Tag Archives: Moody Global Ministries

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – THE TRINITY AND THE POWER OF GOD

Read MATTHEW 12:22–32

Reasonable Faith, an organization led by philosophy professor William Lane Craig, “aims to provide in the public arena an intelligent, articulate, and uncompromising yet gracious Christian perspective on the most important issues concerning the truth of the Christian faith today.” Through scholarly articles, podcasts, debates, videos, and social media, this organization uses reason and logic to support and defend God’s truth.

When the Pharisees accused Him of performing miracles and driving out demons by the power of Satan, Jesus used reason and logic to refute their claim and instead prove that His power and authority were divine. To drive out demons in Satan’s name was an absurd idea. Why would a kingdom fight against itself? But if Jesus did these miracles with the power of a different and greater kingdom—God’s kingdom—shouldn’t they be responding very differently?

Sadly, the Pharisees’ hypocritical hearts were spiritually closed. They were grasping at straws, trying to find a way to ignore the signs and to avoid admitting that Jesus was the Messiah. As He said, because they were not for Him, they were against Him.

The significance of their accusation, and of Jesus’ identity, is shown by the fact that He cited the other two Persons of the Trinity in His response. Jesus had come in His Father’s name. It is His kingdom Jesus proclaimed and His power by which Jesus did miracles of healing. When He drove out demons, it was by the Holy Spirit. The Pharisees’ accusation was therefore against all three Persons of the Godhead—Father, Son, and Spirit. To call the Son’s work, done in the Spirit on behalf of the Father’s kingdom, satanic? That’s a sin worthy of damnation (vv. 31–32)!

APPLY THE WORD

Many today are pursuing their own priorities with no thought for God’s kingdom or following Jesus. They might not understand our choices to bring glory to God through the ways we use our time, money, or energy. When you are questioned on these issues, remember that standing with God is the safest place to be!

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – THE TRINITY AND THE TESTIMONY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST

Read JOHN 3:22–36

Election season is full of self-promotion. Candidates running for political office trumpet their positions and qualifications in order to persuade voters to support them. Their campaigns often also attack their rivals, both directly and indirectly. Humanly speaking, such strategies are in fact normal. People often seek competitive advantage at the expense of others.

John the Baptist’s actions in today’s passage run counter to this typical human behavior. Jesus had begun His public ministry and gathered some disciples. What did John think about that? He reminded his listeners that he had always said a greater One was coming (v. 28). In his metaphor, God’s kingdom is a wedding, he is the best man, and Christ is the bridegroom (v. 29). The bottom line: “He must become greater; I must become less” (v. 30).

Jesus was the Son of God. He had come from heaven and had spoken with divine authority the very words of God. The Father loved Him and had delegated all authority to Him. Belief in Him is the gateway to eternal life. Significantly, the Father had given Jesus “the Spirit without limit” (v. 34). This reflects the essential unity of the Godhead—all three Persons are of one mind, equal in attributes, and speak and act as God (vv. 31–36).

John knew that his ministry mandate came from the Father, but unlike the ministry of the Son, his work was limited in scope and duration. To believe in the Father is to believe in the Son. The Father loved the Son, sent Him with the Spirit, and gave Him all authority. His wrath awaits whoever does not believe this, because not believing it is the same as calling God a liar (vv. 33, 36). God’s wrath is aimed at sin and evil—He sent His Son to provide another way.

APPLY THE WORD

Do you believe in Jesus? Have you trusted in the Son for salvation? Have you rejoiced in the Father’s plan of redemption and been sealed in the Spirit (see Eph. 1:13–14)? The three Persons of the Trinity loved you enough to make a way for you to escape God’s wrath and spend eternity with Him. Will you accept this invitation and trust in Him today?

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – THE TRINITY AND THE END OF WAITING

Read LUKE 2:22–32

Many have tried to understand the Trinity through analogy. Perhaps the Trinity is like a person’s roles or relationships, as when one person is simultaneously a father, son, and friend. Perhaps it is like water, which can exist as gas, liquid, or solid. Or perhaps it is like an egg, which is one thing yet consists of a shell, yolk, and egg white.

These analogies are sometimes heretical and always inadequate. They cannot truly explain how God can be three Persons and yet one God. This divine mystery demands our faith even as we continue to seek understanding. That’s how Simeon lived his life, and he was richly rewarded in today’s reading.

Simeon had waited all his life for the coming of the Messiah, and God granted him the privilege of seeing Jesus in person before he died. The Holy Spirit was with Simeon and had revealed that this would be so. On that day, the Spirit

led him to a specific young couple in the temple courts (vv. 25–28).

