These All Look to You

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Reading the Word

Psalm 104:25–29 (ESV)

25 Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great. 26 There go the ships, and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it. 27 These all look to you, to give them their food in due season. 28 When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. 29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Here we find that God cares for the creatures of the sea. He created them and he feeds the. He sustains their lives and he determines when their lives end.

All of creation, mankind included, relies on the benevolence of God. He provides for our every need. As we see God’s care for the creatures of the world, on both land and water, we should remind ourselves that he cares for us in the same way. He gives us the good things we need and so much more. Let us rejoice in his care. And when we come to the end of our days, let us remember that God is in control of that also. We can find great comfort knowing that we are always in his care, to the very end. And he has provided a Savior so that, even in death, we find his goodness and grace through the gift of eternal life.

**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!

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Teach Us to Number Our Days

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Reading the Word

Psalm 90:5–12 (ESV)

5 You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: 6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers. 7 For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed. 8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. 9 For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. 10 The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. 11 Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? 12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Tim Keller, in The Songs of Jesus, tells us that these verses are a reminder that death is not the natural order of things. This may seem like a strange thing to say since we all die. What does he mean?

Throughout Scripture, and in these verses, death is said to be the result of our sin and rebellion against God. Death was not a part of the original created order, but came about through the effects of sin. We all die because we are all sinners. The psalmist asks that God would “teach us to number our days” because by understanding the brevity of life and the inevitability of death, we are motivated to do something about it. We are moved to repent and turn to the One who can save us, Jesus Christ. This is where true wisdom begins. We must have a proper understanding of who God is and who we are in relation to him. Have you learned to number your days?

**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!

You Return Man to Dust

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Reading the Word

Psalm 90:1–4 (ESV)

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. 3 You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!” 4 For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.

Understanding and Applying the Word

These verses speak of the everlasting nature of God. He was before the formation of the mountains. He was before the creation of the earth and the world. God is eternal. As verse 4 says, “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.” Time is insignificant to the eternal God.

When we read the words of this psalm and contemplate God’s eternal nature, we must not only think about time. We must also see that these verses make a greater claim. The Lord is God! He was before all things and all things came from him. Verse 3 tells us that that the Lord is God not only of the world around us, but he is also sovereign over mankind. He determines our lives. He brings us forth and he returns us to the dust.

These verses are a great comfort to those who call on the Lord as Father, but they can also elicit strong resistance from those who reject God’s authority. Many will reject the idea of God altogether and cling to other explanations of how the world and mankind came to be for this very reason. Many will live their lives as if they are the final authority. But the Lord is God over mankind whether we accept his rule or not and we will all be brought to account for our lives. So, let us know that our lives are short and let us seek him while there is still time.

**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 Poverty of Riches

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Reading the Word

Psalm 49:13–20 (ESV)

13 This is the path of those who have foolish confidence; yet after them people approve of their boasts. Selah14 Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. 15 But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. Selah16 Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases. 17 For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him. 18 For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed —and though you get praise when you do well for yourself— 19 his soul will go to the generation of his fathers, who will never again see light. 20 Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.

Understanding and Applying the Word

There are things money cannot buy. Perhaps you are familiar with the song “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Money may bring people close to us for different reasons, but it cannot make someone love us. So too, money is of no value when a person dies. Nothing that a person is able to obtain in this life will follow to the grave. Not our possessions. Not our accomplishments.

So, what will we do to prepare for death? The foolish person will find confidence in possessions and self. The wise will trust in God who is able to save from the power of death. That is exactly why God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world. He came to die in our place. He died and rose again to defeat death for us. When we trust in him, rather than ourselves, we find forgiveness and eternal life. Do not place your trust in your wealth, your possessions, or even your accomplishments. None of those things will matter in the end. Trust in God and he will save.

**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!

What Are You Trusting In?

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Reading the Word

Psalm 49:5–12 (ESV)

5 Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me, 6 those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches? 7 Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, 8 for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, 9 that he should live on forever and never see the pit. 10 For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others. 11 Their graves are their homes forever, their dwelling places to all generations, though they called lands by their own names. 12 Man in his pomp will not remain; he is like the beasts that perish.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The opening verses of Psalm 49 call for all people to listen up. These words are for everyone regardless of nationality or social status (cf. Psalm 49:1-4). No matter who you are or where you are from, one day your life will come to an end. At that time, what will you trust in? Will it be your wealth and possessions?

Regardless of the popular saying that “he who dies with the most toys wins”, we know that it just is not true. We are all destined to die and no amount of wealth, power, or social status can change that. There is only one thing that we can trust in that makes a difference. We can trust in the Creator who is loving and gracious towards us. He is the one who sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to defeat sin and death so that we could have eternal life. May we place our trust in the One who is truly able to save us.

