Your Years Have No End

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Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish devotional content on Sundays, but do include a suggested reading from Scripture. Be sure to subscribe to this page to follow along each day as we read through the Psalms in 2018.

Reading the Word

Psalm 102:23–28 (ESV)

23 He has broken my strength in midcourse; he has shortened my days. 24 “O my God,” I say, “take me not away in the midst of my days— you whose years endure throughout all generations!” 25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 26 They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, 27 but you are the same, and your years have no end. 28 The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you.

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Let Creation Rejoice

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Reading the Word

Psalm 98:7–9 (ESV)

7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it! 8 Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together 9 before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

Understanding and Applying the Word

All of creation is called on to sing for joy. This includes the sea, the rivers, the hills, and all of the world and those who dwell in it. This means all of creation, including mankind. Why? Because the Lord comes to judge the earth with righteousness and equity.

The Bible tells of a day when God will judge the world. In that day, sin will be dealt with once and for all and will be no more. God’s people, who have repented of their sin and trusted in Jesus Christ, will then dwell with him forever. When we speak of our eternal home with God, we often refer to it as “heaven”. We might even imagine a cloudy scene with angels and harps. The Bible has a different picture for our eternal home. It is described as a “new heaven and new earth”. It is a new creation without sin and its consequences. This is why all of creation joins in singing for joy in this psalm. All of creation rejoices at its release from bondage to the curse of sin (Romans 8:21). We look forward to that day when we will inhabit a new creation without sin. What a joyous day that will 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!

Light for the Righteous

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Reading the Word

Psalm 97:10–12 (ESV)

10 O you who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked. 11 Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart. 12 Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!

Understanding and Applying the Word

Those who love the Lord should hate evil. As we look at the world around us it might sometimes seem as if the wicked prosper. They may seem to have the best that life has to offer: money, possessions, fame, and power. Yet, we can be sure that judgment will one day come. In that day, it is the righteous who will be preserved and the wicked will be destroyed.

Verse 11 tells us that “Light is sown for the righteous”. This may seem like an odd statement, but taken in the context of this psalm, the meaning is clear. There is coming a final day when God will judge the world. The wicked will be condemned, but for the righteous, light is sown (rather than judgment). The righteous will be delivered and given life filled with joy and delivered from evil once and for all. This is truly worth our rejoicing!

**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 Reigns!

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Reading the Word

Psalm 96:10–13 (ESV)

10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.” 11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; 12 let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy 13 before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Lord reigns. He rules over all things. This is established by the fact that he is the Creator who established the world. It is also established in the fact that it is the Lord who judges all people. The judgment of God is an occasion for joy and praise because God judges perfectly. He is fair and right in all of his judgments.

While this psalm is focused on the present truth that God rules over all things, it also points to the future when God’s rule will fill the creation completely. Sin and wickedness will be judged and removed from the world and perfect righteousness will prevail. This is why the creation itself is called to rejoice: the heavens, the earth, the sea, the field, and the trees. The creation, along with God’s people, will be finally released from the curse of sin and its consequences and we will dwell with the Lord forever. That is cause for great rejoicing!

**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!

Better Is One Day in Your Courts

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Reading the Word

Psalm 84:9–12 (ESV)

9 Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed! 10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. 11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. 12 O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

Understanding and Applying the Word

There is a well-known Christian song based on this psalm called Better Is One Day. The chorus takes the words of verse 10: “Better is one day in your courts, better is one day in your house, better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere.” The song, as well as the psalm, reflect on the supreme value of living in the presence of the Lord. Nothing else even comes close!

There is nothing this world has to offer that is of greater value than knowing the Lord. He is better than fame and fortune. He is better than beauty and power. Let us seek him while there is still time and let us savor his goodness as we wait to dwell in his presence for eternity.

**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 Pilgrimage to God

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Reading the Word

Psalm 84:5–8 (ESV)

5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. 6 As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. 8 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

The words in these verses describe a pilgrimage to the temple. The opening verses (vv. 1-4) described the wonder of being in the presence of God, so here we find a description of the reward of the journey to get there. There is a progression in the journey along the highway from the Valley of Baca to the place of springs. The meaning of the word “Baca” is “shrubs” and pictures a dry desert region.