Simeon took the incarnate Son of God in his arms and rejoiced! The Messiah had come; the time of waiting was ended! Jesus was God’s salvation for “all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel” (vv. 29–32). Responding to Him, whether in acceptance or in rejection, would determine people’s eternal destinies and relationship with God.

Mary and Joseph had come to the temple because God the Father had mandated that all firstborn sons be dedicated to the Lord (v. 23). This was a reminder of the nation’s liberation from slavery in Egypt, the tenth plague, and the life-saving blood on the doorposts (see Exodus 13). Now God the Son fulfilled this symbolism—the first person to be perfectly consecrated to God and to live a perfectly holy life.

APPLY THE WORD

Simeon’s meeting with Mary and Joseph (and that of Anna in verses 36 to 38) in the temple courts is an example of a “divine appointment.” Mary and Joseph were surely surprised, but they responded with humble attentiveness and faith, just as we should when God brings people across our paths. Are we ready for our next divine appointment?

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – THE TRINITY AND ZECHARIAH’S PROPHECY

Read LUKE 1:67–79

The classic hymn, “All Creatures of Our God and King,” climaxes with praise to the Trinity: “All creatures of our God and King, / Lift up your voice and with us sing Alleluia! / . . . Let all things their Creator bless, / And worship Him in humbleness. / O praise Him! Alleluia!

/ Praise, praise the Father, Praise the Son, / And praise the Spirit, Three in One! / O praise Him! Alleluia!” The Trinity is highlighted in Zechariah’s prophecy at the birth of his son, John the Baptist. After confirming the name John, Zechariah’s ability to speak (taken away by God as a result of his doubt- filled response in the temple), was restored to him. Filled by the Holy Spirit, he used his newly regained speech to praise God and to deliver an incredible prophecy (v. 67).

Most of Zechariah’s prophecy was not about his own son but rather about the son of Mary—the Son of God. Jesus was God’s “horn of salvation” (v. 69), the literal embodiment of His long- promised plan of redemption. He was the “rising sun” dawning with God’s light for “those living in darkness and in the shadow of death” (vv. 78–79). He would guide sinners’ feet into the “path of peace” with God (see Rom. 5:10). Zechariah’s son, John, would be His forerunner, preparing the way with a call to repentance and forgiveness.

All of this was taking place according to the plan of God the Father. These events signified that “he has come to his people and redeemed them” (v. 68). In Christ, the Father fulfilled His covenants with David and with Abraham, as well as many prophecies. His “tender mercy” was the impetus for salvation (v. 78). Throughout his prophecy, Zechariah emphasized God’s strength, faithfulness, and especially His love.

APPLY THE WORD

Zechariah rejoiced because now God’s people would be enabled “to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness” (vv. 74–75). We can now serve and obey the Lord as we ought. Thanks to Jesus’ death and resurrection and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we can bring glory to God and devote our lives to serving and loving Him.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word –THE TRINITY AND THE MISSION OF JOHN THE BAPTIST

Read LUKE 1:8–17

The doctrine of the Trinity, God as Three-in-One, is one of the most difficult in Christian theology. John Wesley said, “Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and then I will show you a man that can comprehend the Triune God.” Though it is challenging, studying the Trinity can also be very rewarding. Augustine said, “There is no subject where error is more dangerous, research more laborious, and discovery more fruitful than the oneness of the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

This month’s study approaches this doctrinal topic within the four Gospels (mostly) and the life of Christ. In these familiar narratives, the Three-in-One often interact or are spoken about as identifiably different Persons. The goal of our study is to reach a richer and fuller understanding of God, including His love, His plan of salvation, and how the Trinity works in the world and in the lives of believers.

Our readings will begin in chronological order and then become organized thematically. August 1 to 10 will focus on the Trinity’s involvement in Christ’s birth. From August 11 to 20, the passages deal generally with the interaction and work of the Trinity. From August 21 to 31, the emphasis is on the Trinity’s roles with regard to redemption and the proclamation of the gospel.

In today’s reading, the three Persons of the Godhead are all involved. Zechariah offered incense in the temple to worship the Father (vv. 8–10), who sent an angel to him with an important message (v. 19). He and his wife would have a son who would prepare the way for the Messiah, the Son of God (vv. 16–17). This prophet, John, would be filled with the Holy Spirit throughout his life, beginning even before his birth (vv. 15, 41–45).

