The Way, the Truth, and the Life

John 146 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 14:1–6 (ESV)

1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Christianity is controversial. It has always been controversial. The reason is found in this passage, especially Jesus’s words in verse 6. Jesus clearly and pointedly stated that there is only on way to the Father and it is through him. This means that all paths are not the same. All paths do not lead to the same destination. All religions are not equal. There is only one way. There is only one truth. It is found in Jesus Christ alone.

Of course, just because a person claims to have the one right answer does not make it so. Many people have made that claim through the years. However, Jesus is not just any person. He is the one person who died and rose from the dead. The resurrection validates that all Jesus said was true. His words were not just the words of a crazy man or wishful thinking. His words were authoritative. And this means that Jesus is the only way to the Father. And he also tells us that if we repent of our sins and place our faith in him, we will be saved. Why would you go any other way?

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Praying for Open Doors

Colossians 42 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Colossians 4:2–6 (ESV)

2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Paul asked the believers at Colossae to pray for him. He was not asking for them to pray for his health or safety. Those things were not his primary concern. Paul wanted prayer for his missionary efforts. He wanted prayers for open doors to preach the word of God. He wanted to clearly preach the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ so that people would hear and believe.

Let us join in praying for open doors for the gospel and let us “continue steadfastly” in this prayer. We are currently living through circumstances with COVID-19 that I believe is an open door. Our neighbors are fearful of the future. Let us pray and then let us take the message of Jesus Christ to a world that is hurting and searching for a foundation to stand on. The gospel is the message of hope that people need right now.

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Clothed in Righteousness

Zechariah 34 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Zechariah 3:1–5 (ESV)

1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” 5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The name Satan means “the accuser”. In today’s passage, we see him standing before God to accuse Joshua the high priest. Joshua was standing before the Lord in “filthy garments”, indicative of his sin and unworthiness. Satan was there to make sure that God did not miss this. However, even before Satan could make his arguments, God stopped him and declared that the Lord had plucked Joshua from the fire. God had given Joshua grace and demanded that he be clothed in clean garments, a sign of forgiveness and righteousness.

The picture of forgiveness and cleansing from sin is exactly what the Lord does for each and every believer. We come before him in our guilt and sin. We have no argument to make or gift to offer for our salvation. Satan stands ready to accuse, but God extends forgiveness and grace to all who repent and turn to Jesus Christ in faith. Jesus went to the cross to die for our sins. In return, we are clothed in his righteousness. It is a wondrous exchange. So, go before the Lord and call out for forgiveness in faith. He promises grace to all who will.

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Saved by Grace

Ephesians 24–5 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Ephesians 2:1–10 (ESV)

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Christians, we must always remember where we came from and how we got to where we are. Our standing and relationship with God is not because of anything we have done to make it so. Every one of us was lost in our sin and rightfully a under the wrath of God. The only thing that saved us and reconciled us to God is grace. We have no reason to boast in our salvation nor do we have reason to think ourselves superior to others. All we have is because our God is merciful and loving towards sinners like us.

It is important for us to remember the grace we have received so that we are motivated to tell others of that same grace. When we begin to think that we are more worthy than others, we quickly begin to think others are unworthy altogether. Salvation is a free gift offered to all. Let us remember where we came from and how we got here and then let us go tell others of that same gift that is offered to them as well.

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Beware of False Teachers

Apple Education

Reading the Word

1 Timothy 4:1–5 (ESV)

1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Bible warns of false teaching in many places. In our passage for today, Paul tells us that false teaching will be a mark of the end times. He tells us that false teaching is ultimately the product of demonic influence and liars whose consciences are seared. These are people who do not care about their wrong-doing because they benefit from it in some way. Paul gives two specific examples of false teaching: forbidding marriage and requiring abstinence from food. The reason that Paul gave these two specific examples is because they were likely things that were being taught in the church in Ephesus, where this letter went.

