The Presence of God

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Reading the Word

Psalm 43:1–5 (ESV)

1 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me! 2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 3 Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! 4 Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm ends with the same refrain that we read twice in Psalm 42: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” With these words, the psalmists reminds himself that he can trust in God and that he will again be in the presence of God. This psalm seems to especially look forward to a return to the temple, which was the center of worship and the special place of God’s dwelling among his people in the Old Testament (cf. vv. 3-4).

As Christians, we know that we can worship God anywhere and that we have his Spirit dwelling within us. The Bible tells us that we are the temple of the Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19). Yet, we also experience times when it feels as if God is far away. It is in those times that we need to remind ourselves that God is with us as we walk by faith in his word. One day, all of God’s people will be in his presence for eternity. In that day, our faith will be realized and we will see him in his glory.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

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Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul?

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Reading the Word

Psalm 42:6–11 (ESV)

6 My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. 8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. 9 I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” 10 As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” 11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The psalmist is in despair. He describes his feelings using the imagery of a powerful waterfall that pushes its waves over him and beats him up. In this despair he calls out to God, “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

Yet there is hope in the midst of the despair. Notice what we find in verse 6. The psalmist writes, “therefore I remember you…” And in verse 9 he writes, “I say to God my Rock.” Even in despair, we see that God is the hope of this writer, which is why he ends this psalm with the words “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”

In life, our faith in God will be tested. It is in the difficult times that we face that we will know what kind of faith we truly have. Is it a faith that turns away and runs when things are hard? Or, is it a faith that gives us confidence to go on in the face of adversity? God is with us at all times and in all situations. Do you trust him?

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

My Soul Thirsts for God

Psalm 421 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 42:1–5 (ESV)

1 As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Understanding and Applying the Word

How do you feel when God feels far away? In the opening verse of Psalm 42 the psalmist compares his desire for God to that of a deer in need of water during a drought. The psalmist’s soul thirsts for God and waits for a time when he may appear before God. As he waits, his tears flow (v. 3) and others mock and ask him, “Where is your God?”

Life can be difficult and it can seem especially difficult when you feel abandoned. In verse 5 we read a refrain that will repeat itself in verse 11 and again in Psalm 43:5. It is the heart of the message of these two psalms. In these verses, we are reminded that we need not be troubled because we can trust in God. He is faithful and will not abandon us. There are better days ahead. In fact, for God’s children, there are days of never ending joy ahead because he has promised to dwell with us forever in a new creation where there is no pain or sorrow or suffering. Let us rejoice in the hope we have in the God of our salvation.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Betrayed by a Friend

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Reading the Word

Psalm 41:9–13 (ESV)

9 Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me. 10 But you, O Lord, be gracious to me, and raise me up, that I may repay them! 11 By this I know that you delight in me: my enemy will not shout in triumph over me. 12 But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever. 13 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In the previous verse, David calls out to God because of his enemies who long to see David’s end. Now, in these verses, he mentions that not only is he dealing with the attacks of his enemies, but also one who was supposed to be his closest friend. This is one who had eaten with David and who David trusted. Many years later, we see Jesus quote this passage and apply the betrayal of a friend to Judas (John 13:18).

Even after being betrayed by his friend, David trusts that God would vindicate him. We see here an example of faith in the face of great adversity. It is easy to trust on God when things are easy, but what happens when the world stands against you? What happens when God is all you have? David trusted and his trust turned to praise in the final words of this psalm. Whatever our circumstances, may we remember the God is with us and that he is for us.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Kicked While Your Are Down

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Reading the Word

Psalm 41:5–8 (ESV)

5 My enemies say of me in malice, “When will he die, and his name perish?” 6 And when one comes to see me, he utters empty words, while his heart gathers iniquity; when he goes out, he tells it abroad. 7 All who hate me whisper together about me; they imagine the worst for me. 8 They say, “A deadly thing is poured out on him; he will not rise again from where he lies.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

There is nothing like being kicked when you are down. That is what this psalm describes. As the psalmist lies in sickness, his enemies use the situation to drag his name through the mud using slander. These enemies look forward to his death and the end of his family line (v. 5). They do all they can to spread false information about him and paint him in the worst possible light.

As he lies in sickness, the only one David can call out to is God. Yes, he has sinned against God, but he has repented (v. 4). He knows that God is gracious and forgiving and restores the repentant heart to fellowship. In the day God lifts him up, his name will be vindicated over his enemies.

Those who repent of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ are forgiven of their sins. They are adopted as children of God. Though enemies may attack, there comes a day when God’s people will be vindicated over all the enemies of God and his children. We wait in confidence for God to lift us up for his glory.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Reflecting the Love of God

Psalm 411 [fullscreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 41:1–4 (ESV)

1 Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him; 2 the Lord protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; you do not give him up to the will of his enemies. 3 The Lord sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health. 4 As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!”

