Unity

Psalm 1331 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 133:1–3 (ESV)

1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
2 It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
3 It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the LORD has commanded the blessing,
life forevermore.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Unity is a wonderful thing. When the people of God are working together, it is pleasant and brings great pleasure. The psalmist uses two images to illustrate the goodness of unity. It is like the precious oil used to anoint a priest that runs down from his head to his beard and to his robe. The oil spreads over the entire person. It is also like the dew running off of Mount Herman, the highest peak in Israel, and onto Zion. Zion is a dusty and much smaller mountain, but it is where the temple sits. The dew from Mount Herman gives refreshing moisture to dry Zion.

If you have ever been in a church where unity is not present among God’s people, you may have a good understanding of this psalm. Without unity, the people of God cannot prosper and thrive. It takes unity to allow the body of Christ to function as it ought to and accomplish what it is designed to. This is why there is such a great emphasis throughout the New Testament on this vital issue. We are called to love one another, forgive one another, and live in unity as we serve and build one another up. May we dwell in unity and experience its great pleasures.

**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!

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More than Watchmen for the Morning

Psalm 1306 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please take the time to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Psalm 130:1–8 (ESV)

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
2 O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.

5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.

7 O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
8 And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.

Great Peace

Psalm 119165 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 119:161–168 (ESV)

161 Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of your words. 162 I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil. 163 I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law. 164 Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules. 165 Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. 166 I hope for your salvation, O Lord, and I do your commandments. 167 My soul keeps your testimonies; I love them exceedingly. 168 I keep your precepts and testimonies, for all my ways are before you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Psalm 119 focuses on the supreme value of God’s law. For 176 verses, the psalm states over and over again how wonderful the word of God is and why this is so. In our passage for today, in verse 165, we are told that God’s word brings “great peace.” Even in the face of persecution and falsehood, the psalmist finds peace. Peace is certainly something that we all desire. However, we usually think of world peace (i.e. the end of war and conflict) when we contemplate it. Such peace would be wonderful, but there is an even greater peace that we need.

Our greatest need is peace with God. Our sin sets us apart from him. While we are in our sin, we are in rebellion against God and his holy commands and we are justly under condemnation. One day we will stand before him and he is the righteous Judge who punishes all sin. We need to know how we can make peace with God.

Thankfully, God has told us in his word that there is a way to be reconciled. God stands ready to forgive our sin when we repent and turn to Jesus Christ as our Savior. Through Jesus, who suffered and died, our sins were paid for as he took the punishment we deserve on himself. In Christ, we find forgiveness and we find peace with God. Romans 5:1 reads: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

It is through God’s word that we learn that peace with God is available through Jesus Christ. That is the greatest peace of 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!

As Far as the East Is from the West

Psalm 10312 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 103:6–12 (ESV)

6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. 7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. 8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Lord is merciful and gracious and abounding in steadfast love. This is good news because it means that he does not give us what we deserve, which is his unrelenting wrath. We have all sinned against God through our rebellion and disobedience, but God is a God who forgives our sin and removes it from us “as far as the east is from the west.” It is completely and finally forgiven!

The most amazing thing about God is his love for us. Even though we are sinners, God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to make atonement for our sins. He went to the cross at Calvary to die as a sacrifice. It was through Jesus’ death that our sins were paid for and forgiven. Why did God provide such a sacrifice? Because he is merciful and gracious and abounding in steadfast love. Let us praise him for all he has done!

**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 God Merciful and Gracious

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Reading the Word

Psalm 86:14–17 (ESV)

14 O God, insolent men have risen up against me; a band of ruthless men seeks my life, and they do not set you before them. 15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. 16 Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant, and save the son of your maidservant. 17 Show me a sign of your favor, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Understanding and Applying the Word

David is under attack by men that he calls “insolent” and “ruthless”. Yet, in his prayer, David calls out to God to show him mercy and grace based on God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. He does not plead with God based on his personal merit or righteousness. His prayer shows that he is willing to admit that he may share some of the blame in the circumstances.

We can learn much from David. Often times, when we feel as though we are being mistreated we need to stop and self-examine. We need to be willing to admit that we may have at least contributed in some way to our circumstances. When we pray to God for deliverance, let us also pray for forgiveness and grace. Then let us praise him for his love and faithfulness toward 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!

Restore Us!

