God Centered Bible – Daily Devotions

January 10, 2017: Blessed

January 09, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 25-26, Psalm 10, Matthew 5:1-12, Acts 6 Matthew 5:1-12: These Beatitudes, which begin and launch and frame the Sermon on the Mount, are so rich with meaning and practical powerful impact, that to tackle them as one in a single devotional is nigh on impossible. I have preached several times on the Sermon on the Mount, and the Beatitudes in particular, and you can find more commentary there—and elsewhere. Probably the best book published on the Sermon on the Mount as a whole, in the last 100 years at least, is Martin Lloyd-Jones’ The Sermon on the Mount. The first thing to get clear about these Beatitudes is the meaning of the word “blessed.” To be blessed does not merely mean “to be happy” (though it certainly includes that). It has the intention of a declaration of what is truly the best kind of life to live. That person,…

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January 9, 2017: Follow Jesus

January 09, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 24, Psalm 9, Matthew 4:18-25, Acts 5:17-42 Matthew 4:18-25: Jesus calls Peter and Andrew with a simple and profound utterance: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (4:19). They were already fishermen—fishers of fish. But Jesus was now calling them to be fishers of men. They were being tasked with a new role, not any more employing their skills for the fishing trade, but now using those skills for a different goal and aim—to catch men. Instead of taking fish from life to death, they were take men from death to life. How well Jesus knew those he was calling! He termed the call of discipleship and the call to follow him and to evangelism and shepherding in terms that those he was calling could understand. They knew what it was to be fishermen. They were, perhaps, owners of a small fishing business—or the equivalent thereof—they…

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January 8, 2017: The Kingdom of Heaven

January 08, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 21-23, Psalm 8, Matthew 4:12-17, Acts 5:1-16 Matthew 4:12-17: The arrest of John had some impact on Jesus, in that hearing of his arrest “he withdrew into Galilee” (4:12). Perhaps he withdrew to pray, or re-gather for the next great stage of his ministry now that John, his forerunner, had been arrested. At any rate, he also then lived in an area that meant that Isaiah’s great prophecy, Isaiah chapter 9, would be more precisely fulfilled. And from that time on, he began to preach, as his core message and overall theme, the coming of the kingdom of heaven: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (4:17). The kingdom of heaven was at hand for Jesus was at hand. The King was there, and his kingdom was coming. It would be proclaimed by Jesus, established through the great work of his on the cross, preached to the…

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January 7, 2017: Temptation

January 07, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 18-20, Psalm 7, Matthew 4:1-11, Acts 4:23-37Matthew 4:1-11:  Jesus’ temptation functions at two levels for us. First, it tells us that Jesus was tempted in every way as we are—yet without sin—and so encourages us that he is able to empathize with our weakness (Hebrews 4:15); that no temptation has seized us except that which is common to man, and God will provide a way out so that we can stand up under it (1 Cor. 10:13); and that if we (in Christ’s power) resist the devil he will flee from us (James 4:7). It also tells us that Jesus, unlike Israel, was faithful in the wilderness, did not give in to temptation, and so Jesus is able to be our perfect righteousness and “fulfill all righteousness” (as Jesus had said in Matthew 3:15). In this devotional I am going to focus on the first of the two themes,…

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January 6, 2017: With Whom I Am Well Pleased

January 06, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 15-17, Psalm 6, Matthew 3:13-17, Acts 4:1-22Matthew 3:13-17:The baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist is one of the most compelling and dramatic moments in the Gospel accounts. It has several remarkable features.For one, we see Jesus here showing a degree of humility that is extraordinary. John is correct: Jesus does not “need” to be baptized. Baptism is a statement of repentance, and therefore it necessitates having something to repent about. Jesus, as God’s Son, and perfect in his righteousness, did not therefore need to be baptized.Two, what is more, John is also correct that if anyone was to be baptized the order should be reversed. John, though a righteous prophet, was not perfect, and it was his task to point to Jesus, not the other way around, and so if anyone was to be baptized in their relationship, if one was to baptize the other, the correct way to…

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January 5, 2017: Spirit and Fire

