The True Source of Authority

John 717 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 7:14–24 (ESV)

14 About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. 15 The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” 16 So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. 18 The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” 21 Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel at it. 22 Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

In the middle of the Feast of Booths, Jesus went from attending in secret to becoming very public as he began teaching in the temple. The Greek word heiron indicates that Jesus was in the outer court of the temple and would have been very visible. The people were amazed at his knowledge of the Scriptures as he had never had formal training.

When Jesus spoke, he spoke with authority and did not rely on the teaching of others to back up his teaching. Jesus explained that his teaching had authority because it originated with God, not man. Anyone who knew God and desired to live according to God’s will would recognize the truth of Jesus’ teaching. Others taught for their own glory rather than the glory of God.

We must continue to beware of those who seek their own glory rather than the glory of God. There are sure signs to look for. Does the teacher insist on titles and being recognized as superior to others? Does the teacher like to take personal credit for successes rather than give the credit to God? Does the teacher like to talk about himself? Does the teacher speak down towards others and elevate himself? A true teacher of God has authority not because of who he is or what he has accomplished, but because he teaches the truth of God’s word. The authority is in the word, not the teacher and the teacher must submit to that same word.

May we continue to turn to the Scriptures as the final authority in our lives, knowing that they are the revealed teaching of God. We know that they are true and life-giving in all that they teach.

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Woe to the Unrepentant

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Reading the Word

Matthew 11:20–24 (ESV)

20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Parallel Text: Luke 10:12-15

Understanding and Applying the Word

In the previous verses, Jesus spoke of how he had been rejected by the people. He now denounces those who continue to reject him, even though they had the benefit of seeing the mighty works of Jesus. They had witnessed more of Jesus’ works than anyone, yet they did not believe. The miracles were not an end in themselves, but were to authenticate Jesus’ ministry, but the hearts of the people remained hardened.

Shockingly, Jesus goes on to say that the cities of Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom would have repented in sackloth and ashes had the same signs and wonders been done in them. These cities were notorious for their sin. However, the punishment that would fall on the people of Chorazin and Bethsaida in the day of judgment would be greater than that reserved for those other cities.

With greater revelation comes greater responsibility. We live in an age where God’s word is readily available to us along with access to different resources to help us study and understand it. The chief resource being the Church empowered and gifted by the Holy Spirit. That word bears witness to the mighty acts that God has done and culminates in the Resurrection. When we stand before God, we will not have the excuse that we did not know. There is no reason for not knowing. God has revealed himself in his word and he will judge us according to all that is in it. Let us make it a priority in order that we might know God and know how we ought to live.

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The Life of Jesus Recorded

earliest-new-testament-manuscript-fragment-discovered

2nd century biblical text fragment from Egypt

Reading the Word

Luke 1:1–4 (ESV)

1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

Luke’s Gospel begins with a purpose statement. Luke is writing to a recipient he calls “most excellent Theophilus.” To open his Gospel, Luke says that his purpose for writing is to put together an orderly account of the things that have happened. He received his information from those who were eyewitnesses of the events. And he writes these things that Theophilus can be certain of their truth.

We often take the word of God for granted. Most of us have multiple copies and they often sit around on our shelves collecting dust. Imagine where we would be without God’s written word.

What if the events of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection were not recorded for us? If we knew anything about Jesus at all, we would be left to wonder what was true and what was not. Thankfully, God wrote these things down for us so that we could study the events and teachings of our Lord. We can grow in our understanding and we can know who Jesus was, why he matters, and what we need to do in response to his life and teachings. That is what we will be doing together in 2019. Let us take a moment to thank God for his word and ask him to teach us in the year ahead.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. Please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We will be reading through the life of Christ as recorded in the four Gospel accounts in 2019.

Praise the Lord for His Word

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Reading the Word

Psalm 147:12–20 (ESV)

12 Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your children within you.
14 He makes peace in your borders;
he fills you with the finest of the wheat.
15 He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16 He gives snow like wool;
he scatters frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
who can stand before his cold?
18 He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
19 He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and rules to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his rules.
Praise the LORD!

Understanding and Applying the Word

Yesterday we looked at the first half of this psalm. Today, we look at the second half. The theme of the psalm continues to be why God is worthy of our praise. However, in today’s verses the reasons are different. The Lord is worthy of praise because he protects his people, he provides for his people, and he gives his law to his people.

The first two reasons seem simple enough, but why should we offer praise for the law? Does not the law limit us and rob us of joy? That is certainly the way some look at it. However, that is not how we should think of God’s law. It does not limit our joy, but tells us how to find true joy. It does not take away from our lives, but tells us how to live life to the full. Our Creator has given us his word and it tells us how we should live to both glorify him and find the greatest fulfillment in our lives. Let us praise him for his wonderful gift!

**Want to read the Bible every day? Be sure to subscribe to this page and follow along! We are currently reading through the Book of Psalms. In 2019, we will focus on the Life of Christ for our daily readings.

