God Is Our Salvation

Psalm 625 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 62:5–8 (ESV)

5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7 On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

We live at a time in history when technology and scientific advancement seem to be exploding. We have cars and airplanes, computers and smartphones, satellites and rocket ships, as well as medicines and surgical procedures for our illnesses and injuries. It may seem like we have the answer to almost every question. With all of our advances and knowledge, we may be tempted to think that mankind has the ability to solve every problem and do not need help.

It does not take much to remind us that we are still finite beings with much that we still do not understand and that we are powerless to control. Just look at any natural disaster for an example. Look at the current Covid-19 pandemic. The whole world has been thrown into turmoil and many lives have been lost. The whole world is working to understand the virus and to find a vaccine to stop it. And there are still many questions that simply do not have answers. But believers know where our hope rests. It is not in the power of mankind. Let this time be a reminder to us that, as the psalmist says, “On God rests my salvation and my glory.”

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.


Are you a writer who might be interested in writing for Shaped by the Word? I am looking for other contributors who would like to contribute to this page. Contact me through the page contact form for more information. Thanks!

Hope in a Hopeless World

1 Thessalonians 414 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 (ESV)

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As a pastor, this passage is very familiar. It is a passage that I turn to again and again to give comfort to the grieving when a loved one has died. Paul tells us that Christians should not grieve like the world. We do not grieve as those who have no hope. This is true because we know that Christ died and rose again and has promised that all of his followers would be resurrected just as he was. There is coming a day when all believers will be together with Jesus forever. So, we may grieve when a fellow Christian has died, but we know our time apart is only temporary. We have hope.

The secular world has no hope. In a world where there is no God and no afterlife, everything is meaningless. Some try to take away the sting by saying you live for your children or to be remembered well or to leave the world a better place. However, what will all of that matter in the future when the sun has burned itself out and the earth is a cold rock? None of it will matter and none of it will be remembered. In a world without God, death marks the end of a meaningless existence. Now is all there is. Grief is all there is.

Remember Jesus and the resurrection. It changes everything and gives hope to the grieving heart.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

What Salvation Means for Today

glory to god book

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Romans 5:1–5 (ESV)

1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Book of Romans teaches clearly that all people are saved by grace through faith. We are all sinners and our works are insufficient to save us. We must be justified in some other manner. Paul tells us that we are justified by faith in what Jesus Christ has done for us.

In Romans 5, we read of three important truths that result from our justification. The first is that we are now at peace with God. We go from being under his wrath to being at peace. We are no longer God’s enemies, but his friends! The second thing resulting from our justification is that we have the “hope of the glory of God.” This speaks of the future hope that belongs to all of God’s people in eternity. We will be in God’s presence and we will be made new along with all of creation to reflect the glory of God as we intended to before we sinned. And the last thing our justification means is that we can face our present sufferings with rejoicing. We know that the hardships we face in this life serve to focus our eyes on the future and the Savior who died for us.

Every day is an opportunity to praise the One who saved us by his grace and who promises a glorious future for all who believe.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

Praying for Open Doors

Colossians 42 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Colossians 4:2–6 (ESV)

2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Paul asked the believers at Colossae to pray for him. He was not asking for them to pray for his health or safety. Those things were not his primary concern. Paul wanted prayer for his missionary efforts. He wanted prayers for open doors to preach the word of God. He wanted to clearly preach the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ so that people would hear and believe.

Let us join in praying for open doors for the gospel and let us “continue steadfastly” in this prayer. We are currently living through circumstances with COVID-19 that I believe is an open door. Our neighbors are fearful of the future. Let us pray and then let us take the message of Jesus Christ to a world that is hurting and searching for a foundation to stand on. The gospel is the message of hope that people need right now.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

My Help Comes from the Lord

silhouette photography of person standing on green grass in front of mountains during golden hour

Photo by Simon Migaj on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Psalm 121:1–8 (ESV)

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm pictures a battle where the writer is engaged in a fight and in need of help. He looks to the hills because help is on the way. Who is his help? The Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth! Victory is sure and the future is secure.

As followers of Christ, we know that help is always present. Our God is ever-present and all-powerful. He will never leave us alone and he is always working or us. He is the sovereign King of all the earth. We can face our circumstances with confidence knowing that the victory is sure and our future is secure because the Lord goes with us and fights for us. What trouble are you facing? Know that the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth, is with you.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

 

Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul?

monochrome photo of woman sitting on floor

Photo by Emre Kuzu on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Psalm 43:1–5 (ESV)

1 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
deliver me!
2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?

3 Send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!
4 Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.

5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this psalm, the writer is in distress. There is mention of unjust treatment, deceit, and oppression. This has resulted in the psalmist feeling rejected and being in a state of mourning. The writer calls out for God to grant deliverance, so he can go to the altar and worship.

The last verse is the one we need to focus on. The psalmist asks, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” When we trust in God, we have no reason to feel defeated or hopeless. We are assured that he will save us for himself. We will be with him because Christ has already defeated our enemies on our behalf. We will praise him again.

Whatever your circumstances, fellow believer, know that you belong to God and he will fulfill his promises to you. He will save you and you will praise him for his glory, love, and grace. One day, we will all stand before his throne and lift our voices in praise together because he is our salvation.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

Taste and See that the Lord Is Good

Psalm 348 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 34:8–10 (ESV)

8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
9 Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

Understanding and Applying the Word

A friend of mine lost his wife just a few days ago. I attended the funeral service today. It was a beautiful tribute to a woman who loved the Lord, her husband, and her family and friends. She left a wonderful legacy.

In the service, I was touched by the words shared by her children and her husband. They expressed that they would miss her and that her absence would be hard. But they also expressed their confidence in where she is now and the hope they have in a future reunion. Their confidence and hope are present in the face of death because they know the Lord and they know he is good. This family has experienced God’s goodness in their lives as he has walked alongside them in the past. Now, they continue to trust in him as they walk into the future. Knowing the Lord does not mean that nothing bad will ever come our way. It will. However, knowing the Lord does mean that our God is with us and we can lean on him and his promises. Today was a wonderful reminder to me that God is good.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

Suffering with Hope

Revelation 214 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 8:18–25 (ESV)

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This life has its share of suffering. We will all face it to one degree or another. We will all face sickness, being hurt by others, being treated unfairly, the death of those we love, and our own deaths. These things are part of the common plight of mankind. However, the suffering we face now is nothing in comparison to the glory that is to come!

Yesterday, we looked at Hebrews 11:1, which says that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for.” As we go through life, with all of its bumps and bruises, we do so with our eyes to the future. We know what God has already done in the past. That is our assurance that he will fulfill his promises for the future. Jesus Christ did not come into the world to suffer, die, and rise again if he did not intend to keep his word to his people! We know the future is bright because we know the one who holds the future and he has promised a new heaven and new earth with no more pain or sorrow or suffering. Are you hurting? Call out to the Lord and know that your pain is temporary. The future is glorious!

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

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!

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

Hope Came As a Baby

art artistic black and white blank

Photo by Lynnelle Richardson on Pexels.com

 

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.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.