The Ruler of Creation

Psalm 7417 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 74:9–17 (ESV)

9 We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet, and there is none among us who knows how long. 10 How long, O God, is the foe to scoff? Is the enemy to revile your name forever? 11 Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the fold of your garment and destroy them! 12 Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth. 13 You divided the sea by your might; you broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters. 14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness. 15 You split open springs and brooks; you dried up ever-flowing streams. 16 Yours is the day, yours also the night; you have established the heavenly lights and the sun. 17 You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In verses 9-11, we read a lament. The people no longer see God’s work among them. There are no sign and there is no prophet to speak God’s word to the people. It is as if God has abandoned them.

In verses 12-17, the tone changes. It goes from one of lamentation to one of speaking of God’s greatness as the Sovereign One. These verses proclaim that God is the ancient King who is always at work to fulfill His plan of redemption. He is powerful over all of creation.

In these verses we see one who is troubled by his circumstances as he calls out to God. He even feels as though God has forgotten or is ignoring him. However, the psalmist reminds himself that God is the Sovereign King and that His purposes will be fulfilled. God has His reasons for the things that take place in our lives, even if we do not always know what those reasons are. We must simply trust in His redemptive plan knowing it is being worked out in all of God’s creation. Let us not lose heart, but let us remember who is 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!

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Has God Cast Us Off Forever?

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Photo by Inzmam Khan on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Psalm 74:1–8 (ESV)

1 O God, why do you cast us off forever? Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture? 2 Remember your congregation, which you have purchased of old, which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage! Remember Mount Zion, where you have dwelt. 3 Direct your steps to the perpetual ruins; the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary! 4 Your foes have roared in the midst of your meeting place; they set up their own signs for signs. 5 They were like those who swing axes in a forest of trees. 6 And all its carved wood they broke down with hatchets and hammers. 7 They set your sanctuary on fire; they profaned the dwelling place of your name, bringing it down to the ground. 8 They said to themselves, “We will utterly subdue them”; they burned all the meeting places of God in the land.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm begins with a prayer asking God to remember His people. It is a description of total destruction of the land, including the temple itself. The description fits best with what we know of the Babylonian invasion in 586 B.C.

The people did not think that God would allow such a catastrophic defeat to happen to His people. They especially did not not think that He would allow the temple, which represented God’s presence and protection, to be destroyed and profaned. However, it did happen and now the psalmist is calling out to God wondering where He is.

Just as God used difficulties in the Old Testament to discipline His people. He often does the same for us today. The Babylonian destruction and captivity was used by God to redirect the hearts of the people to Him. It was a very difficult time for the people, but it was used by God. Let us not lose heart in the midst of difficulty as if God has forgotten us or as if He has failed. Instead, let us continue to trust in Him and learn to to trust in Him even more.

**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!

All Things for Good

Romans 828 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 71:19–24 (ESV)

19 Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? 20 You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. 21 You will increase my greatness and comfort me again. 22 I will also praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praises to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. 23 My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed. 24 And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long, for they have been put to shame and disappointed who sought to do me hurt.

Understand and Applying the Word

Verse 19 begins by speaking of God’s righteousness, which “reaches the high heavens.” When we speak of God’s righteousness, we mean that God does what is right. This is interesting given the words of verse 20 where the psalmist writes that God has made him see “many troubles and calamities.” The difficulties the psalmist has been facing are from the hand of the sovereign God.

So, how can God be righteous if He is responsible for the troubles? Because God uses those difficulties to make us better. As Romans 8:28 says, “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” We can have confidence knowing that God has a plan to work in our lives and bring us to maturity in Christ. For that reason, we can join the psalmist in praise of the righteousness of 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!

Be Still and Know

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Reading the Word

Psalm 46:6–11 (ESV)

6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. 7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. 10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

If you like the old hymns, you likely know Martin Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Luther was inspired by the words of Psalm 46 when he penned the classic hymn that is a favorite of many still today. Like the hymn, Psalm 46 speaks of God’s great authority. He is powerful over nature (vv. 1-3), over those who attack his city (vv. 4-7), and over all who would make war (vv. 8-11).

When we come to verse 10, we come to words that are often quoted, but often misunderstood. It reads, “Be still, and know that I am God.” These words should not be read as words of comfort or encouragement to the downtrodden. These are the words of God to the raging nations. “Be still, and know that I am God!” It reminds us of Jesus’ calming of the storm when he says, “Peace, be still!” and the storms cease. God tells the nations to be still and recognize that he is God.

God is the sovereign authority over all of creation. Many reject that claim and say there is no God or claim another as god, but in the end all will know who the one true God is. And the greatest confidence believers can have today is that this is the God who is with us even now.

**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!

My Times Are in Your Hand

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Reading the Word

Psalm 31:9–18 (ESV)

9 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. 10 For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away. 11 Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach, especially to my neighbors, and an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me. 12 I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel. 13 For I hear the whispering of many— terror on every side!— as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life. 14 But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” 15 My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors! 16 Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love! 17 O Lord, let me not be put to shame, for I call upon you; let the wicked be put to shame; let them go silently to Sheol. 18 Let the lying lips be mute, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As David thinks about his situation and describes his enemies’ desire to destroy him, he is encouraged by one thing: that God is in control. He declares, “But I trust in you, O Lord.” Regardless of the circumstances. Then he says, “My times are in your hands.”

Reading these words shows us the great faith of David in God. He was a man of great trust! We also need to learn how David’s trust in God is an example for us to follow. We should trust God as well. Even in the midst of difficulties, we know that the sovereign God is in control and that he is loving and gracious and good. We can trust him. Let us find the faith to say, with David, “My times are in your hand.”

**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’s Throne

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Reading the Word

Psalm 11:1–7 (ESV)

1 In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain, 2 for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; 3 if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” 4 The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. 5 The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. 6 Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. 7 For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In verses 1-3, David responds to his advisers who tell him to “Flee like a bird to your mountain”. Their argument seems to be that David needs to run away from the present danger because, as king, the hope of the righteous rests on his survival (cf. Psalm 11:3).

Verses 4-7 give us David’s response to this advice. The Lord is in his holy temple! God is in control! God is on his throne. He sees what is going on and David places his trust in the Lord to deal with the wicked and reward the righteous.

What a great comfort it is to know that God is all-seeing and all-knowing. There is no evil that escapes him and he will deal justly with all people. God’s people can live confidently and obediently in this world knowing that they serve the Lord and he gives life to the faithful.

**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!

Seated on the Throne

Revelation 48 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Revelation 4:1–11 (ESV)

1 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. 3 And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, 6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” 9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

After writing to the seven churches in chapters two and three, John now shares a glimpse into the throne room of heaven. John gives us a picture of God seated on the throne with all of the heavenly court worshiping him. As they worship, they call out to the “Lord God Almighty”, which speaks to God’s sovereignty. They also praise God as the one who is “worthy to receive glory and honor and power” because he is the Creator of all things.

In short, this passage tells us that God is the sovereign Creator over all things. This is important because we have just finished reading about how the seven churches are facing persecution in the world and things are not easy for them. Here, John encourages his readers to remember who is truly in control: God.

It may sometimes seem like all hope is lost. We may have a difficult family situation or we may be discouraged by how things are going in the world. But let us be encouraged knowing that our God is seated on the throne. He is the Creator and all things belong to him. For this reason, we always have hope.

**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!