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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The Lamb of God

John 129 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 1:29–34 (ESV)

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Jewish people were familiar with sacrifices. The Old Testament law called for the people to repeatedly bring animals for sacrifice to deal with their sin problem. Now John makes the statement that Jesus is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” That was an incredible claim then and still is today!

Jesus went to the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Unlike the previous sacrifices that had been made for many years under the law, Jesus’ sacrifice was a once-for-all sacrifice (Hebrews 9:12). Those who acknowledge their sin and need of a Savior are promised that if they repent and trust in the sacrifice of Christ they will be forgiven and receive eternal life. Jesus was the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. And he takes those sins away forever. What an amazing Savior!

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The Spirit Bears Witness

Romans 816 [widescreen]

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.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When we are born again through faith in Jesus Christ, our new birth is through the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Spirit “bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” It is the on-going work of the Holy Spirit in our lives that assures us that we truly belong to God.

Is the Spirit working in you to convict, direct, encourage, and grow you? Let this be an assurance to you that you are a child of God, a fellow heir with Christ of all that God has promised. He has given you new life and is working to help you grow to maturity.

Is the work of the Spirit missing from your life? Have you said a prayer or said that you believe, but there is no change or inner working of the Holy Spirit? Is it possible that you are not truly a child of God? Jesus said that there will be many at the end who will cry out to him “Lord, Lord!” and he will respond, “I never knew you; away from me.” Take Jesus’ words as a warning, repent of your sins, and ask him to save you now and give you new life in the Spirit. The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

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The Almighty Reigns!

Revelation 196 [widescreen]

 

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

Reading the Word

Revelation 19:6–10 (ESV)

6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
8 it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Whatever You Do…

Matthew 516a [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Corinthians 10:23–11:1 (ESV)

23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.

11:1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Paul wrote these words to address division within the Corinthian church. Some were concerned over the eating of meat that had been previously sacrificed to idols before being sold in the market place. Others were convinced that eating such meat was not an issue since they did not believe in the idols that were involved. How should these believers with different thoughts handle this?

Paul’s answer is summarized in verse 31: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” This statement really tells every Christian what we are to do in every situation in life. We are to do the thing that brings glory to God. We make every decision with the intent to honor our Lord. He is first in our lives. This means that we may have to deny ourselves of things we really want or even feel we deserve. The Corinthian believer may need to skip a meal with meat in order to show love to a fellow believer. Unfortunately, how often do we go through our day and make our decisions without even considering how they bring glory to our God or dishonor him? How can we make the glory of God the primary motive in everything we do?

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What Are You Afraid Of?

close up photo ofg light bulb

Photo by Rahul on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Psalm 118:5–9 (ESV)

5 Out of my distress I called on the LORD;
the LORD answered me and set me free.
6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
7 The LORD is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in princes.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When I was young, I was afraid to be left alone in the dark. My mind could come up with some terrifying thoughts when the lights were off. However, my fears disappeared when I had someone with me. The presence of another gave me strength to face the dark and confidence that I was not on my own to face any lurking dangers alone.

The Lord has promised to never leave us alone. He is always beside us and goes into the darkness with us. He gives us confidence and he faces our enemies with us. “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear,” the psalmist says. How can we fear when the all-powerful King of kings is on our side? In Psalm 23, David writes, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”

What are your fears? Know that you can face those fears with the Lord by your side.

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Have No Fear

bare feet boy child couch

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Reading the Word

Psalm 56:1–4 (ESV)

1 Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
all day long an attacker oppresses me;
2 my enemies trample on me all day long,
for many attack me proudly.
3 When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
4 In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?

Understanding and Applying the Word

Have you ever felt attacked or looked down upon for being a Christian? Have you ever been made fun of or left out because you are a child of God? What was your response? How did you find encouragement?

The psalmist reminds us that God is with his people. We do not have to fear the world or become discouraged. Our God is for us and we can trust in him! Do you believe that? How will it change how you live each and every day?

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Lies and Deception

Temptation and Fall

Reading the Word

Genesis 3:1–7 (ESV)

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Satan is crafty, as he has always been. In the garden, he deceived the woman by planting doubt in her mind about God’s goodness. He questioned God’s limitation for Adam and Eve and told the woman that God was holding her back from reaching her potential. “You will be like God, knowing good and evil,” the serpent told Eve. He convinced her that if she ate of the forbidden fruit she would be able to rule herself and have no need for God to tell her what to do. So the woman ate and the man ate. They quickly realized that what they had done was wrong and sought to hide themselves and their shame.

Sin is like that. It promises us a better life. It promises more fun, more fame, more money, more of everything that obedience to God keeps us from. But sin never delivers on its promises. It destroys lives, shatters relationships, and leads to death. We sin because we believe the same lie that the first man and woman believed. We believe that God is holding us back and that our disobedience will give us a better life. We believe that we can run our own lives and that we do not need God telling us how to live.

Do not be deceived. Sin takes us down the road that leads to death. Trusting in God leads us to eternal life in Jesus Christ.

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Be Strong in the Lord

man about to lift barbell

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Reading the Word

Ephesians 6:10–20 (ESV)

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Life can be hard. Many difficult things can come our way at almost any time. When those tough times come, it is likely we will hear words like “Hang in there” or “Be strong.” But how do we do that? How do we remain strong when the world around us is falling apart and we have no control over it? Someone may tell us to “Be Strong”, but that is not enough. If we are honest, we know we are very weak and hopeless.

Notice that this passage tells Christians to “Be strong”as well. However, it does not tell us to be strong in ourselves. We are to be strong in the Lord. We are weak, but he is not. The world may not be in our control, but God is in complete control. We can face our circumstances in his strength. We can go into the world each day prepared for battle because the Lord is with us and has given us the armor we need to protect us from all we will face as long as we stand strong in the Lord.

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The Free Gift of God

Romans 623 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 6:20–23 (ESV)

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Mankind has a problem. It is a sin problem. We are all guilty and our sin has separated us from God. We are condemned to death and eternal punishment and there is nothing we can do on our own to make things right. We cannot do enough good deeds. We cannot donate enough money. We cannot attend enough church services. We have nothing to offer to God.

Praise be to God because he has done what we could not! God has offered us life as a free gift. We cannot earn it or buy it, but God gives it to us by grace. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to pay the debt we could not. He died in our place and defeated sin and death through his resurrection. Through all that Jesus has done for us, when we trust in him, we receive life. Eternal life. Praise God for his mercy and grace!

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