I Never Knew You

1 John 26 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 7:21–23 (ESV)

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Understanding and Applying the Word

Many claim to follow the Lord, but many are only counterfeits. They may say all of the right things, even calling Jesus “Lord”, as he is. They may even do many good things. However, the true disciple not only says the right things and performs certain works, but is obedient to the will of the Father. The true disciple has a changed life that is centered on living for God, not self.

This passage serves as a warning for those who would fool themselves into thinking that they can say the right things and even do certain religious works (e.g. go to church, give lots of money, teach Sunday school, serve as a deacon, etc.) to be counted among God’s people. It is possible to do all of that and still not really know the Lord. Jesus tells us in John 15:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” In Luke 6:46 he says, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I tell you?” And we read the following in 1 John:

And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.(1 John 2:3–6, ESV)

Are you living your life for the Lord? Do you truly know him?

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Make Your Face Shine upon Me

Psalm 119135 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 119:129–136 (ESV)

129 Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them. 130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. 131 I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments. 132 Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name. 133 Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me. 134 Redeem me from man’s oppression, that I may keep your precepts. 135 Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes. 136 My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Why do we keep God’s word? According to Psalm 119, God’s “testimonies are wonderful.” It is in our best interest to live according to the teachings of Scripture. Through it, we are made wise and we show our love for the Lord.

When we understand who God is, we love him. When we know of his goodness and his grace and his unfailing love for us, we grow in our desire to show our love for him. We do this by living for him. We read and study the word of God so that we can grow in knowledge of who God is, what he has done, and what he desires of us. Let us seek to show our love for him through the keeping of his word. And let us call on him to continue to teach us through his word.

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You Have Made Me

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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.

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Keeping Your Commandments

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Reading the Word

Psalm 119:57–64 (ESV)

57 The Lord is my portion; I promise to keep your words. 58 I entreat your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. 59 When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies; 60 I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments. 61 Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me, I do not forget your law. 62 At midnight I rise to praise you, because of your righteous rules. 63 I am a companion of all who fear you, of those who keep your precepts. 64 The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes!

Understanding and Applying the Word

Why do we devote ourselves to God’s word? That we might know it. And we desire to know it, not so we can answer trivia questions about it or win debates, but so we can live according to its teachings! This is the desire of the psalmist in these verses. He states, “I promise to keep your words,” and “I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandment.”

As you read your Bible, do not just do it so you can check off an item on your daily list or so you can gather more interesting information. We need to read our Bibles so we know who God is, what he has done, and so we might know how to live for him. We need to allow the word to impact our hearts, not just fill our brains. As we pick up God’s word each day, let us pray that God would use it to change us for his glory.

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A King Who Answers Prayer

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Reading the Word

Psalm 99:6–9 (ESV)

6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called upon his name. They called to the Lord, and he answered them. 7 In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them; they kept his testimonies and the statute that he gave them. 8 O Lord our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings. 9 Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy!

Understanding and Applying the Word

The psalm names Moses, Aaron, and Samuel as three former priest in Israel. Moses was not specifically mentioned as a priest in Scripture, but he was from the tribe of Levi. Aaron, the brother of Moses, was the first high priest. Samuel was the last judge of Israel and functioned as a priest in his ministry.

What do we learn from these men from the Old Testament? They prayed to God and God answered them. But not only did they pray, they were obedient to the word of God (v. 7). We too can pray and know that God hears and listens, but we too must be obedient to God’s word. He is forgiving, but God also punishes sin (v. 8). God is King over all of the earth. He is worthy of our worship and full obedience.

**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!

If You Hear His Voice

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Reading the Word

Psalm 95:7–11 (ESV)

7 …Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, 9 when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. 10 For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.” 11 Therefore I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

These verses stand as a call to respond correctly to the word of God. There is a warning given using the Israelites who did not trust God in the time of the Exodus as an example. The people grumbled and complained as they were led out of Egypt to the promised land. They showed that they did not trust that God would protect them and deliver on his promises. As a result, God does not let them enter the land for forty years, which would be after an entire generation had died.