APPLY THE WORD

This month’s study provides an opportunity to discuss the Trinity with your pastor or other church leaders. What does your congregation’s doctrinal statement affirm about the Trinity? What biblical texts do they see as key in understanding it? Your small group Bible study or Sunday school class could also address this topic.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – FORGIVENESS: THE FINAL CALL

Read GENESIS 49:29–50:26

“Revenge is a dish best served cold!” Historians debate the origins of this quote, but the sentiment is unmistakable: rather than take vengeance while an insult is still fresh, better to wait so that the offending party does not see your revenge coming.

Jacob had died. Per his father’s last request, Joseph and his brothers returned to Canaan with “a very large company” (50:9) to bury him in the cave of his forefathers. Once they all returned to Egypt, however, the brothers’ fears about Joseph’s true intentions emerged. Perhaps Joseph had delayed vengeance only to serve it up now.

They concocted a story about Jacob’s dying wish was to have Joseph forgive his brothers. They threw themselves before Joseph, confessing their crime against him, and pledging themselves to Joseph as his slaves. Four times they mentioned their “sins” and “wrongs” committed against Joseph (vv. 15–17). They were repentant, but also worried about revenge.

But Joseph displayed no grudge at all. Upon hearing their plea, he wept and then spoke words of kindness and wisdom: “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (50:19–20). Following those words, Joseph pledged to provide for his brothers and their families. His deep sense of God’s providential goodness (even in harmful circumstances) led Joseph to exercise similar goodness and reconciliation with his brothers.

This was Joseph’s calling—to turn evil into a blessing for others. His only request in these last verses of Genesis is to have his bones returned to Canaan, knowing that God would one day return His people to the land of promise.

APPLY THE WORD

As we close our study of Genesis, we see how understanding God’s providence can lead to proper reconciliation. Where is God calling you to forgive and reconcile with someone who has harmed you? Ask God for the wisdom to see His hand in all things, and the grace to grant true forgiveness to that person in your life.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – THE MERCY AND FAITHFULNESS OF GOD

Read GENESIS 43

Hunger is one of the most basic, powerful drives of the human body. Without food, there is no life. As a result, hunger can lead people to do things we would not normally do. Such was the case with Jacob.

As the famine continued and food ran out, Jacob called for his sons to return to Egypt for supplies. His sons, however, reminded him of problem— Benjamin must go with them! Fearing the loss of another son, Jacob resisted; but finally hunger, and a pledge by Judah, prevailed. Gathering gifts along with double money to repay the earlier mistake, Jacob sent off Benjamin and his other sons to Egypt. His final prayer put the whole affair into the merciful hands of God.

In the narrative that follows we begin to see the outworking of that mercy upon the brothers. When they arrived in Egypt, Joseph ordered them to his house. The brothers feared punishment for the money found earlier, but the steward assured them all was well. The initial answer to Jacob’s prayer for mercy was coming true—water for washing, food for donkeys, Simeon restored, Joseph (still unknown to them) speaking well to them, and a feast from the royal table. God Himself is named as the source of blessing: “Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks” (v. 23). In these troubling times, God’s mercy shone forth.

There is more here than just mercy; God’s faithfulness to Joseph is also implied. Back in Genesis 37, Joseph had twice dreamed that his family would bow before him. Now, in fulfillment of that dream, when Joseph entered the house the brothers “bowed down before him to the ground” (v. 26), and then later bowed down again in verse 28. God’s mercy and faithfulness are on display.

APPLY THE WORD

Joseph waited decades before the fulfillment of his youthful dream. At many points, it seemed that being in a position of authority in his family was the most unlikely scenario imaginable. If you are waiting for God to answer your prayers, remember that He is faithful even when He seems silent. His mercy and compassion for you remain sure.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – FORGOTTEN IN PRISON

Read GENESIS 40

Two lost hikers huddled together, cold and hungry, waiting for rescue. Soon, a low-flying helicopter came into view. The hikers leaped up with joy, shouting and waving their arms. But the aircraft flew past without slowing. The hopeful moment of rescue was gone.

Joseph experienced a glimmer of hope for release from prison, which seemed to end badly. Scripture tells us that two of Pharaoh’s officers, having angered the king, were sent to the very prison where Joseph was held. One night both the cupbearer and baker were troubled by disturbing dreams. Joseph offered help, but not on his own. Notice Joseph’s continued faith in God through his words: “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams” (v. 8).

