The Blessed

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Reading the Word

Psalm 128:1–6 (ESV)

1 Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD,
who walks in his ways!
2 You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.

3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the LORD.

5 The LORD bless you from Zion!
May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life!
6 May you see your children’s children!
Peace be upon Israel!

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm tells us that the one who fears the Lord is blessed. To “fear” God is to understand who we are in relation to him. He is our Creator, the one who sustains us, and the one who is Judge over all. We are called to live in obedience and will one day give an account before the Lord.

The psalm describes blessing as prospering in our work, being fruitful in our families, and living long lives. This is wonderful! However, when we consider what we read elsewhere in Scripture (e.g. Psalm 127), we know that this psalm is not offering a guarantee of such blessing. We are sinful and our lives are filled with disobedience, wrong thoughts and feelings, and improper motives. We do not fear the Lord as we ought. The blessings that we receive are by God’s grace.

We also must remember that we live in a sinful world where things often seem unfair. Those who are good struggle and those who are wicked seem to prosper (read Ecclesiastes for reflection on this truth). In the end, we must realize that the great blessings, prosperity, and peace that we long for will not be realized until we are with Christ in the new heaven and new earth. In the new creation there will be no sin, the wicked will be judged, and God’s people will experience true blessing and fellowship with the Lord. What a day that will be!

**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!

Unless the Lord Builds the House

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Reading the Word

Psalm 127:1–5 (ESV)

1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
2 It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.

3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate

Understanding and Applying the Word

What are you counting on for success? If you are counting on your own efforts and abilities, you labor in vain. It is God alone who gives blessing and success. This is a difficult truth for many of us to accept because we want to take credit for the good things in our lives. But a proper understanding of who God is will lead us to praise and thanksgiving for all he has done for us.

The second half of this psalm stresses that even our children are a blessing from the Lord. They are a blessing to parents and they too are in the hands of the sovereign God. This is a great comfort to parents because we can trust the One who is over all as our children grow, mature, and begin to live independently as adults. It is God who builds the house and protects the city. Let us not be anxious while trusting in ourselves, but let us rest in his loving care.

**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 Lord Has Done Great Things for Us

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Reading the Word

Psalm 126:1–6 (ESV)

1  When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2  Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
3  The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad.

4  Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like streams in the Negeb!
5  Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
6  He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Lord is a God of restoration. In the Old Testament, we see how he restores the nation of Israel after defeat by its enemies. Such a turnaround results in joy and celebration.

The entire Bible is a story of restoration. It is a story of how God is restoring the entire creation to what it was meant to be. In the beginning, God created all things good, but when mankind rebelled against God through disobedience, sin entered the world and God’s good creation was corrupted resulting in suffering and death. God, in his grace towards us, promised to send one who would deliver mankind from the power of sin (Genesis 3:15).

As we read the Bible, we learn that the promised one was Jesus Christ, who died to pay for our sins and give us life. Those who turn to Christ in repentance and trust are promised eternal life in a restored creation without sin. Revelation 21 describes what that new world will be like:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” (Revelation 21:1–7, ESV)

There will be no mourning or crying or pain or death anymore. Our tears will be turned to joy and we will be with the Lord! Praise the Lord. He has truly done great things for us through Jesus Christ.

**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 Lord Surrounds His People

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Reading the Word

Psalm 125:1–5 (ESV)

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,

which cannot be moved, but abides forever.

As the mountains surround Jerusalem,

so the Lord surrounds his people,

from this time forth and forevermore.

For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest

on the land allotted to the righteous,

lest the righteous stretch out

their hands to do wrong.

Do good, O Lord, to those who are good,

and to those who are upright in their hearts!

But those who turn aside to their crooked ways

the Lord will lead away with evildoers!

Peace be upon Israel!

Understanding and Applying the Word

Before the days of airplanes and missiles, the best way to fortify against any enemy attack was to build a fortress in the mountains. The mountains would make defense much easier. This psalm tells us that, just as the mountains are a protection, the Lord surrounds his people to give them security.

The Lord offers a sure defense to the righteous because one day all will stand before him in judgment. At that time, the wicked and the righteous will be separated and the wicked will be led away. Scripture tells us that those who belong to the Lord will dwell in his presence for eternity and that there will be no more sin or wickedness (cf. Revelation 21:1-8). We can trust in the Lord and his ways because in him we know our future is secure.

**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 Lord Who Is on Our Side

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Reading the Word

Psalm 124:1–8 (ESV)

1 If it had not been the Lord who was on our side— let Israel now say— 2 if it had not been the Lord who was on our side when people rose up against us, 3 then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us; 4 then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us; 5 then over us would have gone the raging waters. 6 Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us as prey to their teeth! 7 We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped! 8 Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm observes that if the Lord had not been on the side of Israel, they would have been defeated. The enemy would have triumphed over the people and destroyed them. But God was on the side of Israel and the people escaped.

