Category Archives: Moody Global Ministries

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – WHY BLOOD?

 

Hebrews 9:1–28

A classmate of Billy Sunday, hymn writer Lewis Jones (1865–1936) attended Moody Bible Institute. Upon graduation, he worked for the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), and at a camp meeting in Maryland he wrote the words to the hymn, “There Is Power in the Blood.”

Would you be free from the burden of sin?

There’s power in the blood, power in the blood;

Would you o’er evil a victory win?

There’s wonderful power in the blood.

Jones was writing about the power in Christ’s blood, offered on our behalf, as we read in our text today. The writer of the book of Hebrews draws heavily on the book of Leviticus, and Leviticus 17:11 provides some helpful context for this passage: “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” Why did God require the presentation of the animal’s blood in the sacrifices of the Mosaic Law? Because it represented the unblemished life that atoned for the people’s sins (vv. 7, 13).

In the book of Hebrews, Jesus is described as our high priest who entered God’s presence with the perfect offering of His blood. He was the only human who lived a sinless life before God. He was resurrected from the dead with a body that defeated death and decay. He was the only One who could come into the heavenly Most Holy Place, into the presence of God the Father, and bring a sacrifice of perfect life and obedience (vv. 24–28).

And He did this for us! Jesus makes this sacrifice so that we can have forgiveness from our sins and fellowship with God. Our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ Himself, which offers “eternal redemption” (v. 12).

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Our culture tends to be averse to blood, finding it painful or gory. But this passage underscores the beauty and power of the blood of Christ offered on our behalf. If you are able, sing or listen to the old hymn, “There Is Power in the Blood,” and rejoice in the amazing truth today. You are forgiven through the blood of Jesus!

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – WE HAVE THE WORDS OF LIFE

 

Romans 1:8–17

The famous nineteenth-century preacher Charles Spurgeon was once asked how he would defend the Bible against its critics. He responded, “Open the door and let the lion out; he will take care of himself.”

As we begin the work of evangelism, we often find ourselves already discouraged. We recognize our own shortcomings, and we worry that we are poor examples of the life of faith. We fear that we will have no answers to the objections of unbelievers. We doubt that our feeble words will have any effect on their hearts. Today’s passage is just the encouragement we need! We have the words of life (John 6:68).

First, Paul sets an example for us by his commitment to telling people about Christ. Three times in this passage (vv. 9, 13, 15), Paul expresses how eager he is to come to Rome and preach the gospel. Paul’s confidence that this is exactly what the Romans need can encourage us in our own evangelistic work. What the people in our communities need most is to hear from us about Jesus.

Paul also tells us why he was so determined to preach the gospel and continue preaching it: because he knew it was the power of salvation (vv. 16–17). Every one of us who has been saved from sin knows this to be true. The message of Christ crucified for sinners reveals God’s righteousness to those who receive it by faith (see Rom. 3:21–26). And we cannot be ashamed of the precious truth that has brought us from death to life.

Our words to our unbelieving neighbors may sound inadequate to our ears, but God assures us that the message of the gospel comes from our lips with power—His power!—for the salvation of everyone who believes.

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At times, the work of evangelism seems fruitless and hopeless. God encourages us to this difficult task by reminding us that the gospel is powerful, and we do not need to be either discouraged or ashamed. If you have not already done so, memorize Romans 1:16. Be encouraged by its promise. Then, open the door and let the lion out!

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – FOR THE GLORY OF GOD

 

Ephesians 1:1–14

Many of our Christian testimonies have the same elements: Someone told us about Jesus, we saw the horror of our sin and understood our need for a Savior, we cried out to Him and were saved. And we have loved and followed Him ever since.

Those testimonies are true accounts of our conversion, but they are also told from our human perspective. In today’s passage, Paul shifts camera lens to show us what our salvation looks like from God’s perspective. Here, we see that even before we were born (v. 4), God was at work to make us His possession. According to “his pleasure and will” (v. 5), He chose us for holiness, predestined us for adoption, redeemed us by His blood, made Himself known to us, and marked us with the seal of His Holy Spirit.

Three times in this passage Paul lays out God’s purpose in His saving work through Christ. He saved us “to the praise of his glorious grace” (v. 6), “for the praise of his glory” (v. 12), and “to the praise of his glory” (v. 14). Jesus came to Earth to live and die for sinners so that God might be known and magnified. When one sinner repents, the heavenly angels rejoice because God receives all the glory (see Luke 15:10).