The imagery of this psalm is quite striking. It describes the pilgrimage to the presence of God as one that takes the traveler through the difficulty of the desert and brings her to a place of abundance, a place of springs. As pilgrims in the world, we understand that we may have to go through trials and difficulties before we reach our destination. But our destination is an eternity in the presence of God and it is described as a new creation where there is no more pain or suffering and where there is life abundant (Revelation 21-22). What a day that will be when our journey is over and we stand in the presence of God! For now, we are pilgrims on the way.

**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!

Longing for the Presence of God

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Reading the Word

Psalm 84:1–4 (ESV)

1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! 2 My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. 3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. 4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses, the psalmist speaks about beauty of the dwelling place of God. In the immediate context, this spoke of the temple in Jerusalem where the people would go to worship, offer their sacrifices, and celebrate the yearly festivals. The temple was an ever important place to the Jewish people because it was the place where God dwelled among them. And it looked forward to a time when God would dwell with his people in an even greater way.

The Bible looks forward to a day when God will dwell fully with his people. In the Book of Genesis, God dwelled with the man and woman in the garden of Eden, but they were sent away from his presence after they sinned. Through the work of redemption, God has made it possible for mankind to reestablish a relationship with him. It is done through the cross of Jesus Christ where sin was atoned for. This who repent of their sins and trust in the work of Christ will be saved and receive eternal life in the presence of God forever in a new heaven and new earth. Blessed are those who dwell in the presence of the living 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!

Our Inheritance

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Reading the Word

Psalm 69:34–36 (ESV)

34 Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them. 35 For God will save Zion and build up the cities of Judah, and people shall dwell there and possess it; 36 the offspring of his servants shall inherit it, and those who love his name shall dwell in it.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When we come to the end of this psalm, David calls on all of creation to sing praises to God. Why? Because God’s salvation belongs to all who love His name.

The offspring of God, those who love His name, will inherit the earth. They will dwell in it. Jesus tells us that the meek will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). Paul tells us that all of creation waits for its redemption (Romans 8:18-25). Peter says that the hope of Christians is in a new heaven and a new earth (2 Peter 3:13). And in Revelation 21:1-4, we get a glimpse of the eternal state as God dwells with His people in a new heaven and a new earth where there is no mourning or crying or pain anymore. Sin and evil have been judged and are no more.

God’s salvation is cosmic. One day He will remove sin from His good creation and restore things to the way they should be. Let us praise Him as we look forward to that day!

**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 Futures of the Wicked and the Righteous

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Thank you for reading each day at Shaped by the Word. I do not publish devotional content on Sundays, but I do include a suggested reading for the day. If you have not already done so, please subscribe to this page so you can follow along as we read through the Book of Psalms in 2018.

Reading the Word

Psalm 37:35–40 (ESV)

35 I have seen a wicked, ruthless man, spreading himself like a green laurel tree. 36 But he passed away, and behold, he was no more; though I sought him, he could not be found. 37 Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace. 38 But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed; the future of the wicked shall be cut off. 39 The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble. 40 The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.

The Lord Is Near to the Brokenhearted

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Reading the Word

Psalm 34:17–22 (ESV)

17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. 18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. 20 He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. 21 Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. 22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Reading these verses in isolation, we may think that they teach something that they do not. An incorrect understanding would be to think that these verses are saying that bad things do not happen to righteous people. After all, “the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” But this is not the message of Scripture.

To understand these verses requires a BIG picture understanding of the Bible. God’s word teaches us that we are living in a fallen word and, as a result, we all face pain and suffering and troubles of various kinds. It is the reality of the world we live in. However, God is redeeming this fallen world through his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus died as a payment for the sins of mankind and all who acknowledge their sin and turn to Christ for forgiveness will be saved.

Saved from what? Condemnation. God’s word tells us that one day all will stand before God and give an account. Those who have not trusted in Christ and are still in their sin will face eternal condemnation. Those who have trusted will be with Christ forever in a new creation with no more sin or suffering or pain or death. God saves the brokenhearted who call out for refuge in him.

**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!