God Speaks Peace to His People

Colossians 119–20 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 85:1–8 (ESV)

1 Lord, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. 2 You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. Selah 3 You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger. 4 Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us! 5 Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations? 6 Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? 7 Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. 8 Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly.

Understanding and Applying the Word

These verses describe a restored relationship between God and his people. God, in his grace, forgave the people of their sin and showed his love for them.

Our sin is a great offense to God because he is holy. We are told that our sin separates us from God and that we stand condemned as a result. Yet, God is gracious and forgiving towards those who will repent of their sin and call out to him for forgiveness. He speaks peace to the repentant and restores the lost relationship. No longer does our sin condemn us, but we are called the people of God.

How is this possible? Because of the cross. Jesus Christ suffered and died in our place. He paid for our sin so that we could go free. The cross is the reminder that peace with God has been made possible for all who believe. Praise the Lord for his salvation!

**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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Will We Listen?

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Reading the Word

Psalm 81:11–16 (ESV)

11 “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. 12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels. 13 Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! 14 I would soon subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes. 15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe toward him, and their fate would last forever. 16 But he would feed you with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Even after all God had done for his people and even after his promise to be their God and bless them, they still did not obey him. They followed their own hearts and their own sinful ways. Even so, God promises to restore them if they turn to him. He stands ready to bless them.

Israel is a picture of all of mankind. In the Garden of Eden, man was placed in a paradise with all of the blessings of God, but sinned by disobeying the word of God. Likewise, Israel was rescued from slavery and brought to the Promised Land and offered the blessings of God, but sinned through disobedience to God’s word. And we do the same thing. God saves us from our sins through his Son, Jesus Christ, but we would rather follow our own way than submit to him as Lord. Even so, God stands ready to forgive and restore those who will repent and turn to him. What a patient and 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!

Living for Jesus

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Reading the Word

Psalm 81:5–10 (ESV)

5 He made it a decree in Joseph when he went out over the land of Egypt. I hear a language I had not known: 6 “I relieved your shoulder of the burden; your hands were freed from the basket. 7 In distress you called, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Selah 8 Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, if you would but listen to me! 9 There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god. 10 I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.

Understanding and Applying the Word

God brought he people out of slavery in Egypt. In doing so, he had relieved their daily burden of extreme labor. God had heard the groanings of the people and had delivered them. In response, the Lord expected the people to worship him alone and become conformed to his likeness as they followed his instruction to them. As their God, he stood ready to feed them and meet their needs, which he demonstrated by supplying manna in the wilderness.

In John 10:10 Jesus states, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” This verse describes the  work of Satan in the word to tempt mankind and keep people enslaved to their sins. Through false promises, Satan convinces us that we are better off without God. In reality, his schemes only steal true joy from us and lead us to death.

On the other hand, Jesus came to free us from our bondage to sin. Through him, we have the weight of sin removed and we are given eternal life. When we trust in Christ, we follow him as our Lord and he, as our Creator, knows exactly what we need and how we ought to live to bring fulfillment and joy to our lives. Living for Jesus is the abundant life!

**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!

Restore Us, O God!

Psalm 803 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 80:1–7 (ESV)

1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth. 2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up your might and come to save us! 3 Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved! 4 O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers? 5 You have fed them with the bread of tears and given them tears to drink in full measure. 6 You make us an object of contention for our neighbors, and our enemies laugh among themselves. 7 Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Understanding and Applying the Word

The theme of this psalm is captured in the repetition of the words “Restore us, O God; let your face shine that we may be saved.” The psalmist understands the circumstances facing Israel to be punishment for their sins and now he is crying out for restoration.

Restoration is the heart of the story of Scripture. In the beginning, God created all things, including mankind, and we are told that he looked upon his creation and pronounced it “good”. However, mankind sins against their Creator through disobedience and all of creation suffers as a result. Evil and sin and death entered into the good creation. The resulting circumstances seemed to be hopeless because of mankind’s sinfulness, but God provided a way for us to be saved. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to suffer and die in our place so that we could have life. God made a way that we could be restored. All who acknowledge their sin and turn to Christ will be saved. Will you call out to God for restoration 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!

