Do Not Forget to Enjoy Life

Reading the Word

Ecclesiastes 6:1–6 (ESV)
1 There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy on mankind:
2 a man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God does not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity; it is a grievous evil.
3 If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life’s good things, and he also has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he.
4 For it comes in vanity and goes in darkness, and in darkness its name is covered.
5 Moreover, it has not seen the sun or known anything, yet it finds rest rather than he.
6 Even though he should live a thousand years twice over, yet enjoy no good—do not all go to the one place?

Understanding and Applying the Word

Here we continue to read of the insufficiency of money and wealth to bring us fulfillment. We read of one who had all he desired, but was not able to enjoy what he had. He even had a large family and lived a long life, but was never satisfied. When he died, he was not remembered and he received no burial. Solomon tells us, “I say that a stillborn child is better off than he.”

A stillborn child never has to face the disappointments and cruelty of life. If there is not joy in a life that eventually ends in death, what is the point of it all? Solomon tells us that such a life is a great evil. The wonderful thing about life, even though it is filled with many difficulties, is that it has many wonderful and enjoyable aspects. We can enjoy our loved ones. We can take in the beauty of the created world. We can eat our favorite foods and gaze out at the stars at night. We can smell the flowers. There are so many things to enjoy, including the wealth that God gives us. Let us not forget to enjoy life. After all, it is a gift from God.


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The God-Centered Life is Joyful

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 I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading.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

Ecclesiastes 5:18–20 (ESV)
18 Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.
19 Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God.
20 For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.

Joy Inexpressible

1 Peter 18–9 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Peter 1:3–9 (ESV)

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Understanding and Applying the Word

O the future that awaits the people of God! It is beyond our comprehension how wonderful it will be. Christ’s resurrection from the dead assures us that his promise of eternal life is true. We will be with our Lord for eternity! No matter what we may face now, we are assured that there is a glorious future and we can “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible.”

As those who belong to Christ and who have an inheritance that can never be taken away, we should be the most joyous people around. We have been given a wonderful gift. We have received the promise of eternal life in a world without sin and death and pain and suffering. The Son of God loves us and died for us to bring us life. Let us rejoice in our Savior and our future!

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The Difference a Few Days Can Make

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Reading the Word

John 16:16–22 (ESV)

16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus told his disciples of his coming death and resurrection, but they did not understand him. He told them, “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” They would not see him because he would be dead and buried. However, they would see him again as he would be resurrected on the third day. The disciples would weep over Jesus’ death while the world celebrated that he was gone, but the disciples would experience great joy when they saw him alive again!

Imagine the emotional roller coaster that the disciples experienced when Jesus was first crucified and buried, but then rose from the dead. At his crucifixion, the disciples would have felt that the time they had spent with Jesus was all for nothing. They thought he was the promised Messiah, but now he was dead and nothing had changed. Then, when they saw him alive again, there would have been great joy and final confirmation that Jesus was who he had claimed to be.

The disciples were so emboldened by the resurrection that they went into the world telling everyone about it. They proclaimed the name of Jesus at the cost of beatings, imprisonments, and death. Why were they so driven and willing to die? Because they knew that Jesus had changed the world. He had made forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God possible. They had to preach this news! It was too important to keep quiet. We too should be emboldened because our Savior is risen! Christ has come and his life, death, and resurrection have changed everything. The news is too good to stay quiet.

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Praise the Lord for His Word

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Reading the Word

Psalm 147:12–20 (ESV)

12 Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your children within you.
14 He makes peace in your borders;
he fills you with the finest of the wheat.
15 He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16 He gives snow like wool;
he scatters frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
who can stand before his cold?
18 He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
19 He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and rules to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his rules.
Praise the LORD!

Understanding and Applying the Word

Yesterday we looked at the first half of this psalm. Today, we look at the second half. The theme of the psalm continues to be why God is worthy of our praise. However, in today’s verses the reasons are different. The Lord is worthy of praise because he protects his people, he provides for his people, and he gives his law to his people.

The first two reasons seem simple enough, but why should we offer praise for the law? Does not the law limit us and rob us of joy? That is certainly the way some look at it. However, that is not how we should think of God’s law. It does not limit our joy, but tells us how to find true joy. It does not take away from our lives, but tells us how to live life to the full. Our Creator has given us his word and it tells us how we should live to both glorify him and find the greatest fulfillment in our lives. Let us praise him for his wonderful gift!

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The Lord Has Done Great Things for Us

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Reading the Word

Psalm 126:1–6 (ESV)

1  When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2  Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
3  The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad.

4  Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like streams in the Negeb!
5  Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
6  He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Lord is a God of restoration. In the Old Testament, we see how he restores the nation of Israel after defeat by its enemies. Such a turnaround results in joy and celebration.

The entire Bible is a story of restoration. It is a story of how God is restoring the entire creation to what it was meant to be. In the beginning, God created all things good, but when mankind rebelled against God through disobedience, sin entered the world and God’s good creation was corrupted resulting in suffering and death. God, in his grace towards us, promised to send one who would deliver mankind from the power of sin (Genesis 3:15).

