Raging Against God

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Reading the Word

Psalm 2:1–3 (ESV)

1 Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Reading the words of Psalm 2, one may wonder if this psalm was written recently. It is amazing to think that it was written thousands of years ago and describes the mindset of the nations and humanity then. It seems that people are not all that much different today than they were when these verses were first written down. The people still rage against God and his Anointed (i.e. Jesus Christ). People still think they would be better off if they could “burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords.” It is not uncommon to hear people say that religion and Christianity and the Bible are bad things that hold humanity and the world back from advancing to greater heights.

Contrary to the mindset of those quoted in this psalm and the attitude of so many today, the world is not better off without God. In fact, it is our rebellion against God that has caused our problems. We have rejected our Creator and gone our own way. By doing this, we have caused great harm to the world around us and to one another. It is only through returning to God that we can find the hope and peace that we desire. And it is through the promises of God to his people that we will one day live in a world without pain and suffering because sin and its consequences will be removed and there will be a new world where God dwells with his people.

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We Must Have Faith

Hebrews 116 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Hebrews 11:4–7 (ESV)

4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Do you want to please God? Then you must have faith in him. The writer of Hebrews, throughout chapter eleven, lists out many of the most well-known people of the Old Testament and shows that they were welcomed by God because each of them had faith. It was not their personal righteousness or their good works that pleased God. The Bible tells us that none of us are good enough on our own (Romans 3:23). If we want to please God, we must have faith.

The good news of the Bible is that Jesus Christ came into the world to save us from our sins. Every one of us is separated from our Creator by our rebellion against him and there is nothing we can do on our own to change this. However, Jesus paid our debt through his suffering and death. For all who repent of their sins and place their faith in Jesus Christ for forgiveness and reconciliation, Scripture tells us we are saved and given the gift of eternal life. This is the only way to be reconciled to God. We must have faith in Jesus Christ.

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The Love of Christ

Ephesians 318–19 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Ephesians 3:14–19 (ESV)

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When you pray for others, what do you pray for? The Apostle Paul records many prayers in his letters. In those prayers, he calls on God to work on behalf of fellow Christians. It would be a profitable study to take the time to look at those prayers in more detail. In today’s reading we find one of them.

Chief among Paul’s concern for his readers was that they would have a greater knowledge of the love of Christ. He wanted them to know the “breadth and length and height and depth” of it. What an amazing thing to comprehend! Our Savior gave his life for us. Why would he do such a thing? We did not deserve it. It is only explainable by love. Christ loves us with a greater and purer love than we have ever known. Let us pray that we would grow in our knowledge of that amazing love!

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Who Will You Serve?

Romans 617–18 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 6:15–19 (ESV)

15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Should Christians go on sinning? After all, we are saved by grace and not by keeping the law, right? Paul answers this question with “By no means!” It is true that we are saved by grace and not through keeping the law, but how we live reveals who, or what, we serve. If we continue to sin, we prove that we are still slaves to sin. If we live lives of righteousness, we show that we serve righteousness. And Christ died so that we did not have to remain slaves of sin.

When we read this passage, or others like it, we must keep in mind that the Bible is not speaking of perfect sinlessness. Scripture is clear that even the saved still sin, though there should be a continued growth in holiness over a lifetime. One day we will be completely free from sin and its consequences, but that day is still future. For now, we live in obedience to our Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us while humbly admitting that we often fail and seeking to remove sin from our lives rather than letting it grow. Through our righteous living we prove that we are no longer slaves to sin and that we now serve righteousness.

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Spiritual Maturity

Galatians 522–23 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Galatians 5:16–26 (ESV)

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Understanding and Applying the Word

What comes to mind when you hear the words “spiritual maturity”? Perhaps you think of the person who knows their Bible really well. Maybe you think of someone who has been a Christian for many years. Or maybe you imagine the person who is at church every time the doors are open. Those are all good things. Those are all things that many spiritually mature Christians do. However, those are not the marks of maturity.

All true Christians have the Holy Spirit working in their lives. The Spirit is at work to mold us and shape us more and more into the godly people we are called to be. The spiritually mature person is the one who shows forth a godly character, the fruit of the Spirit, in their life. The spiritually mature person is the one who displays love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Notice that all of these characteristics focus on how we relate to other people. We may have great Bible knowledge, have been Christians for fifty years, and go to church three times per week, but if we do not love others, we are immature and a long way from displaying the godly character we should. Let us examine ourselves and ask if we are growing in our spiritual walk and let us ask God to help us bear spiritual fruit.

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Relief from Your Sin

Psalm 325 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 32:1–5 (ESV)

1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

Sin robs us of so much. It destroys our relationship with our Creator. It destroys our relationships with other people. And it destroys us from the inside out. The psalmist tells us that his sin weighed heavy on his soul. It made him feel as though his bones were wasting away as he groaned all day long. He felt that the Lord’s hand was heavy upon him due to guilt and shame and his strength was sapped from him as a hot summer day drains us. This is what sin does. It robs us of all that life could be.

There is a solution to sin. God is a forgiving God. When the psalmist opened up in honesty about his sin and called out to God for forgiveness, the Lord was gracious and forgave. He promises to do the same for all who will repent and call out to him. Are you feeling the weight of unconfessed sin? Is your guilt draining you? Call out to the Lord and find relief for your soul through the grace and forgiveness that he offers to all.

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Fellow Heirs with Christ

Romans 816–17 [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 each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Romans 8:12–17 (ESV)

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

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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