The Poverty of Riches

pexels-photo-164527.jpeg

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!

Advertisements

Be Still and Know

pexels-photo-136317.jpeg

Reading the Word

Psalm 46:6–11 (ESV)

6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. 7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. 10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

If you like the old hymns, you likely know Martin Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Luther was inspired by the words of Psalm 46 when he penned the classic hymn that is a favorite of many still today. Like the hymn, Psalm 46 speaks of God’s great authority. He is powerful over nature (vv. 1-3), over those who attack his city (vv. 4-7), and over all who would make war (vv. 8-11).

When we come to verse 10, we come to words that are often quoted, but often misunderstood. It reads, “Be still, and know that I am God.” These words should not be read as words of comfort or encouragement to the downtrodden. These are the words of God to the raging nations. “Be still, and know that I am God!” It reminds us of Jesus’ calming of the storm when he says, “Peace, be still!” and the storms cease. God tells the nations to be still and recognize that he is God.

God is the sovereign authority over all of creation. Many reject that claim and say there is no God or claim another as god, but in the end all will know who the one true God is. And the greatest confidence believers can have today is that this is the God who is with us even now.

**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!

A Very Present Help in Trouble

Psalm 461 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 46:1–5 (ESV)

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When the world is falling apart, where do you turn? God is our refuge. He is the one we can turn to in every time of trouble. Our world may be falling apart in a figurative sense because of things like a job loss, sickness, or the death of a loved one. The world may even be falling apart in a very literal sense as the result of natural disasters or war. No matter what we may face in life, we can rest in the immovable God who is a refuge to his people. We know that, regardless of our struggles and trials in this world, a new heaven and a new earth await where our troubles will be no more. Praise 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!

Suffering for Your Sake, O God

cross-sunset-humility-devotion-161089.jpeg

Reading the Word

Psalm 44:17–26 (ESV)

17 All this has come upon us, though we have not forgotten you, and we have not been false to your covenant. 18 Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from your way; 19 yet you have broken us in the place of jackals and covered us with the shadow of death. 20 If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, 21 would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart. 22 Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. 23 Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever! 24 Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? 25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground. 26 Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!

Understanding and Applying the Word

We have been reading this psalm for a couple of days. In the previous verses we read the words of one crying out to God for help, but God has not done anything. Now we read that, even through all of the difficulties, the people have been faithful towards God (v. 17). They continue to live their lives for him.

Interestingly, we are told that the suffering that is taking place is “for your sake” (v.22). The people are suffering precisely because they are God’s people. This passage is quoted in Romans 8:36-39 by the apostle Paul who uses it to speak of his suffering for belonging to Christ and proclaiming the gospel.

The people of God in every age can expect rejection. In some places and times they can also expect severe persecution. Why? Because, as the people of God, they walk as witnesses to the truth to a world that has rejected the truth for a lie. When believers suffer for the sake of the truth of God’s word, they suffer for God’s sake. He may not come to our immediate rescue, but we can do the same thing that the writer of this psalm did. We can trust in the steadfast love of God (v.26). After all, he is the one who has redeemed us by sending his Son to die on a cross. He has shown us his love and we can trust him in every circumstance.

**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!

Not by Sword

pexels-photo-339805.jpeg

Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. I do not publish devotional content on Sundays, but I do include a suggested reading for the day. In 2018, we are reading through the Book of Psalms together. If you have not already done so, please subscribe to this page so you can read along. Have a great Easter Sunday. He is risen!

Reading the Word

Psalm 44:1–8 (ESV)

1 O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old: 2 you with your own hand drove out the nations, but them you planted; you afflicted the peoples, but them you set free; 3 for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them. 4 You are my King, O God; ordain salvation for Jacob! 5 Through you we push down our foes; through your name we tread down those who rise up against us. 6 For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me. 7 But you have saved us from our foes and have put to shame those who hate us. 8 In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah

The Presence of God

pexels-photo-415571.jpeg

Reading the Word

Psalm 43:1–5 (ESV)

1 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me! 2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 3 Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! 4 Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm ends with the same refrain that we read twice in Psalm 42: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” With these words, the psalmists reminds himself that he can trust in God and that he will again be in the presence of God. This psalm seems to especially look forward to a return to the temple, which was the center of worship and the special place of God’s dwelling among his people in the Old Testament (cf. vv. 3-4).

