The Free Gift of God

Romans 623 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 6:20–23 (ESV)

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Mankind has a problem. It is a sin problem. We are all guilty and our sin has separated us from God. We are condemned to death and eternal punishment and there is nothing we can do on our own to make things right. We cannot do enough good deeds. We cannot donate enough money. We cannot attend enough church services. We have nothing to offer to God.

Praise be to God because he has done what we could not! God has offered us life as a free gift. We cannot earn it or buy it, but God gives it to us by grace. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to pay the debt we could not. He died in our place and defeated sin and death through his resurrection. Through all that Jesus has done for us, when we trust in him, we receive life. Eternal life. Praise God for his mercy and grace!

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God Shows No Partiality

Acts 1034–35 [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 I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading.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 so you can read along every day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Acts 10:34–43 (ESV)

34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Zealous for Good Works

Titus 211 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Titus 2:11–14 (ESV)

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Yesterday, we learned that we should be a people of praise in response to what God has done for us. The center of our praise should be on the coming of Jesus into the world as our Savior. However, our praise should not be with only our lips, our lives should reflect our love and gratitude.

Titus tells us that, as a result of God’s grace, we should live differently from the world. We should live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives. We should be people who are zealous for good works. So, let us take time to voice our praise with our lips, but let us not fail to praise our gracious God with our actions.

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Tell of His Salvation from Day to Day

Psalm 96_2–3 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 96:1–6 (ESV)

1 Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
4 For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Another Christmas has come and gone. If you are like me, they seem to come and go a little faster every year. Many of us have headed back to our normal routines at work or around the home. The decorations will soon go back into storage until next year.

What will we do for another year? I believe we should adopt the mindset of the psalmist in Psalm 69. We should spend our time telling the world and rejoicing in what God has done! He has sent his Son into the world to save us. That is something to get excited about! We are rightly excited to celebrate Christmas every year, but let us not allow the excitement to fade. Let us remember each and every day what God has done and let us praise him for it.

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God’s Love for Sinners

Romans 58 [widescreen].jpg

Reading the Word

Romans 5:6–11 (ESV)

6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Understanding and Applying the Word

It is through Jesus Christ that we are reconciled to God. It is not because of anything we have done or possibly could do. It is solely and totally through the sacrificial death and victorious resurrection of Christ that our sins are forgiven and we obtain eternal life. On our own, we are sinners and we are the enemies of God.

Jesus died for sinners, the enemies of God. Why? Because God loves us. When Jesus tells us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), he does so because such love reflects the love of God for us. He did not call us to do anything that he did not also do. Such a love is hard for us to understand and should cause us to praise God. He had no reason to love us and make salvation available to all who would believe, but he did. Let us celebrate his love and our salvation and let us take the wonderful news of God’s love to the world!

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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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Jesus Established a New Covenant

Jeremiah 3133 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Jeremiah 31:31–34 (ESV)

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

In the time of the Old Testament, God promised that there would be a future day when he would do something new. He was going to forgive the sins of the people and establish a new covenant with them.

At the end of Jesus’ life, as he celebrated the Passover with his disciples, Jesus told them that he was establishing a new covenant in his blood. It was through the sacrificial death of Jesus that sin would be dealt with once and for all. And for those who trusted in him, Christ promised to give new life through the Holy Spirit. The old covenant was no longer. The new had come.

Praise God that our sins are forgiven in Christ. We now live in freedom and can live our lives without fear of condemnation for the honor and glory of our Savior. What a wonderful gift!

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Thanksgivings for All People

1 Timothy 21–2 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I will be traveling over the next few days with my family for the Thanksgiving holiday. As a result, I will not be posting extra commentary, but I will continue to post suggested Scripture readings for each day. Regular posts will resume on December 2. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

1 Timothy 2:1–7 (ESV)

1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

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Give Thanks to the Lord

Psalm 1361 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 136:1–26 (ESV)

1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

4 to him who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
5 to him who by understanding made the heavens,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
6 to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
7 to him who made the great lights,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
8 the sun to rule over the day,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
9 the moon and stars to rule over the night,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
11 and brought Israel out from among them,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
13 to him who divided the Red Sea in two,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
15 but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
16 to him who led his people through the wilderness,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

17 to him who struck down great kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
18 and killed mighty kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
19 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
20 and Og, king of Bashan,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
21 and gave their land as a heritage,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
22 a heritage to Israel his servant,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
24 and rescued us from our foes,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
25 he who gives food to all flesh,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As we have been looking at passages that speak of thanksgiving, we have read several psalms. A recurring theme is that we should give thanks because God’s “steadfast love endures forever.” In Psalm 136, the Lord’s steadfast love is demonstrated in how he rescued the Israelites from their captivity and slavery in Egypt and gave them the Promised Land. So, God’s steadfast love is connected to deliverance of those who are hopeless to deliver themselves. As the psalmist states, “It is he who remembered us in our low estate.”

We too can rejoice and give thanks to God for delivering us. We too were hopelessly lost and in bondage to sin and the condemnation that comes from sin. However, God showed his steadfast love to us by sending his Son to defeat sin and death on our behalf. We too find our deliverance through God’s grace and love and he has promised to deliver us into the true Promised Land of eternity with him. For that, we can always praise God and give him thanks!

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Let the Redeemed Say So

1 Chronicles 1634 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 107:1–3 (ESV)

1 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble
3 and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Once again, we read a psalm with a call to give thanks to the Lord. This psalm focuses our attention on the steadfast love of God. This refers to his covenant faithfulness. God promised his people that he would always be with them and never fail to fulfill his promises. In the context of Psalm 107, God demonstrates his steadfast love by rescuing his people from trouble. Over and over throughout this psalm, the people call out to the Lord and he responds by delivering them.

The redeemed of the Lord have much to be thankful for. We have been delivered! We called out to God to save us from our sins and he did that. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us so that we could go free. May we remember God’s steadfast love for us this Thanksgiving season and pause to give him thanks!

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