Devotionals

  • January 13, 2017: Love Your Enemies

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 31, Psalm 13, Matthew 5:33-46, Acts 8:1-25 Matthew 5:33-46: We have already, yesterday, commented on the repeated refrain that structures this middle section of the Sermon on the Mount—“you have heard that it was said…but I say to you.” This claim of Jesus to be the authoritative interpretation of the Scriptures, against the views of the Pharisees of his day, leads him to establish the spirituality of the commands. God is interested in our inner life, in the thinking of our hearts and the feeling of our minds, as much as outward conformity to the externalities of obedience. Now a similar thrust shapes the next section of commands, and they conclude with such an overarching demand that there is no way that the only intention of these commands can be practical obedience. Jesus concludes by telling us that we must be “perfect,” and not just perfect by a human…

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    January 12, 2017: Mind and Heart

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 29-30, Psalm 12, Matthew 5:21-32, Acts 7:39-60 Matthew 5:21-32: As we enter into this middle section of the Sermon on the Mount, before we come to the particularities of exactly what it is that Jesus is commanding, it is important to notice and reflect upon the basic repeated structure and refrain. Jesus begins by saying in verse 21, “You have heard that it was said.” After their hearing what has been said, he then develops his argument with an authoritative statement: “But I say to you” (5:22). That statement, that structure, that repeated refrain, occurs again in the next section (5:27-28), and in one form or another runs through this middle section of the Sermon on the Mount. Now it is important we grasp clearly what it is that Jesus is saying by this repeated refrain and structure. It is impossible that he is denying or undermining or countermanding…

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    January 11, 2017: Salt, Light and the Bible

    By Josh Moody

    Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 27-28, Psalm 11, Matthew 5:13-20, Acts 7:1-38 Matthew 5:13-20: This part of the Sermon on the Mount, in the section we are reading this morning, comprises two distinct sections and aims and goals. In the first, verses 13-16, Jesus is thinking about the witness, the lifestyle, the impact on the world, of this little fledging group of disciples, and he is teaching them about that and what it means to shine their light in the world. In the second section, verses 17-20, Jesus is countermanding a false impression that might be given by his authoritative style of teaching: he is not undermining or denying or undoing anything that has been written so far in the Bible (in what we call the Old Testament, aka the Law and the Prophets), but instead is fulfilling it all. Let’s look very briefly at these two sections separately. In the first, Jesus has…

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    January 10, 2017: Blessed

    By Josh Moody

    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

    By Josh Moody

    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

    By Josh Moody

    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

    By Josh Moody

    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

    By Josh Moody

    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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    Why I Wrote “7 Days to Change Your Life”

    By Josh Moody

    Why another book? Because it isn’t just another book. 7 Days to Change Your Life represents two experiences in my personal life. One is wrestling with God over the challenges that came into our family’s life when one of our children was diagnosed with severe autism. This book is not about autism: it’s about finding that God is there when you thought no one else was. It is written out of the experience of thinking that I was at a crossroads in my life, and realizing that I wasn’t really at a crossroads. I was at a cliff’s edge. And then I found that His Son, who suffered for me, was my redemption in that moment of deepest darkness. The other experience built over many years, being in conversation with someone in my study, scanning along my bookshelves for a book to give that person, and not finding quite the…

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    January 5, 2017: Spirit and Fire

    By Josh Moody

    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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