The Words of Eternal Life

John 668–69 [widescreen]

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 I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but do include a suggested reading from Scripture.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

Reading the Word

John 6:60–71 (ESV)

60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him.

All to the Glory of God

1 Corinthians 1031 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Corinthians 10:23–33 (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.

Understanding and Applying the Word

“Do whatever makes you happy.” We have all heard that sentiment at some time. The idea is that we should live our lives for ourselves, not someone else. It sounds good at first, but is it biblical? In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul instructs the believers in Corinth that they need to be mindful about what they do. Everything we do can impact other people for good or bad, so we must seek the good of others. We want to do all we can to point others to Christ and help them grow in their Christian walk. Life is not ours to live for ourselves, but it is to be lived for the glory of Christ.

“So, whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” That is a much different way to live than we hear from the world. It is not all about us, but it is all about Jesus. And he is worth living for.

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Let Your Light Shine

Matthew 516 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 5:13–16 (ESV)

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Understanding and Applying the Word

How we live is important. It not only affects our relationship with God, but it affects how the non-believing world thinks about God. Christians are the chief representatives of God in the world. 2 Corinthians 5:20 states, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” How we live as God’s people can have the effect of driving people away or helping them to give glory to our Father in heaven.

As followers of Christ, we have been called to go into the world and proclaim the gospel. We do that through the words we speak and through the lives we live. Let us not forget that we represent our Lord to the world. Let us seek to do everything in such a way to bring glory and honor to him.

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Hallowed Be Your Name

Worship

Reading the Word

Matthew 6:9–15 (ESV)

9 Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this passage, commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer”, Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray. Jesus’ words here were not meant to be simply memorized and repeated, but used as an example. We learn a great deal about prayer when we analyze Jesus’ words.

In the opening of his prayer, Jesus says, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” The word “hallowed” comes from the word “holy.” It means “to be set apart.” God is to be treated as holy. He is to be treated as set apart. He is unique and to be revered as God alone. All that we do is for his glory and for his name to be lifted up and honored, as he alone is worthy. When we follow Jesus’s example and desire for God’s name to be hallowed, we are saying that we want God’s name glorified not only in our words, but in our circumstances. Consider the words of Thomas Manton:

We need to deal with God that we may have the end, and leave the means to his own choosing; that God may be glorified in our condition, whatever it is. If he wills for us to be rich and full, that he might be glorified in our bounty; if he wills for us to be poor and low, that he may be glorified in our patience; if he will have us healthy, that he may be glorified in our labour; if he will have us sick, that he may be glorified in our pain; if he will have us live, that he may be glorified in our lives; if he will have us die, that he will be glorified in our deaths (Romans 14:8). – Thomas Manton, Works

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Live in Peace

2 Corinthians 1314 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

2 Corinthians 13:11–14 (ESV)

11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you.

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Understanding and Applying the Word

It is far too common that we Christians spend a great deal of time and energy fighting among ourselves. And it is all too often that our fights are over meaningless things or things so trivial that they should be easy for us to deal with. How often are grudges formed and does bitterness take hold over carpet colors, the style of seating, the use or non-use of projectors and screens, etc.? There is hardly an end to the things over which we often do battle. This should not be. Believers are called to agree and live at peace with one another. We read this instruction in today’s passage, but it appears in multiple places in the Bible. Look at Mark 9:50, Romans 12:16, and 1 Peter 3:8 as other examples. There are many more.

Why is it important for believers to live in unity and peace? Because we are called to both proclaim and embody the gospel message. The gospel tells us that sin can be forgiven and that we can find newness of life and reconciliation with God and with each other. If we proclaim that message, but our lives are lived in constant fighting and bickering, we undermine the very gospel we preach. A fighting church cannot faithfully preach the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world. We lose our voice.

Let us call out to God to forgive us and let us go to our brothers and sisters in Christ and rebuild the broken relationships caused by our sinful attitudes. Let us preach the gospel to the world with our words, but let us also preach it with our lives.

