We Will All Be Changed

1 Corinthians 1555–57 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Corinthians 15:50–58 (ESV)

50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

55 “O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We live in uncertain times. The world is in constant turmoil due to political division, economic stress, natural disasters, and the sinfulness of the human heart. It can become overwhelming if we let it. However, as Christians, we know the future is bright. The things we face today are only temporary because God has a plan in place and his plans never fail.

What is the plan God has for the future? It is the same plan that we saw in the days of Jesus. The will be resurrection and new life for all believers. The dead will rise and those who have not died will be transformed. We will be made new and ready for an eternal existence in a new heaven and new earth. When that day comes, there will be no more death because sin will be no more. The troubles of this world will be gone and we will live in the presence of our Savior forever. What a wonderful future is waiting!

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Hope in a Hopeless World

1 Thessalonians 414 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 (ESV)

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As a pastor, this passage is very familiar. It is a passage that I turn to again and again to give comfort to the grieving when a loved one has died. Paul tells us that Christians should not grieve like the world. We do not grieve as those who have no hope. This is true because we know that Christ died and rose again and has promised that all of his followers would be resurrected just as he was. There is coming a day when all believers will be together with Jesus forever. So, we may grieve when a fellow Christian has died, but we know our time apart is only temporary. We have hope.

The secular world has no hope. In a world where there is no God and no afterlife, everything is meaningless. Some try to take away the sting by saying you live for your children or to be remembered well or to leave the world a better place. However, what will all of that matter in the future when the sun has burned itself out and the earth is a cold rock? None of it will matter and none of it will be remembered. In a world without God, death marks the end of a meaningless existence. Now is all there is. Grief is all there is.

Remember Jesus and the resurrection. It changes everything and gives hope to the grieving heart.

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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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Desire Gives Birth to Sin

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Reading the Word

James 1:12–15 (ESV)

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Desire gives birth to sin and when sin is fully grown, it brings forth death. Sin is a serious problem. In fact, it is our greatest problem. It is why Jesus came into this world and died on a cross. He came to give us freedom from our sin and its end result, death.

So, if sin is such a huge problem, why do we treat it as such a small thing? We even put a positive spin on it when we mention that our dessert was “sinfully delicious”. The truth is we like to sin. We desire to sin, which is why James tells us our desires lure and entice us to sin. We must be aware and resist these constant temptations. We must ground ourselves in the word of God and ask him through prayer to help us to desire the things he desires. And mostly, we must repent of our sin and place our trust in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ to save us from ourselves. It is through his death and resurrection that death is defeated and that we receive eternal life.

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Walk by Faith, Not by Sight

2 Corinthians 57 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

2 Corinthians 5:6–10 (ESV)

6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Paul tells us that “while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.” What exactly does he mean? First, to be at home in the body speaks of living our lives in this world. Until we die or Jesus Christ returns, we are away from our Lord and must live in this fallen world. This brings us to his second point. While we live in this fallen world, we must live by faith and not by sight. This does not mean, as some suppose, that we live according to wishful thinking and in contrast to obvious truth. Faith is not just hoping something hard enough that it becomes reality. Faith is believing in the promises of God even though they have not yet been fulfilled. The Lord has promised that one day we will be with him, so we live our lives knowing this is true.

If you are reading this, you are living in this world and still awaiting the fulfillment of the promises of God. During our time in this world, we will face many joys and trials, but we do so always knowing what the future holds for all who belong to Christ. We live out our days knowing what the word of God says and knowing that God’s word will be fulfilled. We walk by faith and not by sight.

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You Will Die in Your Sin

photography of graveyard under cloudy sky

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Reading the Word

John 8:21–30 (ESV)

21 So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” 22 So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” 23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” 25 So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. 26 I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” 27 They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. 29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” 30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this dialogue with the Jewish leaders (cf. John 8:13), Jesus got right to the point with the Pharisees. If they did not believe in him, they would die in their sins. The Pharisees had continually sparred with Jesus and refused to accept him as the Messiah. Now Jesus warns them that if they continue to reject him, they would not be able to go where he was going (i.e. to the Father). As a result of Jesus’ pointed warning, some did respond in belief (cf. John 8:30).

Jesus and the entire New Testament teach us that we are all condemned because we are all sinners. Jesus came into the word to save us from our sin and the punishment we deserve, which is eternal separation from the holy God who created us. Jesus died as a perfect sacrifice for our sins and all who trust in Jesus’ sacrificial work on their behalf will be saved. However, those who do not trust in Jesus will die in their sins and will not be saved. Those people will not spend eternity in the presence of God.

Take this as a strong warning. Trust in Jesus Christ today and find forgiveness and salvation in his name.

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Precious in the Sight of the Lord

Rustic Cross Quote

Reading the Word

Psalm 116:12–19 (ESV)

12 What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord, 14 I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. 15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. 16 O Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds. 17 I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord. 18 I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, 19 in the courts of the house of the Lord, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!

Understanding and Applying the Word

The people of God are important to him. God is a God of love and loyalty. And the death of God’s saints is “precious” to him. It is of great consequence. He cares about it deeply. This is why God rescues his people in times of trouble. It is not because we have something to offer God for “all his benefits” to us (v. 1). Therefore, our only response is to lift the cup of salvation and cal on the name of the Lord. We are left to worship and praise our Savior.

Scripture tells us in its most famous verse that “God so loved the word, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” It is because of God’s love that Jesus Christ came into the world and died for sinners. It was not because we could offer anything to God to entice him. We are precious to God, who calls us his children and tells us to call him “Father.” Let us respond to such great love with devotion and praise to our Lord.

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These All Look to You

gray fish

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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.

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Teach Us to Number Our Days

Psalm 9012 [widescreen]

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?

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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!