This means that our evangelistic efforts are not merely focused on the salvation of lost people—though that is important! Our evangelistic efforts aim for something even higher: the glory of God. We evangelize not only because we love people. We evangelize because we love God. As John Piper wrote: “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the Church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man.”

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The goal of evangelism is the glory of God. When sinners trust in Christ, He is honored and lifted high. As evangelists, we need to set our hearts on this ultimate goal. When you share the gospel with people, pray for God’s glory to be magnified in their lives. When people repent and believe, give thanks to God for glorifying Himself.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – GOD WAITS BECAUSE HE WANTS ALL TO COME

2 Peter 3:8–14

David Nasmith had a heart to bring the gospel to the poor in Glasgow, Scotland. On January 1, 1826, he opened the first city mission known in the Protestant world. This organization ministered to spiritual and physical needs, including preaching, worship services, literature distribution, health care and medical services, schools, visiting prisoners, and legal advocacy. His model inspired many other city missions around the world.

Nasmith shared God’s heart for all to be saved. It should encourage us that waiting is not only a human experience. In some mysterious way, it is a divine experience as well. God waits patiently because He wants “everyone to come to repentance” (v. 9). He “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). Though lengths of time mean nothing to Him (v. 8), He still chooses to “wait” as part of His plan. To us, this may feel “slow,” but it just means that God is patient in His promise-keeping. Patience is the virtue or attribute that empowers waiting.

God desires for His gift of salvation to be received by as many as possible. As the apostle Paul described it, He desires “the full number of the Gentiles [to] come in” (Rom. 11:25). He takes no pleasure in sending people to hell. Without this patience and love, there would be no reason for time to continue. The Day of the Lord might as well arrive immediately. When it does arrive, it will do so suddenly and disastrously, “like a thief” (v. 10).

How should we live while God waits (vv. 11–14)? We should live “holy and godly lives.” We should joyfully anticipate the Day of the Lord, for the old will be destroyed and “a new heaven and a new earth” will be born.

APPLY THE WORD

If God wants “everyone to come to repentance,” how can we want any less? Sharing the good news with others is an excellent way to learn and reflect the heart of God. Consider unbelievers He’s put in your life, such as family, friends, neighbors, or work colleagues. Pray for opportunities to witness through words and actions.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – GOD’S LIGHT GUIDES AND PROTECTS

Read EXODUS 13:17-22

Scripture often represents the glory of God as a brilliant light. When King Solomon dedicated the temple in Jerusalem, for example, the cloud of God’s glory filled the place to such an extent that the priests were unable to serve (1 Kings 8). This cloud of dazzling light signified God’s special presence with His people, and by extension, His covenant love and faithfulness.

This was not only a metaphorical light (as David meant yesterday) but at times a literal, physical light symbolizing God’s presence. During the Exodus from Egypt, He guided and protected the Israelites with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (vv. 21–22). He spoke from these pillars (Ex. 33:9; Ps. 99:7). They were a verifiable, physical reality that could also be seen by Israel’s enemies (Num. 14:14).

These pillars went in front of the people, showing them the way they should go. They provided a reliable and comforting reminder that the God who had freed them from centuries of slavery and the grip of a powerful king was still there and would not abandon them. Therefore, it symbolized not only God’s presence but also His compassion (see Neh. 9:19).

At a practical level, God’s light allowed the people to travel by night as well as by day. He graciously led them the long way around, so that they wouldn’t immediately be forced to fight the Philistines (vv. 17–18). Not only were they unready militarily, they also possessed weak faith.

The presence of Joseph’s body should have been an encouragement in this regard (v. 19). The day had finally arrived when Joseph’s prophecy would be fulfilled (Gen. 50:24–25) and God would take His people to their “promised land.”

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The story of the Exodus tells of many points at which the Israelites wished to return to Egypt, imagining that their lives had been better there. This seems foolish and irrational—yet too often we seem to wish the same. By our words and actions, it sometimes appears we would rather return to slavery to sin than follow Christ to true freedom.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – A SHORT HISTORY OF THE TRIBE OF BENJAMIN

Read 1 CHRONICLES 8

Karl Vaters, church pastor and author of The Grasshopper Myth, calls small churches “the next big thing.” Vaters believes “small churches are uniquely poised to meet the needs of Millennials and perhaps turn the tide on the trend of the unchurched.”

