The Life of Christ in 2019

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Whatever the Lord Pleases

Psalm 1356 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 135:1–12 (ESV)

1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the name of the LORD,
give praise, O servants of the LORD,
2 who stand in the house of the LORD,
in the courts of the house of our God!
3 Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good;
sing to his name, for it is pleasant!
4 For the LORD has chosen Jacob for himself,
Israel as his own possession.

5 For I know that the LORD is great,
and that our Lord is above all gods.
6 Whatever the LORD pleases, he does,
in heaven and on earth,
in the seas and all deeps.
7 He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth,
who makes lightnings for the rain
and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.

8 He it was who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
both of man and of beast;
9 who in your midst, O Egypt,
sent signs and wonders
against Pharaoh and all his servants;
10 who struck down many nations
and killed mighty kings,
11 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
and Og, king of Bashan,
and all the kingdoms of Canaan,
12 and gave their land as a heritage,
a heritage to his people Israel.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The beginning of this psalm is a call to worship. Over and over again we read in the opening verses, “Praise the Lord!” Then in verses 4-5 we are told the reason: God is great and whatever he pleases, he does. This may not seem like a convincing reason to praise God unless we continue reading the following verses. There we are told that God, who is great and above all, is in control of all things and, in his great might, brought the people out of slavery in Egypt.

Power alone is not a reason to praise God. However, God is not just all-powerful. He is righteous and just and loving and gracious. In short, God is good (v. 3). All believers should praise the Lord for his greatness. He has delivered us all from our bondage to sin and death. He did this through his Son, Jesus Christ, who died on a cross to pay the penalty for sin, but rose on the third day victorious over sin and death. Now all believers have victory through Christ and the promise of an eternity with our Lord. Let us praise his name. He is great and he is good!

**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!

Promise Kept

Christmas scene

Reading the Word

Psalm 132:11–18 (ESV)

11 The LORD swore to David a sure oath
from which he will not turn back:
“One of the sons of your body
I will set on your throne.
12 If your sons keep my covenant
and my testimonies that I shall teach them,
their sons also forever
shall sit on your throne.”

13 For the LORD has chosen Zion;
he has desired it for his dwelling place:
14 “This is my resting place forever;
here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
15 I will abundantly bless her provisions;
I will satisfy her poor with bread.
16 Her priests I will clothe with salvation,
and her saints will shout for joy.
17 There I will make a horn to sprout for David;
I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.
18 His enemies I will clothe with shame,
but on him his crown will shine.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

These verses refer to God’s promise to David. The Lord made a covenant promise to David that there would be a descendant of David’s who would reign forever. The promise finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

Jesus, the descendant of David (cf. Matthew 1:1), came into this world as the long-awaited Messiah. Messiah is the title that means “anointed one” and was used as a way to speak of kings because they were anointed as they began to reign. Jesus came as King, but went to the cross to die for his people. He is a King that gave his life so that his people could live. Scripture tells us that Jesus will one day come again. In his return, he will come as a conquering King who will defeat his enemies and sit as their Judge.

God is faithful to his promises. Scripture is a record of the promises he has made and their fulfillment. As we go through this Christmas season, let us remember why we celebrate: Jesus has come into the world. The King has come! God has kept his promise to David. And Jesus has brought salvation to all who believe in his name. What a wonderful and faithful 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!

God’s Dwelling Place

Southwest Corner of the Temple Mount

Southwest corner of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Reading the Word

Psalm 132:1–10 (ESV)

1 Remember, O LORD, in David’s favor,
all the hardships he endured,
2 how he swore to the LORD
and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,
3 “I will not enter my house
or get into my bed,
4 I will not give sleep to my eyes
or slumber to my eyelids,
5 until I find a place for the LORD,
a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

6 Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;
we found it in the fields of Jaar.
7 “Let us go to his dwelling place;
let us worship at his footstool!”

8 Arise, O LORD, and go to your resting place,
you and the ark of your might.
9 Let your priests be clothed with righteousness,
and let your saints shout for joy.
10 For the sake of your servant David,
do not turn away the face of your anointed one.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm speaks of David’s desire to build a temple for God’s dwelling place among the people of Israel. You can read more about this in 2 Samuel 7. The reason David wanted to build such a temple and was willing to put forth the effort to do so was because he wanted God to be near. David desired to dwell in the presence of the Lord.

Like David, we too desire to dwell in the presence of the Lord. However, we do not go to a temple to visit God. That was a temporary arrangement that has been superseded through the work of Jesus Christ in his life, death, and resurrection. Through Jesus, we have direct and immediate access to God the Father. So, we are always in the presence of God in a way that believers in the Old Testament never experienced.

Yet, we still long for more. We long for the day when we will dwell with God and know him face-to-face. That day is still future. The Book of Revelation tells us that one day God will create a new heaven and new earth where he will dwell with his people for all eternity. In Christ, we have immediate access to God today. And, in Christ, we have the promise of dwelling in his presence forever!

**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!

Protector of the Oppressed

silhouette of man

Photo by shahbaz Akram on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Psalm 129:1–8 (ESV)

1 “Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth”—
let Israel now say—
2 “Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth,
yet they have not prevailed against me.
3 The plowers plowed upon my back;
they made long their furrows.”
4 The LORD is righteous;
he has cut the cords of the wicked.
5 May all who hate Zion
be put to shame and turned backward!
6 Let them be like the grass on the housetops,
which withers before it grows up,
7 with which the reaper does not fill his hand
nor the binder of sheaves his arms,
8 nor do those who pass by say,
“The blessing of the LORD be upon you!
We bless you in the name of the LORD!”

