As Far as the East Is from the West

Psalm 10312 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 103:6–12 (ESV)

6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. 7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. 8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Lord is merciful and gracious and abounding in steadfast love. This is good news because it means that he does not give us what we deserve, which is his unrelenting wrath. We have all sinned against God through our rebellion and disobedience, but God is a God who forgives our sin and removes it from us “as far as the east is from the west.” It is completely and finally forgiven!

The most amazing thing about God is his love for us. Even though we are sinners, God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to make atonement for our sins. He went to the cross at Calvary to die as a sacrifice. It was through Jesus’ death that our sins were paid for and forgiven. Why did God provide such a sacrifice? Because he is merciful and gracious and abounding in steadfast love. Let us praise him for all he has done!

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

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Bless the Lord

Psalm 1031 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 103:1–5 (ESV)

1 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The opening is a call to “bless” the Lord because of all he does. It is the Lord who forgives sin, heals us, redeems us, shows his love for us, and gives so many good things.

It may seem odd that we could “bless” the Lord. God alone can bless, right? The Hebrew word barak stands behind the English translation. It can mean “to praise, bless, or adore”. In the context of this psalm, it seems best to understand it as a call to praise and adore the Lord for all he does for us. Verse 2 is especially important to this psalm as it calls on us to “forget not all his benefits”. We need to remind ourselves of all of the good things God has done and continues to do. As the old song says, we should “count your blessings…and see what God has done.” And let us praise him for those things!

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Your Years Have No End

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Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish devotional content on Sundays, but do include a suggested reading from Scripture. Be sure to subscribe to this page to follow along each day as we read through the Psalms in 2018.

Reading the Word

Psalm 102:23–28 (ESV)

23 He has broken my strength in midcourse; he has shortened my days. 24 “O my God,” I say, “take me not away in the midst of my days— you whose years endure throughout all generations!” 25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 26 They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, 27 but you are the same, and your years have no end. 28 The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you.

Let This Be Recorded

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Reading the Word

Psalm 102:18–22 (ESV)

18 Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord: 19 that he looked down from his holy height; from heaven the Lord looked at the earth, 20 to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die, 21 that they may declare in Zion the name of the Lord, and in Jerusalem his praise, 22 when peoples gather together, and kingdoms, to worship the Lord.

Understanding and Applying the Word

“Let this be recorded,” begins this passage. The psalmist desires for the acts of God to be written down so that later generations would know of his wonderful works and give him praise.

The Bible is the recording of the words and works of God. It is through the Scriptures that we hear of all that God has done in the past in saving his people. It is through the Scriptures that we learn of and come to know our Savior, Jesus Christ and the events of the cross. We are the later generations the psalmist speaks of. And it is through the Bible, the recording of God’s work, that we know him and are drawn to worship. Praise God for his word!

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

The Lord Is Enthroned Forever

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Reading the Word

Psalm 102:12–17 (ESV)

12 But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations. 13 You will arise and have pity on Zion; it is the time to favor her; the appointed time has come. 14 For your servants hold her stones dear and have pity on her dust. 15 Nations will fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory. 16 For the Lord builds up Zion; he appears in his glory; 17 he regards the prayer of the destitute and does not despise their prayer.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The opening verses of this psalm reflected the words of one who is in despair and waiting for God to act. The tone of the psalm turns in our verses today. The psalm goes from questioning to a proclamation of trust. “But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever” are powerful words that speak of God’s sovereignty over all. The writer has not forgotten this even in the midst of his circumstances.

It can be difficult to maintain hope in times of trouble. It is much easier to focus on the negative and forget that there is more to the story than just the present moment. God instructs us to view our circumstances differently. He instructs us through his word and tells us that he is in control and works all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). God has a plan and his plan never fails. But do we trust him? Do we trust him even when all hope seems lost? We can because he is enthroned forever!

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

The Day of My Distress

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Reading the Word

Psalm 102:1–11 (ESV)

1 Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to you! 2 Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call! 3 For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace. 4 My heart is struck down like grass and has withered; I forget to eat my bread. 5 Because of my loud groaning my bones cling to my flesh. 6 I am like a desert owl of the wilderness, like an owl of the waste places; 7 I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop. 8 All the day my enemies taunt me; those who deride me use my name for a curse. 9 For I eat ashes like bread and mingle tears with my drink, 10 because of your indignation and anger; for you have taken me up and thrown me down. 11 My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm has historically been classified as a penitential psalm, which is a psalm of confession of sin. It is interesting because the psalm never mentions a confession of sin. There is lament over the circumstances the writer is facing and a call for relief, but there is no mention of sin as the cause. The reason(s) for the psalmist’s troubles are unmentioned.

This psalm does help us as we face difficulties in our own lives. We often suffer and hurt and wonder why things are the way they are. We call out to God and wonder if he is listening because he does not seem to answer. If you have ever felt that way, the words of Psalm 102 will resonate with you. As we continue reading the rest of the verses tomorrow, we will see that God is always there and that we can find our hope in him. We may not have all of the answers to our “Why?” questions, but we do know the answers to our troubles are in the sovereign hands of God.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Devoted to the Lord

Revelation 1115 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 101:1–8 (ESV)

1 I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will make music. 2 I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; 3 I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. 4 A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil. 5 Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure. 6 I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me. 7 No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes. 8 Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all the evildoers from the city of the Lord.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The words of this psalm may seem harsh at first glance. The writer speaks of his devotion to the Lord, which is a good thing, but he also speaks of “destroying” those who slander and the wicked. However, when we read it in its proper context, the psalm becomes clear.

The words of Psalm 101 are from David, who was king in Israel. These words reflect his personal devotion to ruling according to the word of God and also his commitment to see to it that the entire government of Israel would be committed to the Lord. We know from Scripture that David failed on several accounts to live faithfully and that Israel’s government was often corrupted by sin. However, these words also point us to the one King descended from David who would be fully devoted to the will of God as well as to a day when the people would live under the rule of a just and righteous government. That King is Jesus, the King of kings and hope of all nations.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Know that the Lord, He Is God!

Psalm 1003 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 100:1–5 (ESV)

1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! 2 Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! 3 Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The heading for this psalm states that it is “a psalm for giving thanks.” All of the earth is called to gather before God and sing his praises because it is the Lord who is the Creator, who is our Shepherd, and because he is good.

The words of this psalm are well-known to many of us because they have been incorporated into so many songs through the years. It is a wonderful psalm to remind us of the core reasons we gather to worship with other believers. God is good. God is faithful. And God’s steadfast love is forever. No matter what we may be going through, when we remember these truths, our hearts are moved to worship and sing songs of joyous praise. Let us give thanks!

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

A King Who Answers Prayer

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Reading the Word

Psalm 99:6–9 (ESV)

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 psalm names Moses, Aaron, and Samuel as three former priest in Israel. Moses was not specifically mentioned as a priest in Scripture, but he was from the tribe of Levi. Aaron, the brother of Moses, was the first high priest. Samuel was the last judge of Israel and functioned as a priest in his ministry.

What do we learn from these men from the Old Testament? They prayed to God and God answered them. But not only did they pray, they were obedient to the word of God (v. 7). We too can pray and know that God hears and listens, but we too must be obedient to God’s word. He is forgiving, but God also punishes sin (v. 8). God is King over all of the earth. He is worthy of our worship and full obedience.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Holy Is He!

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Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish devotional material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested reading for the day. Thank you for reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day as we read through the Book of Psalms in 2018.

Reading the Word

Psalm 99:1–5 (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!