Relief from Your Sin

Psalm 325 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 32:1–5 (ESV)

1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

Sin robs us of so much. It destroys our relationship with our Creator. It destroys our relationships with other people. And it destroys us from the inside out. The psalmist tells us that his sin weighed heavy on his soul. It made him feel as though his bones were wasting away as he groaned all day long. He felt that the Lord’s hand was heavy upon him due to guilt and shame and his strength was sapped from him as a hot summer day drains us. This is what sin does. It robs us of all that life could be.

There is a solution to sin. God is a forgiving God. When the psalmist opened up in honesty about his sin and called out to God for forgiveness, the Lord was gracious and forgave. He promises to do the same for all who will repent and call out to him. Are you feeling the weight of unconfessed sin? Is your guilt draining you? Call out to the Lord and find relief for your soul through the grace and forgiveness that he offers to all.

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Fellow Heirs with Christ

Romans 816–17 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Romans 8:12–17 (ESV)

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Putting Sin to Death

left fist

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Reading the Word

Colossians 3:5–11 (ESV)

5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Christian life is one of constant warfare. We war against the ongoing struggle and temptations of sin. Colossians tells us that we must put the sin in our lives to death. It has no proper place for the people of God.

Why do we often treat sin as if it is no big deal? We certainly do not talk about the presence of sin in our lives using the imagery of war. Those who take sin seriously today are quickly dismissed and labeled as “legalists”, but I think we have become too soft on this issue and have forgotten that we are called to be holy as God’s people. We must go to war against the presence of sin in our lives. We must kill it. We must not allow it to continue to exist in our midst because it pulls us away from God and keeps us from the lives we are meant to live. We cannot honor our Savior or each other if we are living with sin. Are you ready for the fight?

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According to Your Faith

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Reading the Word

Matthew 9:27–31 (ESV)

27 And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” 28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” 29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” 30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” 31 But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus healed two blind men. This scene by itself is not a surprise. We read many occurrences in the Gospels of Jesus healing others. The thing that stands out here is that Jesus first asked the men if they believed that he could heal them. When they affirmed their belief, Jesus said, “According to your faith be it done to you.”

This episode is a story that shows what Jesus does for all who believe. Jesus heals us. He delivered the men from their blindness. He delivers us from our sin and the death that it brings. However, while the offer of healing is for all, only those who believe in Jesus will be delivered from their sin and given eternal life. According to our faith it will be done for us. Trust in the only one who can save you.

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Walk by Faith, Not by Sight

2 Corinthians 57 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

2 Corinthians 5:6–10 (ESV)

6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Paul tells us that “while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.” What exactly does he mean? First, to be at home in the body speaks of living our lives in this world. Until we die or Jesus Christ returns, we are away from our Lord and must live in this fallen world. This brings us to his second point. While we live in this fallen world, we must live by faith and not by sight. This does not mean, as some suppose, that we live according to wishful thinking and in contrast to obvious truth. Faith is not just hoping something hard enough that it becomes reality. Faith is believing in the promises of God even though they have not yet been fulfilled. The Lord has promised that one day we will be with him, so we live our lives knowing this is true.

If you are reading this, you are living in this world and still awaiting the fulfillment of the promises of God. During our time in this world, we will face many joys and trials, but we do so always knowing what the future holds for all who belong to Christ. We live out our days knowing what the word of God says and knowing that God’s word will be fulfilled. We walk by faith and not by sight.

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His Grace Is Sufficient

2 Corinthians 129 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

2 Corinthians 12:7–10 (ESV)

7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We must never forget that God’s greatest desire for his people is that they would be more like Christ. We may desire a life of ease, comfort, financial success, health, and many other things, but sometimes the best thing for our spiritual growth is struggle. Paul struggled with a “thorn in his flesh” and pleaded with the Lord to take it away, but God did not. Instead, God reminded Paul that his grace was sufficient and that Paul needed to trust in the Lord. This was to keep Paul from becoming conceited in his special role as God’s apostle (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:7).