As we read the Bible, we learn that the promised one was Jesus Christ, who died to pay for our sins and give us life. Those who turn to Christ in repentance and trust are promised eternal life in a restored creation without sin. Revelation 21 describes what that new world will be like:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” (Revelation 21:1–7, ESV)

There will be no mourning or crying or pain or death anymore. Our tears will be turned to joy and we will be with the Lord! Praise the Lord. He has truly done great things for us through Jesus Christ.

**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!

A Lamp to My Feet

Psalm 119105 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 119:105–112 (ESV)

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. 106 I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules. 107 I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word! 108 Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Lord, and teach me your rules. 109 I hold my life in my hand continually, but I do not forget your law. 110 The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from your precepts. 111 Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart. 112 I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.

Understanding and Applying the Word

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” These are the opening words of today’s reading. By these words, the psalmist tells us that it is God’s word that guides him safely in life. Without the light of God’s word, we are left to wander in darkness and drift away from the path.

As we live in this world, we are presented with a variety of ways to live. Just go to any bookstore and look at the self-help books, psychology books, and counseling publications. There are many who claim to have the secret to living a full and happy life. But it is God who tells us what is truly fulfilling. It is God, the Creator, who tells us the true way to live. And God does does this through his word. When we live in obedience to God, we find that God’s word is not a burden, but brings joy to our hearts (v. 111).

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Let Creation Rejoice

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Reading the Word

Psalm 98:7–9 (ESV)

7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it! 8 Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together 9 before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

Understanding and Applying the Word

All of creation is called on to sing for joy. This includes the sea, the rivers, the hills, and all of the world and those who dwell in it. This means all of creation, including mankind. Why? Because the Lord comes to judge the earth with righteousness and equity.

The Bible tells of a day when God will judge the world. In that day, sin will be dealt with once and for all and will be no more. God’s people, who have repented of their sin and trusted in Jesus Christ, will then dwell with him forever. When we speak of our eternal home with God, we often refer to it as “heaven”. We might even imagine a cloudy scene with angels and harps. The Bible has a different picture for our eternal home. It is described as a “new heaven and new earth”. It is a new creation without sin and its consequences. This is why all of creation joins in singing for joy in this psalm. All of creation rejoices at its release from bondage to the curse of sin (Romans 8:21). We look forward to that day when we will inhabit a new creation without sin. What a joyous day that will be!

**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!

Living for Jesus

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Reading the Word

Psalm 81:5–10 (ESV)

5 He made it a decree in Joseph when he went out over the land of Egypt. I hear a language I had not known: 6 “I relieved your shoulder of the burden; your hands were freed from the basket. 7 In distress you called, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Selah 8 Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, if you would but listen to me! 9 There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god. 10 I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.

Understanding and Applying the Word

God brought he people out of slavery in Egypt. In doing so, he had relieved their daily burden of extreme labor. God had heard the groanings of the people and had delivered them. In response, the Lord expected the people to worship him alone and become conformed to his likeness as they followed his instruction to them. As their God, he stood ready to feed them and meet their needs, which he demonstrated by supplying manna in the wilderness.

In John 10:10 Jesus states, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” This verse describes the  work of Satan in the word to tempt mankind and keep people enslaved to their sins. Through false promises, Satan convinces us that we are better off without God. In reality, his schemes only steal true joy from us and lead us to death.

On the other hand, Jesus came to free us from our bondage to sin. Through him, we have the weight of sin removed and we are given eternal life. When we trust in Christ, we follow him as our Lord and he, as our Creator, knows exactly what we need and how we ought to live to bring fulfillment and joy to our lives. Living for Jesus is the abundant life!

**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!

Let the Righteous Rejoice in the Lord

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Reading the Word

Psalm 64:7–10 (ESV)

7 But God shoots his arrow at them; they are wounded suddenly. 8 They are brought to ruin, with their own tongues turned against them; all who see them will wag their heads. 9 Then all mankind fears; they tell what God has brought about and ponder what he has done. 10 Let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him! Let all the upright in heart exult!

Understanding and Applying the Word

The world can often seem unfair and even cruel. Wicked and evil people seem to get away with their actions. Swindlers sometimes seem to prosper from their lies and deceit. And the innocent and weak may seem to be taken advantage of.

But Scripture tells us a different story. God’s word tells us that evil will be judged by an all-knowing God. In the end, truth and justice will prevail as God deals with all of mankind with perfect justice. In that day, the righteous will rejoice and the wicked will be brought to ruin. So, today we live by faith in God’s promise to judge evil as we live for him in a world that is always seeking to devour the weak for profit.

As you read this, you may be wondering how anyone will escape God’s judgment. That is a good question. The Bible says we are all sinners and stand condemned by our sin. Yet God in His grace has provided His Son as payment for our sin. He went to the cross as a perfect sacrifice. And Jesus rose from the dead in victory over sin. God’s word tells us that if we repent of our sin and trust in the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf, we will find forgiveness and salvation. This is the free gift of a loving and gracious God for all who will believe. Will you trust Him today?

**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!