Unity

Psalm 1331 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 133:1–3 (ESV)

1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
2 It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
3 It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the LORD has commanded the blessing,
life forevermore.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Unity is a wonderful thing. When the people of God are working together, it is pleasant and brings great pleasure. The psalmist uses two images to illustrate the goodness of unity. It is like the precious oil used to anoint a priest that runs down from his head to his beard and to his robe. The oil spreads over the entire person. It is also like the dew running off of Mount Herman, the highest peak in Israel, and onto Zion. Zion is a dusty and much smaller mountain, but it is where the temple sits. The dew from Mount Herman gives refreshing moisture to dry Zion.

If you have ever been in a church where unity is not present among God’s people, you may have a good understanding of this psalm. Without unity, the people of God cannot prosper and thrive. It takes unity to allow the body of Christ to function as it ought to and accomplish what it is designed to. This is why there is such a great emphasis throughout the New Testament on this vital issue. We are called to love one another, forgive one another, and live in unity as we serve and build one another up. May we dwell in unity and experience its great pleasures.

**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!

Advertisements

Let Us Go to the House of the Lord

I am currently out of town and working from my phone. Please excuse any strange formatting that may result.

Reading the Word

Psalm 122 (ESV)

1 I was glad when they said to me,
    “Let us go to the house of theLord!”
Our feet have been standing
    within your gates, O Jerusalem!

Jerusalem—built as a city
    that is bound firmly together,
to which the tribes go up,
    the tribes of the Lord,
as was decreed for[a] Israel,
    to give thanks to the name of theLord.
There thrones for judgment were set,
    the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
    “May they be secure who love you!
Peace be within your walls
    and security within your towers!”
For my brothers and companions’ sake
    I will say, “Peace be within you!”
For the sake of the house of the Lordour God,
    I will seek your good.

Understanding and Applying the Word 

This psalm reflects the thoughts of one in Israel making a trip to the temple in Jerusalem to worship. This worshipper understands the importance of the unity of God’s people and vows to pray for continued peace. When God’s people are divided, their witness to the world is destroyed.

Under the old covenant, the nation of Israel represented God’s people in the world. Under the new covenant, that responsibility belongs to the Church made up of people from every nation. We too must understand the importance of unity among the people of God. We too must seek it diligently and pray for it continually, so that we may faithfully proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day.

In the Congregation

church title

Reading the Word

Psalm 111:1–10 (ESV)

1 Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. 2 Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. 3 Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. 4 He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful. 5 He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. 6 He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the inheritance of the nations. 7 The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; 8 they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. 9 He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name! 10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

Understanding and Applying the Word

Psalm 111 is a call to praise. It is a call for the congregation of the people of God to give thanks for all he has done and it recounts some of those things.

Our praise is always in response to who God is and what he has done. When we gather as the people of God, we worship together and our worship should be focused on these two things. As we think of what he has done, we focus primarily on God’s grace through the giving of his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins and on the promise of eternal life for all who will trust in Jesus’ work on the cross. However, let us not forget to recount the specific ways God has worked in our lives. Let us speak of his goodness and generosity to the congregation of God’s people so that we may join in thanksgiving and praise. We serve a great God!

**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!

I Went to the Sanctuary of God

church community

Reading the Word

Psalm 73:15–20 (ESV)

15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children. 16 But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, 17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. 18 Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. 19 How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! 20 Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.

Understanding and Applying the Word

It is easy to become discouraged. When we look around and begin to compare our lives to the lives of others, we can easily find things that we wish were different. We see where those who have no regard for holiness or for God seem to prosper while we and others who are committed to Him struggle in life. It can be disheartening.

The psalmist in Psalm 73 has written about his discouragement in the opening verses, but something changes his perspective when we get to verse 17. When he enters the sanctuary of God his eyes were opened. Through gathering with the people of God and worshipping, he was reminded who God was, what God had done, and what God would do in the future. It is through worship that God’s people not only glorify God, but that God’s people are encouraged to live in the world and trust in Him. Let us not fail to gather with the people of God for worship. We need it.

**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!

Walk the Talk

pexels-photo-128298.jpeg

Reading the Word

Psalm 50:16–23 (ESV)

16 But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips? 17 For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you. 18 If you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you keep company with adulterers. 19 “You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit. 20 You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son. 21 These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you. 22 “Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver! 23 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Psalm 50 has much to say about insincere religion. In the previous verses, God chastises those who brought their sacrifices because they thought by doing so they put God in their debt. Not so! God does not need our sacrifices. He already owns everything. Our worship should be motivated by thanksgiving for all he has done for us.