January 05, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 12-14, Psalm 5, Matthew 3:1-12, Acts 3 Matthew 3:1-12: “In those days John the Baptist”—so enters, in Matthew’s Gospel, this strange, extraordinary and great figure of biblical history: John the Baptist. He it is who prepares the way for the Lord, making straight his paths in the wilderness, declaring that Jesus is the Christ, is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and that his baptism is not merely with water but with the Holy Spirit and with fire. This John the Baptist figure has a “wilderness” ministry. He speaks out of the wilderness (3:1, 3). This is to underline the real situation that Israel found themselves in. They were still wandering in the desert, not having yet entered the Promised Land. And his baptism is a form of Jordan crossing; they must repent—unlike that generation who died in the wilderness—and bear fruit in keeping…

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January 4, 2017: God’s Plans Cannot Be Thwarted

January 04, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 9-11, Psalm 4, Matthew 2:13-23, Acts 2:22-47 Matthew 2:13-23: Prophetic fulfillment and angelic intervention. It is clear, from Matthew’s account, that what is happening is of cosmic, supernatural, world-changing impact. Not all the time do angels appear in the Bible. They turn up fairly rarely in the Old Testament, and not much more frequently in the New Testament. But here we have multiple angelic visitations. Similarly, the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy theme that runs throughout this section is underlining the significance of the event. Something truly unique is happening. The first prophecy is that God will call his son out of Egypt (2:15). Jesus therefore is being positioned as the perfect Son that Israel was not, in order to be the one who fulfills the destiny of the Son and through whose life (and death) victory is won for God’s people. The prophecy of Jeremiah is more somber…

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January 3, 2017: Exceeding Joy

January 03, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 5-8; Psalm 3, Matthew 2:1-12, Acts 2:1-21 Matthew 2:1-12: The visit of the “wise men” is a famous story—but what exactly is it intended to teach us? To begin with, the focus is on “worship” (three times repeated in these twelve verses), and in particular, a contrast between the response of Herod and the response of the Magi (or the “wise men”). Herod responds in fear, and a vicious secret plot begins to brew in his mind to protect his kingdom from this apparent threat of the newborn king. The Magi have come to worship, and because of this, they experienced great joy, rejoicing with great joy (2:10). Herod pretends that he too wishes to worship, but the reality is very different. The Christ-child has always called us to respond either in faith in worship, or if we find his rule a threat, we may find ourselves responding in a…

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January 2, 2017: God and Savior

January 02, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 3-4, Psalm 2, Matthew 1:18-25, Acts 2:12-26 Matthew 1:18-25: The birth of Jesus Christ, as we remember at Christmas, is the fulcrum of the world, the center point of history, and the very pinnacle of God’s salvation plan—as it works its way out through the life, death, resurrection, ascension and return of the Lord Jesus Christ. This God-man, this baby, was born Savior of the world. But how strange it must have seemed to Joseph, and this part of the account in Matthew is told more from his perspective. Joseph, being an honorable man, resolved to divorce Mary quietly, keeping his allegiance to the law of God, but also avoiding causing unnecessary shame and pain to Mary and her family. But an angel of the Lord appears to him and explains the cause of Mary’s unexplained pregnancy: it is supernatural in origin, from God, and in fulfillment to all…

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January 1, 2017: God’s Saving King

January 01, 2017:

Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 1-2, Psalm 1, Matthew 1:1-17, Acts 1:1-11 Matthew 1:1-17: Genealogies are not normally thought to be best-selling literature. But in certain contexts, and when rightly understood, they are thrilling. Missionaries tell me that in some cultures the translation of the Bible most eagerly anticipated is the genealogy. That is because, in cultures where family and heritage are greatly prized, these descriptions make it clear that Jesus is both real and of significant descent to claim the adulation rightly due his name. They also proclaim a message.[easy-tweet tweet="When rightly understood, genealogies are thrilling. They also proclaim a message. " user="godcenteredlife" hashtags="genealogies"] In general, that is the key with reading genealogies: think of them less as a family tree, with every branch arduously and specifically recorded, and more like a CV or resume, which are written truthfully but with an eye to telling a particular story about the individual. This story,…

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