Today’s passage focuses on the tribe of Benjamin, described as “little” in Psalm 68. This tribe was descended from Jacob’s youngest son. At the time of the first census it numbered 35,400 and by the second census had grown to 45,600 (Num. 1:37; 26:41). When Saul was chosen to be Israel’s first king, he noted that Benjamin was “the smallest tribe of Israel” and he was from least significant clan in that tribe (1 Sam. 9:21). Benjamin distinguished itself by siding with David when the Northern tribes revolted against him.

In chapter 8, the author mentions several locations within Benjamin, placing special emphasis on Gibeon and Jerusalem. Jerusalem shared a border with Judah and Benjamin. The chapter concludes with the family of Saul, setting the stage for the narratives that follow which describe the rise of David and the establishment of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The story of Benjamin is mixed. It includes tales of victory as cities were built and giants defeated, but there is an underlying note of warning. The original audience would have known that Saul’s reign began with promise but ended in tragedy.

An old hymn asks, “Does the place you’re called to labor seem too small and little known? / It is great if God is in it, And He’ll not forget His own.” God is not daunted by small size or limited resources. As the refrain of this song declares, “Little is much if God is in it.”

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Little is much if God is in it—but He must be in the method as well as the motive. As the stories of Saul and David demonstrate, small size is no obstacle, but our failure in the areas of faith and obedience will be. Ask God where and how He wants you to exercise your faith today. The sphere may be small, but the effect will be great.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – A RADICAL PLEA

Read PHILEMON 17-25

Yesterday we saw the way Paul challenged Philemon to see Onesimus differently now that the slave had become a Christian. Today, Paul challenges another common Roman practice: the treatment of runaway slaves with severe punishment.

Given this cultural expectation and Onesimus’ slave status, Paul’s plea was quite radical. He was urging Philemon to treat Onesimus not with punishment but with love, respect, and welcome.

Now that Onesimus was a Christian, Paul highlighted their partnership with one another and urged Philemon to put into practice his own “partnership with us in the faith” (v. 6). Notice Paul’s emphasis on partnership, which he repeats throughout this letter: “If you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me” (v. 17). That deep Christian fellowship is emphasized again when Paul asserted: “If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me” (v. 18).

As brothers and sisters in Christ, we must not only change the way we view one another, we must also treat one another in ways that reflect that new relationship. Paul’s earlier words were already pressing Philemon in this direction, but then he went further. He asked Philemon to have “some benefit (onaimen) from you in the Lord” (v. 20), a play on the slave’s name Onesimus, which means “benefit.” Not only was Paul asking Philemon to view and welcome Onesimus as a brother, he was asking Philemon to release his slave for service to Paul, to allow the “beneficial one” (Onesimon) to remain a “benefit” (onaimen) to Paul by staying with him. For a first-century slaveholder, this was a radical request indeed, but in light of the gospel, it was the full realization of their true relationship in Christ.

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Yesterday we were encouraged to view our Christian relationships with new eyes. Today we are urged to put that perspective into practice. The reality is that we will need to forgive each other and offer restoration to brothers and sisters. Is there someone whom you need to forgive? Is there someone whom you’ve marginalized as inferior?

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – ISRAEL’S FAITHLESSNESS AND DISOBEDIENCE AT THE BORDER

Read Numbers 14

Born in 1809, Kit Carson was one of the most famous scouts and frontiersmen in American history. He helped guide the westward journeys of explorers, fought on the Union side during the Civil War, and advocated for the creation of reservations, arguing they would save Native Americans from extinction. But he also fought against them, including brutally removing the Navajo people from their traditional lands.

Among the twelve scouts or spies sent into Canaan, Joshua and Caleb were the only ones who delivered their report in faith. The Israelites’ complaining and rebellious spirit had warped their perspective to the point where they seriously thought death in Egypt would have been preferable to entering Canaan and trusting God to keep His promises (v. 2). They even talked about picking a new leader and returning to the country that had enslaved them for four centuries (v. 4).

This was pathetic and sad and funny, but mainly tragic. Their words and actions insulted the Lord. Confounded by this incredible sin, Moses and Aaron fell facedown before God, once again interceding for the people. Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes in grief and tried again to persuade Israel to obey. In response, the nation doubled down on its sinful foolishness and suggested stoning the two of them (vv. 6–11).