Romans 8:31 states, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” The Apostle Paul’s point in this verse is that if the sovereign God stands on our side, we are assured victory. Paul goes on to say that this is the same God who sent his Son to die for us. And if God was willing to pay such a huge price to save us, he is not going to just give us up. When we trust in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we are brought into the family of God. We are his and he stands on our side. Let us go into the world with confidence knowing that our salvation is secure and we have nothing to fear.

**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 Lift Up My Eyes

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental content on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. If you have not already done so, please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day.

Reading the Word

Psalm 123 (ESV)

1 “To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!

2 Behold, as the eyes of servants
look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maidservant
to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
till he has mercy upon us.

3 Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.

4 Our soul has had more than enough
of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud.”

Let Us Go to the House of the Lord

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Reading the Word

Psalm 122 (ESV)

1 I was glad when they said to me,
    “Let us go to the house of theLord!”
Our feet have been standing
    within your gates, O Jerusalem!

Jerusalem—built as a city
    that is bound firmly together,
to which the tribes go up,
    the tribes of the Lord,
as was decreed for[a] Israel,
    to give thanks to the name of theLord.
There thrones for judgment were set,
    the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
    “May they be secure who love you!
Peace be within your walls
    and security within your towers!”
For my brothers and companions’ sake
    I will say, “Peace be within you!”
For the sake of the house of the Lordour God,
    I will seek your good.

Understanding and Applying the Word 

This psalm reflects the thoughts of one in Israel making a trip to the temple in Jerusalem to worship. This worshipper understands the importance of the unity of God’s people and vows to pray for continued peace. When God’s people are divided, their witness to the world is destroyed.

Under the old covenant, the nation of Israel represented God’s people in the world. Under the new covenant, that responsibility belongs to the Church made up of people from every nation. We too must understand the importance of unity among the people of God. We too must seek it diligently and pray for it continually, so that we may faithfully proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day.

I Lift My Eyes to the Hills

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Reading the Word

Psalm 121 (ESV)

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses, the psalmist declares his steadfast faith in God as his salvation. It is God who keeps Israel and God never sleeps.

It is a wonderful thing to find security in the all-knowing, ever-present God who never sleeps. He is always aware of our circumstances and he is always capable of doing whatever he wills. We can trust him every day.

We can also trust him to fulfill his salvation in our lives through Jesus Christ. God has promised not only forgiveness of sin, but complete deliverance in a new creation. As we wait for that day, we echo the words of the Psalm, “I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and Earth.”

**Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. Please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day.

Among Those Who Hate Peace

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Reading the Word

Psalm 120:1-7 (ESV)

1 In my distress I called to the Lord,
and he answered me.
2 Deliver me, O Lord,
from lying lips,
from a deceitful tongue.

3 What shall be given to you,
and what more shall be done to you,
you deceitful tongue?
4 A warrior’s sharp arrows,
with glowing coals of the broom tree!

5 Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech,
that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
6 Too long have I had my dwelling
among those who hate peace.
7 I am for peace,
but when I speak, they are for war!

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this psalm, we read the words of one who understands the reality of life in this world as a child of God. To live in this world is to live among people who do not share the same view of the world and these two different views can be strongly opposed to one another. As a result, there can be a potential for conflict.

The psalmist writes, “I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for conflict.” If you are ever discouraged by the way others respond to your faith and the message of the gospel, be encouraged. Our Lord faced resistance as well and met it with love and peace. We are called to do the same as we live in this world and proclaim the message of peace to those who will receive it.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day.

Let My Cry Come before You

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Reading the Word

Psalm 119:169–176 (ESV)

169 Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to your word! 170 Let my plea come before you; deliver me according to your word. 171 My lips will pour forth praise, for you teach me your statutes. 172 My tongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right. 173 Let your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts. 174 I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight. 175 Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me. 176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We often take prayer for granted. It is an amazing thing that the great God who created everything cares to listen to the prayers of mankind. Why does he concern himself with us? We are insignificant when you think of the vastness of the universe. Yet, we are told that God does care and that he does hear and answer prayer.

The psalmist prays, “Let me cry come before you…Let my plea come before you.” It is a wonderful thing to know that God has heard. And it is also a wonderful thing to know that God answers prayer according to his word. He has not left us in the dark about his plans and purposes in the world, nor has he left us wondering what he desires from us. He has told us all of these things through his word to us. And most of all, we find that God is a God of salvation. He saves us from our sins and gives us life through Jesus Christ. Let us praise God for hearing us, for giving us his word, and for saving those who call out 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!