I Am Sending You

John 2021 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 20:19–23 (ESV)

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples. Understandably, they were surprised and had a difficult time accepting what they were seeing. To convince them, Jesus showed the disciples his hands and side where the nails and the spear had pierced. This brought joy to the disciples as they now realized that Jesus was really alive again.

As Jesus met with his followers, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Jesus was preparing to depart from them and ascend to the Father, but they would not be left alone. The Spirit would be with the disciples to equip and empower them for the task of proclaiming the gospel to the world. You can read more about the Spirit’s coming in Acts 2.

Jesus also said to the disciples, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” As Jesus’ representatives in the world, the Spirit-empowered disciples were also given the authority of the Lord. This does not mean they could do whatever they wanted, but that as they spoke for Christ their words carried the same force as if Christ himself were saying them. Christians today carry this same authority. When we speak the truths of God’s word to the world, the world is accountable to respond as if God himself were speaking. Christ has called all of his followers to go into the world and proclaim the gospel. This is a great task, but we have not been left alone to do it in our own power. We have been given the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit to prepare us for the task.

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Denying Jesus

The Sorrow of Saint Peter

The Sorrow of Saint Peter – Public Domain

 

Reading the Word

Luke 22:54–62 (ESV)

54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58 And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” 59 And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.

Understanding and Applying the Word

After Jesus’ arrest, Peter followed along at a distance to keep an eye on what was happening. This is the same Peter who, just a few hours earlier, had promised to never abandon Jesus, even if it meant he would die at Jesus’ side. When others recognized Peter as one of Jesus’ disciples and began questioning him about it, Peter denied that he knew Jesus. He did this not only once, but three times. After the third denial, Peter heard a rooster crow and realized he had done exactly what the Lord had said he would do. He had denied Christ.

Before we come down too hard on Peter, we need to ask ourselves if we have ever done anything similar. I believe, if we are honest, that most of us are guilty. We have been in conversations where we failed to speak up when Jesus was being discussed. We have had opportunities to share the gospel with others, but instead remained quiet. We have tried to remain in the shadows rather than be identified with Jesus because we believed that if we spoke up, we would face mocking, ridicule, or persecution. We have failed Jesus just as Peter did.

It is wonderful to know that Jesus went to Peter later, after the resurrection, and restored him. Jesus let Peter know that he was forgiven and that there were many things for Peter still to do in the plans and purposes of God. Peter would testify to the world about Jesus. Jesus also stands ready to forgive us and use us for his glory in this world. We are also called to continue to testify to the wonder and truth of the gospel. Let us take the message of Christ to a world that is desperately in need of Jesus, forgetting our failures and focusing on the grace and love of our Savior.

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That They May Be One

John 1722 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading for the day. Please be sure to subscribe so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

John 17:20–26 (ESV)

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Prepared to Suffer

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Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish my personal notes on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

John 16:1–4 (ESV)

1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.

Our Helper

Acts 18 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 15:26–27 (ESV)

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus promised his followers that he was not leaving them alone. They would receive a Helper, who was the Holy Spirit. The Helper would be with the disciples as they bore witness to all Jesus said and did. The Holy Spirit would equip and empower the disciples to take the message of Christ to the world. Jesus reminded the disciples of this important truth in the moments before he left this earth and ascended into heaven. We find Jesus’ words in Acts 1:8:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

All believers have been called to be witnesses. We are to go into the world and proclaim the gospel. This proclamation includes telling the world of all that Jesus said and did with a central focus on his death and resurrection. This is an overwhelming responsibility, but we have not been left alone. The Helper, the Holy Spirit, was a promise to all believers. He continues to work in our lives today to empower and prepare us for all that God desires from us. It is not in our own power that we go into the world, but in the power of God through the work of the Holy Spirit.

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The World Will Hate You

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Reading the Word

John 15:18–25 (ESV)

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus prepared to leave this world, he said many things to his disciples who would be left behind as his witnesses. One of the things that he told them was that they should not be surprised when they faced opposition. The world would hate them and they would be persecuted for following Jesus. After all, the world hated Jesus and persecuted him. The world hated him so much that they hung Jesus on a cross and murdered him. Why should his followers expect any different?

Living as the followers of Christ in this world is not easy. Christians throughout history have faced all kinds of resistance and persecution. Some have been tortured. Others have been imprisoned. And many have lost their lives. The world hates us because we remind them of Jesus and all he represents. Jesus taught that mankind is alienated from God by sin. Our sin deserves eternal condemnation and punishment. And the only solution to our sin is to repent and turn to Jesus, the one who paid for our sin by dying in our place. However, this is not a message the world wants to hear. The world wants to believe that there are no consequences for sin. The world denies that there is sin. “Just do whatever makes you happy,” they say. But Christians and Christ are a constant reminder that there are consequences and there will be a judgement. Do not be surprised when the world hates you for following Jesus.

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My Heart Is Steadfast

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Reading the Word

Psalm 108:1–4 (ESV)

1 My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being! 2 Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! 3 I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. 4 For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The psalmist declares that his heart is “steadfast”. The meaning of the term is to be fixed or firmly resolved. This is one who is intent on following the Lord and declaring his praise among the people regardless of the consequences!

O Lord, may our hearts be steadfast! May we stand among the people of our day and declare your praise no matter what. We know many men and women have done so throughout history. Many of those have suffered greatly for their devotion. Yet your name was honored through their lives and you have not forgotten them. Give us the courage to be steadfast and let your name be glorified in us.

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Witnesses

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Reading the Word

Psalm 106:32–39 (ESV)

32 They angered him at the waters of Meribah, and it went ill with Moses on their account, 33 for they made his spirit bitter, and he spoke rashly with his lips. 34 They did not destroy the peoples, as the Lord commanded them, 35 but they mixed with the nations and learned to do as they did. 36 They served their idols, which became a snare to them. 37 They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; 38 they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood. 39 Thus they became unclean by their acts, and played the whore in their deeds.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Israelites grumbled and complained about many things as God led them out of Egypt. One of those things was water. Moses, who became angry with the people, spoke harshly with them as he struck a rock, which God had provided to produce water for the people. As a result, Moses was not permitted to enter the Promised Land. Afterwards, when the people did finally enter the land, they were disobedient and intermingled with the people of the land. They began to worship the idols of the Canaanites.

God’s instruction for Israel was to remain distinct from the other people of the world. Why? So that the Israelites might be a witness to the one true God. They were to live differently so that the surrounding nations would quickly notice that they worshiped YHWH and not one of the pagan idols. Unfortunately, the Israelites adopted the ways of the people and struggled to be a witness to the world.

We often fail just like the Israelites. We are to be holy and distinct, but our lives are often much like everyone else’s. Let us pray that God would help us to live in such a way that everyone knows that we belong to him and so that we can have an effective witness in our world.

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Make Known His Deeds

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Reading the Word

Psalm 105:1–7 (ESV)

1 Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! 2 Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! 3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! 4 Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! 5 Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered, 6 O offspring of Abraham, his servant, children of Jacob, his chosen ones! 7 He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Worship is the primary way we show thanks to God for all he has done. Worship is also how we bear witness to the world our love for God. As we live our lives in thanksgiving, we declare to the world that God is great, that he is good, and that he is worthy of our praise. So, let us give thanks to the Lord that his deeds may be known and so that those who seek he Lord may rejoice 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!