If God Is For Us

Romans 831b [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 8:31–39 (ESV)

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Are you fearful? Are you worried? Consider that God sent his Son into the world to die for you. He sent his Son to suffer on a cross so that you could be saved and have eternal life. He did this so you could be his child. That is how much he cares about you and the things going on in your life.

If God loves us enough to go through the great lengths he has gone through to save us and make us his own, there is nothing that we need to fear. We can be certain that our God’s eyes are never off of us and we are always in his care. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. And if God is for us, who (or what) can be against us?

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Love One Another

John 1512–13 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not include supplemental material on Sundays, but I do post 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

John 15:12–17 (ESV)

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Obedience from Love

sky sunset person silhouette

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Reading the Word

Psalm 119:1–3 (ESV)

1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD!
2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart,
3 who also do no wrong,
but walk in his ways!

Understanding and Applying the Word

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the entire Bible. It spends 176 verses telling of the goodness of God’s law and the blessings of keeping that law. The believer finds great benefit in living in obedience to God’s word. However, we must understand the type of obedience that this psalm, and the whole Bible, commends.

There are two ways to keep the word of God. The first is out of legalistic adherence. This is the person who obeys in order to earn blessing. Scripture makes it clear that no one will be saved through the keeping of the law because no one can keep it completely. In this case, the law is not a blessing, but a curse. The second way is obedience out of love. This is the person who understands the grace and mercy that has been shown to them by God and who loves the Lord and wants to obey, not to gain blessing, but as an act of love and devotion. Notice how Psalm 119 speaks of the obedient one who seeks the Lord “with their whole heart.” This is not legalistic obedience, but obedience from love. Our God has shown great love toward us and is worthy of our loving obedience.

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The Love of Christ

Ephesians 318–19 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Ephesians 3:14–19 (ESV)

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When you pray for others, what do you pray for? The Apostle Paul records many prayers in his letters. In those prayers, he calls on God to work on behalf of fellow Christians. It would be a profitable study to take the time to look at those prayers in more detail. In today’s reading we find one of them.

Chief among Paul’s concern for his readers was that they would have a greater knowledge of the love of Christ. He wanted them to know the “breadth and length and height and depth” of it. What an amazing thing to comprehend! Our Savior gave his life for us. Why would he do such a thing? We did not deserve it. It is only explainable by love. Christ loves us with a greater and purer love than we have ever known. Let us pray that we would grow in our knowledge of that amazing love!

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Do You Love Me?

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Reading the Word

John 21:15–19 (ESV)

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

This scene takes place after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. He went to Peter and asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” There is discussion about what the word “these” refers to. Is Jesus asking Peter if he loves his fishing gear more than Jesus? After all, Peter had just returned to fishing. Is Jesus asking if Peter loves him more than he loves the other disciples? I believe Jesus was asking Peter if he loved Jesus more than the other disciples loved him.

Why would Jesus ask Peter this question? Remember, Peter had declared his unflinching devotion earlier. In John 13:37, Peter declared, “I will lay down my life for you!” Matthew 26:33 records that Peter said, “Even if they all fall away, I will not.” Peter had proclaimed his greater love, but he had failed to live up to it. He had run away when things got hard and left Jesus alone to be arrested and crucified. Peter was distraught over these events. In these verses, we see a loving and forgiving Jesus reminding Peter of these words, but also telling him that he was still one of his disciples and he still had valuable work for him to do. Jesus was telling Peter “I love you and forgive you and have much for you.”

We all fail our Lord. I hate to admit how often this is true for me. But we have a gracious Savior who is ready to forgive and restore us. Let us go to him, confess our failings, and go forward ready to serve him.

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God Is Love So We Must Love

1 John 48 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 John 4:19–21 (ESV)

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Understanding and Applying the Word

True love for God is accompanied by love for others. When we come into a right relationship with God, we are to grow in godliness. This means that we are to become more and more like our Lord. And God is love (1 John 4:8). It is incompatible to say that we love God, but refuse to be like him by loving others. Such an attitude and life only proves that we do not love the Lord nor do we know him.

As God’s people in this world, we are called to be his representatives. We are called to be like him so that others will know who he is and know what he is like. We are called to love others. God has shown his great love for all by sending his Son into the world to save us. We are called to be the ongoing presence of that love in the world today. Are you known for your love for others?

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With His Wounds We Are Healed

Isaiah 535 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Isaiah 53:1–6 (ESV)

1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Son of God came into the world to save mankind from our sin. Who would have imagined the way such a salvation would come? The King of kings and Lord of lords came as a humble servant to serve us. He gave up his high position and glory to become nothing for us. And as he came to show such great love for us, we rejected him and nailed him to a cross to crucify him.

When we look at the cross, we must never lose our sense of awe over what our Savior did for us. Such an amazing act of love! Jesus Christ gave his body to be beaten and torn until he died an agonizing death. As he hung on that cross, he bore our sins and took the punishment each one of us deserve. Through his suffering and death, those who repent and call out to him in faith, receive the healing we desperately need: freedom from sin and the gift of eternal life. So, as we look to the cross, let us celebrate our salvation, but let us not forget the great sacrifice that our salvation required.

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The Love of the Lord Never Ceases

Lamentations 322–23 [widescreen]

Thanks for reading Shaped by the Word! This is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. While I do not publish supplemental materials on Sundays, I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Be sure to subscribe so you can follow along every day!

Reading the Word

Lamentations 3:22–24 (ESV)

22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

How Much Do You Love the Lord?

Deuteronomy 64–5 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Deuteronomy 6:4–9 (ESV)

4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Do you love the Lord? I am sure most of us would affirm that we do. But how much do we love him? Do we love him with all of our heart and with all of our soul and with all of our might? If we are honest, we probably do not. We have many other things that consume us and occupy our thoughts and affections. Those other things may even be good things, like our spouse or children or our work. It is not wrong for us to care deeply about these things and others, even love them, but we must not allow them to become our central love. That must be for God alone.

When our love for God is rightly central in our lives, all of our other devotions will fall into their proper place. Our love for God guides all of our other loves because we love the things the Lord loves and we love those things as he loves them. Let us turn our affections to him and let our love for God guide our lives.

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Our God Forever

Ephesians 318–19 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 48:9–14 (ESV)

9 We have thought on your steadfast love, O God,
in the midst of your temple.
10 As your name, O God,
so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth.
Your right hand is filled with righteousness.
11 Let Mount Zion be glad!
Let the daughters of Judah rejoice
because of your judgments!

12 Walk about Zion, go around her,
number her towers,
13 consider well her ramparts,
go through her citadels,
that you may tell the next generation
14 that this is God,
our God forever and ever.
He will guide us forever.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Have you ever stopped to consider the love of God? I mean, really consider it? In this psalm, the people take the time to walk around the city and admire its greatness. They knew it was great because of all that God had done for them and because he was with them. And he had promised to be with them forever.

God has promised to be with his people forever. Think about that. What else do you have that will be with you forever? There is nothing that can ever separate us from God and his love. Nothing! He is with us today, tomorrow, and into eternity. He is with us in life and he will be with us in death and into life after death. Paul reflects on this truth in Ephesians 3:17-19:

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17–19, ESV)

Take the time to reflect on God’s promise to always be with you today and forever.

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