Strengthened by the Grace of Christ

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair

Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

Reading the Word

2 Timothy 2:1–7 (ESV)

1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. 3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Paul wrote 2 Timothy to his friend and child in the faith, Timothy. He wrote the letter from prison as he neared the end of his life. It was meant to be an encouragement to Timothy, who was ministering to the church in Ephesus.

“Be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” summarized Paul’s message to Timothy. Those who have labored in ministry know it can be tempting to give up and quit when we look at the task before us. It is overwhelming and when we examine our own credentials, we know immediately that we cannot accomplish anything in our own strength. We need help and the only help that will do is the grace of Christ working in and through us. We need him to strengthen us and we need him to change the hearts and lives of his people. Searching for inner strength or clever strategies will always fail. We need the supernatural presence of Christ to accomplish the supernatural work of ministry to God’s people. Let us seek his grace each and every day.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

Suffering with Hope

Revelation 214 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 8:18–25 (ESV)

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This life has its share of suffering. We will all face it to one degree or another. We will all face sickness, being hurt by others, being treated unfairly, the death of those we love, and our own deaths. These things are part of the common plight of mankind. However, the suffering we face now is nothing in comparison to the glory that is to come!

Yesterday, we looked at Hebrews 11:1, which says that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for.” As we go through life, with all of its bumps and bruises, we do so with our eyes to the future. We know what God has already done in the past. That is our assurance that he will fulfill his promises for the future. Jesus Christ did not come into the world to suffer, die, and rise again if he did not intend to keep his word to his people! We know the future is bright because we know the one who holds the future and he has promised a new heaven and new earth with no more pain or sorrow or suffering. Are you hurting? Call out to the Lord and know that your pain is temporary. The future is glorious!

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

What Is Faith?

Hebrews 111 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Hebrews 11:1–3 (ESV)

1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

Understanding and Applying the Word

What is faith? If you have ever heard this question asked in a church setting, you have probably heard Hebrews 11:1 quoted in response. That is good, but what does Hebrews 11:1 mean? I do not think it means what many Christians think it means. It sure does not define “faith” the way the world defines it.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. The King James Version translates this verse as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The world thinks that faith is just wishful thinking. It is something that we believe despite a lack of evidence or evidence to the contrary. That is not the biblical definition of faith. Faith is being convinced of things in the future based on the evidence of the past. Christians are sure of their future hope because of all that God has done in the past, especially in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our faith is not wishful thinking. Our faith is firmly rooted in the historical acts of God and his promises about the future.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

Our God Forever

Ephesians 318–19 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 48:9–14 (ESV)

9 We have thought on your steadfast love, O God,
in the midst of your temple.
10 As your name, O God,
so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth.
Your right hand is filled with righteousness.
11 Let Mount Zion be glad!
Let the daughters of Judah rejoice
because of your judgments!

12 Walk about Zion, go around her,
number her towers,
13 consider well her ramparts,
go through her citadels,
that you may tell the next generation
14 that this is God,
our God forever and ever.
He will guide us forever.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Have you ever stopped to consider the love of God? I mean, really consider it? In this psalm, the people take the time to walk around the city and admire its greatness. They knew it was great because of all that God had done for them and because he was with them. And he had promised to be with them forever.

God has promised to be with his people forever. Think about that. What else do you have that will be with you forever? There is nothing that can ever separate us from God and his love. Nothing! He is with us today, tomorrow, and into eternity. He is with us in life and he will be with us in death and into life after death. Paul reflects on this truth in Ephesians 3:17-19:

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17–19, ESV)

Take the time to reflect on God’s promise to always be with you today and forever.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

The Lamb of God

John 129 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 1:29–34 (ESV)

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Jewish people were familiar with sacrifices. The Old Testament law called for the people to repeatedly bring animals for sacrifice to deal with their sin problem. Now John makes the statement that Jesus is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” That was an incredible claim then and still is today!

Jesus went to the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Unlike the previous sacrifices that had been made for many years under the law, Jesus’ sacrifice was a once-for-all sacrifice (Hebrews 9:12). Those who acknowledge their sin and need of a Savior are promised that if they repent and trust in the sacrifice of Christ they will be forgiven and receive eternal life. Jesus was the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. And he takes those sins away forever. What an amazing Savior!

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

The Spirit Bears Witness

Romans 816 [widescreen]

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.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When we are born again through faith in Jesus Christ, our new birth is through the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Spirit “bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” It is the on-going work of the Holy Spirit in our lives that assures us that we truly belong to God.

Is the Spirit working in you to convict, direct, encourage, and grow you? Let this be an assurance to you that you are a child of God, a fellow heir with Christ of all that God has promised. He has given you new life and is working to help you grow to maturity.

Is the work of the Spirit missing from your life? Have you said a prayer or said that you believe, but there is no change or inner working of the Holy Spirit? Is it possible that you are not truly a child of God? Jesus said that there will be many at the end who will cry out to him “Lord, Lord!” and he will respond, “I never knew you; away from me.” Take Jesus’ words as a warning, repent of your sins, and ask him to save you now and give you new life in the Spirit. The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

The Almighty Reigns!

Revelation 196 [widescreen]

 

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

Reading the Word

Revelation 19:6–10 (ESV)

6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
8 it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Whatever You Do…

Matthew 516a [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Corinthians 10:23–11:1 (ESV)

23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.

11:1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Paul wrote these words to address division within the Corinthian church. Some were concerned over the eating of meat that had been previously sacrificed to idols before being sold in the market place. Others were convinced that eating such meat was not an issue since they did not believe in the idols that were involved. How should these believers with different thoughts handle this?

Paul’s answer is summarized in verse 31: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” This statement really tells every Christian what we are to do in every situation in life. We are to do the thing that brings glory to God. We make every decision with the intent to honor our Lord. He is first in our lives. This means that we may have to deny ourselves of things we really want or even feel we deserve. The Corinthian believer may need to skip a meal with meat in order to show love to a fellow believer. Unfortunately, how often do we go through our day and make our decisions without even considering how they bring glory to our God or dishonor him? How can we make the glory of God the primary motive in everything we do?

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

What Are You Afraid Of?

close up photo ofg light bulb

Photo by Rahul on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Psalm 118:5–9 (ESV)

5 Out of my distress I called on the LORD;
the LORD answered me and set me free.
6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
7 The LORD is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in princes.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When I was young, I was afraid to be left alone in the dark. My mind could come up with some terrifying thoughts when the lights were off. However, my fears disappeared when I had someone with me. The presence of another gave me strength to face the dark and confidence that I was not on my own to face any lurking dangers alone.

The Lord has promised to never leave us alone. He is always beside us and goes into the darkness with us. He gives us confidence and he faces our enemies with us. “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear,” the psalmist says. How can we fear when the all-powerful King of kings is on our side? In Psalm 23, David writes, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”

What are your fears? Know that you can face those fears with the Lord by your side.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

Have No Fear

bare feet boy child couch

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Psalm 56:1–4 (ESV)

1 Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
all day long an attacker oppresses me;
2 my enemies trample on me all day long,
for many attack me proudly.
3 When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
4 In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?

Understanding and Applying the Word

Have you ever felt attacked or looked down upon for being a Christian? Have you ever been made fun of or left out because you are a child of God? What was your response? How did you find encouragement?

The psalmist reminds us that God is with his people. We do not have to fear the world or become discouraged. Our God is for us and we can trust in him! Do you believe that? How will it change how you live each and every day?

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.