Joy Comes with the Morning

Reading the Word

Psalm 30:1–12 (ESV)
1 I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
2 O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.
3 O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.
4 Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.
5 For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
6 As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.”
7 By your favor, O LORD, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed.
8 To you, O LORD, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
9 “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me! O LORD, be my helper!”
11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
12 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Understanding and Applying the Word

Psalm 30 is a psalm of David where David praises and gives thanks to God for delivering him throughout his life. He was delivered from his foes (v. 1), from sickness (v. 2), and even from death (v. 3). David calls on all of God’s people to give thanks because “weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” God’s people may face trials and difficult circumstances, but we know that God is faithful and we will be delivered. One day, all of God’s people will be with him forever and the pain and suffering of this life will be finished. Therefore, we can give thanks even now.

Wherever you are and whatever you may be facing, know that God is faithful and will fulfill his promises to his people. We may face difficulty. We may face weeping for a night. But we know that deliverance is near. Joy comes in the morning. One day, we will proclaim with the psalmist, “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praises and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”


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The Great Shepherd

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 I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page to follow along every day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Ezekiel 34:11–16 (ESV)

11 “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.

Rock

Today’s post is part of our Psalm Saturdays series from guest blogger Robert Chamberlain.

Psalm 144:1–15 (ESV)
1 Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;
2 he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.
3 O LORD, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him?
4 Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.
5 Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke!
6 Flash forth the lightning and scatter them; send out your arrows and rout them!
7 Stretch out your hand from on high; rescue me and deliver me from the many waters, from the hand of foreigners,
8 whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
9 I will sing a new song to you, O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,
10 who gives victory to kings, who rescues David his servant from the cruel sword.
11 Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners, whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
12 May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace;
13 may our granaries be full, providing all kinds of produce; may our sheep bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our fields;
14 may our cattle be heavy with young, suffering no mishap or failure in bearing; may there be no cry of distress in our streets!
15 Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall! Blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!


The Lord is our rock, our love, our fortress, our stronghold, our deliverer, our shield, and our refuge. He is all we need. In Him we have the victory.

When we consider how great God is and how bad we are, it’s amazing to think that He has regard for the likes of you and I. We are a moment, He is forever. We long for God to break into our earthly existence, to rescue and deliver us.

There’s always room for new songs of praise to God. We should sing to celebrate the victory God gives us in Him. We want God to rescue us from our enemies.

We want God to bless our families, our work and our communities. We’re blessed by the sunshine and smile of God’s favour. We’re blessed to be people whose God is the Lord.
“O Lord, how we praise You for all that You are to us, and for all the blessings You bestow upon us. Please grant us victory over our enemies, in Jesus’ name, amen.”

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There Will Be Great Tribulation

Reading the Word

Matthew 24:15–22 (ESV)

15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

Parallel Texts: Mark 13:14-20; Luke 21:20-24

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this passage, Jesus speaks of the future time preceding his return (cf. vv. 29-31). He refers to the Book of Daniel and mentions an “abomination of desolation”. In 167 B.C., Antiochus IV Epiphanes desecrated the Jewish temple by setting up an altar to Zeus and sacrificing pigs on the altar. Daniel 8 speaks of that event, but Jesus speaks of another, future event. He describes it as a time of “great tribulation such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now.” It will be a time foreshadowed by Antiochus, but it will be much worse. During that time, believers will suffer greatly.

As bad as it will be, Jesus assures his followers that evil will not win the day. Christ will return and end the suffering of his people. He will defeat the tyrant, who is known as the Antichrist, and he will establish his own kingdom.

As those who belong to Christ, believers may sometimes become concerned with the way the world seems to be heading. We may wonder if the end is near and if persecution will increase for Christians. We know that our brothers and sisters around the globe often find themselves in great difficulty because of their faith. What should we do?

Christ’s words here should encourage us. Evil may continue for a time. It may even become extremely great. But God has a plan. The days will be cut short. Christ will return and defeat his enemies and the enemies of his people. We must find strength and confidence in these promises as we pray for our fellow believers in the line of fire and as we pray for our Lord’s coming.


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You Shall Be Holy

Reading the Word

1 Peter 1:13–21 (ESV)

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Understanding the Word

The Apostle Peter writes this letter to a church that is facing persecution. He hopes to encourage his readers to stand firm in their faith by reminding them of the hope that awaits them.

What is he calling them to do? He is calling them to “be holy” in their conduct. Peter is calling this group of believers to live lives that reflect the holiness of their Lord. What does this mean? To be “holy” means to be “set apart” or to be different than the world around you. It means to do the right thing even when everyone else is doing something else. It means to live a godly life in the midst of ungodliness.

Peter then goes on to remind his readers that they have been ransomed from their former way of living through the blood of Christ. The price of redemption was great so how could they simply go back to living the way they used to?

Applying the Word

Christians today live in a world that is not unlike that of Peter’s. It is full of ungodliness. In fact, this has been the case since the fall of mankind that we read about in Genesis 3. Unfortunately, it is often easy for us to fall into the habit of doing things just like everybody else, especially when we believe we have been treated unfairly.