As Christians, we know that we can worship God anywhere and that we have his Spirit dwelling within us. The Bible tells us that we are the temple of the Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19). Yet, we also experience times when it feels as if God is far away. It is in those times that we need to remind ourselves that God is with us as we walk by faith in his word. One day, all of God’s people will be in his presence for eternity. In that day, our faith will be realized and we will see him in his glory.

**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!

Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul?

pexels-photo-262218.jpeg

Reading the Word

Psalm 42:6–11 (ESV)

6 My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. 8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. 9 I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” 10 As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” 11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The psalmist is in despair. He describes his feelings using the imagery of a powerful waterfall that pushes its waves over him and beats him up. In this despair he calls out to God, “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

Yet there is hope in the midst of the despair. Notice what we find in verse 6. The psalmist writes, “therefore I remember you…” And in verse 9 he writes, “I say to God my Rock.” Even in despair, we see that God is the hope of this writer, which is why he ends this psalm with the words “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”

In life, our faith in God will be tested. It is in the difficult times that we face that we will know what kind of faith we truly have. Is it a faith that turns away and runs when things are hard? Or, is it a faith that gives us confidence to go on in the face of adversity? God is with us at all times and in all situations. Do you trust 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!

My Soul Thirsts for God

Psalm 421 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 42:1–5 (ESV)

1 As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Understanding and Applying the Word

How do you feel when God feels far away? In the opening verse of Psalm 42 the psalmist compares his desire for God to that of a deer in need of water during a drought. The psalmist’s soul thirsts for God and waits for a time when he may appear before God. As he waits, his tears flow (v. 3) and others mock and ask him, “Where is your God?”

Life can be difficult and it can seem especially difficult when you feel abandoned. In verse 5 we read a refrain that will repeat itself in verse 11 and again in Psalm 43:5. It is the heart of the message of these two psalms. In these verses, we are reminded that we need not be troubled because we can trust in God. He is faithful and will not abandon us. There are better days ahead. In fact, for God’s children, there are days of never ending joy ahead because he has promised to dwell with us forever in a new creation where there is no pain or sorrow or suffering. Let us rejoice in the hope we have in the God of our salvation.

**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!

Betrayed by a Friend

pexels-photo-247314.jpeg

Reading the Word

Psalm 41:9–13 (ESV)

9 Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me. 10 But you, O Lord, be gracious to me, and raise me up, that I may repay them! 11 By this I know that you delight in me: my enemy will not shout in triumph over me. 12 But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever. 13 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In the previous verse, David calls out to God because of his enemies who long to see David’s end. Now, in these verses, he mentions that not only is he dealing with the attacks of his enemies, but also one who was supposed to be his closest friend. This is one who had eaten with David and who David trusted. Many years later, we see Jesus quote this passage and apply the betrayal of a friend to Judas (John 13:18).

Even after being betrayed by his friend, David trusts that God would vindicate him. We see here an example of faith in the face of great adversity. It is easy to trust on God when things are easy, but what happens when the world stands against you? What happens when God is all you have? David trusted and his trust turned to praise in the final words of this psalm. Whatever our circumstances, may we remember the God is with us and that he is for 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!

I Am Poor and Needy

pexels-photo.jpg

Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. I do not publish devotional content on Sundays, but I do publish a suggested reading for the day. In 2018, we are reading through the Book of Psalms together. If you have not already done so, please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading !

Reading the Word

Psalm 40:11–17 (ESV)

11 As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me! 12 For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me. 13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me! O Lord, make haste to help me! 14 Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether who seek to snatch away my life; let those be turned back and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt! 15 Let those be appalled because of their shame who say to me, “Aha, Aha!” 16 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the Lord!” 17 As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!