In response, God righteously and angrily proposed wiping out Israel and starting fresh with Moses. But Moses passionately interceded, not on the basis of what the people deserved but on the basis of God’s character, “slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion” (v. 18). In the end, God spared the nation, punished the ten spies immediately, and decreed that the guilty generation would wander and die in the wilderness (vv. 32–38).

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Moses and Daniel give us excellent biblical examples of interceding for one’s nation (Daniel 9). Many values, practices, and lifestyles are widely accepted in America today that Scripture calls wrong. Knowing how displeased God must be, are we daily interceding and repenting for the past and present sins of our nation?

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – THE DEDICATION OF THE TABERNACLE

Read Numbers 7

A groundbreaking ceremony for a new building project is often attended by the leaders of the organization and local community or government officials. Selected dignitaries use special shovels to dig out a piece of ground to mark the formal beginning of the project. And then when a building is finished, the leaders and officials gather again for the ribbon cutting. Large decorative scissors replace the shovels at the ceremony to mark the opening of a new place.

Our reading today describes the dedication of the tabernacle. Chronologically, this event took place one month before those of chapters 1 through 6, but it is placed here in Numbers to make its significance clear.

The dedication of the tabernacle was a milestone in multiple ways. It was a national milestone, marking the end of a transition from slavery to nationhood. It was a religious milestone, ushering in a new era in which worship and daily life were governed by the Law God had given at Sinai. It was an identity milestone, as the Lord once again stamped His name on His people (6:27). And it was a faithfulness milestone—mainly of God’s faithfulness in keeping His promises, but also of Israel’s obedience in getting this far and obeying God’s specific instructions for building the tabernacle.

The dedication festival was huge and lasted twelve days! The leaders of each tribe presented elaborate and expensive gifts, marking the importance of the event (vv. 84–88). Each tribe gave the same, no matter their size or status, indicating their equal standing before the Lord. The repetitive structure of the chapter reflects the serious, formal, ceremonial nature of the occasion. As in Exodus 40, the climax was the descent of the cloud—the visible manifestation of the Lord’s presence and glory—and God speaking directly to Moses.

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Throughout Scripture, giving generously to the work of the Lord is an act of worship and obedience. If regular financial giving is not part of your stewardship, review 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 in light of our text today. Ask the Lord to show how you can give joyfully and freely to support His work through Christian ministries.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – JESUS TEACHES HIS DISCIPLES TO PRAY

Read Matthew 6:1-15

On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most famous presidential speeches in the history of the United States. His “Gettysburg Address” was only 272 words long—just ten sentences, but it defined the country’s purpose and set its priorities for generations.

Our study now brings us to the New Testament, and in today’s familiar passage Jesus establishes a focus and framework for His disciples’ prayers. First, He cautions them against pride. Prayer is an acknowledgment of dependence on God, and pride—in public displays of piety (v. 5) or in fancy, fluent language (v. 7)—has no place in true supplication. Instead, the one who comes to God can bring only what the English Puritan Thomas Manton called “the empty hand of faith.”

Jesus’ exemplary prayer, surprisingly brief, shows His disciples what to ask. He sets the primary concerns of God’s glory and the fulfillment of His saving purposes at the forefront. Then, He reminds the disciples what they need: material provision, forgiveness, and deliverance from sin. And Jesus shows them how to ask, demonstrating by His words a sincere and humble dependence on God for both kingdom concerns and daily needs.

He also tells them with whom they should ask. Jesus’ disciples were familiar with praying together; several times during His earthly ministry, Jesus took His disciples with Him to the place of prayer and asked them to pray alongside Him. So it is not surprising that the language of the Lord’s Prayer is consistently corporate. From “Our Father” to “deliver us from the evil one,” Jesus taught His disciples not just to pray in private (v. 6) but also to pray with other believers, asking their common Father for their common needs.

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We are not left to figure out prayer on our own. God has graciously given us an example of the kind of prayer that He is pleased to hear. What’s more, He encourages us to join in prayer with other people who share the same needs and concerns. Ask the Lord to show you someone with whom you could come to Him in prayer.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – GOD PROVIDES IN THE FACE OF WOLVES

Read MATTHEW 10:16–20

For seven years, it seemed like justice would never come for two young sisters in Bolivia who were sexually assaulted by a neighbor. The perpetrator was assured that if he ran away, the case would be forgotten. But a Christian legal team from International Justice Mission (IJM) would not give up. They provided care and counseling for the two girls and finally tracked down the assailant. In June of this year, he was convicted and sentenced to prison.

