A Divisive Message

Luke 1251 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 12:49–53 (ESV)

49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Many have the mistaken idea that Jesus and his message were so kind and gentle that there was no way to have any other response than to love him. However, that is simply not true! Jesus rubbed many people the wrong way. That is exactly why they crucified him on a cross!

In our passage for today, Jesus told his disciples that his message would be divisive. It would even divide families. Jesus came proclaiming that all people are sinners and must repent of their sins. All people must believe and trust in Jesus for salvation. There is no other way. So, you are either with Jesus or you are against him. There is no middle ground.

As Jesus’ disciples in the world today, we are called to proclaim the same gospel message that he preached. We must call people to repent and turn to Christ for salvation and warn them that there is no other way to be reconciled to God. Just as in Jesus’ day, many are offended by such a message and wish to silence it. The gospel, while offering forgiveness and life for all who believe, is also a message that causes division. If you desire to live for Christ and proclaim the message of salvation, it will not be long before you face opposition. Do not be surprised and do not be discouraged. The same thing happened to Jesus.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!


The Lord Who Is There

Psalm 1399–10 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 139:1–12 (ESV)

1 O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In verses 1-6, this psalm reflects on God’s omniscience. He knows everything about us. Then in verses 7-12 this psalm considers the Lord’s omnipresence. He is everywhere. There is nowhere we can go where he is not.

What an amazing thing to consider God’s knowledge and presence. It is such a comfort! Consider that there is nothing that can happen to you or me that the Lord is not aware of. He knows. And there is nowhere we can go where he is not right there with us. No matter who you are or where you are, God is there and is available. And he is the same God who sent his one and only Son into the world to save you from your sins. Why? Because he loves you. Turn to him and you will find peace.

**Want to read the Bible every day? Be sure to subscribe to this page and follow along! We are currently reading through the Book of Psalms. In 2019, we will focus on the Life of Christ for our daily readings.

Like a Child

baby newborn born sleeping

Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com


Reading the Word

Psalm 131:1–3 (ESV)

1 O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

3 O Israel, hope in the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The psalmist voices his trust in the Lord. Some things are too great to be grasped. We are limited in our understanding. When we try to figure these things out or make sense of them, we can become discouraged or frustrated. The psalmist, instead, trusts in God as a young child trusts in his mother for protection, care, and provision.

We can trust God. He is a God of faithfulness and always keeps his promises. His word tells us that he works all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). We may not always understand how God is working or what his plans are, but we can trust him. We can take comfort in knowing that he is in control and we do not have to figure all of these things out. We can simply quiet our soul in trust and security as we rest in the arms of the Lord.

**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 Us Go to the House of the Lord

I am currently out of town and working from my phone. Please excuse any strange formatting that may result.

Reading the Word

Psalm 122 (ESV)

1 I was glad when they said to me,
    “Let us go to the house of theLord!”
Our feet have been standing
    within your gates, O Jerusalem!

Jerusalem—built as a city
    that is bound firmly together,
to which the tribes go up,
    the tribes of the Lord,
as was decreed for[a] Israel,
    to give thanks to the name of theLord.
There thrones for judgment were set,
    the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
    “May they be secure who love you!
Peace be within your walls
    and security within your towers!”
For my brothers and companions’ sake
    I will say, “Peace be within you!”
For the sake of the house of the Lordour God,
    I will seek your good.

Understanding and Applying the Word 

This psalm reflects the thoughts of one in Israel making a trip to the temple in Jerusalem to worship. This worshipper understands the importance of the unity of God’s people and vows to pray for continued peace. When God’s people are divided, their witness to the world is destroyed.

Under the old covenant, the nation of Israel represented God’s people in the world. Under the new covenant, that responsibility belongs to the Church made up of people from every nation. We too must understand the importance of unity among the people of God. We too must seek it diligently and pray for it continually, so that we may faithfully proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day.

Great Peace

Psalm 119165 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 119:161–168 (ESV)

161 Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of your words. 162 I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil. 163 I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law. 164 Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules. 165 Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. 166 I hope for your salvation, O Lord, and I do your commandments. 167 My soul keeps your testimonies; I love them exceedingly. 168 I keep your precepts and testimonies, for all my ways are before you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Psalm 119 focuses on the supreme value of God’s law. For 176 verses, the psalm states over and over again how wonderful the word of God is and why this is so. In our passage for today, in verse 165, we are told that God’s word brings “great peace.” Even in the face of persecution and falsehood, the psalmist finds peace. Peace is certainly something that we all desire. However, we usually think of world peace (i.e. the end of war and conflict) when we contemplate it. Such peace would be wonderful, but there is an even greater peace that we need.

Our greatest need is peace with God. Our sin sets us apart from him. While we are in our sin, we are in rebellion against God and his holy commands and we are justly under condemnation. One day we will stand before him and he is the righteous Judge who punishes all sin. We need to know how we can make peace with God.

