God Is Love So We Must Love

1 John 48 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 John 4:19–21 (ESV)

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Understanding and Applying the Word

True love for God is accompanied by love for others. When we come into a right relationship with God, we are to grow in godliness. This means that we are to become more and more like our Lord. And God is love (1 John 4:8). It is incompatible to say that we love God, but refuse to be like him by loving others. Such an attitude and life only proves that we do not love the Lord nor do we know him.

As God’s people in this world, we are called to be his representatives. We are called to be like him so that others will know who he is and know what he is like. We are called to love others. God has shown his great love for all by sending his Son into the world to save us. We are called to be the ongoing presence of that love in the world today. Are you known for your love for others?

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With His Wounds We Are Healed

Isaiah 535 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Isaiah 53:1–6 (ESV)

1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Son of God came into the world to save mankind from our sin. Who would have imagined the way such a salvation would come? The King of kings and Lord of lords came as a humble servant to serve us. He gave up his high position and glory to become nothing for us. And as he came to show such great love for us, we rejected him and nailed him to a cross to crucify him.

When we look at the cross, we must never lose our sense of awe over what our Savior did for us. Such an amazing act of love! Jesus Christ gave his body to be beaten and torn until he died an agonizing death. As he hung on that cross, he bore our sins and took the punishment each one of us deserve. Through his suffering and death, those who repent and call out to him in faith, receive the healing we desperately need: freedom from sin and the gift of eternal life. So, as we look to the cross, let us celebrate our salvation, but let us not forget the great sacrifice that our salvation required.

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Who Are You in Private?

person standing near lake

Photo by Lukas Rychvalsky on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Matthew 6:5–6 (ESV)

5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

It is amazing what we will do to bring attention to ourselves. It may be the way we dress. It may be the things we say, as we exaggerate the truth or make up complete lies. It may be any number of things. It may even be the way we practice our religion.

Jesus warned against the hypocrisy of some who used religion to draw attention to themselves. In particular, he spoke of those who liked to pray in public places so they would be seen. They wanted to be thought of as holy and devoted, but they were far from that in reality. Those who are truly devoted to the Lord are not interested in attention. They are interested only in their relationship with their Creator. Those who are truly devoted to the Lord will spend far greater time in private prayer where no one sees or knows than in public prayer. It is who we are and what we do when we are alone with no one watching that tells us what we really are.

Who are you when you are alone? Does your private life mirror your public life?

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We Can Be Friends with God

1 John 19 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 25:11–15 (ESV)

11 For your name’s sake, O LORD,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who is the man who fears the LORD?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
13 His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
14 The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
15 My eyes are ever toward the LORD,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

Understanding and Applying the Word

What is the story of Scripture? It is that mankind is separated from God because of sin. Our sin is rebellion against God and his will. Instead of bringing honor and glory to our Creator, we have rebelled and gone our own way. We have become the enemies of God.

Even in our rebellion, God still loves us. Though there is nothing we can do by our own power or means, God has made a way for our sins to be forgiven and for the barrier between us and him to be removed. We can be friends of God.

Our sin can be forgiven because of what Jesus Christ has done for us. He came into the world, lived a sinless life, and gave himself as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind. If we will repent of our sins and trust in the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf, we are promised that our sins are forgiven and that we will have eternal life with God.

Pardon my guilt, for it is great (repentance). The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him (restoration). He will pluck my feet from out of the net (salvation). What a wonderful message for all of us!

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The Love of the Lord Never Ceases

Lamentations 322–23 [widescreen]

Thanks for reading Shaped by the Word! This is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. While I do not publish supplemental materials on Sundays, I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Be sure to subscribe so you can follow along every day!

Reading the Word

Lamentations 3:22–24 (ESV)

22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

How Much Do You Love the Lord?