God provided care and justice for these two girls, just one example of His provision even in the face of “wolves.” “Wolves” are enemies of the gospel and of God’s people. Perhaps surprisingly, the Good Shepherd Himself sends us out among them (v. 16; John 10:11–12).

When confronted by wolves, we must be “as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” as well as watchful or “on your guard” (vv. 16–17). That is to say, we are to act with a combination of practical wisdom (shrewdness) and guilelessness (innocence) or simple straightforwardness. We should not practice evil, nor should we be surprised at what evil tries to do to us. Self-protection is not to be our top priority. If we’re obeying Christ’s call to spread the gospel, persecution is inevitable (vv. 17–18).

One form of God’s provision in the face of “wolves” is words. The Spirit will give us the right words to say when we’re persecuted for the sake of the gospel (vv. 19–20). There’s no need to worry about what to say or how to defend ourselves. Going out as “sheep among wolves” is not a comforting picture. We’d rather think about green pastures and quiet waters! But when we go, we can do so in the confidence that God provides and protects. The God of David and the disciples is our God, too!

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Church leaders have a special responsibility to defend their congregations against “savage wolves,” false teachers and false doctrines (Acts 20:28–31). Pastors and other leaders are under- shepherds, charged with protecting the flock. If you’re a leader, take this responsibility seriously, and if you’re not, support your leaders in prayer!

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – GOD PROVIDES EVEN WHEN WE’RE OVERWHELMED

Read JOHN 6:1–13

God promised Israel abundant provision for the Year of Jubilee. A single harvest would suffice for three years’ worth of food—the harvest year itself, the sabbath (seventh) year following, and the Year of Jubilee (every 50 years) after that. The Lord said, “I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years” (Lev. 25:21).

One of Jesus’ miracles in particular evokes this theme of abundant provision—the feeding of the 5,000. It’s the only miracle (other than the Resurrection) found in all four Gospels. One of its many lessons is that God provides even when we feel overwhelmed.

There’s no question that this situation was too much to handle by ordinary means. The crowd numbered 5,000 men, but including women and children it would have been much larger. Philip guessed it would take six months’ wages to buy enough food for them (v. 7), an estimate that may have been a bit low. Even if they would have had the money, they were not near a market. Instead, Andrew found one boy with one small lunch consisting of five barley loaves and two fish. “How far will they go among so many?” he asked (v. 9). Not far, obviously. Andrew’s question implied a request, made in faith, for Jesus to do something.

Jesus in fact already had a plan (v. 6). He miraculously multiplied the boy’s lunch into more than enough food

for all the people. There were even leftovers (v. 13)! One study Bible notes that at this time all Jews carried small baskets for picking up scraps after meals because wasting bread was seen as disrespecting God’s provision. Giving thanks for the food was not a mere ritual, but a way to honor and glorify God for this miracle.

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You probably don’t have to feed a crowd of 5,000, but perhaps it feels like 5,000 bill collectors are knocking at your door! Commit to the Lord any overwhelming situation you’re facing, and read the rest of John 6. Though things look impossible, we can trust God to provide, and we already have the most abundant provision of all—His Son.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – LOVE OF MONEY DESTROYS GODLY CONTENTMENT

Read 1 TIMOTHY 6:3–10

John the Baptist preached a message of repentance in preparation for the coming of God’s kingdom and Messiah. He clearly called people to repent from the sins of greed or the love of money. For example, he told tax collectors not to use their positions of power for personal gain. And soldiers were told not to extort money but instead to be content with their pay (Luke 3:7–14).

The truth is that the love of money destroys godly contentment. It is the ally of worry and anxiety, turning it into a habit or lifestyle. People can be governed by the love of money at any financial level when they are consumed by what they own or don’t own and obsessed with what they want.

This describes the false teachers in today’s reading (vv. 3–5). Their aim was “financial gain” (cf. 2 Cor. 2:17). They were also marked by pride, a tendency toward quarrels and controversies, and a lack of faithfulness to Christ’s and the apostles’ teaching.

By contrast, godly contentment is rooted in a proper balancing of the temporal and material with the eternal and spiritual (vv. 6–8). As they say, you can’t take it with you—therefore, all we should need for contentment is to have our basic material needs met. In light of what we’ve already studied this month, this is clearly a call to faith in God as our Provider.

