I Lift My Eyes to the Hills

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Reading the Word

Psalm 121 (ESV)

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses, the psalmist declares his steadfast faith in God as his salvation. It is God who keeps Israel and God never sleeps.

It is a wonderful thing to find security in the all-knowing, ever-present God who never sleeps. He is always aware of our circumstances and he is always capable of doing whatever he wills. We can trust him every day.

We can also trust him to fulfill his salvation in our lives through Jesus Christ. God has promised not only forgiveness of sin, but complete deliverance in a new creation. As we wait for that day, we echo the words of the Psalm, “I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and Earth.”

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

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I Hope in Your Word

Open Book Bible Scripture Gospel Testament

Reading the Word

Psalm 119:81–88 (ESV)

81 My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word. 82 My eyes long for your promise; I ask, “When will you comfort me?” 83 For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, yet I have not forgotten your statutes. 84 How long must your servant endure? When will you judge those who persecute me? 85 The insolent have dug pitfalls for me; they do not live according to your law. 86 All your commandments are sure; they persecute me with falsehood; help me! 87 They have almost made an end of me on earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts. 88 In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Sometimes life is hard. It may even feel like you cannot go any further. This is how the psalmist felt. Listen as he says, “My soul longs for your salvation…My eyes long for your promise.” Here we read of one who is desperate for God to intervene.

As we read the feelings of the psalmist, let us not miss what sustains him through his trouble. It is because his hope is in God’s word and in the promises that God has made that he is able to persevere. Though the world is seemingly against him, he remains steadfast in living according to God’s word and waiting for the promises to be fulfilled.

This is what faith is all about. It is trusting in the word of God no matter what. It is believing the promises of God and living according to his word. It is believing that God is saving his people through his Son, Jesus Christ, and that one day he will gather his people to be with him forever. And faith is what gives us the strength to persevere in this word until we reach the next one where sin and suffering are no more. Do you trust the word of 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!

He Is Not Afraid of Bad News

Psalm 1127 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 112:1–10 (ESV)

1 Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments! 2 His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. 3 Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever. 4 Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; he is gracious, merciful, and righteous. 5 It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice. 6 For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. 7 He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. 8 His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries. 9 He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever; his horn is exalted in honor. 10 The wicked man sees it and is angry; he gnashes his teeth and melts away; the desire of the wicked will perish!

Understanding and Applying the Word

The one who fears the Lord is blessed. This is in contrast to the wicked, who gnashes his teeth and perishes. The one who fears the Lord will have influential offspring, wealth and riches, and will be remembered.

But what about when things do not go so well? What about when the circumstances do not seem to be a blessing at all? The one who fears the Lord even finds hope in the midst of trouble. As verse 7 states, “He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.” Those who belong to Christ, who trust in him, know that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord (Romans 8:28). Even what may be considered “bad news” is used by God for the good of his people. We have no reason to be afraid because God is in control and we trust him with every detail.

What are you facing today that causes you to fear? Know that God is in control of your situation and he is using it for your good. Let your heart be firm and trust in the Lord!

**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!

God Has Promised

2 Samuel 728 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 108:5–13 (ESV)

5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! 6 That your beloved ones may be delivered, give salvation by your right hand and answer me! 7 God has promised in his holiness: “With exultation I will divide up Shechem and portion out the Valley of Succoth. 8 Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah my scepter. 9 Moab is my washbasin; upon Edom I cast my shoe; over Philistia I shout in triumph.” 10 Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom? 11 Have you not rejected us, O God? You do not go out, O God, with our armies. 12 Oh grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man! 13 With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm is attributed to David in the header. In these verses we see that David is ready and willing to go to battle and stand his ground because he trusts in the promises of God. His confidence is not in his armies, but in the One who goes out to battle with him.

