Believe in the Lord Jesus

Acts 1630–31 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Acts 16:25–31 (ESV)

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

When the jailer asked what he must to to be saved, Paul and Silas told him, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” That is the message of the gospel.

The Bible teaches us that we are all sinners before our holy God, our Creator. We have rebelled and disobeyed. As a result, we are rightfully condemned and there is nothing that we can do on or own to make things right with God. We have nothing to offer. However, God has done something for us. He has given his Son, Jesus Christ, who came willingly into the world to die for sinners. If we will repent of our sins and trust in Jesus’ sacrificial death, we will be forgiven. That is the gospel and the central theme of the entire Bible. Will you believe in Jesus Christ and be saved?

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The Lord Is My Rock

Psalm 182 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 18:1–3 (ESV)

1 I love you, O LORD, my strength.
2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Lord is our rock. He is our strength. He is our fortress. He is our refuge. Whatever trouble may come to us, whatever difficulties we face, we can find our salvation and hope in the Lord. With our God, there is safety and security because he is the all-powerful and all-knowing One who loves his people. He will never let us down.

When David wrote the words of Psalm 18, his enemies were other men who sought his life. We do not need to have the same type of enemies to find comfort from this psalm. Just as David trusted that God would take care of him, we can trust that the Lord will take care of us also, even if our troubles are different. Are you ill? Are you facing financial insecurity? Are you facing persecution for being a follower of Christ? Whatever you are dealing with, know that the Lord is our rock. He will always be there and his protection is better than any other.

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Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul?

monochrome photo of woman sitting on floor

Photo by Emre Kuzu on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Psalm 43:1–5 (ESV)

1 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
deliver me!
2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?

3 Send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!
4 Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.

5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this psalm, the writer is in distress. There is mention of unjust treatment, deceit, and oppression. This has resulted in the psalmist feeling rejected and being in a state of mourning. The writer calls out for God to grant deliverance, so he can go to the altar and worship.

The last verse is the one we need to focus on. The psalmist asks, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” When we trust in God, we have no reason to feel defeated or hopeless. We are assured that he will save us for himself. We will be with him because Christ has already defeated our enemies on our behalf. We will praise him again.

Whatever your circumstances, fellow believer, know that you belong to God and he will fulfill his promises to you. He will save you and you will praise him for his glory, love, and grace. One day, we will all stand before his throne and lift our voices in praise together because he is our salvation.

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With His Wounds We Are Healed

Isaiah 535 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Isaiah 53:1–6 (ESV)

1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Son of God came into the world to save mankind from our sin. Who would have imagined the way such a salvation would come? The King of kings and Lord of lords came as a humble servant to serve us. He gave up his high position and glory to become nothing for us. And as he came to show such great love for us, we rejected him and nailed him to a cross to crucify him.

When we look at the cross, we must never lose our sense of awe over what our Savior did for us. Such an amazing act of love! Jesus Christ gave his body to be beaten and torn until he died an agonizing death. As he hung on that cross, he bore our sins and took the punishment each one of us deserve. Through his suffering and death, those who repent and call out to him in faith, receive the healing we desperately need: freedom from sin and the gift of eternal life. So, as we look to the cross, let us celebrate our salvation, but let us not forget the great sacrifice that our salvation required.

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We Can Be Friends with God

1 John 19 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 25:11–15 (ESV)

11 For your name’s sake, O LORD,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who is the man who fears the LORD?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
13 His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
14 The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
15 My eyes are ever toward the LORD,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

Understanding and Applying the Word

What is the story of Scripture? It is that mankind is separated from God because of sin. Our sin is rebellion against God and his will. Instead of bringing honor and glory to our Creator, we have rebelled and gone our own way. We have become the enemies of God.

Even in our rebellion, God still loves us. Though there is nothing we can do by our own power or means, God has made a way for our sins to be forgiven and for the barrier between us and him to be removed. We can be friends of God.

Our sin can be forgiven because of what Jesus Christ has done for us. He came into the world, lived a sinless life, and gave himself as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind. If we will repent of our sins and trust in the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf, we are promised that our sins are forgiven and that we will have eternal life with God.

Pardon my guilt, for it is great (repentance). The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him (restoration). He will pluck my feet from out of the net (salvation). What a wonderful message for all of us!

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Joy Inexpressible

1 Peter 18–9 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Peter 1:3–9 (ESV)

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Understanding and Applying the Word

O the future that awaits the people of God! It is beyond our comprehension how wonderful it will be. Christ’s resurrection from the dead assures us that his promise of eternal life is true. We will be with our Lord for eternity! No matter what we may face now, we are assured that there is a glorious future and we can “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible.”

As those who belong to Christ and who have an inheritance that can never be taken away, we should be the most joyous people around. We have been given a wonderful gift. We have received the promise of eternal life in a world without sin and death and pain and suffering. The Son of God loves us and died for us to bring us life. Let us rejoice in our Savior and our future!

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The Spirit Bears Witness

Romans 816 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 8:12–17 (ESV)

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When we are born again through faith in Jesus Christ, our new birth is through the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Spirit “bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” It is the on-going work of the Holy Spirit in our lives that assures us that we truly belong to God.

Is the Spirit working in you to convict, direct, encourage, and grow you? Let this be an assurance to you that you are a child of God, a fellow heir with Christ of all that God has promised. He has given you new life and is working to help you grow to maturity.

Is the work of the Spirit missing from your life? Have you said a prayer or said that you believe, but there is no change or inner working of the Holy Spirit? Is it possible that you are not truly a child of God? Jesus said that there will be many at the end who will cry out to him “Lord, Lord!” and he will respond, “I never knew you; away from me.” Take Jesus’ words as a warning, repent of your sins, and ask him to save you now and give you new life in the Spirit. The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

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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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