Let My Cry Come before You

Study Read Book Bible

Reading the Word

Psalm 119:169–176 (ESV)

169 Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to your word! 170 Let my plea come before you; deliver me according to your word. 171 My lips will pour forth praise, for you teach me your statutes. 172 My tongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right. 173 Let your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts. 174 I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight. 175 Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me. 176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We often take prayer for granted. It is an amazing thing that the great God who created everything cares to listen to the prayers of mankind. Why does he concern himself with us? We are insignificant when you think of the vastness of the universe. Yet, we are told that God does care and that he does hear and answer prayer.

The psalmist prays, “Let me cry come before you…Let my plea come before you.” It is a wonderful thing to know that God has heard. And it is also a wonderful thing to know that God answers prayer according to his word. He has not left us in the dark about his plans and purposes in the world, nor has he left us wondering what he desires from us. He has told us all of these things through his word to us. And most of all, we find that God is a God of salvation. He saves us from our sins and gives us life through Jesus Christ. Let us praise God for hearing us, for giving us his word, and for saving those who call out to 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 Hope in Your Words

Psalm 119147 [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 reading from Scripture. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are currently reading through the Book of Psalms.

Reading the Word

Psalm 119:145–152 (ESV)

145 With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord! I will keep your statutes. 146 I call to you; save me, that I may observe your testimonies. 147 I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. 148 My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise. 149 Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O Lord, according to your justice give me life. 150 They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose; they are far from your law. 151 But you are near, O Lord, and all your commandments are true. 152 Long have I known from your testimonies that you have founded them forever.

Your Law Is True

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Reading the Word

Psalm 119:137–144 (ESV)

137 Righteous are you, O Lord, and right are your rules. 138 You have appointed your testimonies in righteousness and in all faithfulness. 139 My zeal consumes me, because my foes forget your words. 140 Your promise is well tried, and your servant loves it. 141 I am small and despised, yet I do not forget your precepts. 142 Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true. 143 Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight. 144 Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The psalmist declares, “Righteous are you, O Lord, and right are your rules…Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true…Your testimonies are righteous forever.”

We live in a world that believes truth is relative. What is true for you may not be true for me. Truth depends on our backgrounds and circumstances. Truth depends on our feelings and beliefs. This is the claim of the world, but it stands in conflict with the word of God.

God’s word tells us that there is absolute, universal truth. There are truths that are not dependent on our backgrounds, circumstances, feelings, or personal beliefs. They are true for all people in all times. They are true because the righteous Creator and Lord of all has told us they are true. We do not get to decide what is true, but we can choose to submit to or rebel against God and his word. May we delight in the truth and live according to the what God has written in his word.

**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!

Make Your Face Shine upon Me

Psalm 119135 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 119:129–136 (ESV)

129 Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them. 130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. 131 I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments. 132 Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name. 133 Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me. 134 Redeem me from man’s oppression, that I may keep your precepts. 135 Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes. 136 My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Why do we keep God’s word? According to Psalm 119, God’s “testimonies are wonderful.” It is in our best interest to live according to the teachings of Scripture. Through it, we are made wise and we show our love for the Lord.

When we understand who God is, we love him. When we know of his goodness and his grace and his unfailing love for us, we grow in our desire to show our love for him. We do this by living for him. We read and study the word of God so that we can grow in knowledge of who God is, what he has done, and what he desires of us. Let us seek to show our love for him through the keeping of his word. And let us call on him to continue to teach us through his word.

**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 Hiding Place

Reading the Word

Psalm 119:113–120 (ESV) 113 I hate the double-minded, but I love your law. 114 You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word. 115 Depart from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commandments of my God. 116 Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope! 117 Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually! 118 You spurn all who go astray from your statutes, for their cunning is in vain. 119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross, therefore I love your testimonies. 120 My flesh trembles for fear of you, and I am afraid of your judgments.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The double-minded, evildoers, and wicked disregard the commands of God. However, those who fear God and his judgments seek to live according to God’s word. In so doing, they find hope and a place of refuge.There are ultimately two ways to live our lives. We can live according to the way we decide or we can live according to what God has said in his word. These options are the same as they have been since the garden of Eden in Genesis 3. There, the first man and woman decided to live their own way and disobey God. Mankind has been in rebellion against God ever since.The world will tell you that it is best and most fulfilling to follow your own path. God’s word tells us that this way is actually the path to destruction, not fulfillment. It is only through God’s word, his instruction to us, that we find hope. It is those who trust in God’s salvation through Jesus Christ that look forward to eternal life. What are you looking for to fulfill you? Turn to God’s word. It is the only place you will find what you seek.**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!

A Lamp to My Feet

Psalm 119105 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 119:105–112 (ESV)

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. 106 I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules. 107 I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word! 108 Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Lord, and teach me your rules. 109 I hold my life in my hand continually, but I do not forget your law. 110 The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from your precepts. 111 Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart. 112 I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.

Understanding and Applying the Word

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” These are the opening words of today’s reading. By these words, the psalmist tells us that it is God’s word that guides him safely in life. Without the light of God’s word, we are left to wander in darkness and drift away from the path.

As we live in this world, we are presented with a variety of ways to live. Just go to any bookstore and look at the self-help books, psychology books, and counseling publications. There are many who claim to have the secret to living a full and happy life. But it is God who tells us what is truly fulfilling. It is God, the Creator, who tells us the true way to live. And God does does this through his word. When we live in obedience to God, we find that God’s word is not a burden, but brings joy to our hearts (v. 111).

**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!