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm reflects the words of one who has been freed from oppression. The wicked have “afflicted” the psalmist from his youth, yet God has cut the cords and delivered the oppressed. The wicked are described as those who “hate Zion.” Zion is synonymous with Israel and God’s people, which also means that the oppressors hate God.

God’s people in every age face opposition. As those who represent the Lord and who carry the word of God to the world, the opposition is largely because the world has rejected God. Jesus tells his followers, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”

The Lord is the protector of the righteous and the oppressed. He will deliver his people and the wicked will be judged for their wickedness. Let us continue to trust in him and proclaim the message of Scripture to a world that desperately needs a Savior.

**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!

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!

Redeem Me. Give Me Life.

Psalm 119154 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 119:153–160 (ESV)

153 Look on my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget your law. 154 Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise! 155 Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek your statutes. 156 Great is your mercy, O Lord; give me life according to your rules. 157 Many are my persecutors and my adversaries, but I do not swerve from your testimonies. 158 I look at the faithless with disgust, because they do not keep your commands. 159 Consider how I love your precepts! Give me life according to your steadfast love. 160 The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.

Understanding and Applying the Word

“Plead my cause and deliver me,” says the psalmist. “Give me life according to your promise.” These are the words of one who knows that he cannot save himself, but must rely on the Lord, who is merciful (cf. verse 156).

All of Scripture teaches that all of us have sinned against God and stand condemned. There is nothing that we can do in our own power and ability to repay or make up for our sinfulness. However, God himself has made a way for reconciliation. He has paid the price himself for all who will call out to him for forgiveness. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world as a man, lived a perfect life, and gave himself as a sacrifice for all of mankind. All who trust in his death are forgiven of their sins and given eternal life, not because of anything they have done to earn it, but by the grace of God alone.

The best news is that Jesus, who died for the sins of mankind, later rose from the dead in victory over sin and death. His resurrection proves that his sacrifice was accepted by God and that, through him, we can have victory over sin and death as well. The risen Savior now stands in the presence of the Father and pleads the case for all who trust in him. He pleads our cause and redeems us as his very own, giving us eternal life. What a wonderful Savior we have!

**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!

Longing for Your Salvation

back view hair observing ocean

Photo by Nikolay Draganov on Pexels.com

Reading the Word

Psalm 119:121–128 (ESV)

121 I have done what is just and right; do not leave me to my oppressors. 122 Give your servant a pledge of good; let not the insolent oppress me. 123 My eyes long for your salvation and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise. 124 Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love, and teach me your statutes. 125 I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies! 126 It is time for the Lord to act, for your law has been broken. 127 Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold. 128 Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right; I hate every false way.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The psalmist declares that his “eyes long for your salvation and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise.” He desires that God will come and judge the world with righteousness and justice. The psalmist is facing oppression from those who do not know the Lord or follow the Lord’s word. So, it is time for God to act and save his people.

In every age, the people of God have faced rejection and persecution on some level. Some face mocking and loss of family and friend relationships. Others may face public shaming or ostracism from the community. And some face harsh consequences including imprisonment or death. It is not easy to live out the word of God in our lives. For some, it is extremely difficult.

However, for the believer, we place our hope in the salvation that God has promised to those who trust in him. The Bible tells us that if we trust in the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ for our sins against God we will be saved. Through Christ, our sins are paid for. And for those who trust in the Lord, we receive the promise of an eternity with God in a new heaven and new earth where sin has received its final judgment and is no more. So, we too long for the salvation that God has promised and wait for him to act.

**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!

My Hiding Place

Reading the Word

Psalm 119:113–120 (ESV) 113 I hate the double-minded, but I love your law. 114 You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word. 115 Depart from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commandments of my God. 116 Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope! 117 Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually! 118 You spurn all who go astray from your statutes, for their cunning is in vain. 119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross, therefore I love your testimonies. 120 My flesh trembles for fear of you, and I am afraid of your judgments.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The double-minded, evildoers, and wicked disregard the commands of God. However, those who fear God and his judgments seek to live according to God’s word. In so doing, they find hope and a place of refuge.There are ultimately two ways to live our lives. We can live according to the way we decide or we can live according to what God has said in his word. These options are the same as they have been since the garden of Eden in Genesis 3. There, the first man and woman decided to live their own way and disobey God. Mankind has been in rebellion against God ever since.The world will tell you that it is best and most fulfilling to follow your own path. God’s word tells us that this way is actually the path to destruction, not fulfillment. It is only through God’s word, his instruction to us, that we find hope. It is those who trust in God’s salvation through Jesus Christ that look forward to eternal life. What are you looking for to fulfill you? Turn to God’s word. It is the only place you will find what you seek.**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!

You Have Made Me

clay

Reading the Word

Psalm 119:73–80 (ESV)

73 Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments. 74 Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word. 75 I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me. 76 Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant. 77 Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight. 78 Let the insolent be put to shame, because they have wronged me with falsehood; as for me, I will meditate on your precepts. 79 Let those who fear you turn to me, that they may know your testimonies. 80 May my heart be blameless in your statutes, that I may not be put to shame!

Understanding and Applying the Word

When you use a product, how do you learn to use it to its full potential? You read the manual. The manual is written by the designers of the product and it makes sense that they would know best how to use it.

God has made and fashioned us (cf. verse 73). Therefore, we should pay careful attention to his word to us that tells us how to live. This is why the psalmist desires understanding of God’s word. He wants to put it into practice because it is what is best. And when we live according to God’s word, we become a witness to the world of God’s greatness (verse 74).

Do you want to live a full and meaningful life? You will not find it by chasing after the world’s ideas. You will only find it by living according to God’s word. This is what Jesus meant in Matthew 16:24-25:

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Are you ready to follow the instructions of the One who formed and fashioned you? Commit yourself to reading his word and ask him to teach you his ways. There is nothing more satisfying.

**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!