Here we see what it means to live by faith. God has given us his word and living by faith is trusting that God will keep that word. That’s what David did. That’s what we are called to do also. We have been promised that those who trust in Christ are saved and belong to God. We have an eternal future with him awaiting. If we believe and trust that word, the things we face in this world (e.g. ridicule, rejection, loss of wealth, etc.) become less important to us. They are fleeting in relation to eternity. Since we know that God keeps his word, we are emboldened to live for him now, even in the face of opposition and sacrifice because what awaits us in the future is far greater and more important.

**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!

They Had No Faith

1 John 54 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 106:24–31 (ESV)

24 Then they despised the pleasant land, having no faith in his promise. 25 They murmured in their tents, and did not obey the voice of the Lord. 26 Therefore he raised his hand and swore to them that he would make them fall in the wilderness, 27 and would make their offspring fall among the nations, scattering them among the lands. 28 Then they yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor, and ate sacrifices offered to the dead; 29 they provoked the Lord to anger with their deeds, and a plague broke out among them. 30 Then Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was stayed. 31 And that was counted to him as righteousness from generation to generation forever.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Even after all God did to bring the people out of Egypt, the people had no faith in his promises to them. They saw the plagues and miraculous events that made it possible for them to leave, but they quickly forgot and murmured against God. The events in view in these verses are those of the spy expedition in Numbers 13-14 and Balaam’s actions in Numbers 25.

As a result of their unbelief, God did not allow the entire generation that came out of Egypt to enter the Promised Land. They wandered the desert for forty years until they had all died and all that was left were their descendants. The Bible uses many words to speak of our belief (e.g. trust and faith) in him and his word. We are told that when we believe that Jesus is the Savior that we need to save us from our sin and trust in his sacrifice, that we find forgiveness and eternal life through him. If we do not believe, our sin condemns us and we will not enter the promised new heaven and new earth. Believe God’s word and trust in Jesus Christ 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!

I Will Show Him My Salvation

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Reading the Word

Psalm 91:14–16 (ESV)

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. 15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

As we read the end of this psalm, we read of God’s promises to the psalmist. We are first told that this is one who holds fast to God in love (i.e. “with all his heart”), knows God’s name, and calls on God. In response, God promises to deliver, protect, answer, be with, rescue, honor, satisfy with long life, and show him salvation.

As we read these promises of God, know that these are the promises that God makes with all who call out to God in faith. He will rescue us and give us eternal life. God is a God of grace and he offers salvation to all who will trust in him. Seek him today with all your heart and he will answer you.

**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 Am Helpless

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Reading the Word

Psalm 88:10–18 (ESV)

10 Do you work wonders for the dead? Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah 11 Is your steadfast love declared in the grave, or your faithfulness in Abaddon? 12 Are your wonders known in the darkness, or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? 13 But I, O Lord, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you. 14 O Lord, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me? 15 Afflicted and close to death from my youth up, I suffer your terrors; I am helpless. 16 Your wrath has swept over me; your dreadful assaults destroy me. 17 They surround me like a flood all day long; they close in on me together. 18 You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me; my companions have become darkness.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As this psalm began, so it ends. The writer is calling out to God for help in the midst of great despair. As we come to the end, we may be wondering what we can learn from such a passage.

Here are a few things that I believe this psalm teaches. First, God does not always remove our trials and difficulties from us. We may have to face them all our days. This should not come as a surprise to us. Even our Savior prayed that the “cup” be taken from him before he was crucified. The Father did not remove the cup and Christ went to the cross. When we pray, we do so with the same words of Jesus: “not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

A second thing that we can learn is that we should never stop praying. It is an act of faith when we do. Even though the psalmist was discouraged and even after the passage of much time, he continued to pray. He showed his trust in God by continuing to go to him.

And lastly, this psalm reminds us that the fulfillment of the promises of God will not be realized in this world, but the next. God has put in motion a plan to redeem his creation from sin and its effects. There will be a new heaven and a new earth without sin and suffering and mourning and death, but that day is still future. We live in a fallen world and the effects of sin impact us all. So, we wait eagerly for the world to come and we trust in the promises of God until they are realized.

