Our Blessed Hope

Titus 213–14 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Corinthians 1:1–9 (ESV)

1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,
2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Celebrating the advent of Jesus should focus our hopes on the future. Jesus came into the world as a child, lived a sinless life, gave himself as a sacrifice for sinful mankind, died, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. However, that is not the end of Jesus’ work. He has promised to come again. When he returns, he has promised to gather his people to be with him forever in a place without sin and its consequences of pain, suffering, and death. Paul reminds us in our passage for today that we currently wait for that day and that, even now, Jesus is at work in our lives to make sure his people make it to the finish line.

The Bible never promises that life in this world will be easy, not even for the people of God. In fact, it will likely be hard for two reasons: We live in a fallen world where everything is impacted by sin. And we live in a fallen world that is opposed to the things of God. We will face the same difficulties as everyone else and the added difficulty of persecution for belonging to Jesus. However, unlike the world, we have the blessed hope of Jesus’ return and an eternal home with him. That is enough for today and every day!

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Hope Came As a Baby

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Reading the Word

Hebrews 2:14–15 (ESV)

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

Understanding and Applying the Word

It is not enough at Christmas to only think about the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. Those are surely important, but we must also think about why he was born. Why did Jesus come into the world?

Hebrews 2:14-15 gives us a short and simple explanation. Jesus came into the world to save us from slavery to sin and death. He came into the world to die for us because, in his death and resurrection, he defeated the power that death had over us.

Enjoy this time of the year. Wonder at the depictions of Jesus in a manger. But do not stop there. Consider that the Son of God was born into this world to die so that we might live. Christmas brings hope to a world in desperate need and hope came as a baby.

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Our Soul Waits for the Lord

Psalm 3320 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 33:1–22 (ESV)

1 Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
2 Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

4 For the word of the LORD is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
5 He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.

6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;
he puts the deeps in storehouses.

8 Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.

10 The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!

13 The LORD looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
15 he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
16 The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.

18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.

20 Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The psalmist calls us to shout for joy to the LORD, to praise him, and give thanks. Why? Because God’s word is trustworthy. God has given his word to his people and we can know that he is faithful to fulfill that word. It is the same word that spoke the world into existence and it is from the same God who rules over all things. Therefore, we wait for the LORD, who is our hope and shield and we trust in his name. He is our hope.

If you have ever asked “Why is this happening to me?” or wondered if God as forgotten you, this psalm is for you. It is a reminder to us all that God’s word is secure and that we can count on it. The promises that God has made in Scripture to his people will be fulfilled. So we can be encouraged that God has not forgotten us. He is the God of steadfast love and will deliver his people.

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Quiet Confidence

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Reading the Word

Matthew 27:11–14 (ESV)

11 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” 12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Parallel Text: Mark 15:2-5

Understanding and Applying the Word

Pilate was amazed as he questioned Jesus. He was amazed because of the outrage of the religious leaders. How could Jesus cause such heated feelings that these men would want him put to death? He was also amazed because Jesus remained calm and collected even in the midst of the accusations and looming condemnation. How could Jesus seem so confident during all of this?

In the eye of the storm that was raging around him, Jesus stood confidently trusting in the Father. Jesus knew he was going to the cross. He knew that he had to die. He did not panic. He did not plead for his life to be spared. He stood in quiet confidence. This amazed Pilate.

Believers should also be marked by confidence. We may face difficult things in life, but we know what the future holds and it is good. It is very good. We will be with the Lord forever in a world without sin and suffering and death. We are confident because we trust in the plans and purposes of God. Our confidence should be something that others notice about us. As Peter wrote in his letter:

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:14–15, ESV)

Let us go forward in confidence, proclaiming the goodness of God and trusting in the future he has promised.

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A Greater Hope in Christ

Weathered Cross Title

Reading the Word

Mark 9:30–32 (ESV)

30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.

