No Evil Shall Befall You

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Reading the Word

Psalm 91:5–13 (ESV)

5 You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. 9 Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— 10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12 On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The words of these verses can be, and have been, misunderstood. If we do not read them carefully we may think that they teach us that nothing bad will ever happen to the people of God. This is how Satan tried to deceive Christ when he quoted verses 11-12 (cf. Matthew 4:5-6). This is how Satan has always tried to deceive mankind.

In the garden of Eden, Satan deceived the woman and the man by convincing them that God was not good. God was holding something good back from them (i.e. wisdom). The first man and woman fell for it and ate of the tree that was forbidden. Likewise, we are often tempted to believe that if God is good then nothing bad should ever happen to his good people. We might ask, “If God is good why do bad things happen to good or innocent people?” After all, the verses of this psalm teach that evil is reserved for the enemies of God, right?

Well, not really. As we will read tomorrow, in verse 15 God promises to be with his people in the time of trouble and to rescue them. These verses do not promise freedom from trouble, only that God will be with us in those times and will ultimately deliver us. For some, that might mean he will heal our sickness. For others, he may give us victory over our enemies. But for many, it will mean that our victory does not come in this life, but in the next. God promises us that he will give us the ultimate victory. We will be victorious over sin and death because of what he has done for us through his Son, Jesus Christ. We will have eternal life and the joy of eternity with God as our Father. Nothing in this world can ever take that away!

**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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I Am Helpless

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Reading the Word

Psalm 88:10–18 (ESV)

10 Do you work wonders for the dead? Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah 11 Is your steadfast love declared in the grave, or your faithfulness in Abaddon? 12 Are your wonders known in the darkness, or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? 13 But I, O Lord, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you. 14 O Lord, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me? 15 Afflicted and close to death from my youth up, I suffer your terrors; I am helpless. 16 Your wrath has swept over me; your dreadful assaults destroy me. 17 They surround me like a flood all day long; they close in on me together. 18 You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me; my companions have become darkness.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As this psalm began, so it ends. The writer is calling out to God for help in the midst of great despair. As we come to the end, we may be wondering what we can learn from such a passage.

Here are a few things that I believe this psalm teaches. First, God does not always remove our trials and difficulties from us. We may have to face them all our days. This should not come as a surprise to us. Even our Savior prayed that the “cup” be taken from him before he was crucified. The Father did not remove the cup and Christ went to the cross. When we pray, we do so with the same words of Jesus: “not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

A second thing that we can learn is that we should never stop praying. It is an act of faith when we do. Even though the psalmist was discouraged and even after the passage of much time, he continued to pray. He showed his trust in God by continuing to go to him.

And lastly, this psalm reminds us that the fulfillment of the promises of God will not be realized in this world, but the next. God has put in motion a plan to redeem his creation from sin and its effects. There will be a new heaven and a new earth without sin and suffering and mourning and death, but that day is still future. We live in a fallen world and the effects of sin impact us all. So, we wait eagerly for the world to come and we trust in the promises of God until they are realized.

**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!

Those Who Hate God

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Reading the Word

Psalm 83:1–8 (ESV)

1 O God, do not keep silence; do not hold your peace or be still, O God! 2 For behold, your enemies make an uproar; those who hate you have raised their heads. 3 They lay crafty plans against your people; they consult together against your treasured ones. 4 They say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!” 5 For they conspire with one accord; against you they make a covenant— 6 the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites, 7 Gebal and Ammon and Amalek, Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; 8 Asshur also has joined them; they are the strong arm of the children of Lot. Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm is a plea for God to rescue the people of Israel from their enemies. Those enemies are spelled out in verses 6-8. One thing to note is the concern of the psalmist. He does not make his plea based on the innocence of Israel. He does not call out and ask God to protect the Israelites because they are being treated unjustly. His primary concern is that the enemy has declared war on God himself. Notice verse 2: “For behold, your enemies make an uproar; those who hate you have raised their heads.”

Throughout the ages, God’s people have suffered at the hands of others. The primary reason is not because of something that they had done. The primary reason has always been because the world is at war with God. It does not want him. We, as his people, are a constant reminder of the reality of God and the truth that God will one day bring all of mankind to judgment. Let us, as the people of God, remember that the word is at war with God and let us not be surprised when the world hates us. Let us be encouraged knowing that the war has already been won and that our God reigns!

**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!

Suffering for Your Sake, O God

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Reading the Word

Psalm 44:17–26 (ESV)

17 All this has come upon us, though we have not forgotten you, and we have not been false to your covenant. 18 Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from your way; 19 yet you have broken us in the place of jackals and covered us with the shadow of death. 20 If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, 21 would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart. 22 Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. 23 Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever! 24 Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? 25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground. 26 Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!

Understanding and Applying the Word

We have been reading this psalm for a couple of days. In the previous verses we read the words of one crying out to God for help, but God has not done anything. Now we read that, even through all of the difficulties, the people have been faithful towards God (v. 17). They continue to live their lives for him.

Interestingly, we are told that the suffering that is taking place is “for your sake” (v.22). The people are suffering precisely because they are God’s people. This passage is quoted in Romans 8:36-39 by the apostle Paul who uses it to speak of his suffering for belonging to Christ and proclaiming the gospel.

The people of God in every age can expect rejection. In some places and times they can also expect severe persecution. Why? Because, as the people of God, they walk as witnesses to the truth to a world that has rejected the truth for a lie. When believers suffer for the sake of the truth of God’s word, they suffer for God’s sake. He may not come to our immediate rescue, but we can do the same thing that the writer of this psalm did. We can trust in the steadfast love of God (v.26). After all, he is the one who has redeemed us by sending his Son to die on a cross. He has shown us his love and we can trust him in every circumstance.

**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!

Fiery Trials

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Reading the Word

1 Peter 4:12–19 (ESV)

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Understanding the Word

Peter tells his readers not to think of “fiery trials” as a strange thing for Christians. Think of them as normal. After all, that is what Jesus Christ endured. Why should his followers be any different?

Christians have been saved from God’s coming wrath and judgment. Therefore, we can endure the trials we face now without shame and while continuing to do good.

Applying the Word

Mistakenly, many believe that when a person becomes a Christian, it removes all hardship from their lives. They believe the Bible teaches that God blesses with health, wealth, and prosperity if the Christian will just have enough faith and live in the right way.

The Bible does not teach a prosperity gospel. It teaches us that Jesus Christ suffered in this world as the righteous servant of God and that his followers will face similar suffering. Instead of seeking our own prosperity and comfort, we should seek the honor and glory of the one who has saved us for eternal joy in His presence.

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Suffering Like Christ

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Reading the Word

1 Peter 4:1–6 (ESV)

1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

Understanding the Word

What does Peter mean when he says “arm yourselves with the same way of thinking”?

He is referring to Christ’s suffering on the cross at Calvary for the sins of mankind. Why did he suffer? To fulfill the will of the Father. Peter is calling believers to do the same. We are to suffer, if need be, to fulfill the will of the God in our lives.

What is that will? That we would live holy, sanctified lives no longer controlled by our sinful passions.

Applying the Word

Doing the right thing is not always the easy thing. Sometimes it leads to suffering. You may lose a friend, or a job, or fail a test. You may be mocked, or made fun of, or laughed at. You may be called ignorant, or a bigot, or out of touch. In the history of Christianity, some have even been imprisoned or killed for standing up for what is right.

But that is what we are called to do. We are to live for the will of God, even if we must endure difficulty as a result. By doing so we follow the example of Christ and we please God. May we not look for the easy way, but the right way.

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