In our verses for today, God speaks against those who would say all of the right religious things, but then live their lives in complete contrast to their words. God calls these people wicked. Those who truly belong to God do not only know the right teaching of God’s word, but they live according to it. Jesus echoes this sentiment in Matthew 7:21:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (ESV)

The psalm ends with a summary:

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”

May our religion be pure and sincere. May the word of God not be just information that we can recite, but may it change us from the inside out so that we become more and more like our Savior.

**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!

The Cattle on a Thousand Hills

pexels-photo-735974.jpeg

Reading the Word

Psalm 50:7–15 (ESV)

7 “Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God. 8 Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me. 9 I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds. 10 For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. 11 I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. 12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. 13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? 14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, 15 and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses, God tells his people, Israel, that he will not accept their sacrifices. Why? Because the sacrifices were done with the wrong motives. They were done out of religious observance rather than out of thanksgiving. The people believed that by doing religious exercises they could in some way make God indebted to them. God reminds the people that he does not need their sacrifices. Everything is already his! Instead, they should offer their sacrifices in thanksgiving for what God has already done. This is true worship. Worship is always a response to who God is and what he has done.

This should cause us to ask why we do the things we do. Do we obey God because we think it will make him like us more and he will be more likely to do something for us? Do we go to church or give our money because we think it means God will answer our prayers? Our obedience and worship should not be motivated by getting God to act on our behalf. Our worship is a response to what he has done. For the believer, he has sent his Son who died for us so that we could have eternal life. This is why we worship.

**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!

Hear This, All Peoples!

pexels-photo-450059.jpeg

Reading the Word

Psalm 49:1–4 (ESV)

1 Hear this, all peoples! Give ear, all inhabitants of the world, 2 both low and high, rich and poor together! 3 My mouth shall speak wisdom; the meditation of my heart shall be understanding. 4 I will incline my ear to a proverb; I will solve my riddle to the music of the lyre.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm is addressed to all people. Why? Because we are all alike in one very important way: our humanness. It does not matter where we are from. It does not matter what social class we belong to. We have commonality.

We live in a world that likes to divide itself into groups. We have groups based on nationality. We have groups based on language. We have groups based on skin color. We have groups based on age, income, gender, education, etc. Yet, a biblical worldview reminds us that we are all human and created by God. We may have minor differences, but at the core we are alike. Let us not think of ourselves as superior to others, but let us live as the people God created us to be.

**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!

Sing Praises to Our King

Hands Lifted

Reading the Word

Psalm 47:4–9 (ESV)

4 He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah5 God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet. 6 Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! 7 For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! 8 God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne. 9 The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted!

Understanding and Applying the Word

In Israel, God was recognized as King. However, he was not only King of Israel, but King of the nations. When God made his covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12, it was with the promise that Abraham and his descendants would bring blessing to the world. God’s grace was not meant to be exclusive, but for all people.

When we come to the New Testament, Jesus is proclaimed to be the long-awaited Messiah. However, he is not a Messiah for only the people of Israel, but for all people. He calls people from all nations to follow him (Matthew 28:19-20). And the people of God will be made up of people from every tribe and language (Revelation 7:9).

Let us sing praises to the Lord, the King of all the earth!

**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!

A Very Present Help in Trouble

Psalm 461 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 46:1–5 (ESV)

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When the world is falling apart, where do you turn? God is our refuge. He is the one we can turn to in every time of trouble. Our world may be falling apart in a figurative sense because of things like a job loss, sickness, or the death of a loved one. The world may even be falling apart in a very literal sense as the result of natural disasters or war. No matter what we may face in life, we can rest in the immovable God who is a refuge to his people. We know that, regardless of our struggles and trials in this world, a new heaven and a new earth await where our troubles will be no more. Praise the God who saves!

**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!

The King’s Bride

pexels-photo-342257.jpeg

Reading the Word

Psalm 45:10–17 (ESV)

10 Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear: forget your people and your father’s house, 11 and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your lord, bow to him. 12 The people of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts, the richest of the people. 13 All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold. 14 In many-colored robes she is led to the king, with her virgin companions following behind her. 15 With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king. 16 In place of your fathers shall be your sons; you will make them princes in all the earth. 17 I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore nations will praise you forever and ever.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As we read thee verses, we read the portrayal of a wedding where the bride is led to her husband, who is the king. In this psalm the king is of the line of David. In Hebrews 1:8-9, this psalm is quoted as a reference to Jesus Christ, the true Davidic King who is the promised Messiah.

In the New Testament, the Church is said to be the bride of Christ. We see this imagery in multiple places, including Ephesians 5:25-32 and 2 Corinthians 11:2. Many interpreters have seen this psalm as speaking of the beauty and love of Jesus Christ as he is united in unity with his people. Given the quotation from Hebrews 1:8-9, I too would understand it in this way. We, the Church, the people of God, are the bride of Christ. He loved us so much that he laid down his life for us. Let us adore him for his love and majesty and beauty!

**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!