Wise in Your Own Eyes

glasses woman person face

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

Reading the Word

Proverbs 26:12–16 (ESV)

12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.

13 The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road!
There is a lion in the streets!”

14 As a door turns on its hinges,
so does a sluggard on his bed.

15 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth.

16 The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes
than seven men who can answer sensibly.

Are You Just Seeking Attention?

Matthew 66 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 6:5–8 (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.

7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Why do you do the things you do? When you do good for others, is it so you will receive a pat on the back? When you go to church, is it so others will see you in attendance and think better of you? When you give of your finances, is it so people will view you as generous? When you pray, are your prayers directed to God or are you more concerned with others who are listening?

We are sinful people. It is most evident in how we can take the very things that should focus our attention on God and use them to draw attention to ourselves. This is what some do with religious practices. This is what many of the religious were doing in Jesus’ day with prayer. They used it as a show to capture the attention of others. Unfortunately, this still happens today and it may be something that we all need think about. Why do we do the things we do? Are we seeking God or the attention of others?

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God Does Not Play Favorites

James 412 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 2:1–11 (ESV)

1 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.

Understanding and Applying the Word

God does not play favorites. All people will be judged equally and completely for all they have done. This means that no one should look down on another person in judgment. All of us are guilty as sinners and deserving of condemnation. None of us should feel superior to anyone else.

Paul spends a great deal of time throughout the letter of Romans explaining why salvation for every person is only possible by grace, not what we have earned. Our salvation is only possible because we have a sinless Savior who gave his life in exchange for ours. And because of what Jesus has done for us, our sins can be forgiven of we place our faith in him. This truth should not cause us to become puffed up and conceited, but should bring humility into our lives. The priority of the Christian is not to look down in judgment on others, but to point them to Jesus, the one who took our sin away and can take theirs away too.

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Now Is the Day of Salvation

2 Corinthians 521 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

2 Corinthians 5:16–6:2 (ESV)

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says,

“In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”

Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Followers of Christ have been given the ministry of reconciliation (v. 18). This does not mean that we are able to bring someone into a right relationship with God based upon anything we have done. It does mean that we are given the message of salvation to tell to the world in order that others might hear it and be saved.

The Christian’s priority is to proclaim that reconciliation with God is possible because of what Jesus Christ has done for us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 summarizes exactly what Jesus did. Though he was righteous, he took our sin upon himself so that we might receive his righteousness. There was a great exchange at the cross. Jesus took our sin and, in return, we received his righteousness. This wonderful gift is available to all who will repent of their sins and call out to Christ for forgiveness. Do not delay. Today is the day of salvation!

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Are You Good Soil?

The Sower

The Sower (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Luke 8:4–8 (ESV)

4 And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. 8 And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus described the different ways the word of God effects people. In the parable, Jesus used the imagery of a farmer planting planting seed and the different types of soil the seed would land in as it was scattered. The seed represented the word of God as it was spread and the different types of soil represented the different responses to it.

The key to properly understanding this parable is focusing on the end result of the seed in each type of soil. Only one soil, the “good soil”, produced a yield. All of the others failed for one reason or another. These words teach us that those who hear the word of God and truly receive it will produce a yield. There will be true evidence in their lives. What has been your response to the word of God in your life? Has it produced a bountiful crop in your life that is evident to all who know you? Praise God for a living and active word that is powerful to change us for his glory!

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God Is in the Silence

silhouette of woman standing near body of water

Photo by Dương Nhân on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

1 Kings 19:9–18 (ESV)

9 There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 15 And the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Elijah thought he was the only one left. He thought he was the only one who still followed God in his day and that all hope was lost. But God had a lesson for Elijah. God had Elijah stand on the mountain. As he stood there, several things took place. There was a great and powerful wind that came along. Then there was an earthquake. After the earthquake, there was a fire. Surely, God’s presence was in those awesome displays of power! But “the Lord was not in” the wind, the earthquake, or the fire. Instead, there came the sound of a low whisper, or a “thin silence” in some translations. God was in the silence. And as God spoke to Elijah from the silence, he assured him that he was not alone. There were seven thousand others who had not bowed the knee to Baal.

As we go through our lives, we may often wonder where God is or what he is doing. Is he doing anything? But we can be assured that God is at work even when we cannot see it. God is working in the silence. We can also be assured that, even though we may feel alone in the battle, God has a people and he is using them for his glory. We are not alone. If you feel alone and wonder if God is doing anything in your situation, know he is there in the silence and know that you are not alone. There are many of us who serve the Lord.

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Why Do You Seek the Living among the Dead?