Let Your Compassion Come Speedily

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Reading the Word

Psalm 79:1–8 (ESV)

1 O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins. 2 They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the heavens for food, the flesh of your faithful to the beasts of the earth. 3 They have poured out their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them. 4 We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those around us. 5 How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealousy burn like fire? 6 Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call upon your name! 7 For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation. 8 Do not remember against us our former iniquities; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm is a lament that most likely connected to the fall of Jerusalem and exile of Judah at the hands of the Babylonians. The verses describe the defiling of the temple, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the killing of many Israelites by the enemy. Why did this happen? Because God was angry with his people because of their sin.

Scripture tells us that all who place their trust in the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ are forgiven of their sins and will not be condemned before God. However, Scripture also tells us that God does discipline his people for their benefit. It is through discipline that our hearts and minds are transformed as we learn to love the things God loves and hate the things he hates. Let us be thankful that God is a gracious and forgiving God. And let us also be thankful for the discipline we receive that helps us as we become more and more like 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!

Judgment and Grace

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Reading the Word

Psalm 78:59–64 (ESV)

59 When God heard, he was full of wrath, and he utterly rejected Israel. 60 He forsook his dwelling at Shiloh, the tent where he dwelt among mankind, 61 and delivered his power to captivity, his glory to the hand of the foe. 62 He gave his people over to the sword and vented his wrath on his heritage. 63 Fire devoured their young men, and their young women had no marriage song. 64 Their priests fell by the sword, and their widows made no lamentation.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Because of Israel’s rebellion and because they turned to idolatry (v. 58), God removed his presence from among the people. Yet, God remained with Judah (cf. v. 68). In his anger, God allowed the tabernacle at Shiloh to be destroyed and the ark of the covenant to be captured, which was symbolic of his power and glory. Young men and priests were killed and the widowed women were so overwhelmed that they did not weep.

We must be careful not to trivialize sin. We can focus so much on the love and grace of God that we forget his holiness and justice. Scripture tells us that God will one day pour out his wrath in judgment on sin. The bad news is we are all sinners and deserve his wrath. The good news is that God himself has provided a way for our sin to be payed for. He sent his Son into the world to die in our place. He went to the cross to take the punishment that we deserve and when we place our trust in him, our sins are forgiven and we are reconciled to God, our holy Creator. The cross is a reminder of both the reality that sin will be judged and that God is gracious to sinners who repent and believe. Let us not forget either truth.

**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!

We Are Flesh

Psalm 7839 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 78:38–43 (ESV)

38 Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath. 39 He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again. 40 How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the desert! 41 They tested God again and again and provoked the Holy One of Israel. 42 They did not remember his power or the day when he redeemed them from the foe, 43 when he performed his signs in Egypt and his marvels in the fields of Zoan.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Bible, especially the Old Testament, records the history of the people of Israel. In that history, we see the people in a pattern of running to God in times of trouble and deserting him in times of ease. Over and over again, the people sin against God. And over and over again, God shows his patience by preserving them and welcoming them back. The grace we see from God is astounding!

As we read the history of Israel, we read our own story. We too are sinners and constantly turn our backs on God. n fact, Scripture tells us that we are all sinners and that we deserve God’s wrath. But Scripture also tells us that God is merciful and gracious towards sinners. Over and over again he welcomes us back. And, because we are all sinners and can not save ourselves, he made salvation possible. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for us by going to the cross and dying in for our sins. He is our substitute. When we acknowledge our sin and trust in Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, we are saved and given eternal life. 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!

Who Can Stand?

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Reading the Word

Psalm 76:7–12 (ESV)

7 But you, you are to be feared! Who can stand before you when once your anger is roused? 8 From the heavens you uttered judgment; the earth feared and was still, 9 when God arose to establish judgment, to save all the humble of the earth. Selah 10 Surely the wrath of man shall praise you; the remnant of wrath you will put on like a belt. 11 Make your vows to the Lord your God and perform them; let all around him bring gifts to him who is to be feared, 12 who cuts off the spirit of princes, who is to be feared by the kings of the earth.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Who can stand before God when His anger is roused? The answer is “No one.” When God comes to judge the world, all will fear Him and recognize Him as the true King. In light of this, it is best that we turn to Him now.

Many deny that God could display wrath. Yet, the Bible is clear that one day God will pour out His wrath on unbelievers who have not turned to Christ for forgiveness. The cross is a picture of that wrath as the Father poured out His wrath on His Son, Jesus Christ, who stood in the place of all sinners who would place their trust in Him. For those who refuse to turn to Christ in repentance and faith, God’s wrath will fall on them. When that day comes, all will fear the Lord and know that He is the Judge and King.

**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!

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!

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!