In turn each of the officers reported the details of his dream, and Joseph gave their meanings: in three days, the baker would be hanged and the cupbearer would be restored to Pharaoh’s court. Just as Joseph said, after three days the Pharaoh had the baker put to death but restored the cupbearer to his service. This was Joseph’s chance for release! His only request was for the cupbearer to tell the king about Joseph so that he might be freed from his wrongful imprisonment. The chapter ends, however, on a dejected note: “The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him” (v. 23).

Joseph may very well have felt that God, not just the cupbearer, had forgotten him too. Despite his continued profession of God’s presence in his life, Joseph’s sorrowful circumstances remained. Others’ dreams were coming true, but what about the dreams of Joseph’s youth (Genesis 37)? Where was God and His promises of old? Had God forgotten? The ending of our chapter intentionally leaves us to ponder these questions.

APPLY THE WORD

Do we sometimes feel forgotten by God in the face of the brokenness of our world? Today’s chapter demonstrates that God’s hiddenness does not mean He is absent or forgetful of His people. Let your worship this Sunday renew your trust in our God who does not forsake His people, even when we cannot always see His hand at work.

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – GENERATIONAL PROBLEMS

Read GENESIS 37

Parents give their children a unique set of features, both physical and psychological. Hair color and height as well as character traits are passed from one generation to another. The same was true for Jacob’s family in today’s reading. Unfortunately, this included the generational pattern of conflict and deception, so noticeable in Jacob’s own life, which now continued with his sons.

Just as tension had defined the relationship between Jacob and Esau, animosity described the sibling rivalry between Joseph and his brothers. Jacob’s special love for Joseph (displayed in the exquisite robe), along with Joseph’s knack for tattling on his brothers, led them to hate Joseph. When Joseph then began sharing his dreams of reigning over them, Scripture tells us that the brothers were provoked to jealously, and “hated him all the more” (v. 5). Although their plan shifted from initially wanting to kill Joseph to throwing him into a pit and eventually to selling him for profit, the anger and hatred towards their brother was palpable.

Likewise, the deceptive qualities of the young Jacob earlier in Genesis now became evident in his sons. To cover up their actions, the brothers took Joseph’s prized coat, dipped it in goat’s blood, and showed it to their father. Jacob drew the (wrong) conclusion they had hoped for: “Joseph has surely been torn to pieces” (v. 33). Do not miss the irony. Just as Jacob once deceived his old father with clothing and the killing of a goat, so now his own sons deceived Jacob with clothing and the slaughter of a goat. The conflict and deception that had so marked Jacob’s own life spilled over to his sons. The despair in Jacob’s lament at the end might leave us without hope—but the story of Joseph is not over, and God’s grace is yet to be revealed.

APPLY THE WORD

Consider your own family and possible recurring sin you see in yourself and relatives. Whether it’s patterns of failed relationships, addictions, or struggles with anger, we might be tempted to despair in the face of generational sin. But God is bigger than that, as the remainder of Genesis will show. God can break their destructive power.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – JACOB’S BLESSINGS

Read GENESIS 30:25–31:55

One classic feature of comic books is that the superhero always has an arch enemy, a nemesis who presents a constant challenge. Time and again the plots of such stories are driven by the tension and suspense produced by these two characters vying for the upper hand.

If Jacob is the main protagonist in today’s reading, Laban was his nemesis, and they each struggled to gain the advantage over the other. Jacob complained of ongoing mistreatment by Laban. He had changed Jacob’s wages multiple times and profited greatly at Jacob’s expense. After their agreement about speckled flocks, Laban immedi- ately tried to cheat Jacob at the outset (30:35–36). When Jacob tried to leave secretly, Laban quickly caught up to him and demanded a treaty. Clearly, neither man trusted the other. The treaty simply determined boundaries for keeping away from each other.

By the end of our reading, Jacob had gained the upper hand. He not only escaped a conniving uncle but he also departed with an abundance of children and wealth. Scripture tells us that Jacob “grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and female and male servants, and camels and donkeys” (30:43). But don’t miss the clear reason for Jacob’s blessing. Even Jacob recognized that it was God’s hand behind it all. When speaking with his wives, he explicitly identified God’s protection and blessing: “God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me” (31:9). When speaking with Laban, Jacob recognized that without God’s help, he would be empty-handed.

The God who had met Jacob at Bethel (Genesis 28) had kept His promise of presence and protection. Now that same God was calling Jacob back to the Promised Land. We begin to see Jacob’s growing faith by his intent to obey.

