The Power of Changed Lives

1 Thessalonians 16 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Thessalonians 1:6–10 (ESV)

6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. 9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Paul praised the Thessalonian believers because they had received the gospel message and turned away from their old lives of  idolatry to worship the one true God. The news of their conversion quickly spread to others so that Paul exclaimed, “we need not say anything.” People already knew of what had happened in Thessalonica when the gospel had been preached by Paul.

Our lives are a living testimony to the power of the gospel. Those who know us should see the difference it has made in us. We do not just preach a message of facts and information, but we have a message of life change. We proclaim that we can be free from sin and have new life through the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit. Do others know we have changed even before we speak? Let’s point others to the one true God through our words and also through the testimony of how those words have changed us.

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You Must Be Born Again

John 33 [widescreen]

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 I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading.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 so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

John 3:1–8 (ESV)

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

The Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 522–23 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Galatians 5:16–24 (ESV)

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Paul gives us a contrast between living life according to the “flesh” and living life according to the ‘Spirit”. The word flesh in this passage refers to our natural or worldly way of life. It is the life of sin that all people live before they are born again through faith in Jesus Christ. When we come to saving faith in Christ, we are given new life through the power of the Holy Spirit. That new life is a life of holiness and obedience to the word of God. When Paul speaks here of the Spirit, he is referring to the Holy Spirit and the life we live under his direction.

What does new life through the Holy Spirit look like? We are given a list of characteristics beginning in verse 22. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. As we grow in our Christian lives, these characteristics should become more and more the defining markers of our character. Our old way of life should fade away as the work of the Spirit grows and grows. Lord, let your Spirit continue to work in us and let our lives be a wonderful display of the fruit of your work in our hearts!

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God Will Finish What He Started

Philippians 16 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Philippians 1:1–6 (ESV)

1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these introductory words in the Letter to the Philippians, Paul gives thanks to God for the believers in Philippi and remarks that he is sure that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Who and what is Paul referring to?

When you became a believer, you were born again through the power of the Holy Spirit working in you. You were given new life. We often forget this aspect of salvation. We talk a great deal about forgiveness of sins, but for some reason our new life in Christ is forgotten. Our new life begins and is a process of growth to maturity for the rest of our lives. As we mature, we put away the old self and its world desires and ways and we become more and more like our Savior as we desire the things he desires. This all happens through the work of God in our lives and one day, God has promised, that we will stand before him complete. This is the day Paul refers to. It is the day of Jesus Christ. When Christ returns for his people and gathers us together to be with him forever. We will be with him and sin will no longer be a part of our lives in any form ever again. What an amazing promise that God has already begun to fulfill in us and we grow closer to every day.

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Jesus Changes Us

red and green tree leaves on a sunny day

Photo by le vy on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

1 John 3:5–8 (ESV)

5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus came to take away sin. He came to save us and make us righteous. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who belong to Jesus should show evidence that they have been saved. They should not go on living in sin, but should live according to God’s righteous word.

Scripture teaches us that we are all sinful by nature. We can do nothing to save ourselves and we are not able to live righteously. Our hearts are fixed on sinning and we love to go our own way rather than follow God’s way. Jesus came into the word to rescue us from our dilemma. He died to pay the penalty for our sin and he gives new life through the Holy Spirit to those who trust in him. It is by new birth through the Spirit that we are changed. We want to live according to God’s will. We want to remove sin from our lives. Our loves and desires are reoriented. It is a miraculous change and it should be evident in every believer. Praise God for saving us and changing us!

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Create in Me a Clean Heart

Psalm 5110 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 51:10–13 (ESV)

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

David has admitted his sin and taken full responsibility. Now he requests that God would create in him a new heart and renew a right spirit within him. With these words, David is asking God to change him at the core level of who he is. He wants to be a different man. He is not just asking for strength to resist sinning, but he is asking for his desires and passions to be changed. This can only happen through the work of God in our lives.

When we come to Christ in repentance of our sins and trusting in him to save us, we are told that we are born again. We are given new life. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that those who are in Christ are a new creation. This means that God has begun a work within us to change us. Through his word, his Spirit, his people, and our experiences, God reshapes our desires so that they are the same as his desires. And he promises that the work that he has begun will be brought to completion (Philippians 1:6). We will one day be completely free from our sin and we will be holy as he is holy. Look back at your life and see how far God has brought you as he has been working in your life. As you reflect on God’s work, give thanks to him for his grace.

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