Paul’s warning here is a strong one (vv. 9–10; cf. Luke 16:13). The desire to get rich is a temptation and a trap. The inevitable result is spiritual destruction; such people wander from the faith. As we’ve seen, the “love of money is a root of all kinds of evil,” a doorway to many other sins (v. 10). It is the enemy not only of contentment but also of righteousness and fruitfulness.

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On this Election Day, let’s pray for our nation! Remember state and local elections as well as the national one. Prayer is a far better option than worry or anxiety, for it acknowledges God as the Sovereign of the universe and Lord over all human leaders, including the new president of the United States (Prov. 21:1)!

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – GREED, ANXIETY, AND THE ESCALATION OF DISCONTENT

Read 1 KINGS 21:1–19

Recent research tells us that 38 percent, about two out of every five Americans, worry every day. Women worry more than men. Younger people worry more than older people. Top worries include relationships, housing, and finances.

King Ahab wasn’t worried about making ends meet. But even people who have enough can worry about money. Ahab allowed his greed to make him irritated, anxious, and discontent. This illustrates what Ecclesiastes said yesterday—one can work and acquire but remain unsatisfied—as well as the fact that the sin of worry is related to the sin of envy or covetousness.

King Ahab wanted to purchase land to add to his summer estate at Jezreel (vv. 1–3). The owner, Naboth, refused the offer, however, because the land was a family inheritance from the Lord. To sell it would be tantamount to betraying God for money. In other ancient Near Eastern nations, a king could just seize what he wanted; but Israel’s laws, given by God, were different. Ahab didn’t take the news well, pouting and sulking like a small child (vv. 4–6).

Queen Jezebel solved his problem (vv. 7–16). Through bullying and false accusations, she arranged for Naboth to be stoned to death. She even used the Law to accomplish her plan, adding blasphemy to murder, lies, and injustice. Given the charges, Naboth’s sons were probably stoned along with him, so there was no one to stand in the way when Ahab took possession of the vineyard.

Probably no one was fooled by Jeze- bel’s deceptions, but no one had the courage to oppose her until Elijah did so (vv. 17–19). The prophecies against her and Ahab were fulfilled in 2 Kings 9 and 10, executed by Jehu, who had heard them spoken (see 9:25–26)—a perfect example of poetic justice.

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One sin tends to breed others. Ahab’s greed, envy, or covetousness led to discontent, a form of worry. The discontent led to anger, which led to his complicity in his wife’s abuse of power, lies, murder, and blasphemy. Worry might not seem like much, but when we see how it produces a tangle of other sins, we understand better how serious it is.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – GOD IS OUR CONSOLATION IN THE FACE OF ANXIETY

Read PSALM 94:16–23

Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkins sometimes struggled with anxiety and spiritual depression. In one poem, “Carrion Comfort,” he remembered feeling that God had stomped him with a “right foot rock,” pinned him down with a “lionlimb,” and was glaring at his “bruisèd bones” with “darksome devouring eyes.” He lay in a heap, enduring storm after storm—like Jacob, “wrestling with (my God!) my God.”

Hopkins endured a dark year and learned in a deep and difficult way, as the writer of Psalm 94 had, that God is our best consolation. The psalmist was worried because he was caught in a threatening situation. The wicked appeared to be in power, able to gang up on the righteous and accomplish injustice (v. 21). His very life was at stake; he was about to slip and fall (vv. 17–18).

These very real problems naturally led to questions: Who will stand with me? Who will rescue me? How can God allow this (vv. 16, 20)? Asking such anguished questions is a perfectly legitimate spiritual thing to do. In fact, directing our questions to the Lord shows faith that He’s big enough to answer them.

Even in the midst of his worry, the psalmist knew the answer: God. The Lord is the best “consolation” in the midst of painful events (v. 19). Consolation here is not a pat on the head. The knowledge that God is a “fortress” and “rock” in whom we can “take refuge” brings joy (vv. 19, 22). Another way of rendering verse 19 is, “When worries threaten to overwhelm me, your comforts cause my soul to delight.” The psalmist knows that God is a God who saves because of His unfailing love (vv. 17–18). He is not a God who allies Himself with corruption but who guarantees justice (vv. 20, 23; Ps. 89:14).