APPLY THE WORD

Jacob’s life is the reminder that every blessing we have comes from God. Consider your life today and identify the many blessings you experience, whether health, employment, family, or provisions. Place that list before the Lord and give Him thanks for these good gifts which He has bestowed upon you, asking for wisdom to use those gifts as a blessing to others.

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – THE TRICKSTER IS TRICKED

Read GENESIS 29:1–30

Pranksters love playing practical jokes on other people—and there is an ironic humor in seeing the trickster tricked by someone else. Today’s reading portrays such an irony as the trickster Jacob met his match in Uncle Laban.

As the story opens, things seemed to be moving positively for Jacob. He had just received God’s promise of presence and protection, and soon arrived at a well. There, after learning from shepherds that his Uncle Laban was nearby, his cousin Rachel showed up! Jumping into action, Jacob removed the large stone from the well and watered Rachel’s flock.

After revealing his kinship to Rachel, Jacob’s good fortune seemed to continue. When Laban heard the news, he embraced Jacob with words of joyful welcome, “You are my own flesh and blood” (v. 14), and allowed Jacob to remain in his home. Not only had Jacob met with the safety of family, but the beautiful Rachel was promised in marriage in return for Jacob’s labor. It would seem that Jacob had indeed escaped the danger of Esau back home.

But then things took a turn for the worse. Laban’s own character proved to be as duplicitous as Jacob’s. After the agreed years of labor, on the night of the wedding, Laban switched the older sister Leah for the younger Rachel. Notice the irony of Jacob, the trickster’s response: “Why have you deceived me?” (v. 25). In turn, Laban asserted their custom of not having the younger child upstage the older—another ironic jab at Jacob’s own deception for those who know how Jacob secured God’s blessing. In the end, Jacob would get more wives than he bargained for, at a greater cost than he planned. It might seem at this point that God had disappeared from Jacob’s life, but as we will soon see, God never abandons His word once given.

APPLY THE WORD

Jacob’s actions remind us that trusting in our own plans, resources, and ingenuity will not bring about the promises God intends for us. He alone can bring true blessing. In what areas of your life are you trusting more in your own efforts than in God’s leading? Give those aspects of your life over to God, asking Him for the faith to trust Him fully.

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – DO NOT BE AFRAID

Read GENESIS 26

The saying “like father, like son” means that a child displays similar characteris- tics as his father. The expression has been around since at least the 1300s, but the sentiment is certainly older than that, as today’s reading shows.

As the Genesis narrative shifts from Abraham to the next generations, Genesis 26 is the only detailed material we have about Isaac. But the similarities between father and son are clear. Like Abram’s call from Haran, Isaac was called to “live in the land where I tell you to live” (v. 2). Likewise, God reaffirmed the Abrahamic promises for Isaac: His presence, land for Isaac’s descendants, offspring as numerous as the stars, and blessing for the nations. God’s covenant with Abraham was extended to his son Isaac as well.

Yet, like his father, Isaac lied about his wife being his sister. Rather than rely on God’s promises, Isaac demonstrated

fear in the face of uncertainty. Just as Abimelek, king of Gerar, admonished Abraham earlier (see Genesis 20), so again he chastised Isaac for the same deceit. The tension between them forced Isaac to depart, even as their servants continued to quarrel over scarce water wells. It would appear that Isaac’s duplicity had jeopardized his safety in God’s promised land.

But God did not abandon Isaac. Appearing at Beersheba, the Lord offered an encouraging word: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham” (v. 24). Later, animosity with Abimelek was exchanged for peace and further blessing. God’s covenant promise of blessing was not nullified by weak faith, and Isaac’s response was appropriate. He “built an altar there and called on the name of the LORD” (v. 25).

APPLY THE WORD

The contemporary song “Fear Not, For I Have Redeemed You (Isaiah 43),” by Esther Mui, puts to music God’s call in Isaiah 43:1 to put away fear in light of His faithful love. Listen to this song throughout your day as a meditative reminder that our fearful circumstances are nothing compared to God’s redeeming love and faithful promises in Christ.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – GOD’S FAITHFUL PROVIDENCE

Read GENESIS 24

Transitions can be difficult, whether it’s a move to a new home, life after the death of a loved one, or the transfer of the family business. Today’s Scripture presents a challenging transition for Abraham and Isaac.

In the previous chapter Abraham’s wife, Sarah, had died, and now the challenge was clear. Isaac needed a wife from his own people who would be willing to come to Canaan. Without a wife, the promise of descendants would fail. But if Isaac left Canaan to find a wife elsewhere, God’s promise of the land would be in jeopardy. Abraham understood the situation well, and commissioned his servant to travel back to Haran to find a wife for Isaac.