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Reading the Word

Psalm 80:14–19 (ESV)

14 Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine, 15 the stock that your right hand planted, and for the son whom you made strong for yourself. 16 They have burned it with fire; they have cut it down; may they perish at the rebuke of your face! 17 But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself! 18 Then we shall not turn back from you; give us life, and we will call upon your name! 19 Restore us, O Lord God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Understanding and Applying the Word

The phrase “turn again” in verse 14 is translated from the same Hebrew word in verses 3, 7, and 19. In those verse, the word is translated “restore”. The idea is to “turn us again.” This is the central theme of the psalm. Israel once occupied a place at the right hand of God, but had fallen as a result of sin. Now the people are calling out for mercy and restoration.

Reading this psalm reminds us of the Messiah who is the true Son who sits at the right hand of the Father. Through him, we find the salvation and life that we are longing for. It is through Jesus Christ that our sins are forgiven and that we find restoration with 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!

Restore Us, O God!

Psalm 803 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 80:1–7 (ESV)

1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth. 2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up your might and come to save us! 3 Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved! 4 O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers? 5 You have fed them with the bread of tears and given them tears to drink in full measure. 6 You make us an object of contention for our neighbors, and our enemies laugh among themselves. 7 Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Understanding and Applying the Word

The theme of this psalm is captured in the repetition of the words “Restore us, O God; let your face shine that we may be saved.” The psalmist understands the circumstances facing Israel to be punishment for their sins and now he is crying out for restoration.

Restoration is the heart of the story of Scripture. In the beginning, God created all things, including mankind, and we are told that he looked upon his creation and pronounced it “good”. However, mankind sins against their Creator through disobedience and all of creation suffers as a result. Evil and sin and death entered into the good creation. The resulting circumstances seemed to be hopeless because of mankind’s sinfulness, but God provided a way for us to be saved. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to suffer and die in our place so that we could have life. God made a way that we could be restored. All who acknowledge their sin and turn to Christ will be saved. Will you call out to God for restoration 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!

Let Your Compassion Come Speedily

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Reading the Word

Psalm 79:1–8 (ESV)

1 O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins. 2 They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the heavens for food, the flesh of your faithful to the beasts of the earth. 3 They have poured out their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them. 4 We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those around us. 5 How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealousy burn like fire? 6 Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call upon your name! 7 For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation. 8 Do not remember against us our former iniquities; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm is a lament that most likely connected to the fall of Jerusalem and exile of Judah at the hands of the Babylonians. The verses describe the defiling of the temple, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the killing of many Israelites by the enemy. Why did this happen? Because God was angry with his people because of their sin.

Scripture tells us that all who place their trust in the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ are forgiven of their sins and will not be condemned before God. However, Scripture also tells us that God does discipline his people for their benefit. It is through discipline that our hearts and minds are transformed as we learn to love the things God loves and hate the things he hates. Let us be thankful that God is a gracious and forgiving God. And let us also be thankful for the discipline we receive that helps us as we become more and more like Christ.

**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!

We Are Flesh

Psalm 7839 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 78:38–43 (ESV)

38 Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath. 39 He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again. 40 How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the desert! 41 They tested God again and again and provoked the Holy One of Israel. 42 They did not remember his power or the day when he redeemed them from the foe, 43 when he performed his signs in Egypt and his marvels in the fields of Zoan.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Bible, especially the Old Testament, records the history of the people of Israel. In that history, we see the people in a pattern of running to God in times of trouble and deserting him in times of ease. Over and over again, the people sin against God. And over and over again, God shows his patience by preserving them and welcoming them back. The grace we see from God is astounding!

As we read the history of Israel, we read our own story. We too are sinners and constantly turn our backs on God. n fact, Scripture tells us that we are all sinners and that we deserve God’s wrath. But Scripture also tells us that God is merciful and gracious towards sinners. Over and over again he welcomes us back. And, because we are all sinners and can not save ourselves, he made salvation possible. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for us by going to the cross and dying in for our sins. He is our substitute. When we acknowledge our sin and trust in Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, we are saved and given eternal life. What a gracious 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!

The Righteous Shall Be Lifted Up

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Reading the Word

Psalm 75:6–10 (ESV)

6 For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, 7 but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another. 8 For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs. 9 But I will declare it forever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. 10 All the horns of the wicked I will cut off, but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When God comes in judgment, no one (not from the east or the west) will be able to exalt himself. It is only God who is able to do that (v. 7). God is the final judge of all humanity and he will pour out the cup of his wrath on the wicked and they will drink it all.

There will be those who sing praises to God because he has lifted them up. God’s word tells us that those who repent of their sin and turn to Christ for forgiveness find reconciliation with God and that he will give them eternal life. In the end, believers will be lifted up and will give praise to God for all of 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!