Not of This World

John 1715 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 17:14–19 (ESV)

14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Today’s reading comes from a prayer of Jesus on behalf of his disciples. As Jesus, prepared to depart the world and return to the Father, he knew that he was going to be leaving his followers behind to continue the ministry of the gospel in the world. In preparation for his departure, Jesus prayed that the Father would protect his disciples from the world and from the evil one through sanctifying them in the word of truth, the holy Scriptures.

As followers of Jesus, we are called to continue to live our lives in this world that is often at odds with the teachings of Christ. This can be a difficult task, but we have not been left to do it in our own strength. We have the word of God to teach us and guide us. We have the Holy Spirit at work within us. And we have Jesus Christ seated at the right hand of the Father as our advocate. Yes, we are in the world, but we are called to be different. We are called to be Christ-like. We are called to be other-worldly.

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The World Will Hate You

photo of woman and inverted buildings

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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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Praise the Lord, All Nations

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Reading the Word

Psalm 117:1–2 (ESV)

1 Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! 2 For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm is a summons to praise the Lord. An important thing to notice is that it is a summons to “all nations” and “all peoples.” We misunderstand the Bible if we think that God was only interested in one nation, Israel, in the Old Testament. It is true that Israel was especially chosen by God to represent him in the world, but God’s redemptive plan has always been for all people. We see it here (and elsewhere) in the Old Testament and it becomes even more clear in the New Testament. Jesus tells his followers to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) and we see a heavenly vision in Revelation 7:9-10 that includes people from “every nation, from all tribes and people and languages” standing before God in worship.

God is a God of love for all people. He sent his Son into the world that all might be saved. As we proclaim the gospel to the world and as we gather each week with fellow believers, let us praise God together and let us celebrate that God welcomes all who will turn to him, regardless of race, social class, gender, or nationality. Praise the Lord!

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My Soul Thirsts for God

Psalm 421 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 42:1–5 (ESV)

1 As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Understanding and Applying the Word

How do you feel when God feels far away? In the opening verse of Psalm 42 the psalmist compares his desire for God to that of a deer in need of water during a drought. The psalmist’s soul thirsts for God and waits for a time when he may appear before God. As he waits, his tears flow (v. 3) and others mock and ask him, “Where is your God?”

Life can be difficult and it can seem especially difficult when you feel abandoned. In verse 5 we read a refrain that will repeat itself in verse 11 and again in Psalm 43:5. It is the heart of the message of these two psalms. In these verses, we are reminded that we need not be troubled because we can trust in God. He is faithful and will not abandon us. There are better days ahead. In fact, for God’s children, there are days of never ending joy ahead because he has promised to dwell with us forever in a new creation where there is no pain or sorrow or suffering. Let us rejoice in the hope we have in the God of our salvation.

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Supporting Fellow Workers

Globe World Earth Planet Sphere Classroom

Reading the Word

3 John 5–8 (ESV)

5 Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, 6 who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. 7 For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. 8 Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.

Understanding the Word

In these verses, John commends the church for supporting fellow Christians who were faithfully proclaiming the true gospel message. It is a good thing for believers to support other believers and share in the work of spreading the truth.

Applying the Word

In a world that values autonomy, the church is a constant reminder that we are called to community. First, we are called to be a part of a local church where we can learn and grow while also using our God-given gifts and abilities to serve others.

Second, we are called not only to be a part of a local church, but also to realize that all true churches are joined together in the same task: the ministry of the gospel. As part of a world-wide fellowship made up of believers from every nation, we all have a vested interest in the spread of the gospel in all places. This is why it is so important for churches and individuals that have an excess to support other believers who have a need. When we do, we become fellow workers for the truth.

**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!

Do Not Love the World

1 John 215 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 John 2:12–17 (ESV)

12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Understanding the Word

John uses three terms in these verses to speak to his readers. He uses “little children”, “fathers”, and “young men”. There is some debate if John is dividing his hearers into three groups based on age or if this list designates two groups. If this is the case his words can be summarized as “my little children, both young and old”.

Regardless of how you divide it, John’s point is the same. He is addressing all ages and telling them that because they know God they ought not love the world.

Applying the Word

When a person comes to God there is a life change. Our sins are forgiven and we enter into a new relationship with God, but that is not all. God begins a work in us to change us from the inside out. Our desires and passions change. The things we once loved are not so important to us and the things of God, that were once meaningless, become the most important things. As our love for the things of this world diminish and our love for God grows, we have assurance that God is at work in our lives.

****Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links to the right to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!