APPLY THE WORD

God often ministers to us through His people, and we can be instruments of His consolation through kind and encouraging words. As Proverbs 12:25 says: “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” Pray for specific opportunities today to use words for others’ good and for the Holy Spirit’s help in saying the right thing.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – RATHER THAN WORRY, SEEK FIRST GOD’S KINGDOM

Read MATTHEW 6:31–34

In The Radical Pursuit of Rest: Escaping the Productivity Trap, John Koessler considers today’s passage: “We feel the weight of anxiety because we have placed our trust in the wrong thing. We depend on the means of production. Or we rely on the things that are produced. Jesus says all these things come from the hand of God. . . . [Worry] is the thinking of people who see themselves as orphaned. Such anxiety is the anguished cry of a soul that has forgotten it has a Father in heaven.”

In this sense, seeking God’s kingdom is supposed to be restful. Worry and anxiety, on the other hand, are stressful. Today’s passage begins with “So,” meaning “therefore” or “as a result.” Because worry is useless, and because God provides, we’re commanded not to worry (vv. 31, 34). We’re not to be obsessed or anxious about food and clothing, and by extension, material things or the future in general.

Two additional reasons are given for us to obey this sensible command (v. 32). First, worry characterizes pagans, not worshipers of God. Unbelievers do not have the security of a loving, all- powerful Father. They spend their lives depending on themselves and chasing lesser things. We should act differently. Second, God already knows what we need. Worrying is a kind of behavior that acts as if He didn’t—which, when you think about it, is (again) ridiculous.

What should we do rather than worry? Jesus says there is something worth being obsessed about: the kingdom of heaven (v. 33). We’re commanded to seek it above all else. This means to strive for the rule or reign of God in our lives and communities (Matt. 6:10). Along with that, we’re to seek “his righteousness,” meaning we’re to strive to live the righteous life God desires. “His kingdom and his righteousness” go hand in hand!

APPLY THE WORD

The Radical Pursuit of Rest, by Moody professor and Today in the Word contributing editor John Koessler, offers wonderful guidance for those who desire God’s kingdom and want to take to heart Jesus’ words: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28, 30).

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – GOD’S SALVATION IN THE LAST DAYS

Read 2 PETER 3:15–18

In 1972, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission began requiring child-resistant packaging for medicines in response to the number of children who were accidentally poisoned by ingesting aspirin, medications, or other household products. After the requirement, the number of child deaths plummeted, from 216 deaths in 1972 to 29 fatalities in 1999. These prevention measures have saved many lives.

Peter is also urging his readers to take preventive measures to inoculate themselves against the poison of the false teachers. The core ingredient of their poison was misrepresentation of the Word of God. These blasphemers were not ignorant of God’s commands; rather, they distorted and twisted Scripture—including the teaching of Jesus and the apostles—to justify their own immorality (v. 16). Satan in the Garden of Eden had questioned the nature of God’s command to not eat from the tree; now the false prophets questioned the nature of God’s character, arguing that their lives of lust and greed proved that God’s judgment was an empty threat.

Not so, says Peter! They’ve misconstrued the evidence. The delay in God’s judg- ment doesn’t reveal His impotence—it is evidence of His patience! His grace and mercy abound, giving sinners opportunity for repentance (v. 15). Judgment will come, but so will God’s salvation.

The best way to prevent the deadly poison of apostasy is to continue growing “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (v. 18). We grow in our knowledge of Him through prayer and the study of His Word, and we grow in grace through our commitment to live in a way that reflects His character of love, humility, and truth. May we stand strong in our faith, and may our lives bring Him glory!

APPLY THE WORD

God’s patience extends salvation to us, His Word guides us, a relationship with Him brings us joy, and we have the promise of eternal life forever in His presence. Make a list of the blessings of God for which you’re thankful, and when you face the temptations from the world, use it as a reminder of who God is and what He has done for you.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – HUMILITY IN CHURCH RELATIONSHIPS

Read 1 PETER 5:1–5

Stories about clergy abusing power have been all too common in recent years. Leaders across Christian denominations have been charged with sexual abuse of their congregants, including children. Others have used tithes and donations to furnish a lavish lifestyle, with private jets and luxurious mansions. Some develop a cult of personality, requiring church members to follow their every whim and dictate.

These stories are tragic for many reasons, but especially because they illustrate how far we fall from the call of Scripture to be characterized by humility in our relationships with each other. Peter has already described the humility of Jesus as our example for relationships in the home, and now he reminds all of us in the church to embrace humility.

