A God Merciful and Gracious

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Reading the Word

Psalm 86:14–17 (ESV)

14 O God, insolent men have risen up against me; a band of ruthless men seeks my life, and they do not set you before them. 15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. 16 Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant, and save the son of your maidservant. 17 Show me a sign of your favor, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Understanding and Applying the Word

David is under attack by men that he calls “insolent” and “ruthless”. Yet, in his prayer, David calls out to God to show him mercy and grace based on God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. He does not plead with God based on his personal merit or righteousness. His prayer shows that he is willing to admit that he may share some of the blame in the circumstances.

We can learn much from David. Often times, when we feel as though we are being mistreated we need to stop and self-examine. We need to be willing to admit that we may have at least contributed in some way to our circumstances. When we pray to God for deliverance, let us also pray for forgiveness and grace. Then let us praise him for his love and faithfulness toward 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!

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Teach Me Your Way, O Lord

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Reading the Word

Psalm 86:8–13 (ESV)

8 There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. 9 All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. 10 For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. 11 Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. 12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. 13 For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

Understanding and Applying the Word

There is no god like God (v. 8). In fact, there is only one true God (v. 10). One day, all people from every nation will bow down and worship God as the one true God (v. 9). Understanding this, David asks the Lord to teach him even now to walk in the truth of God’s word. He does not want to wait until later to worship and honor God. He desires to live for him now. David’s desire is driven by God’s love towards him and the salvation he has received from God.

The Bible tells us that one day very knee shall bow before the Lord (cf. Isaiah 45:4; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10-11). As David desired, so we should desire to live for God even now. We begin to do this by seeking reconciliation with him by repenting of our sin and calling out on Jesus Christ for forgiveness. Through Christ we are forgiven and given new life in the Spirit that enables us to turn from our sin and live according to God’s word. Through obedience, we honor him as God and show our love for 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!

I Call on You, O Lord

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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 include a suggested reading for the day. Please subscribe to this page so you can follow along as we read through the Book of Psalms in 2018.

Reading the Word

Psalm 86:1–7 (ESV)

1 Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. 2 Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God. 3 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day. 4 Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. 5 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. 6 Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. 7 In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.

Salvation Is Near

2 Peter 313 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 85:9–13 (ESV)

9 Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land. 10 Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. 11 Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky. 12 Yes, the Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. 13 Righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps a way.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Righteous is near to those who fear God. Through this salvation there is restoration. Verses 9-13 describe the restoration that is pictured throughout the Bible. It will be characterized by the steadfast love of God and the faithfulness of his people. It will be a time of righteousness and peace. God, in his goodness, is will restore the land.

In the Book of Revelation, the eternal state is described as a new creation where sin and the curse of Genesis 3 have been finally dealt with and eliminated. In the new world there is no more pain or suffering or death. Instead, there is righteousness and peace and life eternal. This is the hope of the gospel and the what salvation is about. One day, all who fear the Lord will dwell in his presence in the new world.

**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!

God Speaks Peace to His People

Colossians 119–20 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 85:1–8 (ESV)

1 Lord, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. 2 You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. Selah 3 You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger. 4 Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us! 5 Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations? 6 Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? 7 Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. 8 Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly.

Understanding and Applying the Word

These verses describe a restored relationship between God and his people. God, in his grace, forgave the people of their sin and showed his love for them.

Our sin is a great offense to God because he is holy. We are told that our sin separates us from God and that we stand condemned as a result. Yet, God is gracious and forgiving towards those who will repent of their sin and call out to him for forgiveness. He speaks peace to the repentant and restores the lost relationship. No longer does our sin condemn us, but we are called the people of God.

How is this possible? Because of the cross. Jesus Christ suffered and died in our place. He paid for our sin so that we could go free. The cross is the reminder that peace with God has been made possible for all who believe. Praise the Lord for his 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!

Better Is One Day in Your Courts

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Reading the Word

Psalm 84:9–12 (ESV)

9 Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed! 10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. 11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. 12 O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

Understanding and Applying the Word

There is a well-known Christian song based on this psalm called Better Is One Day. The chorus takes the words of verse 10: “Better is one day in your courts, better is one day in your house, better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere.” The song, as well as the psalm, reflect on the supreme value of living in the presence of the Lord. Nothing else even comes close!

