From Death to Life

John 524 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 5:1–47 (ESV)

1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’ ” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. 31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. 33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Once again we read of Jesus’ confrontation with the religious leaders. This time, they were upset because Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. When they confronted Jesus, his words were, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” This was blasphemous to the religious leaders. Jesus was claiming equality with God. This deserved death and they sought to kill him.

Jesus went even further. He explained how he and the Father were not opposed to each other, but together. Jesus had the authority to grant life to whomever he chose (verse 21). And it was Jesus who had the authority to judge all people (verse 22). So, if one wanted life rather than judgment, he needed to hear Jesus and believe what he was teaching (verse 24). Jesus’ miracles served as signs that he truly had the authority he spoke of.

Unfortunately, we read that many refused to turn to Jesus that they might have life (verse 40).  Many refused to believe him then and many refuse to believe him now. Jesus came into the world to save sinners by teaching us about God’s great love and grace and then by going to the cross to pay the penalty we all deserve. He has done everything he can to save us, yet many refuse to turn to Christ. May we find renewed wonder at what Christ has done for us, but also may we find a renewed zeal to share the gospel with those who are lost and to pray that their hearts may be open to the word of God.

**Read through the Life of Christ in 2019 by following along with Shaped by the Word. Just subscribe to this page and be sure to read along every day!

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The Lord Is Righteous and Kind

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Reading the Word

Psalm 145:10–21 (ESV)

10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD,
and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The LORD is faithful in all his words
and kind in all his works.
14 The LORD upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
18 The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
20 The LORD preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

21 My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD,
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm proclaims the Lord’s goodness and tells us why he is deserving of praise. The Lord lifts up those who are low, he provides food to all, he is near to those who call, and he saves those who cry out to him. He does what is right and he is kind in all he does.

As we reflect on the words of this psalm it is Christmas Eve. This is a wonderful time of the year to reflect on God’s righteousness and goodness. Christmas is the time of the year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is through Christ that we find salvation from our sin and hope for the future. It is at this time of the year when we can especially see that the Lord is truly righteous and kind in all he does. Let us remember to give him the praise he deserves.

**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.

For Your Name’s Sake

Romans 1136 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 143:1–12 (ESV)

1 Hear my prayer, O LORD;
give ear to my pleas for mercy!
In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
2 Enter not into judgment with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you.

3 For the enemy has pursued my soul;
he has crushed my life to the ground;
he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.
4 Therefore my spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is appalled.

5 I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands.
6 I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

7 Answer me quickly, O LORD!
My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,
lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.

9 Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD!
I have fled to you for refuge.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
on level ground!

11 For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life!
In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
12 And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies,
and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul,
for I am your servant.

Understanding and Applying the Word

David is in trouble and needs God to rescue him. However, David knows that he does not deserve God’s mercy because he is unrighteous, as we all are (verse 2). So, David pleads for God to rescue him, not based on what he has done, but for the sake of the Lord’s name (verse 11).

David understood that all things ultimately point to God. It is God who judges sin and it is God who saves from sin. In judgment and in salvation, the Lord’s name is glorified. He is upheld as holy and he is upheld as merciful and forgiving. We must never believe that we somehow earn God’s favor through the works we do. We are saved completely by grace as we understand our sin, repent of it, and trust in Jesus Christ for forgiveness (Ephesians 2:8-9). Is is truly all for the sake of the Lord’s name.

**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.

Learning to Give Thanks

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Reading the Word

Psalm 136:17–26 (ESV)

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

In verses 4-9, we are told to give thanks to God who is our Creator. In verses 10-16, we are reminded that it was God who led the Hebrew people out of slavery in Egypt. And now, in verses 17-26, we are called on to give thanks to the Lord because he brought the people into the Promised Land and conquered the powerful kings who resided there.

This psalm reflects on the history of the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. However, it also speaks to Christians today. We should give thanks to God who is our Creator. He is also the one who has delivered us from slavery to sin and death through his Son, Jesus Christ. And he has promised that we will inherit the true promised land, a new heaven and new earth where sin and death will be no more. We will dwell in that land for all of eternity and the Lord himself will be there with us. We have much to be thankful for!

**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!

Our Redeemer

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Reading the Word

Psalm 136:10–16 (ESV)

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;

Understanding and Applying the Word

Psalm 136 is a psalm that calls on mankind to give thanks to God. In the opening verses (vv. 1-9), we are reminded that God is Creator and is deserving of thanks for giving us life. Now, in verses 10-16, our attention is turned to the Lord’s redemptive acts in how he rescued the people from slavery in Egypt and brought them into the promised land.

