Love that Is Evident

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Reading the Word

Matthew 26:6–13 (ESV)

6 Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. 8 And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12 In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

Parallel Texts: Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8

Understanding and Applying the Word

We are not told who the woman was who anointed Jesus in Matthew’s account of this event, but John tells us it was Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha. Her act of worship was met with ridicule by the disciples. John tells us that the ridicule was led by Judas, who was not so concerned with the poor as he claimed, but liked to steal from the money that belonged to the group.

When Jesus heard the discussion among the disciples, he praised Mary for her actions and corrected the disciples. Mary had taken the opportunity to show her love and devotion to Jesus while she still could. Soon, this would no longer be possible because Jesus was going to be crucified and buried. There would be time to help the poor in the future. This was the time to honor Christ.

Our devotion to the Lord often takes a back seat in our lives. We make so many things more important. Mary’s love for Christ was evident to all around. This should be true of us as well. This does not mean that we neglect to help and show love for others, but it does mean that in all that we do, it should be Jesus that is front and center in our lives. Our love for Jesus should be evident. May we show our love and devotion for the Lord in all that we do and with all that we have.

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How Will You Honor Christ?

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Reading the Word

John 12:1–8 (ESV)

1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus prepares to for his final week, he went to Bethany where Lazarus and his sisters stayed. They were close friends of Jesus. At the dinner, Martha served while Mary took a very expensive perfume and poured it out on Jesus’ feet to anoint them. The fact that it could have been sold for “three hundred denarii” means that it was worth about $20,000 in today’s terms. After pouring out the perfume, Mary wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair in a show of great humility and honor to Jesus.

Judas Iscariot, who we are told was about to betray Jesus and liked to steal from the finances, complained about Mary’s wasteful display. Jesus responded to Judas’ rebuke of Mary by commending Mary for doing what was right and proper for the situation. Jesus was with them now, but that would soon change. Now was the time to honor him.

Mary’s show of love and devotion to Jesus are a wonderful example to us. She took the opportunities that were given to her (cf. Luke 10:38-42) to honor Christ, knowing that those opportunities were limited and would eventually come to and end. We must do the same. We must serve and honor the Lord in all that we do, knowing that one day we will no longer have the opportunity. One day our lives will end and we will stand before our Savior. May the way we lived in this world reflect our love and devotion to him as a witness to others and as our worship of our Lord.

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Everything that Has Breath Praise the Lord

Psalm 1506 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 150:1–6 (ESV)

1 Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!

3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm brings us to the end of our one year focus on the Book of Psalms. Throughout the book, we have discovered how we can live honestly and openly before God as we experience pain, suffering, joy, happiness, and every other emotion that comes our way in this fallen world. Yet, through it all, we know that we can trust in the Lord because he is sovereign, faithful, and good. So, whatever we may be facing, we can say with Psalm 150, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”

What is next? In 2019 we will focus each day on the life of Jesus Christ. This means we will work our way through the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) over the year. So, be sure to follow along and invite anyone you think may benefit from reading with us. Thanks for reading!

Sing to the Lord a New Song

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. On Sundays, I include a suggested Scripture reading, but I do not publish supplemental material.

We are nearing the end of our year in the Book of Psalms. In 2019, we will be reading each day from the Life of Christ in the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along! Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Psalm 149:1–9 (ESV)

1 Praise the LORD!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the godly!
2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
3 Let them praise his name with dancing,
making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
4 For the LORD takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with salvation.
5 Let the godly exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their beds.
6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats
and two-edged swords in their hands,
7 to execute vengeance on the nations
and punishments on the peoples,
8 to bind their kings with chains
and their nobles with fetters of iron,
9 to execute on them the judgment written!
This is honor for all his godly ones.
Praise the LORD!

May the Earth Praise You

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Reading the Word

Psalm 148:7–14 (ESV)

7 Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!

9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and maidens together,
old men and children!

13 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the LORD!

Understanding and Applying the Word

After calling on the heavens to praise the Lord in verses 1-6, Psalm 148 calls on the things of the earth to join in praise. Fish, fire, hail, mountains, hills, trees, livestock, insects, and birds are all called on to praise (vv. 8-10). And lastly, all of humanity, from kings to women and children, are included in the summons (vv. 11-12).

