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Reading the Word

Psalm 106:32–39 (ESV)

32 They angered him at the waters of Meribah, and it went ill with Moses on their account, 33 for they made his spirit bitter, and he spoke rashly with his lips. 34 They did not destroy the peoples, as the Lord commanded them, 35 but they mixed with the nations and learned to do as they did. 36 They served their idols, which became a snare to them. 37 They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; 38 they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood. 39 Thus they became unclean by their acts, and played the whore in their deeds.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Israelites grumbled and complained about many things as God led them out of Egypt. One of those things was water. Moses, who became angry with the people, spoke harshly with them as he struck a rock, which God had provided to produce water for the people. As a result, Moses was not permitted to enter the Promised Land. Afterwards, when the people did finally enter the land, they were disobedient and intermingled with the people of the land. They began to worship the idols of the Canaanites.

God’s instruction for Israel was to remain distinct from the other people of the world. Why? So that the Israelites might be a witness to the one true God. They were to live differently so that the surrounding nations would quickly notice that they worshiped YHWH and not one of the pagan idols. Unfortunately, the Israelites adopted the ways of the people and struggled to be a witness to the world.

We often fail just like the Israelites. We are to be holy and distinct, but our lives are often much like everyone else’s. Let us pray that God would help us to live in such a way that everyone knows that we belong to him and so that we can have an effective witness in our world.

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Holy Is He!

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Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish devotional material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested reading for the day. Thank you for reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day as we read through the Book of Psalms in 2018.

Reading the Word

Psalm 99:1–5 (ESV)

1 The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! 2 The Lord is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples. 3 Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is he! 4 The King in his might loves justice. You have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. 5 Exalt the Lord our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he!

The Lord Leads the Humble


Reading the Word

Psalm 25:8–14 (ESV)

8 Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. 9 He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. 10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. 11 For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great. 12 Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. 13 His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. 14 The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Humility is not easy. It requires us to admit that we do not know it all. It also requires us to admit that we need help. This psalm teaches us that it is the humble that the Lord instructs and leads. The proud do not receive instruction nor are they willing to follow.

For those who are able to turn to God, he offers to teach them what is right and instruct them in the choices they should make. The Bible tells us that when we turn to God in faith that we are given new life through the work of the Holy Spirit and that God begins to work in us to transform us into people who love what is pure and holy. And one day all of God’s people will be with him for eternity and our transformation will be complete. There will be no more sin and the children of God will be holy as he is holy.

**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!

Clean Hands

I do not publish devotional content on Sundays, but I do include a suggested reading that will continue to take us through the Book of Psalms in 2018. Thanks for reading and, if you have not already, be sure to subscribe so you can follow along throughout the entire year.

pexels-photo-296282.jpegReading the Word

Psalm 18:20–27 (ESV)

20 The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me. 21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God. 22 For all his rules were before me, and his statutes I did not put away from me. 23 I was blameless before him, and I kept myself from my guilt. 24 So the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight. 25 With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; 26 with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous. 27 For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down.

God Is Light

1 John 15 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 John 1:5–10 (ESV)

5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Understanding the Word

In the previous verses, John spoke of bringing people into fellowship with God through the proclamation of the gospel. In these verses, he begins to talk about what true fellowship with God looks like.

John tells us first that God is light. By this he speaks of God’s purity and holiness. If we are in fellowship with the one who is light, then it is impossible to continue to walk in darkness. Darkness is here used to speak of sin. You simply cannot have fellowship with the light if you live your life in darkness. The two do not go together.

Applying the Word

The book of 1 John gives us a series of tests to help us determine if we really belong to God or not (1 John 5:13). This first test asks if we are still living in the same sinful way we did before we heard the gospel message. If we are still living in sin, we do not have a relationship with God. If we say we do, we are lying to ourselves and others.

It is important to understand that John is not saying that true believers will not sin. He is clear that we will (1 John 1:9). Thankfully, we have a God who is forgiving when we confess our sins. However, a life unchanged and characterized by sinfulness is a life that has no fellowship with the God who is light. May we acknowledge our sin and turn to the one who is able to save us and give us new life.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. You can subscribe to this page by using the links to the right. You can also share this post with your friends on social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Suffering Like Christ


Reading the Word

1 Peter 4:1–6 (ESV)

1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

Understanding the Word

What does Peter mean when he says “arm yourselves with the same way of thinking”?

He is referring to Christ’s suffering on the cross at Calvary for the sins of mankind. Why did he suffer? To fulfill the will of the Father. Peter is calling believers to do the same. We are to suffer, if need be, to fulfill the will of the God in our lives.

What is that will? That we would live holy, sanctified lives no longer controlled by our sinful passions.

Applying the Word

Doing the right thing is not always the easy thing. Sometimes it leads to suffering. You may lose a friend, or a job, or fail a test. You may be mocked, or made fun of, or laughed at. You may be called ignorant, or a bigot, or out of touch. In the history of Christianity, some have even been imprisoned or killed for standing up for what is right.

But that is what we are called to do. We are to live for the will of God, even if we must endure difficulty as a result. By doing so we follow the example of Christ and we please God. May we not look for the easy way, but the right way.

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You Shall Be Holy

1 Peter 116 [widescreen]Reading the Word

1 Peter 1:13–21 (ESV)

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Understanding the Word

The Apostle Peter writes this letter to a church that is facing persecution. He hopes to encourage his readers to stand firm in their faith by reminding them of the hope that awaits them.

What is he calling them to do? He is calling them to “be holy” in their conduct. Peter is calling this group of believers to live lives that reflect the holiness of their Lord. What does this mean? To be “holy” means to be “set apart” or to be different than the world around you. It means to do the right thing even when everyone else is doing something else. It means to live a godly life in the midst of ungodliness.

Peter then goes on to remind his readers that they have been ransomed from their former way of living through the blood of Christ. The price of redemption was great so how could they simply go back to living the way they used to?

Applying the Word

Christians today live in a world that is not unlike that of Peter’s. It is full of ungodliness. In fact, this has been the case since the fall of mankind that we read about in Genesis 3. Unfortunately, it is often easy for us to fall into the habit of doing things just like everybody else, especially when we believe we have been treated unfairly.

Think about Peter’s audience. They are facing persecution for simply being followers of Jesus Christ. Many have been imprisoned or even killed! You can imagine how these believers might want to respond to these things. They would like to fight back!

But that is not what Peter tells them to do. He tells them to live holy lives. In the midst of the injustice, they are to live lives that reflect truth, justice, and love for others. They are to do what is right in God’s eyes.

We are not to live like the world. We are to be like the one to whom we belong. We are to be holy just as He is holy.

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