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 of 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!

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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.

Let My Cry Come before You

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Reading the Word

Psalm 119:169–176 (ESV)

169 Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to your word! 170 Let my plea come before you; deliver me according to your word. 171 My lips will pour forth praise, for you teach me your statutes. 172 My tongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right. 173 Let your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts. 174 I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight. 175 Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me. 176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We often take prayer for granted. It is an amazing thing that the great God who created everything cares to listen to the prayers of mankind. Why does he concern himself with us? We are insignificant when you think of the vastness of the universe. Yet, we are told that God does care and that he does hear and answer prayer.

The psalmist prays, “Let me cry come before you…Let my plea come before you.” It is a wonderful thing to know that God has heard. And it is also a wonderful thing to know that God answers prayer according to his word. He has not left us in the dark about his plans and purposes in the world, nor has he left us wondering what he desires from us. He has told us all of these things through his word to us. And most of all, we find that God is a God of salvation. He saves us from our sins and gives us life through Jesus Christ. Let us praise God for hearing us, for giving us his word, and for saving those who call out to 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!

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!

Redeem Me. Give Me Life.

Psalm 119154 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 119:153–160 (ESV)

153 Look on my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget your law. 154 Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise! 155 Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek your statutes. 156 Great is your mercy, O Lord; give me life according to your rules. 157 Many are my persecutors and my adversaries, but I do not swerve from your testimonies. 158 I look at the faithless with disgust, because they do not keep your commands. 159 Consider how I love your precepts! Give me life according to your steadfast love. 160 The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.

Understanding and Applying the Word

“Plead my cause and deliver me,” says the psalmist. “Give me life according to your promise.” These are the words of one who knows that he cannot save himself, but must rely on the Lord, who is merciful (cf. verse 156).

All of Scripture teaches that all of us have sinned against God and stand condemned. There is nothing that we can do in our own power and ability to repay or make up for our sinfulness. However, God himself has made a way for reconciliation. He has paid the price himself for all who will call out to him for forgiveness. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world as a man, lived a perfect life, and gave himself as a sacrifice for all of mankind. All who trust in his death are forgiven of their sins and given eternal life, not because of anything they have done to earn it, but by the grace of God alone.

The best news is that Jesus, who died for the sins of mankind, later rose from the dead in victory over sin and death. His resurrection proves that his sacrifice was accepted by God and that, through him, we can have victory over sin and death as well. The risen Savior now stands in the presence of the Father and pleads the case for all who trust in him. He pleads our cause and redeems us as his very own, giving us eternal life. What a wonderful Savior we have!

**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!