Sooner than Expected

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Reading the Word

Matthew 24:45–51 (ESV)

45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Matthew 24-25 make up what is commonly referred to as the Olivet Discourse. In these chapters, Jesus gives us his most lengthy teaching on the end times. In the verses we have looked at so far, Jesus has emphasized that the timing of the end is to remain unknown to us, but we must be ready at all times by living holy lives and preaching the gospel to the world.

In today’s reading, Jesus changes his teaching method. He begins using parables to teach his disciples. Today’s parable is about a servant who is left in charge of his master’s household while the master goes away. While the master is away, the servant is unfaithful in his duties and even beats the other servants because he thinks that the master is going to be gone a long time. However, the master returned sooner than expected and saw what the wicked servant was doing. The servant was cut “in pieces and put with the hypocrites.”

This parable reinforces what Jesus has been teaching all along. We do not know the timing of our Lord’s return and we must be ready for him to come at any moment. He may come sooner than we expect. Will he find us being faithful to our task or will he find us unfaithful like the wicked servant? The one who truly belongs to Christ will remain faithful to his Master, while the unfaithful will be judged. We must not wait until later to serve the Lord. Later may never come.

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When You Do Not See Results

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Reading the Word

John 10:40–42 (ESV)

40 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. 41 And many came to him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” 42 And many believed in him there.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Have you ever felt like your service to the Lord was accomplishing nothing? Perhaps you have shared the gospel with many people, but have not known any who have actually come to trust in Jesus.

When Jesus escaped the people who wanted to seize him (see yesterday’s post), he went across the Jordan to where John the Baptist had ministered. John’s ministry took place before Jesus’ and he served as a forerunner to tell people of the coming Messiah. However, many did not believe John. Then he was arrested and later killed. When Jesus arrived, the people saw that everything that John had told them was true. As a result, many believed in Jesus. John never saw the fruit of his labor, but his faithfulness had a profound impact on the lives of many.

We too must remember that God has called us to be faithful to proclaim the Good News. We may not see the results, but we may be laying a foundation for someone else to continue building. Let us not lose heart, but instead let us pray for those who need the Lord and continue to trust in the One who gives new life.

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Living Without Fear

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Reading the Word

Luke 13:31–33 (ESV)

31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. 33 Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’

Understanding and Applying the Word

It is interesting that some Pharisees went to Jesus to warn him about Herod. The Pharisees did not like Jesus. Were they genuinely warning Jesus? Were they simply trying to scare Jesus away?

Jesus was not concerned with the news the Pharisees brought. He was not afraid of Herod. By calling Herod a “fox”, Jesus communicated that he felt Herod was insignificant and without honor. Instead of running away in fear, Jesus intended to continue doing what the Father intended for him. He would finish his course.

Jesus was sold out to do the will of the Father regardless of the opposition. No earthly ruler or power could prevent that. He did not fear others and neither should we. We too must be willing to live fully for our Lord knowing that he is the one truly in power and control. We have no reason to fear those who are opposed to Christ. Our God reigns!

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The Lord’s Purpose for Me

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Reading the Word

Psalm 138:1–8 (ESV)

1 I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
2 I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
3 On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased.

4 All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O LORD,
for they have heard the words of your mouth,
5 and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD,
for great is the glory of the LORD.
6 For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly,
but the haughty he knows from afar.

7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and your right hand delivers me.
8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As we read these last several psalms, we find the central theme of praise. In Psalm 138, we once again find this theme and a focus on God’s steadfast love and faithfulness as the reason for our praise. It is God who answers prayer and it is God who is a helper in times of trouble (vv. 3, 7).

The psalmist concludes this psalm by saying, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.” This is a wonderful statement of confidence in the Lord’s faithfulness. God has a purpose for his people, not just collectively, but individually. Whatever we may face in life, we can find hope and a reason for thanksgiving because the Lord has a purpose and will fulfill it. And we know that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). So, let us learn to give thanks knowing that our God is great and he is faithful.

**Want to read the Bible every day? Be sure to subscribe to this page and follow along! We are currently reading through the Book of Psalms. In 2019, we will focus on the Life of Christ for our daily readings.

He Remembered His Covenant

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Reading the Word

Psalm 106:40–48 (ESV)

40 Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people, and he abhorred his heritage; 41 he gave them into the hand of the nations, so that those who hated them ruled over them. 42 Their enemies oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their power. 43 Many times he delivered them, but they were rebellious in their purposes and were brought low through their iniquity. 44 Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress, when he heard their cry. 45 For their sake he remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love. 46 He caused them to be pitied by all those who held them captive. 47 Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. 48 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the Lord!

Understanding and Applying the Word

These verses describe the time period covered by the Book of Judges. During that time, the people of Israel are described as living in a cycle of rebellion against God. They would forget God and turn to idolatry. As a result, God sent oppressors to deal with the people. After a time of oppression, the people would call out to God. Then God would send a rescuer (i.e. a judge) to save the people and deliver them from their oppression. After a time, the cycle would repeat itself.

Why did God listen to the cries of the people over and over if he knew that they would continue to repeat this cycle? Verse 45 gives us an answer. It was because of his covenant. God promised to deliver the people and to make them into a great nation. His promise was based solely on his grace, not Israel’s merit.

We may ask the same question of ourselves. Why does God continue to abide with us even after our continued sin against him? It is only by his grace. He has promised us that if we trust in his Son, Jesus Christ, that our sins are forgiven and that we are made children of God. It is not our ability to earn our salvation because we cannot. It is completely by the grace of God and his faithfulness to his promises that we are saved. Let us give thanks to him for continuing to strive with us each and every day.

