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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The Promise Guaranteed

Ephesians 113–14 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

2 Corinthians 1:12–22 (ESV)

12 For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. 13 For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and understand and I hope you will fully understand— 14 just as you did partially understand us—that on the day of our Lord Jesus you will boast of us as we will boast of you.

15 Because I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a second experience of grace. 16 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on my way to Judea. 17 Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? 18 As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. 20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Understanding and Applying the Word

I miss the old cartoons I watched when I was young. I loved Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, and Popeye the Sailor Man. My kids do not understand what they are missing. They know nothing of the power of eating your spinach!

Thinking of those old shows reminds me of the character Wimpy who used to always say “For a hamburger today, I will gladly pay you on Tuesday.” I always got the impression that Wimpy probably could not be trusted. His promises seemed empty.

How should we think of God’s promises to us? He has surely promised a wonderful future, but how do we know he will deliver? Well, God did not simply make a grand promise, but he has left us with a down payment. Paul writes that God has “put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” The never-ending presence of the Spirit of God working in us is a constant reminder that God has not forgotten us. He is still at work and his promises will be fulfilled. Guaranteed!

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What Is Faith?

Hebrews 111 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Hebrews 11:1–3 (ESV)

1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

Understanding and Applying the Word

What is faith? If you have ever heard this question asked in a church setting, you have probably heard Hebrews 11:1 quoted in response. That is good, but what does Hebrews 11:1 mean? I do not think it means what many Christians think it means. It sure does not define “faith” the way the world defines it.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. The King James Version translates this verse as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The world thinks that faith is just wishful thinking. It is something that we believe despite a lack of evidence or evidence to the contrary. That is not the biblical definition of faith. Faith is being convinced of things in the future based on the evidence of the past. Christians are sure of their future hope because of all that God has done in the past, especially in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our faith is not wishful thinking. Our faith is firmly rooted in the historical acts of God and his promises about the future.

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Our God Forever

Ephesians 318–19 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 48:9–14 (ESV)

9 We have thought on your steadfast love, O God,
in the midst of your temple.
10 As your name, O God,
so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth.
Your right hand is filled with righteousness.
11 Let Mount Zion be glad!
Let the daughters of Judah rejoice
because of your judgments!

12 Walk about Zion, go around her,
number her towers,
13 consider well her ramparts,
go through her citadels,
that you may tell the next generation
14 that this is God,
our God forever and ever.
He will guide us forever.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Have you ever stopped to consider the love of God? I mean, really consider it? In this psalm, the people take the time to walk around the city and admire its greatness. They knew it was great because of all that God had done for them and because he was with them. And he had promised to be with them forever.

God has promised to be with his people forever. Think about that. What else do you have that will be with you forever? There is nothing that can ever separate us from God and his love. Nothing! He is with us today, tomorrow, and into eternity. He is with us in life and he will be with us in death and into life after death. Paul reflects on this truth in Ephesians 3:17-19:

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17–19, ESV)

Take the time to reflect on God’s promise to always be with you today and forever.

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The Lamb of God

John 129 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 1:29–34 (ESV)

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Jewish people were familiar with sacrifices. The Old Testament law called for the people to repeatedly bring animals for sacrifice to deal with their sin problem. Now John makes the statement that Jesus is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” That was an incredible claim then and still is today!

Jesus went to the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Unlike the previous sacrifices that had been made for many years under the law, Jesus’ sacrifice was a once-for-all sacrifice (Hebrews 9:12). Those who acknowledge their sin and need of a Savior are promised that if they repent and trust in the sacrifice of Christ they will be forgiven and receive eternal life. Jesus was the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. And he takes those sins away forever. What an amazing Savior!

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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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The Almighty Reigns!

Revelation 196 [widescreen]

 

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental materials on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can read along every day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Revelation 19:6–10 (ESV)

6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
8 it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Whatever You Do…

Matthew 516a [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Corinthians 10:23–11:1 (ESV)

23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.

11:1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Paul wrote these words to address division within the Corinthian church. Some were concerned over the eating of meat that had been previously sacrificed to idols before being sold in the market place. Others were convinced that eating such meat was not an issue since they did not believe in the idols that were involved. How should these believers with different thoughts handle this?

Paul’s answer is summarized in verse 31: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” This statement really tells every Christian what we are to do in every situation in life. We are to do the thing that brings glory to God. We make every decision with the intent to honor our Lord. He is first in our lives. This means that we may have to deny ourselves of things we really want or even feel we deserve. The Corinthian believer may need to skip a meal with meat in order to show love to a fellow believer. Unfortunately, how often do we go through our day and make our decisions without even considering how they bring glory to our God or dishonor him? How can we make the glory of God the primary motive in everything we do?

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What Are You Afraid Of?

close up photo ofg light bulb

Photo by Rahul on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Psalm 118:5–9 (ESV)

5 Out of my distress I called on the LORD;
the LORD answered me and set me free.
6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
7 The LORD is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in princes.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When I was young, I was afraid to be left alone in the dark. My mind could come up with some terrifying thoughts when the lights were off. However, my fears disappeared when I had someone with me. The presence of another gave me strength to face the dark and confidence that I was not on my own to face any lurking dangers alone.

The Lord has promised to never leave us alone. He is always beside us and goes into the darkness with us. He gives us confidence and he faces our enemies with us. “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear,” the psalmist says. How can we fear when the all-powerful King of kings is on our side? In Psalm 23, David writes, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”

What are your fears? Know that you can face those fears with the Lord by your side.

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Have No Fear

bare feet boy child couch

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Psalm 56:1–4 (ESV)

1 Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
all day long an attacker oppresses me;
2 my enemies trample on me all day long,
for many attack me proudly.
3 When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
4 In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?

Understanding and Applying the Word

Have you ever felt attacked or looked down upon for being a Christian? Have you ever been made fun of or left out because you are a child of God? What was your response? How did you find encouragement?

The psalmist reminds us that God is with his people. We do not have to fear the world or become discouraged. Our God is for us and we can trust in him! Do you believe that? How will it change how you live each and every day?

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