Putting Sin to Death

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Reading the Word

Colossians 3:5–11 (ESV)

5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Christian life is one of constant warfare. We war against the ongoing struggle and temptations of sin. Colossians tells us that we must put the sin in our lives to death. It has no proper place for the people of God.

Why do we often treat sin as if it is no big deal? We certainly do not talk about the presence of sin in our lives using the imagery of war. Those who take sin seriously today are quickly dismissed and labeled as “legalists”, but I think we have become too soft on this issue and have forgotten that we are called to be holy as God’s people. We must go to war against the presence of sin in our lives. We must kill it. We must not allow it to continue to exist in our midst because it pulls us away from God and keeps us from the lives we are meant to live. We cannot honor our Savior or each other if we are living with sin. Are you ready for the fight?

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According to Your Faith

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Reading the Word

Matthew 9:27–31 (ESV)

27 And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” 28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” 29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” 30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” 31 But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus healed two blind men. This scene by itself is not a surprise. We read many occurrences in the Gospels of Jesus healing others. The thing that stands out here is that Jesus first asked the men if they believed that he could heal them. When they affirmed their belief, Jesus said, “According to your faith be it done to you.”

This episode is a story that shows what Jesus does for all who believe. Jesus heals us. He delivered the men from their blindness. He delivers us from our sin and the death that it brings. However, while the offer of healing is for all, only those who believe in Jesus will be delivered from their sin and given eternal life. According to our faith it will be done for us. Trust in the only one who can save you.

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Walk by Faith, Not by Sight

2 Corinthians 57 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

2 Corinthians 5:6–10 (ESV)

6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Paul tells us that “while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.” What exactly does he mean? First, to be at home in the body speaks of living our lives in this world. Until we die or Jesus Christ returns, we are away from our Lord and must live in this fallen world. This brings us to his second point. While we live in this fallen world, we must live by faith and not by sight. This does not mean, as some suppose, that we live according to wishful thinking and in contrast to obvious truth. Faith is not just hoping something hard enough that it becomes reality. Faith is believing in the promises of God even though they have not yet been fulfilled. The Lord has promised that one day we will be with him, so we live our lives knowing this is true.

If you are reading this, you are living in this world and still awaiting the fulfillment of the promises of God. During our time in this world, we will face many joys and trials, but we do so always knowing what the future holds for all who belong to Christ. We live out our days knowing what the word of God says and knowing that God’s word will be fulfilled. We walk by faith and not by sight.

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His Grace Is Sufficient

2 Corinthians 129 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

2 Corinthians 12:7–10 (ESV)

7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We must never forget that God’s greatest desire for his people is that they would be more like Christ. We may desire a life of ease, comfort, financial success, health, and many other things, but sometimes the best thing for our spiritual growth is struggle. Paul struggled with a “thorn in his flesh” and pleaded with the Lord to take it away, but God did not. Instead, God reminded Paul that his grace was sufficient and that Paul needed to trust in the Lord. This was to keep Paul from becoming conceited in his special role as God’s apostle (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:7).

What struggle are you facing that you have asked the Lord to take away, but he has not? Are you ready to accept that whatever you are facing may be for your benefit? It is not wrong to ask the Lord to remove our struggles, but we must do it while at the same time trusting him even if he does not and trusting that he will give us all we need. It is in times of difficulty that we learn how small and weak we really are and how great and gracious our God is. Let us turn to him knowing that his grace is sufficient for our every need.

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Oh, How I Love Your Law!

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Reading the Word

Psalm 119:97–104 (ESV)

97 Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.

98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.

99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your testimonies are my meditation.

100 I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts.

101 I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.

102 I do not turn aside from your rules,
for you have taught me.

103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!

104 Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Psalm 119 is the longest of the psalms. In fact, it is the longest chapter in the entire Bible, going on for 176 verses. Many do not realize that this psalm is an acrostic. The 176 verses are divided up into twenty-two stanzas with each stanza made up of eight lines. The eight lines of each stanza begin with successive letters in the Hebrew alphabet. Many English translations put headings at the beginning of each stanza to try to point this out, but our English translations lose the acrostic pattern.

