Prepared to Suffer

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Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish my personal notes on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

John 16:1–4 (ESV)

1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.

The World Will Hate You

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Reading the Word

John 15:18–25 (ESV)

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus prepared to leave this world, he said many things to his disciples who would be left behind as his witnesses. One of the things that he told them was that they should not be surprised when they faced opposition. The world would hate them and they would be persecuted for following Jesus. After all, the world hated Jesus and persecuted him. The world hated him so much that they hung Jesus on a cross and murdered him. Why should his followers expect any different?

Living as the followers of Christ in this world is not easy. Christians throughout history have faced all kinds of resistance and persecution. Some have been tortured. Others have been imprisoned. And many have lost their lives. The world hates us because we remind them of Jesus and all he represents. Jesus taught that mankind is alienated from God by sin. Our sin deserves eternal condemnation and punishment. And the only solution to our sin is to repent and turn to Jesus, the one who paid for our sin by dying in our place. However, this is not a message the world wants to hear. The world wants to believe that there are no consequences for sin. The world denies that there is sin. “Just do whatever makes you happy,” they say. But Christians and Christ are a constant reminder that there are consequences and there will be a judgement. Do not be surprised when the world hates you for following Jesus.

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The Gospel Will Be Proclaimed

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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 every day. We are currently reading through the life of Jesus Christ.

Reading the Word

Matthew 24:9–14 (ESV)

9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Parallel Texts: Mark 13:9-13; Luke 21:12-19

Will You Deny Jesus?

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Reading the Word

Luke 12:8–12 (ESV)

8 “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, 9 but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

Parallel Texts: Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 3:28-30

Understanding and Applying the Word

Living for Christ in a hostile world will bring trouble. In verses 9-10, Jesus warns his disciples about denying him to avoid persecution. In yesterday’s passage (Luke 12:4-7), Jesus told his disciples not to fear persecution and death, but to fear God alone because he alone is the final judge. Therefore there is no reason to fear if one belongs to God and there is no reason to deny Jesus.

In the next verses, Jesus speaks of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. He calls this the unforgivable sin. Many often wonder what this means and also if they might have committed this sin. In the context, it really is not that difficult to determine what this sin is. It is the hardening of one’s heart against the work of the Spirit of God (cf. Acts 7:51). When one hears the message of salvation through Jesus Christ, but rejects it and continues to do so, it is sin and will not be forgiven. Rejection of Jesus leaves one in sin and without forgiveness.

It may be difficult to live in the word for Jesus, but Jesus told his followers that they need not worry about what they would say. The Holy Spirit would teach them what to say. God does not leave us alone in the world to live for him. He is with us always to give us strength, and wisdom, and encouragement. May we go into the world with the message of Jesus Christ crucified for sinners.

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Living Without Fear

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Reading the Word

Luke 12:4–7 (ESV)

4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Fear can be paralyzing. I have experienced it myself. When I was young and had the chance to ride a roller coaster for the first time it took me several times waiting in line and backing out before I finally was able to work up the courage. Thankfully, my older sister was patient enough to keep going through the line with me each time. I have also seen it in my children in different circumstances. When they are afraid, it is almost impossible to get them to continue the task at hand.

Jesus knew that fear would be a factor in his disciples’ lives. They would be afraid because of the external pressures and consequences of living for him in a world hostile to Jesus. Aware of this, Jesus tells his disciples that the only proper fear is fear of the Lord. God is the final judge and will decide the eternal fate of every person. The world may pressure, persecute, and even kill us, but that is all it can do. Only God has the authority over eternity. And as we live our lives in fear of the Lord, we need not fear the future. God cares for the sparrows and we are of much more value than the sparrows.

What is keeping you from living all out for the Lord? What keeps you from sharing the gospel with others? Is it fear? We only need to fear the Lord and live in obedience to him. When we do that, there is nothing to be afraid of.

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The Son of Man Will Suffer

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Reading the Word

Matthew 17:9–13 (ESV)

9 And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” 10 And the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 11 He answered, “Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. 12 But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

Parallel Text: Mark 9:11-13

Understanding and Applying the Word

After the Transfiguration, Jesus tells the disciples not to say anything about what they witnessed until after he is raised from the dead. Of course, they obviously did not fully understand what he meant by this because the resurrection will be an unexpected surprise when it happens.

The disciples did take an opportunity to ask Jesus a question regarding prophecy and the coming of the Messiah. The scribes, the teachers of the Old Testament to the people, had taught that Elijah must come before the Messiah. If this is true, where is Elijah? How can Jesus be the Messiah if Elijah has not come? This understanding comes from Malachi 4:4-5 and Isaiah 40:3.

Jesus responded that Elijah had indeed come. John the Baptist was the one who fulfilled the prophecy. It was not that Elijah himself was going to return, but one who would come in the spirit of Elijah (cf. Luke 1:17 and John 1:21). John appeared as a forerunner of Jesus to prepare the way for Christ’s ministry to the people.

John the Baptist not only served to prepare the way for Jesus’ ministry, but he also served as an example of how Jesus would be received. John was rejected, imprisoned, and later beheaded for his ministry. Likewise, Jesus too was rejected, arrested, mocked, beaten, and crucified. And Jesus tells all of his followers that if the world rejected him, it will also reject his disciples:

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.” (John 15:18–21, ESV)

Lord, grant us the strength and grace to serve you each day as we live in this world as your people. Amen.