This psalm was originally written to the Jewish people whose ancestors had been slaves in Egypt. Their redemption through the Exodus was a focal point of their history. We do not have to be native Israelites to find meaning in these verses. All of Scripture is focused on how God is the Redeemer of mankind. The salvation of Israel from slavery in Egypt is a picture of how God is working in an even greater way to free all of mankind from slavery to sin. God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to bring us freedom. All believers have reason to praise God as Redeemer. May we remember his goodness towards us and give him thanks!

**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!

Whatever the Lord Pleases

Psalm 1356 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 135:1–12 (ESV)

1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the name of the LORD,
give praise, O servants of the LORD,
2 who stand in the house of the LORD,
in the courts of the house of our God!
3 Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good;
sing to his name, for it is pleasant!
4 For the LORD has chosen Jacob for himself,
Israel as his own possession.

5 For I know that the LORD is great,
and that our Lord is above all gods.
6 Whatever the LORD pleases, he does,
in heaven and on earth,
in the seas and all deeps.
7 He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth,
who makes lightnings for the rain
and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.

8 He it was who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
both of man and of beast;
9 who in your midst, O Egypt,
sent signs and wonders
against Pharaoh and all his servants;
10 who struck down many nations
and killed mighty kings,
11 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
and Og, king of Bashan,
and all the kingdoms of Canaan,
12 and gave their land as a heritage,
a heritage to his people Israel.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The beginning of this psalm is a call to worship. Over and over again we read in the opening verses, “Praise the Lord!” Then in verses 4-5 we are told the reason: God is great and whatever he pleases, he does. This may not seem like a convincing reason to praise God unless we continue reading the following verses. There we are told that God, who is great and above all, is in control of all things and, in his great might, brought the people out of slavery in Egypt.

Power alone is not a reason to praise God. However, God is not just all-powerful. He is righteous and just and loving and gracious. In short, God is good (v. 3). All believers should praise the Lord for his greatness. He has delivered us all from our bondage to sin and death. He did this through his Son, Jesus Christ, who died on a cross to pay the penalty for sin, but rose on the third day victorious over sin and death. Now all believers have victory through Christ and the promise of an eternity with our Lord. Let us praise his name. He is great and he is good!

**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!

More than Watchmen for the Morning

Psalm 1306 [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 take the time to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Psalm 130:1–8 (ESV)

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
2 O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.

5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.

7 O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
8 And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.

The Lord Has Done Great Things for Us

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Reading the Word

Psalm 126:1–6 (ESV)

1  When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2  Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
3  The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad.

4  Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like streams in the Negeb!
5  Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
6  He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Lord is a God of restoration. In the Old Testament, we see how he restores the nation of Israel after defeat by its enemies. Such a turnaround results in joy and celebration.

The entire Bible is a story of restoration. It is a story of how God is restoring the entire creation to what it was meant to be. In the beginning, God created all things good, but when mankind rebelled against God through disobedience, sin entered the world and God’s good creation was corrupted resulting in suffering and death. God, in his grace towards us, promised to send one who would deliver mankind from the power of sin (Genesis 3:15).

As we read the Bible, we learn that the promised one was Jesus Christ, who died to pay for our sins and give us life. Those who turn to Christ in repentance and trust are promised eternal life in a restored creation without sin. Revelation 21 describes what that new world will be like:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” (Revelation 21:1–7, ESV)

There will be no mourning or crying or pain or death anymore. Our tears will be turned to joy and we will be with the Lord! Praise the Lord. He has truly done great things for us through Jesus Christ.

**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 Who Is on Our Side

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Reading the Word

Psalm 124:1–8 (ESV)

1 If it had not been the Lord who was on our side— let Israel now say— 2 if it had not been the Lord who was on our side when people rose up against us, 3 then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us; 4 then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us; 5 then over us would have gone the raging waters. 6 Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us as prey to their teeth! 7 We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped! 8 Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm observes that if the Lord had not been on the side of Israel, they would have been defeated. The enemy would have triumphed over the people and destroyed them. But God was on the side of Israel and the people escaped.

Romans 8:31 states, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” The Apostle Paul’s point in this verse is that if the sovereign God stands on our side, we are assured victory. Paul goes on to say that this is the same God who sent his Son to die for us. And if God was willing to pay such a huge price to save us, he is not going to just give us up. When we trust in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we are brought into the family of God. We are his and he stands on our side. Let us go into the world with confidence knowing that our salvation is secure and we have nothing to fear.

**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 Lift My Eyes to the Hills

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Reading the Word

Psalm 121 (ESV)

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses, the psalmist declares his steadfast faith in God as his salvation. It is God who keeps Israel and God never sleeps.

It is a wonderful thing to find security in the all-knowing, ever-present God who never sleeps. He is always aware of our circumstances and he is always capable of doing whatever he wills. We can trust him every day.

We can also trust him to fulfill his salvation in our lives through Jesus Christ. God has promised not only forgiveness of sin, but complete deliverance in a new creation. As we wait for that day, we echo the words of the Psalm, “I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and Earth.”

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