The Devotion of the Early Church

small church

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

Reading the Word

Acts 2:42–47 (ESV)

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

The World Could Not Contain the Books

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Thank you for reading Shaped by the Word. This page is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. On Sundays, I only post a suggested Scripture reading without additional comments or insights. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along every day!

Reading the Word

John 21:24–25 (ESV)

24 This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.

25 Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

Jesus Rose in the Flesh

Luke 2438–39 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. On Sundays, I post a suggested Scripture reading without supplemental content. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along every day. We are currently reading through the life of Christ. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Luke 24:36–43 (ESV)

36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.

All of Scripture Is about Jesus

Black and White Bible Quote

Reading the Word

Luke 24:13–35 (ESV)

13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Parallel Text: Mark 16:12-13

Understanding and Applying the Word

Why didn’t the two disciples recognize Jesus? It is a question that we probably all have asked at one time or another. I know I have heard many others ask it through the years. The only thing we are told is that “Their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” God’s sovereign plans and purposes were at work in the situation and it was not yet time for them to see that it was Jesus. The time was not far away, however, as their eyes were opened and they did recognize him in verse 31.

Notice that Jesus’ emphasis in his discussions with these disciples was on showing them how he was the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures. Jesus began with Moses, the first five books of the Bible, and taught them that all of Scripture was ultimately about him. Did you know that? When you read your Bible, are you connecting the promises and allusions to Christ and gaining an understanding of how Jesus is the focus of our entire Bible, both Old and New Testaments? It is such a wonderful book and it is wonderful because it reveals to us our Savior.

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They Understood None of These Things

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Reading the Word

Luke 18:31–34 (ESV)

31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” 34 But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.

Parallel Texts: Matthew 20:17-28; Mark 10:32-45

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses, Jesus predicted his death for the third time (cf. Luke 9:22 and Luke 9:43-45). In this third occurrence, Jesus also tells the disciples of his resurrection. However, they did not understand what he was telling them. It was hidden from them. It would not be until after the events of the crucifixion and the resurrection that the disciples would understand how Jesus had fulfilled the Old Testament Scriptures concerning the Messiah.

It can be easy for us to think poorly of the disciples, wondering why they seemed to miss it so often. Why did things seem to go right over their heads? It is easy for us who have the completed Scriptures and the ability to read the entire story to understand Jesus’ ministry. We understand that he entered the world and lived a sinless life so he could go to the cross as a sacrifice for sin. We understand that this had to happen if mankind was going to be saved. And we understand that the resurrection was essential if sin and death were to be defeated and if we were going to have hope.

The disciples did not have what we have today. They did not have the completed Bible. They were living in the middle of the events and they were trying to make sense of it all. It would take hindsight and Jesus explaining the events for them to understand (cf. Luke 24:13-35). Let us not take for granted the blessing we have in having the completed word of God available to us so easily, which teaches us about our Savior and the importance of all he said and did.

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Choosing What Is Best

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Reading the Word

Luke 10:38–42 (ESV)

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus visited the home of Martha. While he was there, Martha put herself to work serving her guests. However, Martha’s sister Mary, who was also present, sat at Jesus’ feet listening to him as he taught. Martha thought Mary should get up and help and asked Jesus to tell her so, but Jesus would not. Instead, he told Martha that Mary had made the right choice.

This short passage emphasizes something profound. Life presents us with many choices and decisions, but they are not all equal. Sometimes, we must choose between right and wrong. In such cases, the decision is clear. However, there are other times when we must choose between what is good and what is better. Martha’s decision to serve was not wrong, but there was something more important. Jesus was in her home! Serving could wait for the moment. It was time to hear what Jesus had to say. It was time to spend time with the Lord.

We too can spend much of our time doing good things, but fail to do the most important thing: fellowship with the Lord. It is vital to the health of our faith that we take the time to sit at the Lord’s feet and hear from him through his word. We must take the time each day, even time away from doing good things, to do the best thing. We must fellowship with our Savior and grow to know him more and more. Are you taking the time to do what is best each day?

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All the Father Has Revealed

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Reading the Word

Luke 10:21–24 (ESV)

21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

Parallel Text: Matthew 11:25-27

Understanding and Applying the Word

We read here that Jesus rejoices as he addresses the Father. The reason for his rejoicing is that the Father had revealed to the disciples, who Jesus refers to as “little children” (v. 21), the arrival of the kingdom and the reality of Satan’s fall (cf. Luke 10:17-18). The wise and understanding (i.e. the Jewish religious leaders) had not seen these things because they had rejected Jesus and the gospel. Therefore, these things were hidden from the religious leaders. The disciples were blessed to see the things that they witnessed. The Old Testament prophets had spoken of these things, but had not witnessed them. The disciples were alive at a unique time in the history of the world.

We too are blessed and live at a unique time in world history. We have the privilege of having God’s completed word readily available to us. Previous generations only had portions of the word and not everyone had easy access to it. Most of us have multiple Bibles in multiple translations in our own language and can read and study all that the Bible says concerning our Savior. We know the historical record and we know the gospel. We know the message of repentance and forgiveness and we know of the resurrection, which gives us hope for the future. Let us rejoice in all the Father has revealed to us!

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The Life of Jesus Recorded

earliest-new-testament-manuscript-fragment-discovered

2nd century biblical text fragment from Egypt

Reading the Word

Luke 1:1–4 (ESV)

1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

Luke’s Gospel begins with a purpose statement. Luke is writing to a recipient he calls “most excellent Theophilus.” To open his Gospel, Luke says that his purpose for writing is to put together an orderly account of the things that have happened. He received his information from those who were eyewitnesses of the events. And he writes these things that Theophilus can be certain of their truth.

We often take the word of God for granted. Most of us have multiple copies and they often sit around on our shelves collecting dust. Imagine where we would be without God’s written word.

What if the events of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection were not recorded for us? If we knew anything about Jesus at all, we would be left to wonder what was true and what was not. Thankfully, God wrote these things down for us so that we could study the events and teachings of our Lord. We can grow in our understanding and we can know who Jesus was, why he matters, and what we need to do in response to his life and teachings. That is what we will be doing together in 2019. Let us take a moment to thank God for his word and ask him to teach us in the year ahead.

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

Read Your Bible Every Day in 2019

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Tomorrow is a new year. We all know what that means: New Year’s resolutions. Most of us have made them. Many of us will make them again this year. Why not make one that will have an eternal significance? Resolve to read your Bible every day in 2019.

If that is something you would like to do, I would like to help. Subscribe to this page and follow along with the daily posts. Each day will include a passage from Scripture and some of my personal thoughts on what the passage means. The entire post will take no more than a few minutes to read. I know you can do it! And I know you will benefit from reading God’s word every day.

In 2019, we will read through the life of Jesus Christ together from the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Please join us. All you have to do is subscribe to the page and take the time to read the new posts each day. It is going to be a great year!

Read Your Bible Every Day in 2019

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Read the Bible every day in 2019! Subscribe to this page and follow along with Shaped by the Word as we read through the Life of Christ beginning January 1. Be sure to invite your friends!