Parallel Texts: Matthew 17:22-23; Luke 9:43-45

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus was spending time with his disciples and trying to stay away from the crowds because he wanted time to teach his disciples and prepare them for the days ahead. Jesus had already told them that he was going to die (Mark 8:31), but the disciples continued to miss this. Luke’s account tells us that this teaching was concealed from them, indicating that God’s sovereign purposes were in action.

Jesus not only told the disciples of his coming death, but also of the resurrection. The point in telling the disciples these things is so they would know that these things happened in accord with God’s plans and purposes and so they would be encouraged when the events transpired. However, they did not understand and were afraid to ask Jesus to clarify.

For Jesus to say that he was going to die seemed to go against everything that the disciples understood about the Messiah. In their understanding, the Messiah was going to come and set up a political kingdom and reign over a restored Israel. How could Jesus do that if he was dead? Jesus’ death would mean the end of their hopes.

In reality, the death and resurrection of Jesus is precisely the thing that brings true hope to mankind. His death was the payment for our sin and his resurrection assures us that sin and death have been conquered and that Jesus truly is who he claimed to be: the Son of God. This means that his promise of eternal life to all who trust in him is for real. Have you trusted in the risen Son of God?

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The Lord Is Righteous and Kind

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Reading the Word

Psalm 145:10–21 (ESV)

10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD,
and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The LORD is faithful in all his words
and kind in all his works.
14 The LORD upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
18 The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
20 The LORD preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

21 My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD,
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm proclaims the Lord’s goodness and tells us why he is deserving of praise. The Lord lifts up those who are low, he provides food to all, he is near to those who call, and he saves those who cry out to him. He does what is right and he is kind in all he does.

As we reflect on the words of this psalm it is Christmas Eve. This is a wonderful time of the year to reflect on God’s righteousness and goodness. Christmas is the time of the year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is through Christ that we find salvation from our sin and hope for the future. It is at this time of the year when we can especially see that the Lord is truly righteous and kind in all he does. Let us remember to give him the praise he deserves.

**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.

How Shall We Sing?

book music music book musical notes

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Reading the Word

Psalm 137:1–9 (ESV)
1 By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
2 On the willows there
we hung up our lyres.
3 For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

4 How shall we sing the LORD’s song
in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget its skill!
6 Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy!

7 Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites
the day of Jerusalem,
how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare,
down to its foundations!”
8 O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed,
blessed shall he be who repays you
with what you have done to us!
9 Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones
and dashes them against the rock!

Understanding and Applying the Word

This is a sad psalm. We read words reflecting on the feelings of those Israelites who were taken into exile by the Babylonians. We read of their heartache and tears. Their captors called on them to sing their songs, but they have no desire to sing. How can they sing when they are away from Jerusalem and the presence of God? The final verses turn to calling on God to avenge his people and execute justice against the Babylonians.

Living in this world, Christians find themselves as exiles. We live among those who are not God’s people and who are opposed to God’s word. In many places and across history, many believers have suffered great injustice at the hands of those opposed to Christianity. When we see or hear of these things, our hearts break and we call out to God. We call out because we desire for the sin of this world to be removed and we cry out for God to execute justice on behalf of the innocent. Let us continue to sing the songs of our great Redeemer as we wait for him.

**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!

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.

I Lift Up My Eyes

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental content on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. If you have not already done so, please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day.

Reading the Word

Psalm 123 (ESV)

1 “To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!

2 Behold, as the eyes of servants
look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maidservant
to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
till he has mercy upon us.

3 Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.

4 Our soul has had more than enough
of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud.”

I Hope in Your Words

Psalm 119147 [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 reading from Scripture. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are currently reading through the Book of Psalms.

Reading the Word

Psalm 119:145–152 (ESV)

145 With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord! I will keep your statutes. 146 I call to you; save me, that I may observe your testimonies. 147 I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. 148 My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise. 149 Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O Lord, according to your justice give me life. 150 They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose; they are far from your law. 151 But you are near, O Lord, and all your commandments are true. 152 Long have I known from your testimonies that you have founded them forever.