 

Deliver Me, O Lord

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Reading the Word

Psalm 140:1–13 (ESV)

1 Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men;
preserve me from violent men,
2 who plan evil things in their heart
and stir up wars continually.
3 They make their tongue sharp as a serpent’s,
and under their lips is the venom of asps. Selah

4 Guard me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked;
preserve me from violent men,
who have planned to trip up my feet.
5 The arrogant have hidden a trap for me,
and with cords they have spread a net;
beside the way they have set snares for me. Selah

6 I say to the LORD, You are my God;
give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O LORD!
7 O LORD, my Lord, the strength of my salvation,
you have covered my head in the day of battle.
8 Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked;
do not further their evil plot, or they will be exalted! Selah

9 As for the head of those who surround me,
let the mischief of their lips overwhelm them!
10 Let burning coals fall upon them!
Let them be cast into fire,
into miry pits, no more to rise!
11 Let not the slanderer be established in the land;
let evil hunt down the violent man speedily!

12 I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted,
and will execute justice for the needy.
13 Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name;
the upright shall dwell in your presence.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm is attributed to David. In these verses, he calls out to God to save him from the wicked and evil men who want to destroy him. David knows that it is God who gives him strength for battle and protects him in the fight. In the second half of the psalm (vv. 9-13), David calls on the Lord to judge those who are evil.

Life in this world will include its share of troubles. Many of the troubles will be the result of conflict with other people. Some of the conflict may be our own fault. Perhaps we said something we should not have. A simple apology may go a long way to make things better. However, there will be times when another (others) desire our harm for no good reason. They attack because we belong to God or because our lives bear witness to truth that contradicts their choices in life.

When we face such evil, we can be encouraged because we are not the first. In fact, Jesus himself faced such opposition (John 15:18). We can also find comfort in knowing that God is in control. He provides strength and protection to his people. He does not leave us alone, but goes into battle with us. And we know that he will ultimately judge all evil and purge it from the world. We can trust in him and give thanks even in the face of difficulty.

**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.

Longing for Your Salvation

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Reading the Word

Psalm 119:121–128 (ESV)

121 I have done what is just and right; do not leave me to my oppressors. 122 Give your servant a pledge of good; let not the insolent oppress me. 123 My eyes long for your salvation and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise. 124 Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love, and teach me your statutes. 125 I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies! 126 It is time for the Lord to act, for your law has been broken. 127 Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold. 128 Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right; I hate every false way.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The psalmist declares that his “eyes long for your salvation and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise.” He desires that God will come and judge the world with righteousness and justice. The psalmist is facing oppression from those who do not know the Lord or follow the Lord’s word. So, it is time for God to act and save his people.

In every age, the people of God have faced rejection and persecution on some level. Some face mocking and loss of family and friend relationships. Others may face public shaming or ostracism from the community. And some face harsh consequences including imprisonment or death. It is not easy to live out the word of God in our lives. For some, it is extremely difficult.

However, for the believer, we place our hope in the salvation that God has promised to those who trust in him. The Bible tells us that if we trust in the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ for our sins against God we will be saved. Through Christ, our sins are paid for. And for those who trust in the Lord, we receive the promise of an eternity with God in a new heaven and new earth where sin has received its final judgment and is no more. So, we too long for the salvation that God has promised and wait for him to act.

**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!

Those Who Hate God

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Reading the Word

Psalm 83:1–8 (ESV)

1 O God, do not keep silence; do not hold your peace or be still, O God! 2 For behold, your enemies make an uproar; those who hate you have raised their heads. 3 They lay crafty plans against your people; they consult together against your treasured ones. 4 They say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!” 5 For they conspire with one accord; against you they make a covenant— 6 the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites, 7 Gebal and Ammon and Amalek, Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; 8 Asshur also has joined them; they are the strong arm of the children of Lot. Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm is a plea for God to rescue the people of Israel from their enemies. Those enemies are spelled out in verses 6-8. One thing to note is the concern of the psalmist. He does not make his plea based on the innocence of Israel. He does not call out and ask God to protect the Israelites because they are being treated unjustly. His primary concern is that the enemy has declared war on God himself. Notice verse 2: “For behold, your enemies make an uproar; those who hate you have raised their heads.”

Throughout the ages, God’s people have suffered at the hands of others. The primary reason is not because of something that they had done. The primary reason has always been because the world is at war with God. It does not want him. We, as his people, are a constant reminder of the reality of God and the truth that God will one day bring all of mankind to judgment. Let us, as the people of God, remember that the word is at war with God and let us not be surprised when the world hates us. Let us be encouraged knowing that the war has already been won and that our God reigns!

**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!

You Know My Reproach

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Reading the Word

Psalm 69:19–21 (ESV)

19 You know my reproach, and my shame and my dishonor; my foes are all known to you. 20 Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none. 21 They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When we read these words of David, we may at first find them discouraging. David speaks of the pain and suffering he was facing as well as the lack of anyone to give him comfort or support. However, notice how he begins verse 19: “You know my reproach.” David knew he was not truly alone. God knew what he was going through.

These words also remind us of our Savior as he hung on the cross at Calvary. He too was mocked and ridiculed. He was abandoned by his friends. And He was given sour wine to drink. God Himself felt the same things that David felt.

Jesus walked in our shoes. He has felt the pain of this world. He has been mocked and ridiculed. He has been lied to. He has been treated unfairly. He knows what it is like to be abandoned and alone. God knows our pain, not just from afar, but because He became man. He truly knows our reproach. Because of this truth, we can be assured of His love for us and we can go to Him in our times of trouble. Let us find encouragement in David’s words and in the cross of our 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!