Thankfully, God has told us in his word that there is a way to be reconciled. God stands ready to forgive our sin when we repent and turn to Jesus Christ as our Savior. Through Jesus, who suffered and died, our sins were paid for as he took the punishment we deserve on himself. In Christ, we find forgiveness and we find peace with God. Romans 5:1 reads: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

It is through God’s word that we learn that peace with God is available through Jesus Christ. That is the greatest peace of all.

**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!

My Comfort in Affliction

art artistic black and white blank

Photo by Lynnelle Richardson on Pexels.com

Reading the Word

Psalm 119:49–56 (ESV)

49 Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. 50 This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life. 51 The insolent utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law. 52 When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O Lord. 53 Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law. 54 Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning. 55 I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your law. 56 This blessing has fallen to me, that I have kept your precepts.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Going through difficult circumstances is not easy for anyone. It can bring stress, worry, fear, and a host of other emotions that we would rather not experience. Such circumstances can be even more difficult if they are caused or made worse by others who purposely wish to harm us. This is the situation with the psalmist in these verses. His is under attack from others who seek his harm.

Even though he is under attack, the psalmist remains hopeful. Why? Because he trusts in the word of God. He believes that God will be faithful to do what he has promised to do. The word of God brings the psalmist hope, life, comfort, and singing in the midst of difficulty. We too can face our circumstances in the same way. We too can trust in God’s word, knowing he will fulfill his promises to his people. When we do this, we are prepared to face whatever life may send our way and we can do so with hope.

**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!

Salvation Is Near

2 Peter 313 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 85:9–13 (ESV)

9 Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land. 10 Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. 11 Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky. 12 Yes, the Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. 13 Righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps a way.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Righteous is near to those who fear God. Through this salvation there is restoration. Verses 9-13 describe the restoration that is pictured throughout the Bible. It will be characterized by the steadfast love of God and the faithfulness of his people. It will be a time of righteousness and peace. God, in his goodness, is will restore the land.

In the Book of Revelation, the eternal state is described as a new creation where sin and the curse of Genesis 3 have been finally dealt with and eliminated. In the new world there is no more pain or suffering or death. Instead, there is righteousness and peace and life eternal. This is the hope of the gospel and the what salvation is about. One day, all who fear the Lord will dwell in his presence in the new world.

**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!

God Speaks Peace to His People

Colossians 119–20 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 85:1–8 (ESV)

1 Lord, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. 2 You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. Selah 3 You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger. 4 Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us! 5 Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations? 6 Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? 7 Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. 8 Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly.

Understanding and Applying the Word

These verses describe a restored relationship between God and his people. God, in his grace, forgave the people of their sin and showed his love for them.

Our sin is a great offense to God because he is holy. We are told that our sin separates us from God and that we stand condemned as a result. Yet, God is gracious and forgiving towards those who will repent of their sin and call out to him for forgiveness. He speaks peace to the repentant and restores the lost relationship. No longer does our sin condemn us, but we are called the people of God.

How is this possible? Because of the cross. Jesus Christ suffered and died in our place. He paid for our sin so that we could go free. The cross is the reminder that peace with God has been made possible for all who believe. Praise the Lord for his salvation!

**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!

Fret Not


Reading the Word

Psalm 37:7–11 (ESV)

7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! 8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. 9 For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. 10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. 11 But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this psalm we find the phrase “fret not yourself” repeated three times. The phrase appears as the first words of Psalm 37:1 and then again in verses 7 and 8. The Hebrew word translated as fret means “to be heated or enraged”. It has the idea of getting angry over the success of the wicked (cf. verse 8). Proverbs 24:19 repeats this instruction.

Rather than allow ourselves to get angry because evildoers seem to prosper, we are told to “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him”. What does this mean? We are to trust that God knows and that he will take care of these things. Evil and those who participate in it will be judged. The wicked will be no more and those who trust in and depend on the Lord will inherit the land and dwell in peace.

When we read the end of the Bible, Revelation 21 tells us what awaits those who are the people of God. There will be a new heaven and a new earth where sin and evil are no more. God will dwell with his people and there will be peace. The meek shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). What a 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!

The Lord Is My Shepherd


Reading the Word

Psalm 23:1–6 (ESV)

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Psalm 23 is one of the most recognizable passages in all of Scripture. It is beloved by many and is a source of great comfort for all who believe its message. In it, God is pictured as a gentle and caring shepherd who provides for his sheep. The psalmist tells us that God’s provision is such that his sheep “shall not want”. They lack nothing.

God also is pictured as a constant companion, even in the difficult times of life. In the valley of the shadow of death God is there and is a source of comfort. In the presence of enemies who would do harm, God takes care of his people and provides abundantly.

Wherever you may be and whatever you are facing, you can find comfort in knowing that the Good Shepherd is with you and will provide for you. And one day his children will be home and with him forever.

**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!