This psalm serves as a warning to us. When we hear the word of God, whether through reading it or hearing it taught, we are expected to act on it. It is not just information to fill our minds, but is intended to shape our hearts. We show that we believe and trust our God when we are willing and ready to obey him. So, let us hear God’s voice in his word and let us seek to live in obedience.

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Teach Me Your Way, O Lord

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Reading the Word

Psalm 86:8–13 (ESV)

8 There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. 9 All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. 10 For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. 11 Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. 12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. 13 For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

Understanding and Applying the Word

There is no god like God (v. 8). In fact, there is only one true God (v. 10). One day, all people from every nation will bow down and worship God as the one true God (v. 9). Understanding this, David asks the Lord to teach him even now to walk in the truth of God’s word. He does not want to wait until later to worship and honor God. He desires to live for him now. David’s desire is driven by God’s love towards him and the salvation he has received from God.

The Bible tells us that one day very knee shall bow before the Lord (cf. Isaiah 45:4; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10-11). As David desired, so we should desire to live for God even now. We begin to do this by seeking reconciliation with him by repenting of our sin and calling out on Jesus Christ for forgiveness. Through Christ we are forgiven and given new life in the Spirit that enables us to turn from our sin and live according to God’s word. Through obedience, we honor him as God and show our love for him.

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Will We Listen?

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Reading the Word

Psalm 81:11–16 (ESV)

11 “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. 12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels. 13 Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! 14 I would soon subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes. 15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe toward him, and their fate would last forever. 16 But he would feed you with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Even after all God had done for his people and even after his promise to be their God and bless them, they still did not obey him. They followed their own hearts and their own sinful ways. Even so, God promises to restore them if they turn to him. He stands ready to bless them.

Israel is a picture of all of mankind. In the Garden of Eden, man was placed in a paradise with all of the blessings of God, but sinned by disobeying the word of God. Likewise, Israel was rescued from slavery and brought to the Promised Land and offered the blessings of God, but sinned through disobedience to God’s word. And we do the same thing. God saves us from our sins through his Son, Jesus Christ, but we would rather follow our own way than submit to him as Lord. Even so, God stands ready to forgive and restore those who will repent and turn to him. What a patient and gracious 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!

Not an Offering, but Myself I Bring

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Reading the Word

Psalm 40:6–10 (ESV)

6 In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. 7 Then I said, “Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: 8 I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” 9 I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord. 10 I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.

Understanding and Applying the Word

David tells us that it is not our offerings and sacrifices that God desires (v. 6). No, it is our hearts that he is after and David is ready to offer his life in obedience. He states, “I delight in your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” David delights in the will of God. He is not living in obedience out of religious obligation, but because he loves the Lord and the Lord’s ways. As a result of his love, David is ready to tell others of God’s grace and steadfast love. He cannot keep it in!

So many Christians see God’s word as a burden that they obey, at least in part, not out of love, but out of obligation. This is not how it should be. As we grow in knowledge of God through his word, our hearts should be transformed by that word and the work of the Spirit. Our transformation leads to a growing love for God and his ways because we see him as good and his law as a joy rather than a burden. Is God’s word burdensome? Ask him to transform your heart that you might love him more.

**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!

I Love Where Your Glory Dwells

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Reading the Word

Psalm 26:6–12 (ESV)

6 I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O Lord, 7 proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds. 8 O Lord, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells. 9 Do not sweep my soul away with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men, 10 in whose hands are evil devices, and whose right hands are full of bribes. 11 But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me. 12 My foot stands on level ground; in the great assembly I will bless the Lord.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In the second half of this psalm, David again appeals to his integrity (v. 11) and his innocence before God. He uses them as the basis for his plea towards God to not sweep him away with sinners and bloodthirsty men.

As we come to this psalm we see the close connection between love for the Lord and his glory and our personal conduct. The two go hand in hand. When our hearts are fixed on God it changes the direction of our lives. We change our actions, not because we must, but because we desire to out of love. Our actions become our worship of the God we love and we long to bless him.

**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!