The Lord is the Almighty. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things and is worthy of praise from his creation. There is nothing else in heaven or on earth deserving of our devotion. God alone is worthy. May our hearts grow in awe of the Lord as we look upon the wonder of all he has made. And may we join all of creation in declaring our Maker’s praise.

**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 the Creation Praise!

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Reading the Word

Psalm 148:1–6 (ESV)

1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts!

3 Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!

5 Let them praise the name of the LORD!
For he commanded and they were created.
6 And he established them forever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalms breaks into two sections. We are looking at the first section in verses 1-6 where the “heavens” are called on to praise the Lord. The heavens include all created things in the realm of heaven where the angels are. The heavens also include the sun, moon, and stars. The second half of this psalm, which we will read tomorrow, calls on the things of the earth to also praise the Lord.

This psalm calls on all of creation to praise God. Of course, this call includes us. We have been given our existence and life by the great and loving Creator. Our very existence is precious and makes God worthy to receive our worship. Take a moment to go outside and observe all that God has made (the sun, the moon, the stars, the oceans, lakes, rivers, trees, grass, snow, mountains, animals, etc.). Then consider yourself and your family and neighbors and friends. God made it all. He is truly a great God. Let us praise him!

**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.

It Is Good to Sing Praises

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Reading the Word

Psalm 147:1–11 (ESV)
1 Praise the LORD!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
6 The LORD lifts up the humble;
he casts the wicked to the ground.

7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre!
8 He covers the heavens with clouds;
he prepares rain for the earth;
he makes grass grow on the hills.
9 He gives to the beasts their food,
and to the young ravens that cry.
10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
11 but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The theme of this psalm is on the Lord’s worthiness to receive praise. He is awesome in power and he is kind towards his creation. He deserves our praise!

One of the chief ways that we offer praise to the Lord is through song. It is natural for our hearts to overflow in songs. The Church has always known this, which is why singing is such an important part of our worship services. Songs are not just nice, but a deeply ingrained part of how we as humans show our feelings and participate in worship. It is also why it is important to truly believe the words we sing. They are directed to God and should be true as they glorify his name. As the psalmist writes, “For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.” So, let us lift up our voices in songs of praise!

**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.

Praise the Lord on Christmas Day

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Reading the Word

Psalm 146:1–10 (ESV)
1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

3 Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
4 When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.

5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.

The LORD sets the prisoners free;
8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

10 The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm focuses our thoughts and actions towards praise. God is a great and merciful God who reigns over all. He is worthy of our praise.

As you celebrate Christmas today, take special time to give thanks and praise to God for the wonderful gift of Jesus Christ. It is his birth that we celebrate and it is through him that we find salvation and peace. Merry Christmas!

**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.

Every Day I Will Bless You

Psalm 1452 [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, which you will find below.

Want to read the Bible every day? Subscribe to this page and follow along. We are currently reading through the Book of Psalms and will read through the Life of Christ in 2019.

Reading the Word

Psalm 145:1–9 (ESV)

1 I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.

4 One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

8 The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The LORD is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.

I Will Sing a New Song

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Reading the Word

Psalm 144:9–15 (ESV)

9 I will sing a new song to you, O God;
upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,
10 who gives victory to kings,
who rescues David his servant from the cruel sword.
11 Rescue me and deliver me
from the hand of foreigners,
whose mouths speak lies
and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.

12 May our sons in their youth
be like plants full grown,
our daughters like corner pillars
cut for the structure of a palace;
13 may our granaries be full,
providing all kinds of produce;
may our sheep bring forth thousands
and ten thousands in our fields;
14 may our cattle be heavy with young,
suffering no mishap or failure in bearing;
may there be no cry of distress in our streets!
15 Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall!
Blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this psalm, David give thanks to God for give him victory. In response to all tat God has done, David worships in song and proclaims that God is a God of great blessing to his people.

As God’s people, we too have much to be thankful for. We especially have reason to praise God for the salvation we have in Christ. It is Jesus who came into this world to bring victory to his people over the power of sin and death. And it is through Jesus that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3). Let us also take up a song on our lips as we sing praises to our great God for all he has done for us.

**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.