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July 1, 2018: Our Help Comes from God!

July 01, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 1-2, Psalm 123-124, Luke 7:11-17, Colossians 1:1-14 Psalm 123-124: What do you do when you are in trouble? The key is the eyes. “To you I lift up my eyes” (123:1). It is tempting, and natural enough, to look around at difficulties, to ponder them, and, as it were, focus all your attention upon the hassle and problems. With such a focus on these difficulties inevitably comes discouragement, perhaps circumstantial depression, and we can end up saying and doing things that drag us further down, and other people along with us. But this psalmist looks to God. How does he look at God? In what way, with what kind of attitude? “As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master” (123:2). Masters would indicate what they wanted by beckoning with their hand or pointing. A servant would look at the hand of his master or mistress…

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June 26-30, 2018

June 26, 2018:

In keeping with the Bible reading plan we are using, the last days of each month are designated as “free days.” June 26-30 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 June 26-30, but will pick back up on July 1, 2018.

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June 25, 2018: The House of the Lord!

June 25, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 2 Kings 24-25, Psalm 122, Luke 7:1-10, Philippians 4:14-23 Psalm 122: It is perhaps easy to think of the gathering of God’s people for church as a routine event. We get up, get ready, get the kids in the car if we have a young family, and turn up to church once more. There are some songs. There is a sermon. And it can all feel very much like a standard pattern, and perhaps—even—not always as exciting as we had hoped. After a while, a dose of cynicism may creep in, too, if we are not careful. We have come across people in church not behaving as they say that they do, or not being who they claim to be, and it can leave us with a sour taste in our mouth. But this psalmist has a quite different attitude. “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go…

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June 24, 2018: Ask for Help!

June 24, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 2 Kings 22-23, Psalm 121, Luke 6:43-49, Philippians 4:8-13 Psalm 121: The next step in this journey to joy is found in the psalm in front of us today. It is to call upon God for help. “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (121:1) For many of us, it is quite difficult to admit that we need help. But we will not journey very far with God without learning to humbly ask for God’s assistance. Would you cry out to God today and ask him for help? He certainly can help, for he “made heaven and earth.” The Creator of all lacks no power or ability to intervene in your life. And as the rest of the psalm then makes clear, he also wants to help. Let us then ask him! God “keeps” God’s…

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June 23, 2018: I Am for Peace

June 23, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 2 Kings 20-21, Psalm 120, Luke 6:37-42, Philippians 4:1-7 Psalm 120: I have written extensively on the Psalms of Ascents in a book called Journey to Joy. I have also preached through the Psalms. These devotionals will not go through the same ground again that you can find either online through the sermons or in the book Journey to Joy. Instead, I will make a few devotional comments on these Psalms of Ascents for our encouragement and strengthening. This first step on the journey from the bottom to the top, from despair to the presence of God, begins with a dose of blunt reality. The psalmist is surrounded by people who are lying about him, slandering him, deceiving people to attack him. Perhaps you have faced something similar. Perhaps you have had people lie about you, or even slander you. If so, it will be important to listen carefully to what…

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June 22, 2018: Seek Your Servant

June 22, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 2 Kings 18-19, Psalm 119:169-176, Luke 6:27-36, Philippians 3:15-21 Psalm 119:169-176: The same passion that has been evident throughout this psalm is present yet again. Is this how we react to God’s Word and to God himself? Do our eyes glaze over when we hear talk of God—and only perk up when we realize there is something in it for us? Or are we actually excited about God, about the Bible? There is nothing even conceivably more exciting than the person who made everything, rules everything, and runs everything. There is no possibility of finding any more thrilling communication than the Word of that God. How could we not be passionate about this God! How could we not be thrilled by his Bible! “Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to your word!” (119:169). “Let my plea come before you…” (169:170). “My tongue will sing of…

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June 21, 2018: Princes Persecute Me Without Cause

June 21, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 2 Kings 16-17, Psalm 119:161-168, Luke 6:17-26, Philippians 3:10-14 Psalm 119:161-168: It is one thing generally speaking to be under attack, but it is another thing to be under attack without any reason for it. It is still worse to be under attack when the person who is attacking you without any reason is a person of considerable authority. Imagine what it would be like then to find that “princes persecute you without cause” (119:161)? What would you do when a president begins a personal vendetta against you for no reason? Where would you find the strength to keep on going, the wisdom to know what to do, the power to survive—and not only survive but thrive? The psalmist has one answer to that: that strength comes from God’s Word. But that one answer is broken down into many subsections. Here’s what he does to survive the strain of being attacked…

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June 20, 2018: What to Pray When You Are Suffering

June 20, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 2 Kings 14-15, Psalm 119:153-160, Luke 6:1-16, Philippians 3:1-9 Psalm 119:153-160: The “affliction” of the author of Psalm 119 once more comes to the fore: “Look on my affliction and deliver me” (119:153). Do you sense that you have an “affliction”? That is, are you suffering, in pain, in trauma of some kind, whether emotional or physical? Sometimes we can so over-spiritualize suffering that we think the only kind of suffering for which there is real help from God is a very spiritual kind of suffering. But the psalmist here does not narrowly define his suffering; it is an “affliction.” Do you have that? This section of the psalm gives us some extra pointers for dealing with our own personal suffering. First of all, the psalmist prays to God about it. “Look on my affliction and deliver me.” But note he is not just praying about the suffering he is experiencing,…

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June 19, 2018: With My Whole Heart I Cry!

June 19, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 2 Kings 12-13, Psalm 119:145-152, Luke 5:33-39, Philippians 2:19-30 Psalm 119:145-152: Prayer can sometimes seem as if it is a cold-blooded affair. We are told to “say our prayers” or “to say a prayer” or even “give an invocation” or “make intercession.” But prayer in the Bible is life and fire, heat and passion. The psalmist is praying; but oh what praying! “With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord!” (119:145). “I call to you; save me” (119:146). “I rise before dawn and cry for help” (119:147). “Hear my voice” (119:149). It is significantly convicting, as well as encouraging, to hear the passionate crying to God in prayer modeled by this part of the psalm. Perhaps there is something that you want to pray about. Perhaps you even have, in some sense, prayed to God about it. But have you prayed like this? Have you prayed with this kind of…

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June 18, 2018: Righteous Are You

June 18, 2018:

Today's Bible Reading: 2 Kings 10-11, Psalm 119:137-144, Luke 5:27-32, Philippians 2:12-18 Psalm 119:137-144: It is almost a truism to say that what God does is right—but we nonetheless often question whether that truism is true in actual fact. Some of the parts of the Bible may seem to us harsh or difficult to understand. Some of what happens in this world (all of which we believe is somehow or other under God’s sovereign control) is undeniably harsh, painful, and difficult to understand. And yet, in the words of the psalm, “Righteous are you, O Lord, and right are your rules” (119:137). In fact, this issue of God’s “right-ness” or his “righteousness” is the key thread throughout this section of the psalm. It occurs twice in verse 137 to set the tone for the following verses. It occurs twice in verse 138 (“You have appointed your testimonies in righteousness and in all faithfulness.”) Similarly,…

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