Beware of Envy

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Reading the Word

Psalm 73:1–3 (ESV)

1 Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. 3 For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

Understanding and Applying the Word

It is easy to fall into the sin of envy. We look at what someone else has and think we should have it too. In fact, we feel as if we are the one who deserves to have it more so than the other person. This can cause great pain in our relationships with others.

It can also cause great problems in our relationship with God. When we are envious of others, we are also saying that God has failed to be fair and good to us. We declare that God has given what we deserve to someone who does not deserve the same. Our main issue is with our attitude towards God. This is why this psalm begins with the words “Truly God is good.” The psalmist reminds himself of this important fact about God.

Let us remind ourselves that God is good. Let us not be envious, but let us love others. And let us not be envious because we love our good God whose grace overflows towards us.

**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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Punishment upon Punishment

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Reading the Word

Psalm 69:22–28 (ESV)

22 Let their own table before them become a snare; and when they are at peace, let it become a trap. 23 Let their eyes be darkened, so that they cannot see, and make their loins tremble continually. 24 Pour out your indignation upon them, and let your burning anger overtake them. 25 May their camp be a desolation; let no one dwell in their tents. 26 For they persecute him whom you have struck down, and they recount the pain of those you have wounded. 27 Add to them punishment upon punishment; may they have no acquittal from you. 28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be enrolled among the righteous.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Reading these verses raises questions in our minds. The verses seem so unkind and unloving. How can David say such things? Should we feel the same about our enemies? Didn’t Jesus teach that we should love our enemies? These are all good questions and we should wrestle with them.

David’s words are not contrary to the teaching of Scripture. First, he leaves vengeance in the hands of God. He dos not take it upon himself to punish his enemies, but calls out to God, the righteous and all-knowing Judge to do so. This is important because God is the one who always renders the right judgment. Secondly, Scripture tells us that sin and evil will ultimately be judged. David’s prayer is in line with this truth. He is calling out for what God has told us will take place. All believers should long for the day when injustice will cease and perfect justice will take place. That is the heart of David’s prayer.

Let us read these words and be reminded of the injustice of this world as we look forward to the end of sin and evil when God makes things right.

**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!

He Led a Host of Captives

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Reading the Word

Psalm 68:7–18 (ESV)

7 O God, when you went out before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, Selah8 the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain, before God, the One of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel. 9 Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad; you restored your inheritance as it languished; 10 your flock found a dwelling in it; in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy. 11 The Lord gives the word; the women who announce the news are a great host: 12 “The kings of the armies—they flee, they flee!” The women at home divide the spoil— 13 though you men lie among the sheepfolds— the wings of a dove covered with silver, its pinions with shimmering gold. 14 When the Almighty scatters kings there, let snow fall on Zalmon. 15 O mountain of God, mountain of Bashan; O many-peaked mountain, mountain of Bashan! 16 Why do you look with hatred, O many-peaked mountain, at the mount that God desired for his abode, yes, where the Lord will dwell forever? 17 The chariots of God are twice ten thousand, thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them; Sinai is now in the sanctuary. 18 You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men, even among the rebellious, that the Lord God may dwell there.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As we read these verses, we read a retelling of the exodus when God brought the Israelites out of servitude in Egypt and into the Promised Land where the people became a nation. The passage proclaims that it was God, and God alone, who was responsible for the great victory. The Lord is the victorious King who led a host of captives in His train.

In Scripture, the exodus is often used as a picture to the greater deliverance that God would bring to mankind by delivering them from captivity to sin. God accomplished this deliverance through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ followed by the resurrection. The Letter to the Ephesians quotes Psalm 68 when it states the following:

“When he [Jesus] ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (Ephesians 4:8)

The imagery here is clear. Jesus is seen as the conquering King who leads His people out of bondage to sin. This is the message of all of Scripture. We are sinners and God, by His grace, has made it possible for our sin to be dealt with so that we might have eternal life. We cannot do it on our own, but our King does all of the conquering for us. It is ours to simply trust in 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!

Have Mercy on Me, O God

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Reading the Word

Psalm 51:1–4 (ESV)

1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This is one of the most well-known of the psalms. The words are amazing enough on their own, but knowing the background makes this psalm even more amazing. David has had an affair with Bathsheba and, in an attempt to cover it up, he has commanded that her husband, Uriah, be placed in the thick of battle so that he will be killed. David’s scheme to cover up his wrongs fails, however, as Nathan the prophet confronts David over his sin.

This psalm is the result of David’s guilt and repentance over what he has done. In these opening verses, he pleads with God for mercy as he admits his wrongdoing. He bases his plea not on anything he has done to deserve God’s forgiveness, but solely on the steadfast love of God. What a wonderful example of the grace of God towards all of us. Scripture tells us that we are all sinners and fall short, but God is gracious and forgives those who repent and turn to him. Whatever your background, know that God stands ready to show his grace and mercy to you when you acknowledge your sin and your need for forgiveness.

**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!

Kicked While Your Are Down

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Reading the Word

Psalm 41:5–8 (ESV)

5 My enemies say of me in malice, “When will he die, and his name perish?” 6 And when one comes to see me, he utters empty words, while his heart gathers iniquity; when he goes out, he tells it abroad. 7 All who hate me whisper together about me; they imagine the worst for me. 8 They say, “A deadly thing is poured out on him; he will not rise again from where he lies.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

There is nothing like being kicked when you are down. That is what this psalm describes. As the psalmist lies in sickness, his enemies use the situation to drag his name through the mud using slander. These enemies look forward to his death and the end of his family line (v. 5). They do all they can to spread false information about him and paint him in the worst possible light.

