Taste and See that the Lord Is Good

Psalm 348 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 34:8–10 (ESV)

8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
9 Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

Understanding and Applying the Word

A friend of mine lost his wife just a few days ago. I attended the funeral service today. It was a beautiful tribute to a woman who loved the Lord, her husband, and her family and friends. She left a wonderful legacy.

In the service, I was touched by the words shared by her children and her husband. They expressed that they would miss her and that her absence would be hard. But they also expressed their confidence in where she is now and the hope they have in a future reunion. Their confidence and hope are present in the face of death because they know the Lord and they know he is good. This family has experienced God’s goodness in their lives as he has walked alongside them in the past. Now, they continue to trust in him as they walk into the future. Knowing the Lord does not mean that nothing bad will ever come our way. It will. However, knowing the Lord does mean that our God is with us and we can lean on him and his promises. Today was a wonderful reminder to me that God is good.

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Joy Inexpressible

1 Peter 18–9 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Peter 1:3–9 (ESV)

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Understanding and Applying the Word

O the future that awaits the people of God! It is beyond our comprehension how wonderful it will be. Christ’s resurrection from the dead assures us that his promise of eternal life is true. We will be with our Lord for eternity! No matter what we may face now, we are assured that there is a glorious future and we can “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible.”

As those who belong to Christ and who have an inheritance that can never be taken away, we should be the most joyous people around. We have been given a wonderful gift. We have received the promise of eternal life in a world without sin and death and pain and suffering. The Son of God loves us and died for us to bring us life. Let us rejoice in our Savior and our future!

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Asking in Jesus’ Name

Praying Friends

Reading the Word

John 16:16–24 (ESV)

16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus told his disciples about his coming crucifixion. He was going to die, but he was also going to be resurrected. The world would cheer Jesus’ death while the disciples mourned. However, the mourning would turn to joy when Jesus rose from the dead.

To encourage his followers, he assured them that they would not be abandoned. They could go to the Father knowing that he would answer their prayers. Jesus told them that whatever they asked “in my name” the Father would give to them. This does not mean that they simply needed to tack “in Jesus’ name” at the end of their prayers to make sure they were answered. Jesus’ words meant that when their prayers were in line with the will of Christ, those prayers would be answered. When we have learned to love and trust Jesus, it means we also trust his plans and purposes in all things. So praying “in Jesus’ name” becomes our desire because we want the same things he wants.

Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and encourages us to pray, knowing that our prayers will be heard and answered when they are in his name. Let’s begin by asking him to conform our desires to reflect his will.

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The Promise Guaranteed

Ephesians 113–14 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

2 Corinthians 1:12–22 (ESV)

12 For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. 13 For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and understand and I hope you will fully understand— 14 just as you did partially understand us—that on the day of our Lord Jesus you will boast of us as we will boast of you.

15 Because I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a second experience of grace. 16 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on my way to Judea. 17 Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? 18 As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. 20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Understanding and Applying the Word

I miss the old cartoons I watched when I was young. I loved Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, and Popeye the Sailor Man. My kids do not understand what they are missing. They know nothing of the power of eating your spinach!

Thinking of those old shows reminds me of the character Wimpy who used to always say “For a hamburger today, I will gladly pay you on Tuesday.” I always got the impression that Wimpy probably could not be trusted. His promises seemed empty.

How should we think of God’s promises to us? He has surely promised a wonderful future, but how do we know he will deliver? Well, God did not simply make a grand promise, but he has left us with a down payment. Paul writes that God has “put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” The never-ending presence of the Spirit of God working in us is a constant reminder that God has not forgotten us. He is still at work and his promises will be fulfilled. Guaranteed!

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Fear the Lord

Psalm 767 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 12:1–7 (ESV)

1 In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Fear has a way of controlling us. We seek to please those we fear. It is the reason peer pressure is so strong. We fear the rejection of those we want to approve us. In today’s passage, Jesus warns against having our fear in the wrong place. We should not fear our fellow man. There is only so much harm that another person can do to us. Instead, we must put the fear of God as our greatest fear. After all, he is the One we will stand before and give a final account. He will be our final Judge. What good will it be if we please men, but we have failed to honor the Lord?

Who and what do you fear? Does your fear of rejection or persecution from others determine the decisions you make and the life you live? Seek to honor the Lord in every circumstance. Do not let your fear keep you from serving the Lord, but let it drive you closer to him.

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What Does It Profit a Man?

Matthew 1626 [widescreen]

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

Reading the Word

Mark 8:34–38 (ESV)

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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