We need to beware of any and all false teaching that may try to creep into our lives and churches. This is why training in doctrine is so vital to our Christian walk. A strong doctrinal foundation shields us from the demonic attack of false teaching. Many churches and Christians have drifted away from doctrinal training in favor of more practical lessons and sermons, but this is problematic in the long run. Doctrinal training may not seem exciting or practical at times, but it is essential for our Christian growth. What does your church do to train believers in correct doctrine?

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Run the Race

Hebrews 121 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish additional 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

Hebrews 12:1–2 (ESV)

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

The Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 522–23 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Galatians 5:16–24 (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.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Paul gives us a contrast between living life according to the “flesh” and living life according to the ‘Spirit”. The word flesh in this passage refers to our natural or worldly way of life. It is the life of sin that all people live before they are born again through faith in Jesus Christ. When we come to saving faith in Christ, we are given new life through the power of the Holy Spirit. That new life is a life of holiness and obedience to the word of God. When Paul speaks here of the Spirit, he is referring to the Holy Spirit and the life we live under his direction.

What does new life through the Holy Spirit look like? We are given a list of characteristics beginning in verse 22. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. As we grow in our Christian lives, these characteristics should become more and more the defining markers of our character. Our old way of life should fade away as the work of the Spirit grows and grows. Lord, let your Spirit continue to work in us and let our lives be a wonderful display of the fruit of your work in our hearts!

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The Grace of God Keeps Us

Jude 24–25 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Jude 24–25 (ESV)

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The gospel teaches us that we are all sinners and in need of a Savior. It tells us that we cannot save ourselves, but God sent his Son into the world to die for the sins of mankind and redeem all who repent and trust in him. Our salvation comes not through what we can earn through good works, but through the love and grace of God.

Today, we read that it is also by God’s grace that believers will one day stand before God blameless. God’s grace not only saves us, but keeps us to the end. He is a wonderful God and worthy of all praise and honor and glory! Jude closes by describing God as our great King who deserves our worship now and forever.

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Submission and Honor in a Pandemic

1 Peter 213–14 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 13:1–7 (ESV)

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

1 Peter 2:13–17 (ESV)

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As we are living through the Coronavirus pandemic there are going to be many challenges along the way. One of those is deciding how we will respond to the daily changes in restrictions that are being placed on us. I have heard and read much complaining about these things and I understand the reason for some of the complaints, but how should we respond? What is the proper Christian response to what we are facing right now?

The Apostles Paul and Peter are helpful to us. In Romans, Paul tells us that those in authority over us are there because God placed them in their positions. Therefore, we should submit to our leaders. After all, they are working for our good (Romans 13:4). Peter tells us in his letter that we are to submit to our leaders and honor them. Not only should we obey, but we should not be whiners and complainers. We should be the best citizens there are!

As we face each day of this outbreak and as we are asked to self-quarantine or any number of further restrictions, let us remember that our leaders are trying very hard to do what is right and they are working for our good. We may not agree with every decision, but we are called to submit to their authority and we are called to honor them. We do that by not constantly complaining and arguing about the decisions. And we can also do that by praying for our leaders. They have much on their plates right now and need all of the support they can get, especially our prayers.

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Peace Surpassing All Understanding

Philippians 46 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Philippians 4:4–7 (ESV)

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We are living through circumstances right now that are unprecedented in our lifetimes. The whole world is facing the rapid spread of COVID-19, commonly referred to as Coronavirus. Many people are afraid because there are so many questions right now and very few answers. So how should we respond?

In our reading for today, we are told that we do not need to be anxious about anything. We can go to the Lord in prayer about the things that are troubling us. He hears us and he cares for us. When we pray to God, we pray to the Creator of all things and the One who is sovereign over all things. Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things for the good of those who love him. So, while the world seems like it is in turmoil, we have a God we can talk to and we can have peace knowing he is in control that he is working for our good.

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