There is nothing this world has to offer that is of greater value than knowing the Lord. He is better than fame and fortune. He is better than beauty and power. Let us seek him while there is still time and let us savor his goodness as we wait to dwell in his presence for eternity.

**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!

The Pilgrimage to God

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Reading the Word

Psalm 84:5–8 (ESV)

5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. 6 As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. 8 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

The words in these verses describe a pilgrimage to the temple. The opening verses (vv. 1-4) described the wonder of being in the presence of God, so here we find a description of the reward of the journey to get there. There is a progression in the journey along the highway from the Valley of Baca to the place of springs. The meaning of the word “Baca” is “shrubs” and pictures a dry desert region.

The imagery of this psalm is quite striking. It describes the pilgrimage to the presence of God as one that takes the traveler through the difficulty of the desert and brings her to a place of abundance, a place of springs. As pilgrims in the world, we understand that we may have to go through trials and difficulties before we reach our destination. But our destination is an eternity in the presence of God and it is described as a new creation where there is no more pain or suffering and where there is life abundant (Revelation 21-22). What a day that will be when our journey is over and we stand in the presence of God! For now, we are pilgrims on the way.

**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!

Longing for the Presence of God

Wailing Wall

Reading the Word

Psalm 84:1–4 (ESV)

1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! 2 My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. 3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. 4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses, the psalmist speaks about beauty of the dwelling place of God. In the immediate context, this spoke of the temple in Jerusalem where the people would go to worship, offer their sacrifices, and celebrate the yearly festivals. The temple was an ever important place to the Jewish people because it was the place where God dwelled among them. And it looked forward to a time when God would dwell with his people in an even greater way.

The Bible looks forward to a day when God will dwell fully with his people. In the Book of Genesis, God dwelled with the man and woman in the garden of Eden, but they were sent away from his presence after they sinned. Through the work of redemption, God has made it possible for mankind to reestablish a relationship with him. It is done through the cross of Jesus Christ where sin was atoned for. This who repent of their sins and trust in the work of Christ will be saved and receive eternal life in the presence of God forever in a new heaven and new earth. Blessed are those who dwell in the presence of the living God!

**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!

That They May Know

Stone Tomb

Reading the Word

Psalm 83:14–18 (ESV)

14 As fire consumes the forest, as the flame sets the mountains ablaze, 15 so may you pursue them with your tempest and terrify them with your hurricane! 16 Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek your name, O Lord. 17 Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever; let them perish in disgrace, 18 that they may know that you alone, whose name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm calls for God to destroy the enemies of Israel. Not only that, but it calls for God to do so in dramatic fashion. Why? “That they may know that you alone, whose name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth.”

In the time of these events, the enemies of Israel would have worshiped other gods. If they had defeated Israel, surely they would have given credit to their idols as being the superior gods or even the true gods. The psalmist calls out for God to act so that it would be clear who the true God is.

Christians know who the true God is because of the resurrection. Jesus Christ came into the world to proclaim the word of God and to die for sinners so that we could find forgiveness. If Jesus had simply died and stayed in the grave, we would have no reason to believe his words and we would have no reason for hope (1 Corinthians 15:12-28). However, Christ did not stay in the grave. On the third day he rose from the dead. The resurrection is the proof that Jesus is who he claimed to be and that we can trust in his words. He is the true God who came into the world to save 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!

Give It to the Lord

Romans 1219 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish devotional content on Sundays, but I do include a suggested reading from Scripture. You can follow along as we read through the Book of Psalms in 2018 by subscribing to this page. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Psalm 83:9–13 (ESV)

9 Do to them as you did to Midian, as to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon, 10 who were destroyed at En-dor, who became dung for the ground. 11 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna, 12 who said, “Let us take possession for ourselves of the pastures of God.” 13 O my God, make them like whirling dust, like chaff before the wind.