Deuteronomy 64–5 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Deuteronomy 6:4–9 (ESV)

4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Do you love the Lord? I am sure most of us would affirm that we do. But how much do we love him? Do we love him with all of our heart and with all of our soul and with all of our might? If we are honest, we probably do not. We have many other things that consume us and occupy our thoughts and affections. Those other things may even be good things, like our spouse or children or our work. It is not wrong for us to care deeply about these things and others, even love them, but we must not allow them to become our central love. That must be for God alone.

When our love for God is rightly central in our lives, all of our other devotions will fall into their proper place. Our love for God guides all of our other loves because we love the things the Lord loves and we love those things as he loves them. Let us turn our affections to him and let our love for God guide our lives.

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Taste and See that the Lord Is Good

Psalm 348 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 34:8–10 (ESV)

8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
9 Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

Understanding and Applying the Word

A friend of mine lost his wife just a few days ago. I attended the funeral service today. It was a beautiful tribute to a woman who loved the Lord, her husband, and her family and friends. She left a wonderful legacy.

In the service, I was touched by the words shared by her children and her husband. They expressed that they would miss her and that her absence would be hard. But they also expressed their confidence in where she is now and the hope they have in a future reunion. Their confidence and hope are present in the face of death because they know the Lord and they know he is good. This family has experienced God’s goodness in their lives as he has walked alongside them in the past. Now, they continue to trust in him as they walk into the future. Knowing the Lord does not mean that nothing bad will ever come our way. It will. However, knowing the Lord does mean that our God is with us and we can lean on him and his promises. Today was a wonderful reminder to me that God is good.

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Joy Inexpressible

1 Peter 18–9 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Peter 1:3–9 (ESV)

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Understanding and Applying the Word

O the future that awaits the people of God! It is beyond our comprehension how wonderful it will be. Christ’s resurrection from the dead assures us that his promise of eternal life is true. We will be with our Lord for eternity! No matter what we may face now, we are assured that there is a glorious future and we can “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible.”

As those who belong to Christ and who have an inheritance that can never be taken away, we should be the most joyous people around. We have been given a wonderful gift. We have received the promise of eternal life in a world without sin and death and pain and suffering. The Son of God loves us and died for us to bring us life. Let us rejoice in our Savior and our future!

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Asking in Jesus’ Name

Praying Friends

Reading the Word

John 16:16–24 (ESV)

16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus told his disciples about his coming crucifixion. He was going to die, but he was also going to be resurrected. The world would cheer Jesus’ death while the disciples mourned. However, the mourning would turn to joy when Jesus rose from the dead.

To encourage his followers, he assured them that they would not be abandoned. They could go to the Father knowing that he would answer their prayers. Jesus told them that whatever they asked “in my name” the Father would give to them. This does not mean that they simply needed to tack “in Jesus’ name” at the end of their prayers to make sure they were answered. Jesus’ words meant that when their prayers were in line with the will of Christ, those prayers would be answered. When we have learned to love and trust Jesus, it means we also trust his plans and purposes in all things. So praying “in Jesus’ name” becomes our desire because we want the same things he wants.

Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and encourages us to pray, knowing that our prayers will be heard and answered when they are in his name. Let’s begin by asking him to conform our desires to reflect his will.

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Fear the Lord

Psalm 767 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 12:1–7 (ESV)

1 In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Fear has a way of controlling us. We seek to please those we fear. It is the reason peer pressure is so strong. We fear the rejection of those we want to approve us. In today’s passage, Jesus warns against having our fear in the wrong place. We should not fear our fellow man. There is only so much harm that another person can do to us. Instead, we must put the fear of God as our greatest fear. After all, he is the One we will stand before and give a final account. He will be our final Judge. What good will it be if we please men, but we have failed to honor the Lord?

Who and what do you fear? Does your fear of rejection or persecution from others determine the decisions you make and the life you live? Seek to honor the Lord in every circumstance. Do not let your fear keep you from serving the Lord, but let it drive you closer to him.

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