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The Promise Keeper

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Reading the Word

Psalm 105:8–11 (ESV)

8 He remembers his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, 9 the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, 10 which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, 11 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan as your portion for an inheritance.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

In the Book of Genesis, God promises to Abraham that he will turn him into a great nation and give him a land for the people (Genesis 12:1-3). This promise became known as the Abrahamic Covenant and the land became known as the Promised Land. Israel was the nation made up of the descendants of Abraham and the land of Canaan was the land of promise.

The New Testament makes it clear that the promise to Abraham was greater than just a political nation. The Promised Land would be fully realized when the true descendants of Abraham, those who share his faith, are gathered to be with the Lord in a new creation (cf. Hebrews 11:8-18 and Galatians 3:1-14). The story of the Bible shows that God keeps his promises and is working his plan to bring those promises to fulfillment. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ were essential to the keeping of God’s promises because it is through Christ that our sins are forgiven and that we enter into a covenant relationship with God. Let us praise God who makes and keeps promises. And let us praise our Lord, Jesus Christ, for securing those promises on our behalf.

**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!

Have You Broken Your Promise?

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Reading the Word

Psalm 89:38–45 (ESV)

38 But now you have cast off and rejected; you are full of wrath against your anointed. 39 You have renounced the covenant with your servant; you have defiled his crown in the dust. 40 You have breached all his walls; you have laid his strongholds in ruins. 41 All who pass by plunder him; he has become the scorn of his neighbors. 42 You have exalted the right hand of his foes; you have made all his enemies rejoice. 43 You have also turned back the edge of his sword, and you have not made him stand in battle. 44 You have made his splendor to cease and cast his throne to the ground. 45 You have cut short the days of his youth; you have covered him with shame. Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

After focusing on the promises and faithfulness of God in the previous verse, now the psalmist asks why God has renounced his covenant with David. These verses reflect the time when Israel was defeated and taken into exile. It seemed as though the throne of David had come to an end.

God had not forsaken his promise to David. However, the promise was to be fulfilled in an unexpected way. God’s promised King would descend from David, but his kingdom would not be geopolitical. Jesus, the eternal King, established a kingdom for people from every nation and tribe and language. All who trust in him are a part of this kingdom, whether Jew or Gentile (i.e. non-Jew). Even in the midst of what seemed like defeat, God’s plans and purposes for Israel, and the entire world, were being fulfilled. And God was once again showing his faithfulness to his promises.

**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 God Who Is Gracious

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Reading the Word

Psalm 89:19–26 (ESV)

19 Of old you spoke in a vision to your godly one, and said: “I have granted help to one who is mighty; I have exalted one chosen from the people. 20 I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him, 21 so that my hand shall be established with him; my arm also shall strengthen him. 22 The enemy shall not outwit him; the wicked shall not humble him. 23 I will crush his foes before him and strike down those who hate him. 24 My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him, and in my name shall his horn be exalted. 25 I will set his hand on the sea and his right hand on the rivers. 26 He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’

Understanding and Applying the Word

These verses recount how God chose David as king of Israel. The passage recalls the events of 1 Samuel 16. The emphasis that we see in these verses is that it was by God’s choosing that David was made king. And it was also by God’s hand that he was given success as king as he triumphed over his foes. God promised to give David success and he fulfilled his promise.

God is a God of steadfast love and faithfulness. He is committed to his people and he makes promises that he keeps. Why? Not because we deserve such faithfulness, but simply because God is gracious. As we live our lives, we should be encouraged by God’s unfailing loyalty and when he fulfills his promises to us, we should give him the glory because it is only through him that we have anything at all.

**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 Steadfast Love of the Lord

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Reading the Word

Psalm 89:1–8 (ESV)

1 I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. 2 For I said, “Steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness.” 3 You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant: 4 ‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations.’ ” Selah 5 Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! 6 For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord? Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord, 7 a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him? 8 O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O Lord, with your faithfulness all around you?

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm begins speaking of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness to his people. It speaks specifically of God’s promise to David in 2 Samuel 7:4-17 where God promises to establish David’s throne forever. This promise is what we refer to as the Davidic Covenant and is the promise of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who would come and be the eternal King.

As we reflect on these words, it is important to see the connection to the rest of this psalm. In these opening verses, the writer praises God for keeping his promises. In the following verses, he asks God to save his people so that those promises can be fulfilled. As we face the challenges of life and as we seek God in prayer, we too need to remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness and steadfast love through the ages, both to us and those who came before us. By doing so, we give praise to God for all he has done and we are strengthened to face our circumstances knowing that God is with 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!

Consider the Days of Old

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Reading the Word

Psalm 77:5–9 (ESV)

5 I consider the days of old, the years long ago. 6 I said, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.” Then my spirit made a diligent search: 7 “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? 8 Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? 9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

In a time when it seems as if the Lord has forgotten him, the psalmist asks himself questions. In summation, he asks, “Has his [God’s] steadfast love forever ceased?” While he asks this in many ways, the sure answer is “no.”

The psalmist asks himself questions concerning God’s love, grace, and faithfulness to remind himself of the past where the Lord has proven his love and faithfulness. We too must remember the past when we are hard pressed in the present. Let us remind ourselves of all that God has done and let us be confident of the present and future. We see God’s love and grace at the cross and, if we look closely, in our daily lives. He will surely remain faithful in 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!