That You May Believe

John 17 [widescreen]

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 I do not publish supplemental material on Sunday, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading.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

Reading the Word

John 20:30–31 (ESV)

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

What Is Truth?

John 1837 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 18:33–38 (ESV)

33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

Understanding and Applying the Word

We live in a world where truth is relative. Everyone decides for themselves what is right and true. If you say your truth is better than someone else’s, you are seen as intolerant. We all know this cannot really be so, but the world insists that we play along. It’s really a strange thing to insist that truth is relative on one hand, but hold tightly to the scientific method in the other. Yet that is the word we live in.

Jesus will not allow us to play such a game with truth. When he came into the world, he taught the people authoritatively. He revealed to them and us the truth. He claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life. We might like to pretend that there is no absolute truth or that such truth is unknowable, but Jesus insists that we believe his words because he speaks as the Son of God, the King of kings.

The world cannot deny truth because Jesus came into the world and revealed the truth. Now we have the options of living according to Jesus’ teaching or denying him and going our own way. In your search for truth, be sure to open your Bible and read the words of Jesus.

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Jesus Changes Us

red and green tree leaves on a sunny day

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Reading the Word

1 John 3:5–8 (ESV)

5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus came to take away sin. He came to save us and make us righteous. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who belong to Jesus should show evidence that they have been saved. They should not go on living in sin, but should live according to God’s righteous word.

Scripture teaches us that we are all sinful by nature. We can do nothing to save ourselves and we are not able to live righteously. Our hearts are fixed on sinning and we love to go our own way rather than follow God’s way. Jesus came into the word to rescue us from our dilemma. He died to pay the penalty for our sin and he gives new life through the Holy Spirit to those who trust in him. It is by new birth through the Spirit that we are changed. We want to live according to God’s will. We want to remove sin from our lives. Our loves and desires are reoriented. It is a miraculous change and it should be evident in every believer. Praise God for saving us and changing us!

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Why God Became Man

Hebrews 217 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Hebrews 2:14–18 (ESV)

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Understanding and Applying the Word

St. Anselm wrote a book many years ago titled Cur Deus Homo, which means “Why God Became Man”. Our passage today reveals to us the answer to Anselm’s question. Hebrews says that Christ came as a man to share in the same things that mankind shares in. Verse 17 tells us that Jesus “had to be made like his brothers in every respect…to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” Jesus came as a man because that was the only way that we could be saved. He had to be a man to die for the sins of mankind.

Have you ever spent time wondering over the incarnation? How and why did God come as a man into the world that he created? It is an amazing thing to think about! When we think of Christmas, let us contemplate the truth that our God has come into our world, that he came as a baby, that he lived as a man, and that he died on a cross to pay for our sins. What a great salvation! What a great God!

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Protected by Truth

John 1717 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 17:14–19 (ESV)

14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

Understanding and Applying the Word

You have likely heard the phrase “In the world, but not of the world.” It originates from today’s passage. It is not exactly a word-for-word quotation of Jesus’ words, but it is an accurate summation of these verses. As Jesus prepared to go to the cross and depart from the earth, Jesus asked the Father to protect his followers from the dangers of this world as they continued to live in it and represent him.

Notice that the thing Jesus asked the Father to do for his disciples was centered on them knowing the truth. Jesus asked the Father that the disciples might know the truth of God’s word so that they would not be deceived by lies. The world denies the word of God and proposes many other options as the best way to live. It is only through knowing the truth that we can be prepared to live in the world and testify to the good news of Jesus Christ as the Savior.

Let us turn to our Bibles to read of Jesus’ birth as we celebrate Christmas this year, but let us also turn to them each and every day as we seek to live for the glory of God.

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Jesus Established a New Covenant

Jeremiah 3133 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Jeremiah 31:31–34 (ESV)

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

In the time of the Old Testament, God promised that there would be a future day when he would do something new. He was going to forgive the sins of the people and establish a new covenant with them.

At the end of Jesus’ life, as he celebrated the Passover with his disciples, Jesus told them that he was establishing a new covenant in his blood. It was through the sacrificial death of Jesus that sin would be dealt with once and for all. And for those who trusted in him, Christ promised to give new life through the Holy Spirit. The old covenant was no longer. The new had come.

Praise God that our sins are forgiven in Christ. We now live in freedom and can live our lives without fear of condemnation for the honor and glory of our Savior. What a wonderful gift!

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Jesus Gives Abundant Life

John 1010 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 10:7–10 (ESV)

7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Understanding and Applying the Word

There are many ways to live our lives. Everywhere we go and every place we turn, we can find different ideas about what life is about and how we can get the most out of life. So who should we listen to?

Why not listen to the one who is best equipped to tell us? Jesus is the one who created all things (John 1:3). As the Creator, he knows exactly how we should live to get the most out of life. He tells us that all others are simply thieves who steal life from us. He is the one who gives abundant life. Abundance does not mean material wealth, but a life filled with what is most important. A life that pleases God and is not wasted on meaningless things.

Christmas is a time for us to think about our lives. Whose voice are we following? Are we following the voices that would steal from us or are we following the one voice that gives us life in abundance?

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Jesus Is Better

Hebrews 11–2 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental commentary on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading for the day. We are currently in the Christmas season, so we are looking at passages that better help us understand the purpose for Christ’s coming into the world. Please be sure to subscribe to this page and follow along every day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Hebrews 8:3–6 (ESV)

3 For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. 4 Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. 5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” 6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.

Christ, the Fulfillment

the old testament in the bible

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Reading the Word

Hebrews 8:1–2 (ESV)

1 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Many people have trouble making sense of the Old Testament. What was God doing then? It seems so different than the New Testament. A key to understanding the Old is to realize that it is pointing to the future. God makes many promises to his people that find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. So, the Old Testament is looking forward to the fulfillment of promises while the New Testament announces that Jesus is the fulfillment.

The author of Hebrews tells us that the priests and sacrifices were also pointing forward to Jesus. The Old Testament priests ministered in the tabernacle and the temple before the Lord, but Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and ministers on our behalf. He is far superior to the priests!

With Christmas, we see the fulfillment of what God had promised his people. It reminds us that God does keep his promises and that we can trust in his word. As we continue to live in this world and wait for Christ to come again, we find confidence as we celebrate his incarnation.

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Christmas Displays God’s Love

John 316 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 3:16–19 (ESV)

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Yesterday, we mentioned that we have to make sure we do not forget the reason for Christmas. Jesus was born into this world to save mankind by going to the cross as payment for sin. We also must not overlook what we learn about God because of Christmas. We learn that, even though we have rebelled against God through disobedience, he still loves us. He loves us so much that he gave his only Son for our salvation. That is amazing love!

I often hear from people who blame God for their pain and suffering. We must not forget that our sin is the cause of all of the trouble we face in this world. It is because of our disobedience that pain and sorrow and death entered into God’s good creation. Jesus came to rescue us from our suffering and give us eternal life in a world without the consequences of sin. It is because of Jesus that we have hope in the midst of our pain. We must not overlook God’s love and goodness during this special time of the year.

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