I Have Seen the Lord

John 2018 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 20:11–18 (ESV)

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Mary stood weeping at the tomb wondering where Jesus’ body had gone. She was in such distress that she did not even notice the presence of angels. When they spoke to her, she simply answered without regard to the fact that they were heavenly beings. Then Jesus spoke to Mary, but she failed to recognize him also, thinking he was the gardener. Mary was in deep grief over the death of Jesus and now the disappearance of his body. She was unable to really see what was going on around her.

Jesus then said, “Mary.” At that point, she recognized Jesus and responded, “Rabboni!” In English, she said, “My Teacher!” Jesus was risen and was standing before her! Her grief was turned from sorrow to joy. Surely Jesus would be with her from now on. However, Jesus told her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” Jesus was with her now, but it would only be temporary. He would soon ascend to heaven and the Holy Spirit would be poured out in his absence. Things were changing. Now was the time to gather the disciples and let them know that Jesus was risen and that he would soon be departing and they would take the message of the resurrection to the world.

Jesus’ ascension marked a major change in how God works in and through his people. Christ had been physically present with his people, but now he would soon be gone. In his place, the Holy Spirit would be with the people of God to empower them as witnesses and to lead them into all truth. This means that you and I, fellow Christian, have this same Spirit working in us as we live in this world. And this means we are equipped for everything that God has called us to do, which is centered on proclaiming the Good News that Jesus is alive again!

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He Is Not Here

Matthew 286 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 28:1–8 (ESV)

1 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

Parallel Text: Mark 16:1-8

Understanding and Applying the Word

Imagine going to Jesus’ tomb, where you plan to put spices and perfume on his body, only to find the tomb empty. Surely you would be surprised. You would wonder what had happened to Jesus. This is what happened to these women that we read about today. They were still grieving their loss, as Jesus had only been in the tomb since Friday evening and it is now Sunday morning.

As they wondered about Jesus, we are told that an angel appeared and spoke to them. The angel told reminded them that Jesus had said he would rise from the dead and that he had indeed done so. He showed the women the place where Jesus’ body had been laid and then told them to go and tell the others what had happened. They would soon find Jesus in Galilee.

The response of the women was mixed. We read that they were filled with both fear and joy. Joy because they had just been told that Jesus was alive, but joy because how could something like this be so? If he was alive again, what did that mean? The truth of the resurrection should cause fear and joy in us as well. We are filled with joy because Jesus has provided victory over sin and death. He is a Savior that can actually save and his resurrection proves it. However, his resurrection also tells us that there is judgment for sin. We stand condemned in our sin if we do not have Christ. We must feel fear for those who have not turned to Jesus in repentance and faith and we must tell them of the salvation available to all who will believe.

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Good News of Great Joy

white sheep on farm

Photo by kailash kumar on Pexels.com


Reading the Word

Luke 2:8–20 (ESV)

8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Yesterday we read how Jesus was placed into a manger, which is an animal feeding trough, when he was born. Such an amazing thing to think that the King of kings, the Creator of all things, would enter into the world in such a humble way.

Today, we read of the birth announcement. Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah promised in the Old Testament Scriptures. The Jewish people had been waiting for hundreds of years for his arrival. So, when he does arrive we expect it to be a grand occasion! What we get is an angel appearing to a few shepherds out in a field nearby. The angel makes sense, but why these lowly shepherds?

Jesus was a Savior for all people. He did not come just for the rich or the powerful or the social elite. As the angel said, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all of the people.” The birth of Jesus was good news for everyone, including the shepherds. It was good news for you and for me. And it is good news for all who will turn to Jesus as Savior. Let us do as the shepherds did: let us tell the world of Jesus and give glory and praise to God for all we have seen and heard.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. Please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Christ as recorded in the four Gospel accounts in 2019.

The Seven Bowls


Reading the Word

Revelation 16:1–21 (ESV)

1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.” 2 So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. 3 The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing died that was in the sea. 4 The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. 5 And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say, “Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgments. 6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. It is what they deserve!” 7 And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!” 8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. 9 They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory. 10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish 11 and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds. 12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east. 13 And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. 14 For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. 15 (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”) 16 And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. 17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. 19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. 20 And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. 21 And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this chapter we read of God’s wrath being poured out on mankind. Each bowl reminds us of the plagues poured out on Egypt when God led the people out of slavery. What stands out in this chapter is that even with the severity of the punishments, the people refused to repent. The chapter repeats this truth multiple times and ends with “and they cursed God for the plague of hail.”

In the midst of these judgments, the people refuse to repent and instead curse God. However, we also read that the heavenly hosts praise God for his just judgments. God is just and even in the pouring out of his wrath, mankind has no valid excuse. We have sinned against our holy Creator. His holiness demands justice and it will come to all.

The amazing thing is that the same holy God has been gracious towards mankind in offering a sacrifice for sins. Jesus Christ died for all who will trust in him. When we do that, our sins are atoned for through the sacrifice of Jesus. He took the wrath for us. Let us trust in him while there is still time.

**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!

Seven Angels with Seven Plagues

Revelation text

Reading the Word

Revelation 15:1–8 (ESV)

1 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished. 2 And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. 3 And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! 4 Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” 5 After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, 6 and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests. 7 And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, 8 and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.

Understanding and Applying the Word

John describes another sign, which he calls “great and amazing”. It must have been an incredible sight! The vision he sees is seven angels with seven plagues, which John tells us will end the pouring our of God’s wrath on mankind. Also in this vision are those who had remained faithful to God even during the onslaught of Satan and his followers. These overcomers are given harps and with them they worship God.

When the people worship God they sing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. These songs and the mention of plagues takes us back to the exodus when God used Moses and plagues to free his people from slavery in Egypt. Now we are being told that God is once again using plagues to rescue his people from slavery to sin and a fallen world. Just as in Moses day, those who trust in the blood of the Lamb will be saved.

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The Three Angels

IMG 2547

Reading the Word

Revelation 14:6–13 (ESV)

6 Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. 7 And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” 8 Another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.” 9 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” 12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. 13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

Understanding and Applying the Word

A first angel appears and proclaims the eternal gospel to all nations. Two additional angels appear with warnings to those who would reject the gospel and instead worship the beast. The warning is that God’s wrath will be poured out in full strength.

Once again, the purpose of this passage is mentioned towards the end. Verse twelve tells us that it is a call for the endurance of the saints – those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. Throughout history there have been times and places where it is difficult to stand for Christ due to persecution and rejection of the surrounding culture. Revelation describes a day when things will be at their worst and standing will have consequences for the believer. May God grant us strength and boldness in our day and situation to remain faithful to him.

**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!

Jude 5-13

Shaped by the Word publishes devotional content daily Monday through Friday. However, I will post suggested readings on Saturdays and Sundays. Here is the reading for Saturday, November 18:

Reading the Word

Jude 5–13 (ESV)

5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. 8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. 12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved 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!