What struggle are you facing that you have asked the Lord to take away, but he has not? Are you ready to accept that whatever you are facing may be for your benefit? It is not wrong to ask the Lord to remove our struggles, but we must do it while at the same time trusting him even if he does not and trusting that he will give us all we need. It is in times of difficulty that we learn how small and weak we really are and how great and gracious our God is. Let us turn to him knowing that his grace is sufficient for our every need.

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Oh, How I Love Your Law!

man wearing black crew neck shirt reading book

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Reading the Word

Psalm 119:97–104 (ESV)

97 Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.

98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.

99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your testimonies are my meditation.

100 I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts.

101 I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.

102 I do not turn aside from your rules,
for you have taught me.

103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!

104 Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Psalm 119 is the longest of the psalms. In fact, it is the longest chapter in the entire Bible, going on for 176 verses. Many do not realize that this psalm is an acrostic. The 176 verses are divided up into twenty-two stanzas with each stanza made up of eight lines. The eight lines of each stanza begin with successive letters in the Hebrew alphabet. Many English translations put headings at the beginning of each stanza to try to point this out, but our English translations lose the acrostic pattern.

Another thing that many readers miss is that Psalm 119 is focused entirely on the word of God. In every line of the psalm, God’s word is described using different synonyms. And the overarching message of the longest chapter of the Bible is that God’s word is wonderful. It brings life and wisdom and understanding. It is through the word of God that we know God and the salvation he gives. The word of God is to be cherished, which is why the psalmist proclaims, “Oh, how I love your law!” It truly is “sweeter than honey.” Let us pray that God would help us love his word as we should.

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The Lord Reigns!

Crayon Crown Header Subheader

Reading the Word

Psalm 99:1–9 (ESV)

1 The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble!
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
2 The LORD is great in Zion;
he is exalted over all the peoples.
3 Let them praise your great and awesome name!
Holy is he!
4 The King in his might loves justice.
You have established equity;
you have executed justice
and righteousness in Jacob.
5 Exalt the LORD our God;
worship at his footstool!
Holy is he!

6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel also was among those who called upon his name.
They called to the LORD, and he answered them.
7 In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them;
they kept his testimonies
and the statute that he gave them.

8 O LORD our God, you answered them;
you were a forgiving God to them,
but an avenger of their wrongdoings.
9 Exalt the LORD our God,
and worship at his holy mountain;
for the LORD our God is holy!

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Lord reigns! This psalm is a call to worship for the people of Israel, but it is also a call for us today. God is the holy and sovereign one over all the earth. For many this brings great comfort. For others, this brings great fear. Those who belong to the Lord, are comforted because he is a loving and gracious God who cares for his people. Those who have rejected the Lord must fear because they stand before God as the righteous Judge who condemns sin and the sinner.

The Lord our God is holy and worthy of worship. Let us lift our voices in praise and live our lives to glorify him, the one who is exalted over all the earth!

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Blessed Is the One

Psalm 11–2 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Psalm 1:1–6 (ESV)

1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

Those Who Wait for the Lord

Isaiah 4031 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Isaiah 40:30–31 (ESV)

30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

Understanding and Applying the Word

O to be young again! I remember as a teen and early twenty-something being able to go and go and go seemingly all day and night with little to no sleep and still being able to function. Today, if I do not get at least six, but preferably eight, hours of sleep, I am off the entire day. I wish I still had the stamina I once had.

Yet, even the young are limited in their strength. It may seem like the young can go and go forever, but they cannot. After a day or two of sleepless nights, even the teens and twenty-somethings crash. We all are limited in our own strength. However, God’s strength is unlimited and his people can trust in him. We can wait for him, which means that we can rest knowing that he is working for us in every situation. We do not have to face the world in our own strength and abilities. We go with the power of God at work in us. He gives us all we need each and every moment and we can go forward renewed and ready in him.

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