Good News for the Poor

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Reading the Word

Luke 4:16–30 (ESV)

16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘ “Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’ ” 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus returned to Nazereth, where he had been brought up, he had already begun his public ministry in Capernaum. When he arrived in Nazareth, he already had a reputation as a healer due to the works he had performed in Capernaum. This is likely why he was invited to speak at the synagogue in Nazareth.

Jesus read from Isaiah 61 then sat down to teach. Was this reading scheduled to be read on this day? Did Jesus select this passage on his own? We do not know, but it is an incredible passage concerning the ministry of the Messiah. So, when Jesus told the people that the passage had been fulfilled in their midst, he was making a claim to be the Messiah. They wondered how this could be possible since they knew he was the carpenter’s son.

Jesus predicted that the people would call on him to perform in Nazareth the healings he had done in Capernaum. After all, should not the hometown folks benefit if anyone is going to benefit? In response, Jesus reflected on incidents in the Old Testament where God’s favor had fallen on select people, even non-Jews, while many others had not received such grace. In saying this, Jesus was telling the Jewish people that his ministry was not solely, or even primarily for the Jewish people, but for both Jew and Gentile. As a result, the people wanted to seize him and thrown him off of a cliff, but he escaped from them.

How do we respond when others are shown grace? How would you feel if the neighbor you do not get along with, or the co-worker who is always causing problems, or your worst enemy showed up at church? How would you feel if they turned to Christ in saving faith? Would you rejoice? Or, would you wonder how God could show favor to “those people”? Let us remember that Jesus came to save the lost, whoever they may be, and let us give thanks for the grace we have received as well as the grace God shows to others.

**Read through the Life of Christ in 2019 by following along with Shaped by the Word. Just subscribe to this page and be sure to read along every day!

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For Your Name’s Sake

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Reading the Word

Psalm 143:1–12 (ESV)

1 Hear my prayer, O LORD;
give ear to my pleas for mercy!
In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
2 Enter not into judgment with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you.

3 For the enemy has pursued my soul;
he has crushed my life to the ground;
he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.
4 Therefore my spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is appalled.

5 I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands.
6 I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

7 Answer me quickly, O LORD!
My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,
lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.

9 Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD!
I have fled to you for refuge.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
on level ground!

11 For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life!
In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
12 And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies,
and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul,
for I am your servant.

Understanding and Applying the Word

David is in trouble and needs God to rescue him. However, David knows that he does not deserve God’s mercy because he is unrighteous, as we all are (verse 2). So, David pleads for God to rescue him, not based on what he has done, but for the sake of the Lord’s name (verse 11).

David understood that all things ultimately point to God. It is God who judges sin and it is God who saves from sin. In judgment and in salvation, the Lord’s name is glorified. He is upheld as holy and he is upheld as merciful and forgiving. We must never believe that we somehow earn God’s favor through the works we do. We are saved completely by grace as we understand our sin, repent of it, and trust in Jesus Christ for forgiveness (Ephesians 2:8-9). Is is truly all for the sake of the Lord’s name.

**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.

The God Who Delivers from Death

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Reading the Word

Psalm 116:1–11 (ESV)

1 I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. 2 Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. 3 The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. 4 Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!” 5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful. 6 The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. 7 Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. 8 For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; 9 I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living. 10 I believed, even when I spoke: “I am greatly afflicted”; 11 I said in my alarm, “All mankind are liars.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

How do we respond when God delivers us? In this psalm, we read the words of one who is overflowing with thanksgiving to God. It is God who has responded to his cries for mercy. The psalmist was either close to death or was greatly troubled (cf. verses 3 and 8), but God showed his grace.

All who have trusted in Jesus Christ have a reason to rejoice and overflow with thanksgiving to God. It is by God’s grace towards us that we are saved from the penalty of our sin. Our sin condemns us, but through Christ we find forgiveness. We deserve death, but God graciously gives us life. He is a great God. Let us tell of his greatness!

**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 Raises Up the Needy

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Reading the Word

Psalm 107:33–43 (ESV)

33 He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, 34 a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants. 35 He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. 36 And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; 37 they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield. 38 By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their livestock diminish. 39 When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, evil, and sorrow, 40 he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes; 41 but he raises up the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flocks. 42 The upright see it and are glad, and all wickedness shuts its mouth. 43 Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these final verse of Psalm 107 we read of how God deals with two contrasting groups of people. Those who are evil are punished for their ways. Those who are needy and oppressed find God ready to save.

God is a God of steadfast love. He stands ready to show his grace and mercy to those who call out to him. We see his love on display in its greatest way in the cross of Calvary. God sent his own Son into the world to suffer and die for our salvation and all who call out to Christ in faith will be saved. Consider God’s great love and grace towards us And let us respond in thanksgiving and praise.

**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!

Out of Darkness

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Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish devotional content on Sundays, but do include a Scripture reading. Please subscribe to this page so you ca follow along each day. We are currently reading through the Book of Psalms.

Reading the Word

Psalm 107:10–16 (ESV)

10 Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, 11 for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. 12 So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help. 13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. 15 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! 16 For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.

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.

**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 Lord’s Protection

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Shaped by the Word is devoted to encouraging others to read the Bible every day. If you would like to read along with us, please subscribe to this page. We are reading through the Psalms in 2018. I only include a portion of Scripture on Sundays. All other days include a Scripture reading and a short devotional. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Psalm 105:12–15 (ESV)

12 When they were few in number, of little account, and sojourners in it, 13 wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people, 14 he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account, 15 saying, “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!”

As Far as the East Is from the West

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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!

Establish the Work of Our Hands

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Thank you for reading Shaped by the Word, a daily Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish devotional content on Sundays, but I do include a suggested reading from Scripture. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can read along with us each day. We are currently reading through the Book of Psalms.

Reading the Word

Psalm 90:13–17 (ESV)

13 Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants! 14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. 16 Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. 17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!

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!