A Chosen People

1 Peter 29 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Peter 2:9–10 (ESV)

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Understanding and Applying the Word

All who belong to Jesus Christ have a responsibility in the world. We are to take the message of Jesus Christ to the world. We are a people set aside to proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light. We are God’s people. We are the ones who have received mercy and we have the good news that God stands ready to forgive all who will repent and trust in Jesus Christ.

Our Christian faith is not meant to remain a private experience. It is meant to be proclaimed to a lost and sinful world. This is how we heard the gospel message and this is how others will hear it. We must tell them. We have a great and merciful God. Let’s tell the whole world about him!

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The Need for Unity

Psalm 1331 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Corinthians 1:10–17 (ESV)

10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Unity among Christians is so important. It is important if there is to be spiritual growth within the church. And it is important if the church is to have an effective ministry to a lost world. Unfortunately, division is a common reality in our churches and it happens for many reasons.

In Corinth, one of the reasons believers were divided was over leadership. This may seem strange, but if we think about it, we see that this is still common today. In Paul’s day, they were saying, “I follow Paul” or “I follow Apollos”, etc. In our day, it is not uncommon for Christians to brag about and think that their pastor or church is superior to others. “I go to this church” and “We have this many members.” Or, “My pastor is so and so” and “My pastor is popular and writes books.” This way of thinking is divisive and hurts the work of the Church. We should be united in our love for Christ, his people, and proclaiming his good news. Let us focus on those things that unite us.

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Beware of False Teachers

Apple Education

Reading the Word

1 Timothy 4:1–5 (ESV)

1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Bible warns of false teaching in many places. In our passage for today, Paul tells us that false teaching will be a mark of the end times. He tells us that false teaching is ultimately the product of demonic influence and liars whose consciences are seared. These are people who do not care about their wrong-doing because they benefit from it in some way. Paul gives two specific examples of false teaching: forbidding marriage and requiring abstinence from food. The reason that Paul gave these two specific examples is because they were likely things that were being taught in the church in Ephesus, where this letter went.

We need to beware of any and all false teaching that may try to creep into our lives and churches. This is why training in doctrine is so vital to our Christian walk. A strong doctrinal foundation shields us from the demonic attack of false teaching. Many churches and Christians have drifted away from doctrinal training in favor of more practical lessons and sermons, but this is problematic in the long run. Doctrinal training may not seem exciting or practical at times, but it is essential for our Christian growth. What does your church do to train believers in correct doctrine?

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Avoid Irreverant Babble

argue

Reading the Word

2 Timothy 2:14–19 (ESV)

14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

One of the greatest challenges of the Christian life and in the life of the local church is to avoid fighting over things that are meaningless. It causes great harm to personal relationships and can destroy the unity and witness of a church in the community. No one wants to be a part of a church that is tearing itself apart from the inside out. This is why Paul tells Timothy to charge the church to not “quarrel about words” and to “avoid irreverent babble.” Paul was not saying that there is never a time to take a stand. He had no problem correcting Peter (cf. Galatians 2:11). Paul was telling Timothy that some things are not worth it.

Have you ever experienced this in your own life or church? I have heard many pastors and church leaders say that the things that cause the most division in their churches are the little things, not the central doctrines of the Christian faith that must be defended. Would you agree? What types of things should be thought of as “minor”? What are the major things?

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Strengthened by the Grace of Christ

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair

Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

Reading the Word

2 Timothy 2:1–7 (ESV)

1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. 3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Paul wrote 2 Timothy to his friend and child in the faith, Timothy. He wrote the letter from prison as he neared the end of his life. It was meant to be an encouragement to Timothy, who was ministering to the church in Ephesus.

“Be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” summarized Paul’s message to Timothy. Those who have labored in ministry know it can be tempting to give up and quit when we look at the task before us. It is overwhelming and when we examine our own credentials, we know immediately that we cannot accomplish anything in our own strength. We need help and the only help that will do is the grace of Christ working in and through us. We need him to strengthen us and we need him to change the hearts and lives of his people. Searching for inner strength or clever strategies will always fail. We need the supernatural presence of Christ to accomplish the supernatural work of ministry to God’s people. Let us seek his grace each and every day.

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The Words of Eternal Life

John 668–69 [widescreen]

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

Reading the Word

John 6:60–71 (ESV)

60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him.

Live in Peace

2 Corinthians 1314 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

2 Corinthians 13:11–14 (ESV)

11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you.

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Understanding and Applying the Word

It is far too common that we Christians spend a great deal of time and energy fighting among ourselves. And it is all too often that our fights are over meaningless things or things so trivial that they should be easy for us to deal with. How often are grudges formed and does bitterness take hold over carpet colors, the style of seating, the use or non-use of projectors and screens, etc.? There is hardly an end to the things over which we often do battle. This should not be. Believers are called to agree and live at peace with one another. We read this instruction in today’s passage, but it appears in multiple places in the Bible. Look at Mark 9:50, Romans 12:16, and 1 Peter 3:8 as other examples. There are many more.

Why is it important for believers to live in unity and peace? Because we are called to both proclaim and embody the gospel message. The gospel tells us that sin can be forgiven and that we can find newness of life and reconciliation with God and with each other. If we proclaim that message, but our lives are lived in constant fighting and bickering, we undermine the very gospel we preach. A fighting church cannot faithfully preach the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world. We lose our voice.

Let us call out to God to forgive us and let us go to our brothers and sisters in Christ and rebuild the broken relationships caused by our sinful attitudes. Let us preach the gospel to the world with our words, but let us also preach it with our lives.

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With Thankfulness in Your Hearts

Colossians 316 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I will be traveling over the next few days with my family for the Thanksgiving holiday. As a result, I will not be posting extra commentary, but I will continue to post suggested Scripture readings for each day. Regular posts will resume on December 2. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Colossians 3:15–17 (ESV)

15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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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.

That They May Be One

John 1722 [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 for the day. Please be sure to subscribe so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

John 17:20–26 (ESV)

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”