Details in the unfolding narrative highlight the faithfulness of those involved. Abraham held firm to the promise of both descendants and land. The servant demonstrated faithfulness to Abraham in carrying out his mission, and trust in God through prayer. The text also shows us the virtue of Rebekah through her service and hospitality to Abraham’s servant and her unhesitating obedience to God’s call upon her life.

But underlying the whole story is the faithfulness and providence of God. No amount of human ingenuity could orchestrate the outcome so perfectly. The servant ended up at just the right well, at just the right time. Rebekah appeared out of nowhere in answer to a prayer. Then we discover that she was actually related to the family of Abraham and Isaac! The providential experience of the servant was so remarkable that Scripture relays it twice in one chapter. The servant’s own words capture well the theological point of the chapter: “Praise be to the LORD . . . who has not abandoned His kindness and faithfulness to my master” (24:27).

APPLY THE WORD

What transitions do you or your church face? Is your focus on the coming problems or the faithful providence of the God who provides? In prayer today, hand over to God the fear and uncertainty of change. Ask for a stronger faith in God’s hand, using the words of Abraham’s servant: God does not withhold His love and faithfulness.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – SIGN OF THE COVENANT

Read GENESIS 17

As an author said, “Impossible odds set the stage for amazing miracles.” By Genesis 17, Abram and Sarai surely felt the seemingly impossible odds against the fulfillment of God’s promises to them. Dare they hope for a miracle?

Abram was now ninety-nine years old and still without a child. In the previous chapter he and Sarai had tried to have an heir through her maid, Hagar. But the resulting child, Ishmael, produced strife, not family blessing. Now in today’s reading, twenty-three years after Abram first entered Canaan, God reaffirmed His covenant promises to Abram and Sarai. His word was clear: “I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you” (v. 6). The whole land of Canaan would be their possession, and the covenant would be “an everlasting covenant” (v. 7).

From a human perspective, things seemed impossible. But God’s promises never fail, and now God called Abram to prove his trust in two important ways. First, there would be a name change. Childless Abram would now be called “Abraham” (meaning “father of a multitude”), and Sarai would be called “Sarah” (meaning “princess”—a mother of kings). A change in name meant a change in reality, even if Abraham could not yet see it.

Second, God called Abraham to seal the covenant through the act of circumcision. All males under Abraham’s authority were to receive this sign, for “My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant” (v. 13). Circumcision signified that any who broke the covenant would be “cut off” from God’s blessing. In the end, Abraham’s laughter indicated his doubts. But notice his implicit faith as well: he called Sarah by her new name (v. 17) and then circumcised all males in his household as God commanded.

APPLY THE WORD

Like Abraham’s story, the Christian life is often a journey of faith mixed with doubt. What are the difficulties in your life that threaten your faith? Spend time in prayer today, lifting up those challenges to God. Then ask the Lord to strengthen your faith in His promise of provision and care, even in the face of “impossible odds.”

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – THE COVENANT WITH ABRAM

Read GENESIS 15

In the ancient Near East, covenants were sometimes sealed by a symbolic ritual. Sacrificial animals were cut in half and each party of the covenant walked between the halved pieces. The meaning was significant: if one of them did not keep their end of the covenant agreement, they should be treated like one of the severed animals.

This cultural background is important. God again reaffirmed His promises to Abram, culminating in a symbolic covenantal ceremony. But first, Abram had questions. In light of God’s promise of protection and reward, Abram wondered who would benefit, given his lack of a son and heir? God’s response was to point Abram to the stars as a symbol of the number of descendants he would have. Abram did not press the point; instead, he “believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness” (v. 6). Genuine questions did not preclude genuine faith.

Next, Abram offered a second question: How will he know that he will possess this land? Once again, God reaffirmed His promise, this time in dramatic fashion. He ordered Abram to obtain sacrificial animals. Abram then cut them in half and placed them on the ground. What happened next was both strange and wonderful. God Himself, represented by a smoking firepot and blazing torch, passed through the severed animal pieces. In doing so, “the LORD made a covenant with Abram” (v. 18).

The message to Abram was clear. His descendants, though facing oppression for a time, would one day possess the land. In fact, the Lord (and not Abram!) undertook the ancient covenantal cere- mony as a sign of His commitment to His promise. In other words, God put His own life on the line for this covenant with Abram!

