The Power of Changed Lives

1 Thessalonians 16 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Thessalonians 1:6–10 (ESV)

6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. 9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Paul praised the Thessalonian believers because they had received the gospel message and turned away from their old lives of  idolatry to worship the one true God. The news of their conversion quickly spread to others so that Paul exclaimed, “we need not say anything.” People already knew of what had happened in Thessalonica when the gospel had been preached by Paul.

Our lives are a living testimony to the power of the gospel. Those who know us should see the difference it has made in us. We do not just preach a message of facts and information, but we have a message of life change. We proclaim that we can be free from sin and have new life through the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit. Do others know we have changed even before we speak? Let’s point others to the one true God through our words and also through the testimony of how those words have changed us.

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You Must Be Born Again

John 33 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading.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

John 3:1–8 (ESV)

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

The Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 522–23 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Galatians 5:16–24 (ESV)

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Paul gives us a contrast between living life according to the “flesh” and living life according to the ‘Spirit”. The word flesh in this passage refers to our natural or worldly way of life. It is the life of sin that all people live before they are born again through faith in Jesus Christ. When we come to saving faith in Christ, we are given new life through the power of the Holy Spirit. That new life is a life of holiness and obedience to the word of God. When Paul speaks here of the Spirit, he is referring to the Holy Spirit and the life we live under his direction.

What does new life through the Holy Spirit look like? We are given a list of characteristics beginning in verse 22. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. As we grow in our Christian lives, these characteristics should become more and more the defining markers of our character. Our old way of life should fade away as the work of the Spirit grows and grows. Lord, let your Spirit continue to work in us and let our lives be a wonderful display of the fruit of your work in our hearts!

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God Will Finish What He Started

Philippians 16 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Philippians 1:1–6 (ESV)

1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these introductory words in the Letter to the Philippians, Paul gives thanks to God for the believers in Philippi and remarks that he is sure that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Who and what is Paul referring to?

When you became a believer, you were born again through the power of the Holy Spirit working in you. You were given new life. We often forget this aspect of salvation. We talk a great deal about forgiveness of sins, but for some reason our new life in Christ is forgotten. Our new life begins and is a process of growth to maturity for the rest of our lives. As we mature, we put away the old self and its world desires and ways and we become more and more like our Savior as we desire the things he desires. This all happens through the work of God in our lives and one day, God has promised, that we will stand before him complete. This is the day Paul refers to. It is the day of Jesus Christ. When Christ returns for his people and gathers us together to be with him forever. We will be with him and sin will no longer be a part of our lives in any form ever again. What an amazing promise that God has already begun to fulfill in us and we grow closer to every day.

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The Spirit Bears Witness

Romans 816 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 8:12–17 (ESV)

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When we are born again through faith in Jesus Christ, our new birth is through the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Spirit “bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” It is the on-going work of the Holy Spirit in our lives that assures us that we truly belong to God.

Is the Spirit working in you to convict, direct, encourage, and grow you? Let this be an assurance to you that you are a child of God, a fellow heir with Christ of all that God has promised. He has given you new life and is working to help you grow to maturity.

Is the work of the Spirit missing from your life? Have you said a prayer or said that you believe, but there is no change or inner working of the Holy Spirit? Is it possible that you are not truly a child of God? Jesus said that there will be many at the end who will cry out to him “Lord, Lord!” and he will respond, “I never knew you; away from me.” Take Jesus’ words as a warning, repent of your sins, and ask him to save you now and give you new life in the Spirit. The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

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Jesus Changes Us

red and green tree leaves on a sunny day

Photo by le vy on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

1 John 3:5–8 (ESV)

5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus came to take away sin. He came to save us and make us righteous. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who belong to Jesus should show evidence that they have been saved. They should not go on living in sin, but should live according to God’s righteous word.

Scripture teaches us that we are all sinful by nature. We can do nothing to save ourselves and we are not able to live righteously. Our hearts are fixed on sinning and we love to go our own way rather than follow God’s way. Jesus came into the word to rescue us from our dilemma. He died to pay the penalty for our sin and he gives new life through the Holy Spirit to those who trust in him. It is by new birth through the Spirit that we are changed. We want to live according to God’s will. We want to remove sin from our lives. Our loves and desires are reoriented. It is a miraculous change and it should be evident in every believer. Praise God for saving us and changing us!

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John 3:16

john 316 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 2:23–3:21 (ESV)

2:23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

3:1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

A Pharisee, Nicodemus, goes to Jesus under the cover of night to speak to him. Nicodemus knows that Jesus is a teacher from God so he desires to learn from him. Jesus tells him, “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” This seems to have confused Nicodemus because he wonders how one can be born a second time. Jesus explains that the birth he is referring to is one that comes through the Spirit. Those who have been born again will have eternal life.

We are not told what Nicodemus does with this teaching. However, we are told what one must do to have eternal life. Jesus tells us in John 3:16 that, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Those who believe (i.e. trust / put their faith) in Jesus Christ are born again through the Spirit and receive eternal life. This means we believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that he came to save us from our sins by going to the cross and paying our debt. Through Jesus, we find forgiveness and reconciliation with God. And through him we have the promise of life in a new world where sin and death is no more. Do you believe in Jesus?

**Read through the Life of Christ in 2019 by following along with Shaped by the Word. Just subscribe to this page and be sure to read along every day!

Create in Me a Clean Heart

Psalm 5110 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 51:10–13 (ESV)

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

David has admitted his sin and taken full responsibility. Now he requests that God would create in him a new heart and renew a right spirit within him. With these words, David is asking God to change him at the core level of who he is. He wants to be a different man. He is not just asking for strength to resist sinning, but he is asking for his desires and passions to be changed. This can only happen through the work of God in our lives.

When we come to Christ in repentance of our sins and trusting in him to save us, we are told that we are born again. We are given new life. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that those who are in Christ are a new creation. This means that God has begun a work within us to change us. Through his word, his Spirit, his people, and our experiences, God reshapes our desires so that they are the same as his desires. And he promises that the work that he has begun will be brought to completion (Philippians 1:6). We will one day be completely free from our sin and we will be holy as he is holy. Look back at your life and see how far God has brought you as he has been working in your life. As you reflect on God’s work, give thanks to him for his grace.

**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!