As he lies in sickness, the only one David can call out to is God. Yes, he has sinned against God, but he has repented (v. 4). He knows that God is gracious and forgiving and restores the repentant heart to fellowship. In the day God lifts him up, his name will be vindicated over his enemies.

Those who repent of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ are forgiven of their sins. They are adopted as children of God. Though enemies may attack, there comes a day when God’s people will be vindicated over all the enemies of God and his children. We wait in confidence for God to lift us up for his glory.

**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!

O Lord, Make Me Know My End

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Reading the Word

Psalm 39:1–13 (ESV)

1 I said, “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.” 2 I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse. 3 My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: 4 “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! 5 Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah6 Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather! 7 “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. 8 Deliver me from all my transgressions. Do not make me the scorn of the fool! 9 I am mute; I do not open my mouth, for it is you who have done it. 10 Remove your stroke from me; I am spent by the hostility of your hand. 11 When you discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him; surely all mankind is a mere breath! Selah12 “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers. 13 Look away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more!”

Understanding and Applying the Word

I do not know many people who like to think or talk about death. Yet, it is a topic that we must think about at some point because it is a reality that we all face. We need to be prepared for it and we need to prepare others for it. In this psalm, the writer asks for God to make him know the end and the measure of his days. He wants to live in the reality that life is short.

As a pastor, I have come to realize that funerals open a door of opportunity to encourage people to reflect on the brevity of life. I believe this is a good thing and that reflecting on death can help us have a better life. We need to consider that we will one day stand before the Creator and give an account. We also must consider that we have all sinned and that God is holy. Thankfully, he is also gracious and has made forgiveness of sin possible through the sacrificial death of his Son, Jesus Christ. God’s word tells us that those who trust in Christ will be saved and given eternal life.

We need to be prepared for death because it can come at any moment. We, like the psalmist, need to know the brevity of our days and turn to Christ while we have time. Will you today?

**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!

Feeling Crushed

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Reading the Word

Psalm 38:1–8 (ESV)

1 O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath! 2 For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me. 3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. 4 For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me. 5 My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness, 6 I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning. 7 For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh. 8 I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Sin is a serious matter. It can cause many problems in our lives. It can harm or destroy relationships. It can get us into legal problems. It can even cause illness and physical issues. This is the case in Psalm 38.

As a result of sin, David is sick. He states, “There is no soundness in my flesh…there is no health in my bones.” He also mentions his feeling of guilt and describes it as a great burden that is too heavy for him. So he is left crushed under the weight of his sin.

There is good news for David and for us. God forgives sinners. In fact, this is the very message that is central to the entire Bible. We have all sinned and are crushed under the weight of our sin, but God loves us and has sent his Son into the world as a sacrifice for sin. He took the weight of our sin upon himself and let us go free. When we realize our need for salvation and trust in the sacrifice of Christ, our sins are forgiven and we are set free from our burden. What a gracious God!

**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!

Turn from Evil and Do Good

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Reading the Word

Psalm 37:27–34 (ESV)

27 Turn away from evil and do good; so shall you dwell forever. 28 For the Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off. 29 The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell upon it forever. 30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. 31 The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip. 32 The wicked watches for the righteous and seeks to put him to death. 33 The Lord will not abandon him to his power or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial. 34 Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

Understanding and Applying the Word

“Turn away from evil and do good,” we are told in this psalm. In fact, this is the message of all of Scripture. The thing is, most of us probably think that we are already “good”, or at least good enough. The problem is that Scripture tells us that none of us are good. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). As a result, we are condemned to death (Romans 6:23).

But we can turn from our sin in repentance and call upon the Lord for forgiveness. In his grace, God does forgive those who repent and trust in Jesus Christ for their salvation (Acts 2:38). Not only does the believer find forgiveness, but also the promise of eternal life in a new heaven and a new earth in the very presence of God. What a great hope we have in 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!

No Fear of God

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Thank you for reading Shaped by the Word. I do not publish devotional content on Sundays, but I do post a suggested reading. We are working through the Book of Psalms in 2018. If you have not already subscribed to this page, please do so and plan to read along with us each day! Thanks again!

Reading the Word

Psalm 36:1–4 (ESV)

1 Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. 2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. 3 The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good. 4 He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil.

Running from Repentance

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Reading the Word

Psalm 32:1–5 (ESV)

1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

Guilt is a terrible thing to live with. It gnaws at your conscience. It never leaves you alone and there is no peace to be found. In this psalm, we read that that David felt as though his bones were wasting away and he groaned all day long in agony. He was guilty and he did not want to do what he needed to do. He did not want to own up to his sin. Instead, he kept silent. How often do we do the same?

However, when David finally did admit his sin and stopped trying to hide it, he found something unexpected. In our world of getting even, we expect him to pay dearly for whatever it is he has done. Instead, he finds forgiveness. The Lord covers his sin and does not count it any longer. It is forgiven.

How amazing that the all-knowing, holy God would forgive the sin of the repentant. Yet that is exactly what the Bible says God does for all who acknowledge their sin and turn to him by trusting in Jesus Christ as the one who pays for their sin. Do not let your guilt continue to eat away while you try to hide. It will never work. Besides, there is a better way. Turn to God in repentance and he will forgive you.

**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!