Think about Peter’s audience. They are facing persecution for simply being followers of Jesus Christ. Many have been imprisoned or even killed! You can imagine how these believers might want to respond to these things. They would like to fight back!

But that is not what Peter tells them to do. He tells them to live holy lives. In the midst of the injustice, they are to live lives that reflect truth, justice, and love for others. They are to do what is right in God’s eyes.

We are not to live like the world. We are to be like the one to whom we belong. We are to be holy just as He is holy.


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Precious in the Sight of the Lord

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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Test the Spirits

Reading the Word

1 John 4:1–6 (ESV)

1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Understanding the Word

John tells his readers that there will be false teachers who will come. Believers need to know how to test the teachings of these teachers so they can avoid them.

How does a person identify a false teacher? Do they affirm or deny the truth regarding Jesus Christ? Specifically, do they hold to the truth that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world as a man? If not, they are false teachers and should not be listened to.

Applying the Word

Every generation of Christians faces false teaching that claims to be Christian, but is not. For John, Gnosticism and the belief that matter was by nature evil caused many to deny that the Son of God could become a man. How could sinless perfection take on a physical body if the physical world is evil? Of course, the Bible teaches that the physical world is God’s creation. Evil springs from our sinful hearts, not the world outside of us.

Many false teachings that distort the gospel are present today. Many are willing to admit that Jesus was a man, but they deny he was divine. Others teach that everyone will be saved because a loving God would never send anyone to hell, even though Scripture plainly says otherwise. And still others teach that if you just have enough faith nothing bad will ever happen to you. You will have great wealth, and good health, and God will give you your heart’s desires. Again, contrary to what Scripture says about taking up your cross and following Jesus.

We have God’s word as recorded in Scripture so that we may know the truth. May we test the spirits behind every teaching we hear by that word and may we never be deceived by those who would lead us astray.

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Authority to Forgive Sins

Reading the Word

Mark 2:1–12 (ESV)

1 And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Parallel Texts: Matthew 9:1-8; Luke 5:17-26

Understanding and Applying the Word

When Jesus returned to Capernaum, word got out that he was home. Many showed up to see and hear him. One group went taking a man who was paralyzed. They wanted Jesus to heal him. When they could not get to Jesus because of the crowd, they made a hole through the roof and lowered the man down to Jesus. They would not be stopped!

The determination of these men was a reflection of their faith in Jesus. When Jesus saw this, he declared, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” This proclamation did not sit well with the scribes, who were also in attendance. They wondered how Jesus could claim to forgive sins. After all, only God had that authority! So to address their questions, Jesus performed a miracle to show he had the authority to forgive sins. He told the paralytic to “rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And the man did so.

Jesus’ miracle showed that his words of forgiveness were not just words, but were backed with authority and power. Jesus would tell the people that they too could have their sins forgiven and be reconciled to God. All they had to do was trust in him. All who would believe Jesus and trust in him would find forgiveness and eternal life. Later, Jesus went to the cross as a sacrifice for sin and then rose from the dead victorious over sin and death, once again proving that he had all power and authority to do all that he had said.


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Enthroned in the Heavens

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. Please be sure to subscribe to this page to follow along every day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Psalm 123:1–4 (ESV)
1 To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us.
3 Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt.
4 Our soul has had more than enough of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud.

Hear

Today’s post is part of our Psalm Saturdays series from guest blogger Robert Chamberlain.

Psalm 143:1–12 (ESV)
1 Hear my prayer, O LORD; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
2 Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.
3 For the enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.
4 Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled.
5 I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.
6 I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah
7 Answer me quickly, O LORD! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
9 Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD! I have fled to you for refuge.
10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!
11 For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life! In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
12 And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant.


We long for God to hear our prayers, our pleas for mercy. We trust He will because He is faithful and righteous. We don’t want Him to judge us as we deserve, if He did, none of us could stand.

The ultimate enemy of our souls is the devil, who wants us to enter the darkness he inhabits. Sometimes, even as God’s people, it might feel, appallingly, that Satan has defeated us. In such cases, we do well to remember God’s faithfulness to us in times past.

Raising our hands in worship isn’t some modern innovation: it has ancient precedents. Spiritual thirst isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because God promises spiritually dehydrated people that He will satisfy them. We long for a speedy answer from the Lord before we lose hope.

His love is unfailing and His guidance is always right. His deliverance is assured in Christ, and He is assuredly a safe place for us to find refuge. We ought always to seek God’s will in our lives.

We need the guidance of the Holy Spirit. God has set His name upon us, so for His name’s sake we long for Him to have regard for our prayers. In His goodness we want Him to save us from our troubles.

Because God loves us, He will vindicate us against our enemies, all the spiritual forces of evil that war against us. Satan and his demons will ultimately and assuredly be destroyed. God looks after His servants.

“O Lord, may we always find in You the safety that we need. Please vindicate us as we seek to live for You our Saviour. In Jesus’ name, amen.”


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