**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!

Groans, Taunts, and Praise

James 513 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 79:9–13 (ESV)

9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake! 10 Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants be known among the nations before our eyes! 11 Let the groans of the prisoners come before you; according to your great power, preserve those doomed to die! 12 Return sevenfold into the lap of our neighbors the taunts with which they have taunted you, O Lord! 13 But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses we read a plea for God to help his people. The request is made with an appeal to God’s name, not the merit of the people. It is God’s reputation that is at stake because it is God’s people who are being destroyed. If the enemy does conquer, what does that say to the world about the God of Israel? The last verse tells us that, even in the midst of the destruction, the psalmist still believes that God will deliver his people. Even though the people have sinned and have brought about the circumstances as a result, there will be thanksgiving and praise when God saves them.

In verses 11-13 we read three different types of speech that are directed at God: groans, taunts, and praise. In fact, these three summarize all speech directed at God. We groan when we are in trouble or despair and call out to him. The unbelieving world taunts God as they mock his existence, his power, or his goodness. And we praise his when we know who he is and what he has done. In the midst of any circumstance, let us direct our speech to God in faith knowing that he hears us and that he is the deliverer of his people.

**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!

Testing God

board chalk chalkboard exam

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Reading the Word

Psalm 78:17–25 (ESV)

17 Yet they sinned still more against him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert. 18 They tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved. 19 They spoke against God, saying, “Can God spread a table in the wilderness? 20 He struck the rock so that water gushed out and streams overflowed. Can he also give bread or provide meat for his people?” 21 Therefore, when the Lord heard, he was full of wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob; his anger rose against Israel, 22 because they did not believe in God and did not trust his saving power. 23 Yet he commanded the skies above and opened the doors of heaven, 24 and he rained down on them manna to eat and gave them the grain of heaven. 25 Man ate of the bread of the angels; he sent them food in abundance.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Even after God delivered the people out of Egypt, showing his love and power, the people sinned against him. They did so by testing God (v. 18). Instead of praising God and trusting in him because of all he had done, they questioned God. “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?” They did not trust that God would provide their basic needs of food and water as he led them through the desert to the land of Canaan. As a result, God was full of wrath (vv. 21-22), but he gave them water and fed them in abundance.

O believer, do not fail to see that God has shown his love and power to us. He has shown it as he has brought salvation to us through the shed blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. And he has shown it as he has given us new life through his Spirit that indwells us. Let us not ask for new proofs of God’s love and power. Such demands and attitudes are sinful and the result of unbelief. Instead, let us find confidence from all that God has done in the past as we walk by faith into the future.

**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!

No Turning Back

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Reading the Word

Psalm 78:9–16 (ESV)

9 The Ephraimites, armed with the bow, turned back on the day of battle. 10 They did not keep God’s covenant, but refused to walk according to his law. 11 They forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them. 12 In the sight of their fathers he performed wonders in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan. 13 He divided the sea and let them pass through it, and made the waters stand like a heap. 14 In the daytime he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a fiery light. 15 He split rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep. 16 He made streams come out of the rock and caused waters to flow down like rivers.

Understanding and Applying the Word

After opening the psalm by calling for the people to learn from history (vv. 1-8), verses 9-16 begin to recount that history. It begins by telling how the Ephraimites had forgotten their history and had shrunk back in the day of battle. They forgot how God had displayed his power and allowed the Israelites to cross the Red Sea when they went out of Egypt. God also led them with a cloud in the day and a pillar of fire at night and supplied water from a rock. If the Ephraimites had remembered their history, they would have gone into battle knowing that God was with them.

We can read these words and wonder at how the people could forget what God had done. How often do we do the same in our own lives? We have seen and experienced God’s power as believers. We are told in Scripture that all who believe are born again and have the Spirit of God living within them. Yet, when faced with difficulty or trials, we often forget that God is with us and we wonder how we will make it through our circumstances. Let us not forget our history. It prepares us for the future.

**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!