Luke 245–6 [widescreen]

He is risen! He is risen, indeed! Today is the center of the Christian faith. Jesus Christ was crucified and buried, but rose again from the dead. It is the Resurrection that validates all that Jesus said and did. It is the Resurrection that assures us of who the one true God is. It is the Resurrection that gives us hope of eternal life in a new world without sin and all of its consequences. Read the words of Luke 24:1-12 and praise our great God for all he has done!

Reading the Word

Luke 24:1–12 (ESV)

1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

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Jesus Buried

empty-tomb-jesus

Reading the Word

John 19:38–42 (ESV)

38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. 39 Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. 40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

Understanding and Applying the Word

After Jesus had died, Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy member of the Jewish council, went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Joseph took the body and laid it in a new tomb that was located in the garden. Nicodemus, who had approached Jesus earlier in John 3:1-2, also came with spices to prepare Jesus’ body. All of this fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 53:9, which states, “And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.”

Saturday marked a day of silence. Jesus was crucified and buried on Friday and his body rested in the tomb on Saturday. His disciples were unaware of what would happen on Sunday and were discouraged and fearful. But God’s plans and purposes were still being fulfilled. We may not always have an understanding of what the future holds, but we can be confident in the one who is always working all things for his glory and for the good of those who love him. Our God is faithful and he is trustworthy.

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The Crucifixion

Wondrous Cross Quote

Reading the Word

John 19:16–30 (ESV)

16 …So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’ ” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,

“They divided my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”

So the soldiers did these things, 25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Understanding and Applying the Word

All four Gospel writers record the crucifixion of Jesus. I would encourage you to read the account of each of the four books. It is truly incredible to read what Jesus Christ endured and suffered as he was hung on a cross to die.

When we come to these passages, we must reflect on the seriousness of the matter. It is a reminder of the ugliness of our sin for it is for this reason that Jesus had to die. He went to the cross as a sacrifice for us so that we could be saved. It took the infinite worth of the blood of Christ to pay our debt. We should never treat sin as a small matter.

Christ’s death at Calvary also reminds us of how great our God loves us, despite our sin. He has gone to the greatest lengths to rescue us. The Father gave his Son for us. That is incredible to think about. Why would the Father do that? Love.

As we spend this Good Friday thinking about Jesus’ death at the cross, let it serve as a reminder of the serious nature of sin and let it also remind us of God’s great love for us.

If you are wondering why Jesus had to die, know that the Bible teaches us that all people are sinful and deserving of condemnation. There is nothing that we can offer to make up for our sin. We cannot buy forgiveness or do religious rituals or do enough good deeds. But God has done something for us. He gave his Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the debt for us by going to the cross and dying as a sacrifice for us. If we repent of (turn away from) our sin and trust in what Christ has done for us (and not trust in our own merits), God promises to forgive us and give us new life. Would you do that as you think about why Jesus had to die?

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The Authority of Jesus Challenged

The Pharisees Question Jesus

The Pharisees Question Jesus – Public Domain

Reading the Word

Matthew 21:23–27 (ESV)

23 And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When Jesus entered the temple, he was confronted by the religious leaders. They wanted to know on what authority he was acting. In effect, they were saying, “Who gave you the right to do what you are doing?” After all, Jesus was in the temple, and this was the domain where the religious leaders held authority. They sure had not given him the permission!

In response, Jesus trapped the leaders. The crowds were there and they were listening, so Jesus asked about the authority of John the Baptist’s ministry. The religious leaders did not approve of John either, but the people held him as a prophet sent from God. The religious leaders knew if they denied John’s ministry the crowds would turn on them. They also knew that if they admitted John was sent by God they would be admitting that they had resisted God’s prophet. So they answered, “We do not know.” In reply, Jesus told the leaders that since they were not going to answer his questions, he would not answer theirs.

Jesus’ ministry was stamped with the authority of the Father. At his baptism, the Father spoke from heaven and said, “This is my Son. Listen to him.” Jesus performed many miracles to show that his words were backed by the authority of God. And Jesus continually pointed the people to the word of God to show that all he said was true. But that was not sufficient for many because his authority pushed against their own. This is really the root of mankind’s problem. We desire to be our own authority and do not want to submit to God. Adam and Eve disobeyed in the garden of Eden because they thought that doing so would make them “like God, knowing good and evil” and not having to follow God’s commands. People today do not like that God says that many of the things we do are wrong and are sinful and that we need to repent and call out for forgiveness. “Who are you to judge me?” is the cry.

Jesus came in full authority preaching the message of repentance and forgiveness. Who will submit to him?

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