:13-17, 1 Corinthians 5 Mark 2:13-17: Jesus’ extraordinary love, compassion, and anti-religious true religion continues. He calls a tax collector to follow him. Tax collectors were not just disliked because they were collecting taxes—they were collaborators with an occupying army, like the traitors who helped the Vichy regime in occupied France in World War 2. Jesus is not the typical kind of religious zealot who loves to surround himself with people who will make him look more righteous and special. He goes out of his way to call to himself one of the most hated people in the area. What is more, Jesus goes to his house. And not only does he grant a blessing upon his house, he participates in a party where many other tax collectors and “sinners” (those viewed as beyond the pale ceremonially and morally by the dominant Pharisaic party) were taking part. The Pharisees...

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Interview with Thomas R. Schreiner

I recently talked with Thomas R. Schreiner, the James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Associate Dean at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, about biblical content and its importance today in contemporary culture and the church. Below is our interview. JM: Tom, you’ve spent your life committed to studying and teaching the Bible. Isn’t a rather archaic thing to be doing in our contemporary world? TS: It is archaic in one sense, but sometimes the old truths are the best truths because they are the true truths. I could answer this in a number of ways, but here I want to say that I see no evidence that contemporary people, who have abandoned the scripture, live happier or more fulfilled lives. Instead many marriages are dissolving, many children grow up in homes plagued by fighting, and many wander from thing to thing in utter boredom. If they...

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April 5, 2017: An Amazing Claim!

Today’s Bible Reading: Joshua 10-12, Psalm 76, Mark 2:1-12, 1 Corinthians 4 Mark 2:1-12: The famous story has a point that is not always well elucidated. At the core of this interaction, Jesus is making an astonishing claim. When he says, “Your sins are forgiven,” Jesus is making an implicit claim to be God. The scribes understand this is what Jesus is saying, by remarking “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” The logic of this connection is quite often lost on people today. Think of it like this. If someone hits you, then you can offer them forgiveness. But if someone hits you, and a bystander looks at the person who hits you and says, “I forgive you,” then that would strike you as at the very least strange. What has that person done to the bystander that they can offer them forgiveness? The reason why Jesus’ claim is so outrageous is he is saying...

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April 4, 2017: Focus and Compassion

Today’s Bible Reading: Joshua 8-9, Psalm 75, Mark 1:35-45, 1 Corinthians 3 Mark 1:35-45: Jesus sets a model for us to follow. He rose early in the morning while it was still dark, found a place to be quiet, and prayed (1:35). Think for a moment, beloved. If the Son of All Glory, God Incarnate, Jesus the Christ, need pray—and pray with sufficient passion and conviction to rise early in the morning—then who among us dare begin any new venture, make any significant decision, attempt any major new initiative, without committing the time to pray? It shows the humility of the Christ, his wisdom and his utter dependence that he so prays. What an example for us to follow! Take no extra time to worry about the day ahead; commit it to the Lord in prayer, cast your burdens there. Having so prayed, Jesus now decides with clarity about his future direction. He has come to...

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April 3, 2017: The Fame of the Name

Today’s Bible Reading: Joshua 6-7, Psalm 74, Mark 1:21-34, 1 Corinthians 2 Mark 1:21-34: Jesus’ ministry is marked by a particular distinctive, “authority.” This authority is expressed in his not teaching like “the scribes” (1:22). Whereas the scribes cited human authorities and utilized human tradition in support of their opinions, and generally footnoted their assertions with the typical perambulations necessary for most acceptable religious discourse, Jesus preached differently. His message came with authority. This authority was unique to him. Only Jesus, the God-Man, could teach as a man but also with the authority of God. None other, however great the preacher, can so teach as this Man taught, for the Man who taught was not merely a man. That said, the “authority” of Jesus’ teaching is to a lesser degree a model for true preachers today. Those who are called to preach are called to preach God’s Word, to determine that message from the Bible...

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April 2, 2017: Follow Christ

Today’s Bible Reading: Joshua 3-5, Psalm 73, Mark 1:9-20, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 Mark 1:9-20: Jesus’ baptism is accompanied with an extraordinary voice from heaven along with the Spirit descending upon him: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (1:9-11). In Christ, through faith in him, we are beloved and “accepted in the beloved” too (Ephesians 1:6, KJV). It is amazing to hear the word of God given to attest to the identity of Christ. All true Christians have the assurance available to them that they are, in Christ, also “accepted” in Christ the “beloved.” Dwell in this thought today. You are not alienated; you are accepted. You are not hated, diminished, or dismissed; you are loved. After the baptism, after the spiritual “high,” comes the temptation (1:12-13). Jesus is fulfilling all that is necessary so that in life, as in death, he might be the full and complete perfect “Son” that...

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April 1, 2017: Mightier

Today’s Bible Reading: Joshua 1-2, Psalm 72, Mark 1:1-8, 1 Corinthians 1:1-17 Mark 1:1-8: Mark’s Gospel begins with a bang, not a whimper, and carries on at a fast pace through all of its pages. This gospel that is announced comes immediately with power and great energy. We can almost feel the passion of the apostle Peter preaching as we read. Do we have that sense of urgency? Does the “beginning” of the gospel get us up each morning with a mission and a zeal to go about preaching that gospel to others—and living it ourselves? The quotation is from Malachi as well as Isaiah. This is not because Mark does not know what he is doing. We can be sure he knew the Scriptures better than most of us. No, he follows the custom of either quoting the more famous prophet as the citation for both, or as the interpretation of the more obscure—as sometimes today...

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March 26-31, 2017

In keeping with the Bible reading plan we are using, the last days of each month are designated as “free days.” March 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 March 26-31, but will pick back up on April 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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