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Confidence before God

Hebrews 1022 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Hebrews 10:19–25 (ESV)

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Scripture tells us that we are all sinners and separated from God by our sin. Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden and the presence of God as a consequence of their sin. This is the same consequence for all of mankind. In the Old Testament, God established a way for the people to once again draw near to him. It was through sacrifices and offerings and the priesthood. However, with Christ, God has made a better way. Christ offered himself for our sins and cleansed us once and for all. This now makes it possible for us to enter into the presence of our holy God because we are clean.

Believers can go before God is confidence, knowing that our sin is no longer a barrier to our relationship with him. Our sin has been completely dealt with through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. We have full access to the throne of the Almighty. We have this access now as we go to him in prayer. In the future, we will have it in even greater measure as we stand in his presence in glory. Let us not neglect such a wonderful gift from God. We can enter into his presence with confidence knowing that God loves us and that we have been forgiven.

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The Surpassing Worth of Jesus

Philippians 38 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. On Sundays, I publish a suggested Scripture reading only, with no additional material. Please be sure to subscribe so you can follow along every day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Philippians 3:1–11 (ESV)

1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.

2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Seek First the Kingdom

Matthew 633 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 6:25–34 (ESV)

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Do you trust the Lord? In these verses, Jesus tells us that we can trust the Father. He knows our needs and he will provide for us. Knowing this and trusting him frees us to live fully committed to doing God’s will. We can seek first the kingdom. In every situation and circumstance, we can do what brings greatest glory to God. We do not have to live like the world to survive in the world. Our Father knows our needs and will provide for us.

It can sometimes be tempting to cut corners or do things we know would not please God because we feel like we have no option if we are going to survive. Our actions in such times reveal a lack of faith that God really will take care of us. Do you trust God enough to seek first the kingdom and his righteousness? What are some areas that may need to change?

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More than Conquerors

Romans 837 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 8:37–39 (ESV)

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We are more than conquerors. Believers must always remember that the war has already been won. Christ has defeated the enemy at the cross. We who belong to him have nothing to fear. Our future is secure in the hands of God and nothing can change what he has determined. Nothing.

Why do we often forget these truths? We live in fear and shame. Instead of going boldly into the word as Christ’s people with his message of Good News, we flee from the world or slip back into it. Consider the words of William Gurnall:

Few have the courage and resolution to grapple with the difficulties that meet them in the way. Israel came joyfully out of Egypt, but when their bellies were a little pinched with hunger, they were ready to fly from their colours, and make a dishonourable retreat into Egypt. Many who profess the gospel fail to endure when trouble comes, and alas! their hearts fail them. O how many depart from Christ at this crossroads!- William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour

Whatever trials may come, we must remember that our future is secure in Christ. We are conquerors because Jesus rose victorious from the dead and has promised eternal life to all who believe. Let us go forward in confidence and pray that God will give us strength along the way.

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Pray Without Ceasing

1 Thessalonians 517 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Thessalonians 5:12–22 (ESV)

12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses we find several exhortations from the Apostle Paul, but I want to focus on a particular one. We are told to pray without ceasing. Prayer is such an easy thing, yet it is often one of the hardest things to do consistently. However, it is consistent, regular prayer that is Christ’s will for us. It is during this time with God that we are able to pour out our hearts to him and learn to rest in his graces. It is during prayer that our wills and affections are spoken and brought into line with our Father’s. We learn to trust in his word in the midst of our circumstances, knowing that he hears us and answers us according to his will. In prayer, we get to spend time with our Father and speak to him as a child, trusting in his goodness.

Christians should be people of prayer. One of the greatest gifts of love that God has given us is prayer. We can go before our Father openly and honestly, knowing he wants to hear from us and knowing that he cares about our circumstances. Let us be the people of prayer that our Lord wants us to be beginning this year.

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