**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!

O Lord, Make Me Know My End

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Reading the Word

Psalm 39:1–13 (ESV)

1 I said, “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.” 2 I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse. 3 My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: 4 “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! 5 Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah6 Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather! 7 “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. 8 Deliver me from all my transgressions. Do not make me the scorn of the fool! 9 I am mute; I do not open my mouth, for it is you who have done it. 10 Remove your stroke from me; I am spent by the hostility of your hand. 11 When you discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him; surely all mankind is a mere breath! Selah12 “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers. 13 Look away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more!”

Understanding and Applying the Word

I do not know many people who like to think or talk about death. Yet, it is a topic that we must think about at some point because it is a reality that we all face. We need to be prepared for it and we need to prepare others for it. In this psalm, the writer asks for God to make him know the end and the measure of his days. He wants to live in the reality that life is short.

As a pastor, I have come to realize that funerals open a door of opportunity to encourage people to reflect on the brevity of life. I believe this is a good thing and that reflecting on death can help us have a better life. We need to consider that we will one day stand before the Creator and give an account. We also must consider that we have all sinned and that God is holy. Thankfully, he is also gracious and has made forgiveness of sin possible through the sacrificial death of his Son, Jesus Christ. God’s word tells us that those who trust in Christ will be saved and given eternal life.

We need to be prepared for death because it can come at any moment. We, like the psalmist, need to know the brevity of our days and turn to Christ while we have time. Will you today?

**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!

At a Time When You May Be Found

Reading the Word

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Psalm 32:6–11 (ESV)

6 Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. 7 You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. 9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. 10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord. 11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Understanding and Applying the Word

In the opening verses of Psalm 32, David speaks of the blessedness of the one who has repented of their sin and found forgiveness from God. It is a great relief and brings joy and praise to a person’s life.

Now, David turns and encourages his readers to turn and find the grace of God. Call out in prayer to God while there is time. He will hear and he stands ready to forgive. God is gracious. God is forgiving. However, there comes a time when it will be too late. For most, that time will be the moment of death. For a some, it will be the day Christ returns to this world. Either way, none of us is guaranteed tomorrow and we need to seize the opportunity we have now to turn to God in repentance and find forgiveness of our sins. Call out today!

**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 Lord Leads the Humble

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Reading the Word

Psalm 25:8–14 (ESV)

8 Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. 9 He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. 10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. 11 For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great. 12 Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. 13 His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. 14 The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Humility is not easy. It requires us to admit that we do not know it all. It also requires us to admit that we need help. This psalm teaches us that it is the humble that the Lord instructs and leads. The proud do not receive instruction nor are they willing to follow.

For those who are able to turn to God, he offers to teach them what is right and instruct them in the choices they should make. The Bible tells us that when we turn to God in faith that we are given new life through the work of the Holy Spirit and that God begins to work in us to transform us into people who love what is pure and holy. And one day all of God’s people will be with him for eternity and our transformation will be complete. There will be no more sin and the children of God will be holy as he is holy.

**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 Will Tell of Your Name

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Reading the Word

Psalm 22:19–26 (ESV)

19 But you, O Lord, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid! 20 Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog! 21 Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen! 22 I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: 23 You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! 24 For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him. 25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him. 26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live forever!

Understanding and Applying the Word

The previous verses describe one who is trusting in God to deliver him, even in the worst of situations – death itself! Now, the psalm turns to praise as God has come to the rescue and given deliverance. “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you,” declares the psalmist. He is overwhelmed with what God has done and wants to tell others.

This is exactly what has been done for every believer. We have been given salvation through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. Our sins have been atoned for and now we have been set free from condemnation. What are we to do in response? We are to go out and tell the world of our great God and of the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ. Let the world praise him! He is 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 Lake of Fire

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Reading the Word

Revelation 20:11–15 (ESV)

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As we near the end of Revelation, and the Bible as a whole, we find one last judgment. This is the Great White Throne Judgment. At this time, all non-believers throughout history will be gathered before Christ who will sit as their final judge. All of these will be judged according to what they have done and cast into the lake of fire where Satan and his followers were cast in Revelation 20:10. Death and Hades are also thrown into the lake of fire.

Those who have not trusted in Jesus Christ to save them will stand and be judged for their actions. The Bible tells us that all are sinners and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). There are none found not guilty at this judgment. May believers praise God for his grace and for the salvation we have in Christ. May we take the opportunities that we have to proclaim the good news that salvation is free to all who will call on the name of Jesus!

**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!