God Keeps His Promises

Reading the Word

Luke 1:67–79 (ESV)
67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,
68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Understanding the Word

Advent is a time to remember Christ’s first appearance in the world and to look ahead to his return. As we think about the birth of Christ at this time of year, it is a reminder that God keeps his promises. At the birth of John the Baptist, his father rejoiced. Why? Because John the Baptist came into the world as the fulfillment of God’s word found in Malachi 3:1 and Malachi 4:5-6. John was the promised forerunner who was to prepare the way for Jesus Christ.

When Zechariah understood what was taking place, he praised God with the words we read from Luke. His words of praise were because he trusted in God’s promises and now they were being fulfilled. He proclaimed, ““Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.” The Messiah was coming into the world, just as God had said.

As we celebrate Christmas and Jesus Christ’s arrival in the world, let us be encouraged that God keeps his word. Jesus came just as the prophets said he would. He will come again just as God’s word tells us. We celebrate that Jesus came and we look forward to his future return. Praise God!


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Looking for Justice

Reading the Word

Isaiah 9:6–7 (ESV)
6  For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7  Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We are entering the season of Advent. This is a time of the year when Christians reflect on Christ’s coming into the world over two thousand years ago and also look forward to the day when he will come again. The word of God tells us that when Christ returns and sets up his kingdom, it will be a time of peace and justice as the King of kings rules over all. We currently live in a world with much turmoil and injustice as we and our rulers are influenced and motivated by our sinfulness. What a day it will be when there is truly justice for all.

Leading up to Christmas, we will continue to look at Jesus’ birth and what it means for us. Be sure to subscribe so you can follow along. Consider sharing these posts with your friends to encourage them this holiday season.

Tell of All His Wondrous Works!

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do included a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Psalm 105:1–6 (ESV)

1 Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
3 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
4 Seek the LORD and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
5 Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
6 O offspring of Abraham, his servant,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones!

His Love Endures Forever

Reading the Word

Psalm 107:1–3 (ESV)

1 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble
3 and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Once again, we read a psalm with a call to give thanks to the Lord. This psalm focuses our attention on the steadfast love of God. This refers to his covenant faithfulness. God promised his people that he would always be with them and never fail to fulfill his promises. In the context of Psalm 107, God demonstrates his steadfast love by rescuing his people from trouble. Over and over throughout this psalm, the people call out to the Lord and he responds by delivering them.

The redeemed of the Lord have much to be thankful for. We have been delivered! We called out to God to save us from our sins and he did that. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us so that we could go free. May we remember God’s steadfast love for us this Thanksgiving season and pause to give him thanks!


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Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving

Reading the Word

Psalm 100:1–5 (ESV)

1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

3 Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5 For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As we continue to think about reasons to be thankful, Psalm 100 is a passage we cannot miss. This psalm calls on “all the earth” to come before the Lord with praise and singing. God is our Creator and we belong to him. He is a good God who shows his steadfast love to us. He stands by us even when we are not very lovable.

The steadfast love of God is on display throughout Scripture. Sinful mankind continually rebels against him, but God shows grace over and over again. His love is so great towards us that he sent his Son into the world to save us. Romans 5:8 states:

but God shows his love for us in that while we still sinners, Christ died for us.

This is truly something to be thankful for. Our Creator has not abandoned us, but still loves us and has sent his Son into the world to save us. What a great God!


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Wait for the Lord

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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I Will Give Thanks to the Lord

Reading the Word

Psalm 9:1–20 (ESV)
1 I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
2 I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
3 When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before your presence.
4 For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment.
5 You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish; you have blotted out their name forever and ever.
6 The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins; their cities you rooted out; the very memory of them has perished.
7 But the LORD sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice,
8 and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness.
9 The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
11 Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds!
12 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.
13 Be gracious to me, O LORD! See my affliction from those who hate me, O you who lift me up from the gates of death,
14 that I may recount all your praises, that in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in your salvation.
15 The nations have sunk in the pit that they made; in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught.
16 The LORD has made himself known; he has executed judgment; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion. Selah
17 The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God.
18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.
19 Arise, O LORD! Let not man prevail; let the nations be judged before you!
20 Put them in fear, O LORD! Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm is a praise of God’s deliverance of Israel from their enemies. The writer states in the opening that he will “give thanks to the LORD” with his “whole heart” and “recount all of your wonderful deeds.”

Praise is always a response to something. When we praise God, it is because of who he is or what he has done, either in the past, the present, or promised future. We should especially focus our praise on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the focal point of all of Scripture. Yet, we often fail to remember the things God has done for us, so we fail to praise him as we ought. We fail to see the little things that transpire each and every day or we fail to see God’s hand at work in those little things. Take time today to think about how God has shown his goodness to you. He has done so in Christ and he has done so in so many smaller ways. Take time to praise him with thanksgiving.


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Joy Comes with the Morning

Reading the Word

Psalm 30:1–12 (ESV)
1 I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
2 O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.
3 O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.
4 Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.
5 For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
6 As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.”
7 By your favor, O LORD, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed.
8 To you, O LORD, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
9 “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me! O LORD, be my helper!”
11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
12 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Understanding and Applying the Word

Psalm 30 is a psalm of David where David praises and gives thanks to God for delivering him throughout his life. He was delivered from his foes (v. 1), from sickness (v. 2), and even from death (v. 3). David calls on all of God’s people to give thanks because “weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” God’s people may face trials and difficult circumstances, but we know that God is faithful and we will be delivered. One day, all of God’s people will be with him forever and the pain and suffering of this life will be finished. Therefore, we can give thanks even now.

Wherever you are and whatever you may be facing, know that God is faithful and will fulfill his promises to his people. We may face difficulty. We may face weeping for a night. But we know that deliverance is near. Joy comes in the morning. One day, we will proclaim with the psalmist, “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praises and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”


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The Great Shepherd

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 be sure to subscribe to this page to follow along every day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Ezekiel 34:11–16 (ESV)

11 “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.

Rock

Today’s post is part of our Psalm Saturdays series from guest blogger Robert Chamberlain.

Psalm 144:1–15 (ESV)
1 Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;
2 he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.
3 O LORD, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him?
4 Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.
5 Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke!
6 Flash forth the lightning and scatter them; send out your arrows and rout them!
7 Stretch out your hand from on high; rescue me and deliver me from the many waters, from the hand of foreigners,
8 whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
9 I will sing a new song to you, O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,
10 who gives victory to kings, who rescues David his servant from the cruel sword.
11 Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners, whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
12 May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace;
13 may our granaries be full, providing all kinds of produce; may our sheep bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our fields;
14 may our cattle be heavy with young, suffering no mishap or failure in bearing; may there be no cry of distress in our streets!
15 Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall! Blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!


The Lord is our rock, our love, our fortress, our stronghold, our deliverer, our shield, and our refuge. He is all we need. In Him we have the victory.

When we consider how great God is and how bad we are, it’s amazing to think that He has regard for the likes of you and I. We are a moment, He is forever. We long for God to break into our earthly existence, to rescue and deliver us.

There’s always room for new songs of praise to God. We should sing to celebrate the victory God gives us in Him. We want God to rescue us from our enemies.

We want God to bless our families, our work and our communities. We’re blessed by the sunshine and smile of God’s favour. We’re blessed to be people whose God is the Lord.
“O Lord, how we praise You for all that You are to us, and for all the blessings You bestow upon us. Please grant us victory over our enemies, in Jesus’ name, amen.”

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