Another thing that many readers miss is that Psalm 119 is focused entirely on the word of God. In every line of the psalm, God’s word is described using different synonyms. And the overarching message of the longest chapter of the Bible is that God’s word is wonderful. It brings life and wisdom and understanding. It is through the word of God that we know God and the salvation he gives. The word of God is to be cherished, which is why the psalmist proclaims, “Oh, how I love your law!” It truly is “sweeter than honey.” Let us pray that God would help us love his word as we should.

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The Lord Reigns!

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Reading the Word

Psalm 99:1–9 (ESV)

1 The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble!
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
2 The LORD is great in Zion;
he is exalted over all the peoples.
3 Let them praise your great and awesome name!
Holy is he!
4 The King in his might loves justice.
You have established equity;
you have executed justice
and righteousness in Jacob.
5 Exalt the LORD our God;
worship at his footstool!
Holy is he!

6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel also was among those who called upon his name.
They called to the LORD, and he answered them.
7 In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them;
they kept his testimonies
and the statute that he gave them.

8 O LORD our God, you answered them;
you were a forgiving God to them,
but an avenger of their wrongdoings.
9 Exalt the LORD our God,
and worship at his holy mountain;
for the LORD our God is holy!

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Lord reigns! This psalm is a call to worship for the people of Israel, but it is also a call for us today. God is the holy and sovereign one over all the earth. For many this brings great comfort. For others, this brings great fear. Those who belong to the Lord, are comforted because he is a loving and gracious God who cares for his people. Those who have rejected the Lord must fear because they stand before God as the righteous Judge who condemns sin and the sinner.

The Lord our God is holy and worthy of worship. Let us lift our voices in praise and live our lives to glorify him, the one who is exalted over all the earth!

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Blessed Is the One

Psalm 11–2 [widescreen]

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

Reading the Word

Psalm 1:1–6 (ESV)

1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

Those Who Wait for the Lord

Isaiah 4031 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Isaiah 40:30–31 (ESV)

30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

Understanding and Applying the Word

O to be young again! I remember as a teen and early twenty-something being able to go and go and go seemingly all day and night with little to no sleep and still being able to function. Today, if I do not get at least six, but preferably eight, hours of sleep, I am off the entire day. I wish I still had the stamina I once had.

Yet, even the young are limited in their strength. It may seem like the young can go and go forever, but they cannot. After a day or two of sleepless nights, even the teens and twenty-somethings crash. We all are limited in our own strength. However, God’s strength is unlimited and his people can trust in him. We can wait for him, which means that we can rest knowing that he is working for us in every situation. We do not have to face the world in our own strength and abilities. We go with the power of God at work in us. He gives us all we need each and every moment and we can go forward renewed and ready in him.

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Believe in the Lord Jesus

Acts 1630–31 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Acts 16:25–31 (ESV)

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

When the jailer asked what he must to to be saved, Paul and Silas told him, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” That is the message of the gospel.

The Bible teaches us that we are all sinners before our holy God, our Creator. We have rebelled and disobeyed. As a result, we are rightfully condemned and there is nothing that we can do on or own to make things right with God. We have nothing to offer. However, God has done something for us. He has given his Son, Jesus Christ, who came willingly into the world to die for sinners. If we will repent of our sins and trust in Jesus’ sacrificial death, we will be forgiven. That is the gospel and the central theme of the entire Bible. Will you believe in Jesus Christ and be saved?

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Unworthy

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Reading the Word

Mark 1:4–8 (ESV)

4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

John the Baptist drew a crowd. With his strange attire and diet and along with his message of repentance, it is no wonder that many were interested in seeing him. But John knew that his ministry was not about him. His purpose was to point to someone greater. John was there to point the people to Jesus Christ, the one who could save them.

John told the people, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.” That is the role of each and every follower of Jesus. We are merely servants of the Mighty One. Our words and our actions should not be about drawing attention to ourselves, but pointing others to Jesus, the one who saves. We are unworthy, but he is of infinite worth and deserving of all of our worship.

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