APPLY THE WORD

Have we really understood the depths of God’s promises to Abram and to us? In fact, God has offered the life of His own Son that we might have life in Him! Find the Charles Wesley hymn “And Can It Be” and, as you sing or listen to it, note the end of the first stanza: “Amazing love! How can it be, / That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”

PRAY WITH US

Steven Mogck, executive VP and chief operating officer, welcomes your prayers today. Ask the Lord to direct him in all the decisions he makes daily at Moody and to encourage Steven and his teams with His grace and love.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – FAITH VERSUS SIGHT

Read GENESIS 13

“This town ain’t big enough for the both of us,” a line made popular by early Western films, is now a stock phrase used to convey the idea that two people cannot share the same space. It could also describe Abram and Lot in today’s reading.

After returning from Egypt, Abram and Lot had grown so rich in livestock that the land could no longer support them both. As they went their separate ways, Scripture portrays a clear contrast between them. Despite God’s blessings, Lot demonstrated no relationship with the Lord. He chose what appeared to be the best of the land—the well- watered and fertile plain of the Jordan. But there was a problem. The area was inhabited by wicked people who “were sinning greatly against the LORD” (v. 13). This apparently presented no hesitation for Lot who quickly “pitched his tents near Sodom” (v. 12).

Abram’s action, on the other hand, demonstrated his faith. Blessed also by God with abundance, Abram returned to one of his original altars near Bethel and “called on the name of the LORD” (v. 4). Although promised the whole land of Canaan, Abram was not anxious to grasp it all for himself; rather he allowed Lot first choice, in order to avoid strife.

In response, God spoke to Abram again, reaffirming His promises, this time with more details. The promise of land is reiterated, described as all that Abram can see in every direction. God even encouraged Abram to walk throughout the land itself. Second, the promise of descendants was reaffirmed, so numerous that they could be likened to the “dust of the earth” (v. 16). Abram’s response to God’s word was yet another act of worship. Lot chose and lived by sight; Abram by faith.

APPLY THE WORD

What might God be calling you to do in faith this week? Give more generously, even when finances seem tight? Speak Christ’s love to a neighbor even when they seem uninterested? Confess a previous sin even when it seems scary to do so? Ask God for the eyes of faith today, then act in response, trusting God’s promises to provide for all your needs.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – Read GENESIS 12

THE CALL OF ABRAM: OUT OF UR

Anyone who has moved knows the stress of packing up, saying goodbye to loved ones, and then transitioning into a new city, neighborhood, and home. It is one thing to move to a new city; how much harder to move to a new country!

The call of Abram was no small thing. It was a radical call to leave country, family, and friends for a foreign land. Earlier, Abram’s family had already moved from Ur to Haran. Now God called Abram to travel hundreds of miles farther to the land of Canaan. This was a time of decision. Abram could remain comfortable in Haran with his own people and customs, or he could take a step of faith in God’s call. God had promised Abram land, descendants, and great blessing—but all of this was still promise, not yet reality.

In fact, Scripture tells us that there were clear threats to God’s promises. Sarai was infertile (11:30) and the land of promise was already occupied. Moreover, a famine soon forced Abram out of the Promised Land into Egypt. There, the promise of descendants was further jeopardized by Pharaoh. Would God’s word hold true?

The early picture of Abram is a mixed one. On the one hand, as Hebrews 11 tells us, Abram was a man of great faith who believed in God’s promises, left his old ways, and embarked on a new journey in response to God’s call, erecting altars and worshiping the Lord as he journeyed (Heb. 11:8–10). Yet Abram was also a man who faltered, particularly in his dealing with Sarai in Egypt. Yet despite Abram’s weak faith at this point, God’s treatment of Pharaoh demonstrates that God was still in control. The promises of God were secure in the Lord’s hands.

APPLY THE WORD

What things might God be calling you to turn from in order that your faithful obedience might bring blessing? Make a list of such activities or habits, and commit to leaving them behind to follow God’s leading. Then ask God to make that choice a blessing for yourself and others.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – THE TOWER OF BABEL

Read GENESIS 11

Through Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, many are finding it easier and easier to make themselves known to friends and strangers alike. And with the rise of gated communities and TSA checkpoints at airports, people are desperately seeking to find safety in an uncertain world. Notoriety and security: two things many people seek in life.

The ancient world was no exception. Recall that after the Flood, Noah and his sons were told to multiply and fill the earth. Earlier, Genesis 10 described the partial fulfillment of that command through the genealogies of Noah’s sons. This record shows how the ancient nations came about through the descendants of Japheth, Ham, and Shem. Would these increasing numbers of humanity remain faithful to God?

