Testing God

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Reading the Word

Psalm 78:17–25 (ESV)

17 Yet they sinned still more against him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert. 18 They tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved. 19 They spoke against God, saying, “Can God spread a table in the wilderness? 20 He struck the rock so that water gushed out and streams overflowed. Can he also give bread or provide meat for his people?” 21 Therefore, when the Lord heard, he was full of wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob; his anger rose against Israel, 22 because they did not believe in God and did not trust his saving power. 23 Yet he commanded the skies above and opened the doors of heaven, 24 and he rained down on them manna to eat and gave them the grain of heaven. 25 Man ate of the bread of the angels; he sent them food in abundance.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Even after God delivered the people out of Egypt, showing his love and power, the people sinned against him. They did so by testing God (v. 18). Instead of praising God and trusting in him because of all he had done, they questioned God. “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?” They did not trust that God would provide their basic needs of food and water as he led them through the desert to the land of Canaan. As a result, God was full of wrath (vv. 21-22), but he gave them water and fed them in abundance.

O believer, do not fail to see that God has shown his love and power to us. He has shown it as he has brought salvation to us through the shed blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. And he has shown it as he has given us new life through his Spirit that indwells us. Let us not ask for new proofs of God’s love and power. Such demands and attitudes are sinful and the result of unbelief. Instead, let us find confidence from all that God has done in the past as we walk by faith into the future.

**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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No Turning Back

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Reading the Word

Psalm 78:9–16 (ESV)

9 The Ephraimites, armed with the bow, turned back on the day of battle. 10 They did not keep God’s covenant, but refused to walk according to his law. 11 They forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them. 12 In the sight of their fathers he performed wonders in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan. 13 He divided the sea and let them pass through it, and made the waters stand like a heap. 14 In the daytime he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a fiery light. 15 He split rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep. 16 He made streams come out of the rock and caused waters to flow down like rivers.

Understanding and Applying the Word

After opening the psalm by calling for the people to learn from history (vv. 1-8), verses 9-16 begin to recount that history. It begins by telling how the Ephraimites had forgotten their history and had shrunk back in the day of battle. They forgot how God had displayed his power and allowed the Israelites to cross the Red Sea when they went out of Egypt. God also led them with a cloud in the day and a pillar of fire at night and supplied water from a rock. If the Ephraimites had remembered their history, they would have gone into battle knowing that God was with them.

We can read these words and wonder at how the people could forget what God had done. How often do we do the same in our own lives? We have seen and experienced God’s power as believers. We are told in Scripture that all who believe are born again and have the Spirit of God living within them. Yet, when faced with difficulty or trials, we often forget that God is with us and we wonder how we will make it through our circumstances. Let us not forget our history. It prepares us for the future.

**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 Right Hand of the Most High

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Reading the Word

Psalm 77:10–15 (ESV)

10 Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.” 11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. 12 I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. 13 Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? 14 You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. 15 You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

As the writer considers his circumstances, he comes to the conclusion that he will appeal “to the years of the right hand of the Most High.” This may seem like a strange and difficult to understand statement, but it becomes clear when taken with the words directly following: “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.” The psalmist is declaring that during his present situation, he will remember the mighty works of God when God showed his great power during the exodus of the people out of Egypt.

When we consider God’s great works in history, it gives us encouragement and strength to get through today. We can see how God has been with his people and brought them through great difficulties. This reminds us that he is with us as well. We are assured of this when we look to the cross and see that God has brought us through our time of greatest need. When we were alienated from God himself, he sent his Son to die for our sin and bring us back into a right relationship with him. He showed his great power to us in the resurrection that assures us of eternal life if we will 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!

I Cry Aloud

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Reading the Word

Psalm 77:1–4 (ESV)

1 I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. 2 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. 3 When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah4 You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In a time of trouble, the writer of this psalm turned to God. He cried out and was confident that God heard his cries. Notice that he says that he cried aloud and without wearying. The psalmist must have been in great despair!

Where do you turn in times of trouble? The place we go first may say a great deal about what we trust most. When we turn to God and cry out to Him, we can be confident that He hears us and that we can continue to cry out to Him without growing weary, knowing that He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

**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 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!

Has God Cast Us Off Forever?

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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!

In the Time of Old Age

Psalm 719 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. I do not publish devotional material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested reading for the day. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can read through the Book of Psalms with us in 2018.

Reading the Word

Psalm 71:7–18 (ESV)

7 I have been as a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge. 8 My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day. 9 Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent. 10 For my enemies speak concerning me; those who watch for my life consult together 11 and say, “God has forsaken him; pursue and seize him, for there is none to deliver him.” 12 O God, be not far from me; O my God, make haste to help me! 13 May my accusers be put to shame and consumed; with scorn and disgrace may they be covered who seek my hurt. 14 But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more. 15 My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. 16 With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone. 17 O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. 18 So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.

You Are My Rock and My Fortress

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Reading the Word

Psalm 71:1–6 (ESV)

1 In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame! 2 In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me! 3 Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. 4 Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man. 5 For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. 6 Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm expresses the hope and trust of one who depends on the Lord for deliverance. God is called his rock and his fortress. Both of these images speak of stability and safety.

Trust is often something that develops over time through experience. This is something that has taken place in the psalmist’s life as well. He states, “For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth.” The psalmist has a long experience with God’s faithfulness and care in his life and it leads him to trust in God in his present situation.

As you look back on your life, notice how God has lovingly and faithfully brought you to where you are right now. He has been with you all the way and He will continue to be with you in the future. You can trust in Him as you face today and tomorrow and every day in His strength.

**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!

I Will Praise the Name of God

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Reading the Word

Psalm 69:29–33 (ESV)

29 But I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high! 30 I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. 31 This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. 32 When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. 33 For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.

Understanding and Applying the Word

David’s focus shifts from being troubled to one of praise. We see the transition in verse 29. As he trusts in the salvation of God, he breaks out into praise of God.

In these verses, David says, “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs.” His point is that God is more interested in praise that Issues forth from the heart than he is in our physical sacrifices. What good are “horns and hoofs” to God? Compare Psalm 50:12-15 to see God’s thoughts on this.

Trusting in God does more than bring us through difficulty. It results in worship. Not just the physical act of worship, but praise that issues forth from the heart. When we know the word of God and trust in it, that God will fulfill the promises he has made, we can not only face every circumstance, but we can sing out praises to God knowing that he is the source of our 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!

Trust in Him at All Times

Psalm 628 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 62:5–8 (ESV)

5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. 6 He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. 7 On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. 8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

In times of trouble, it is God alone that we wait for. Notice how David describes God as he expresses his confidence. He calls God “my rock”, “my salvation”, “my fortress”, “my glory”, “my mighty rock”, and “my refuge”.

David understands who God is and that is the true source of his confidence in the midst of difficulty. As David declares his trust in God, he invites us to do the same. These words remind us of the words of our Savior in Matthew 28:18-20:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:18–20, ESV)

Let us live in confidence knowing that our Lord and Savior is always with 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!