Understanding and Applying the Word

The word rendered “poor” in verse 1 is often used in contrast with the rich (cf. Proverbs 10:15). It can also mean “sick” or “weak” (cf. 2 Samuel 13:4) and is probably best understood in this way here as the psalm goes on to speak of one on his sickbed.

The idea of these verses is that God deals with his people often times in the way that his people have dealt with others. Those who reflect his grace and mercy towards others will receive that grace and mercy themselves. It reflects Christ’s words in Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.”

As Christians, we are called to reflect the nature of God to the world. The way we interact with others should show the love and grace of God – the same love and grace that he has shown to us through his Son who died in our place. Pray that the Lord would give you a heart for others that reflects his own.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

I Am Poor and Needy

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Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. I do not publish devotional content on Sundays, but I do publish a suggested reading for the day. In 2018, we are reading through the Book of Psalms together. If you have not already done so, please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading !

Reading the Word

Psalm 40:11–17 (ESV)

11 As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me! 12 For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me. 13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me! O Lord, make haste to help me! 14 Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether who seek to snatch away my life; let those be turned back and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt! 15 Let those be appalled because of their shame who say to me, “Aha, Aha!” 16 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the Lord!” 17 As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!

Not an Offering, but Myself I Bring

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Reading the Word

Psalm 40:6–10 (ESV)

6 In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. 7 Then I said, “Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: 8 I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” 9 I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord. 10 I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.

Understanding and Applying the Word

David tells us that it is not our offerings and sacrifices that God desires (v. 6). No, it is our hearts that he is after and David is ready to offer his life in obedience. He states, “I delight in your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” David delights in the will of God. He is not living in obedience out of religious obligation, but because he loves the Lord and the Lord’s ways. As a result of his love, David is ready to tell others of God’s grace and steadfast love. He cannot keep it in!

So many Christians see God’s word as a burden that they obey, at least in part, not out of love, but out of obligation. This is not how it should be. As we grow in knowledge of God through his word, our hearts should be transformed by that word and the work of the Spirit. Our transformation leads to a growing love for God and his ways because we see him as good and his law as a joy rather than a burden. Is God’s word burdensome? Ask him to transform your heart that you might love him more.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

A New Song in My Mouth

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Reading the Word

Psalm 40:1–5 (ESV)

1 I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. 2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. 4 Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! 5 You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Psalm 40 begins with the declaration “I waited patiently for the Lord.” This theme of waiting for God has been repeated in the last few psalms that we have read. It is important to understand that waiting does not mean sitting back and doing nothing. The waiting that is described is one of perseverance and expectancy. The psalmist is saying that he has been hanging in there trusting that God would act on his behalf.

As we continue to read, we learn that God has not let the psalmist down. God has acted and rescued. He has drawn him from the pit, placed him on the rock, and given him a new song of praise. Now, the psalmist wants to tell everyone about his great God!

Persevering faith is something we all need. This world is full of difficulty, pain, and sorrow. God has promised through his word that he will always be with us and that one day he will remove the pain and suffering from this world, but until then we wait patiently for the Lord to fulfill his promises. We wait expectantly, knowing that God’s promises will be fulfilled according to his timing. In that day, we will join with all of God’s people in singing a new song of praise to him!

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

O Lord, Make Me Know My End

Psalm 394 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 39:1–13 (ESV)

1 I said, “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.” 2 I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse. 3 My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: 4 “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! 5 Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah6 Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather! 7 “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. 8 Deliver me from all my transgressions. Do not make me the scorn of the fool! 9 I am mute; I do not open my mouth, for it is you who have done it. 10 Remove your stroke from me; I am spent by the hostility of your hand. 11 When you discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him; surely all mankind is a mere breath! Selah12 “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers. 13 Look away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more!”

Understanding and Applying the Word

I do not know many people who like to think or talk about death. Yet, it is a topic that we must think about at some point because it is a reality that we all face. We need to be prepared for it and we need to prepare others for it. In this psalm, the writer asks for God to make him know the end and the measure of his days. He wants to live in the reality that life is short.

As a pastor, I have come to realize that funerals open a door of opportunity to encourage people to reflect on the brevity of life. I believe this is a good thing and that reflecting on death can help us have a better life. We need to consider that we will one day stand before the Creator and give an account. We also must consider that we have all sinned and that God is holy. Thankfully, he is also gracious and has made forgiveness of sin possible through the sacrificial death of his Son, Jesus Christ. God’s word tells us that those who trust in Christ will be saved and given eternal life.

We need to be prepared for death because it can come at any moment. We, like the psalmist, need to know the brevity of our days and turn to Christ while we have time. Will you today?

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!