Family Ties

Luke 1128 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 11:27–28 (ESV)

27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

Understanding and Applying the Word

A woman commented that Jesus’ mother was surely blessed because she had Jesus as a son. We must be careful not to misunderstand what this woman was saying. Of course, children are a blessing to their parents. Mary was blessed in that way. However, the woman meant something more. In Jesus’ day, there was a great emphasis placed on family lineage and women found a great deal of value in the sons that they bore. For Mary to have a son like Jesus, she was surely blessed!

Jesus’ response was that biological connections are not what is important. The one who hears the word of God and does it is the one who is truly blessed. Our relationship with God does not come through our family tree, it comes from each individual’s response to the word of God. We must not think that our relationship with God is based on anything our parents, grandparents, or children have done. Each and every one of us must decide what we will do with the word of God that tells us of our sin and the salvation that is available through Jesus Christ. Those who are blessed will hear the word, repent of their sins, and trust in Jesus Christ.

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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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The Faith of a Gentile Woman

Abstract Heart Quote

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can read along each day. We are currently reading through the life of Christ as recorded in the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Matthew 15:21–28 (ESV)

21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Parallel Text: Mark 7:24-30

Do Not Fear the Future

Matthew 628–29 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 6:25–34 (ESV)

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Parallel Text: Luke 12:22-32

Understanding and Applying the Word

God will take care of you. Do you believe that? If so, how does it change how you live? Do you spend a great deal of your time and efforts worrying about the future and figuring our how you will get by? Or, is serving the Lord right now with your entire life your top priority? If we are overly concerned about managing our future, we will not have time to serve the Lord.

We can trust that God will take care of us. Look at how he takes care of the rest of his creation, like the birds and the lilies. He gives them what they need. If God cares so much for them, how much more will he care for his people? We do not have to worry. Instead, we can concentrate our time and energy into serving Christ today and glorifying God in our lives.

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I Lift My Eyes to the Hills

I am out of town and working from my phone. Please excuse any strange formatting that may result.

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.

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?

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!