Church leaders are to be “shepherds of God’s flock,” faithfully serving the people entrusted to their spiritual care (v. 2). This was countercultural: leaders of organizations at that time, whether in business or the military or government, were expected to claim the perks of their position and demand subservience from underlings (see Matt. 20:25–27). But leaders in the church should view their position as an opportunity to serve. Rather than pursuing financial gain in this life, their motivation should be pleasing the Lord, “the Chief Shepherd,” to receive “the crown of glory that will never fade away” (v. 4).

Lest members of the church misconstrue this exhortation and conclude that their leaders can be ignored or undermined, Peter also calls them to humility. The church should not be a place where people jockey for power and control. It should be known for love, humility, and hospitality, a place where leaders serve and care for God’s people and where members support and pray for one another.

APPLY THE WORD

Spend time today in prayer for the leaders of your church. They are human, and no doubt flawed. But pray that the Lord will strengthen their focus on the Chief Shepherd and their eternal rewards in order to faithfully care for the church. What are practical ways to encourage them? Can you volunteer to help with a program, or send them a note of appreciation?

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – SALVATION LIVING: JESUS IS LORD

Read 1 PETER 3:13–22

King Pyrrhus of Epirus defeated the Roman army at Heraclea in 280 B.C., but sustained heavy casualties among his own troops. After a second victory over Rome a year later, Pyrrhus reportedly said, “If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined.” The term Pyrrhic victory means a win so costly that it actually leads to demise.

Throughout this letter Peter has reminded his readers that Jesus is our example. He was chosen before the creation of the world to make it possible for us to be chosen by God (1:2, 20).

He is the cornerstone, and we are the living stones in God’s spiritual house (2:4–6). He suffered injustice without retaliation, and we can also respond with gentleness and humility (2:21–23). Now Peter encourages his readers with the example of Jesus’ ultimate victory (v. 22).

Jesus’ victory is the opposite of Pyrrhus. Jesus appeared to suffer the worst kind of defeat—a humiliating death while being taunted by His enemies (v. 18). But this defeat in fact led to His glorious victory, because He was obedient to the will of the Father who resurrected Him and vanquished the power of death

and sin (vv. 17, 21). Now Jesus reigns in heaven “with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him” (v. 22).

This is more than a nice theological statement—it should affect how we live. We can endure suffering and even what looks like defeat because we know Jesus has been victorious. We can be free from fear of attacks from the world because we know that Jesus is our Savior. We can respond to others with “gentleness and respect” because we know that we, and all of creation, are ultimately subject to Jesus our Lord (v. 15).

APPLY THE WORD

Do the people around you see the hope that you have in Christ? Do your gentle responses to criticism surprise them? When our lives follow the example of Jesus, we then might have an opening to share with others the wonderful truth of the gospel. Sometimes our most profound witnessing opportunities happen as a result of our response to difficulties.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – SALVATION LIVING: BLESSING OTHERS

Read 1 PETER 3:8–12

Social media has intensified the scope of public insults. While politicians and celebrities have traded public barbs for centuries, today millions of followers on Facebook or Instagram can follow the barrage of insults in real time. Some websites have started lists such as “Top Ten Twitter Wars!” or “The Ten Most Epic Celebrity Twitter Fights!”

Our natural reaction when attacked is to strike back. We want to win the Twitter war. We want to have the last word. We want to hurt the other guy worse than he hurt us. Our text for today challenges us to the standard of salvation living instead. All of us— both the most and the least powerful in our society—should live in a way that follows the example of Jesus and blesses others (v. 8).

First, the community of believers should be characterized by love, humility, compassion, and harmony. As Peter will discuss in much of the rest of this letter, Christians will encounter opposition from others. All the more important, then, that hostility, pride, and discord be rooted out from the church. We are called to emulate the character of Christ, and these qualities of love and humility are essential for Christian community to support one another and be a witness to the world.

Next, Peter addresses the Christian response to attacks from those outside the church. New Testament scholars describe these insults as “weapons typically employed in . . . publicly shaming and discrediting those who are different or regarded as one’s competitors.” Peter draws from Psalm 34 to remind believers that the ultimate audience for their speech is the Lord, not their accusers (vv. 10–12). Instead of responding with insults to defend their honor, believers should respond with a blessing, knowing that God will hear and defend them.

APPLY THE WORD

Winning a battle of insults is worth less than inheriting the blessing of God (v. 9). As a way to help form your heart and mind toward love and humility, consider committing verses 10 through 12 to memory. This process of memorizing and meditating on Scripture can remind us to focus on the Lord, not our opponents.

 

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