Unfortunately, as Genesis 11 tells us, they would not. The descendants of Noah settled in one place and then attempted to build a city with a great tower that reached the heavens. Their two-fold reason: “So that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth” (11:4). They sought for themselves notoriety in the world, and security from the uncertainty of migration. Rather than being content with God’s provision in the world, this post-Flood humanity, like Adam and Eve, attempted to take control of their own lives.

As a result, God put a stop to their designs by confusing their language and scattering them throughout the earth. It would appear that this new generation of mankind would be just as resistant to God’s commands as they were before the Flood. Nevertheless, God did not give up on humanity, for the genealogy at the end of Genesis 11 introduces for us a flicker of hope in a man God would use for His own purposes: Abram.

APPLY THE WORD

How many of us have followed the way of Babel in trying to make a name for ourselves through the way we use social media? For today, decide not to post any photos or updates on these sites, and turn instead to prayer and Scripture memorization. Let the words of 1 Peter 2:9 become the day’s theme, thanking God that your worth depends on belonging to Him.

 

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – THE COVENANT WITH NOAH

Read GENESIS 9

In 1776, the signers of the Declaration of Independence formed a new government around a set of fundamental beliefs: the existence of God, a set of God-given laws of Nature, and certain “self-evident” truths and “inalienable rights” belonging to all.

Our Founding Fathers did not cite Genesis 9, but they could have, for in our reading today God granted humanity both the responsibility of governing the world and protecting the value of human life made in the image of God. Just as God had commanded Adam and Eve, who were made in God’s image, to increase and rule over the earth, after the Flood God commanded Noah and his family to increase, rule, and protect human life made in His image.

But God’s word to Noah was not just about human authority and responsibility. God also issued His own responsibilities and promises in the form of a covenant. In fact, God’s covenant was so important that He mentioned it eight times in nine verses. What did that covenant entail?

First, it was God’s promise to never again destroy the earth with a flood. Second, the sign of the covenant was the “bow” set in the sky. Judgment was over and God’s “weapon” of punishment was put to rest. Third, God’s covenant was not temporary, but an “everlasting” promise for all generations (vv. 12, 16). Despite the sin of Ham to follow (vv. 18–27), and its consequent curses, God would not recant His promises. Finally, this covenant was not just between God and humanity. It included all of creation. God established His covenant with “every living creature” and “all the life of the earth” (vv. 10, 12, 15–17). He called it a covenant “between me and the earth” (v. 13). Nothing was outside the scope of God’s promised love.

APPLY THE WORD

How often do we think about God’s creation as part of His covenant? Find time today to take a walk in the woods or a local park. As you stroll, be attentive to the sights, sounds, and scents of the natural world around you. With all your senses, take in God’s created world in a new way, recognizing that all of this is part of God’s covenantal love.

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Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – THE FLOOD

Read GENESIS 7—8

In recent times we have seen a number of catastrophic weather events. From the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011, the world has experienced the destructive powers of water. But even these natural disasters do not compare to the Flood of Genesis. Scripture emphasizes the Flood’s utter destruction. Just as God promised to “wipe from the face of the earth every living creature” (7:4), so by the end we are told that every living thing “perished,” “died,” and was “wiped out” (vv. 21–23). Only those with Noah in the ark were spared.

But notice that even this destructive punishment was bringing about a new creation. The parallels with the creation narrative in Genesis 1 are striking. Just as the original lands emerged from the waters covering the earth, so now God re-covered the whole earth with water, from which land emerged. Just as God’s Spirit hovered over the original waters of creation, so now God sent a wind to bring forth land after the flood. Just as God called His original creation to multiply, so after the Flood the inhabitants of the ark were commanded to “be fruitful and increase in number” (8:17). And just as humanity’s original sin brought curses upon themselves and the created order, now after the Flood God promised never again to “curse the ground because of humans” (8:24).

Through the waters of the Flood, God had renewed and restored His creation, purging humanity’s pervasive violence and wickedness from the earth. Scripture’s words in Genesis 8:1 summarize well the central point: “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark.” God’s punishment often has merciful aims, and even in His judgment, God does not forget His people.

APPLY THE WORD

This Independence Day, when we remember the freedoms Americans enjoy, be reminded also of the true spiritual freedom from sin and death we have in Christ. Just as God brought forth a new creation for Noah and his family, so too for us: “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17).

 

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