God Has Visited His People

clouds

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Reading the Word

Luke 1:68–71 (ESV)

68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;

Understanding and Applying the Word

When John the Baptist was born, Zechariah praised God. Luke 1:68-71 are the opening words that Zechariah spoke. The focus of his praise was on God keeping his promises and saving his people. The Lord was fulfilling his promise of a Messiah from the line of David to bring salvation.

Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah and Zechariah recognized that the wait was over. Jesus came into the world to redeem all of mankind from sin and death by giving his life as a sacrifice. The Messiah laid down his life for his people so that they could live. We too should pause this Christmas season to remember our Redeemer and offer praise to him.

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Give Thanks Always and For Everything

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Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I will be traveling over the next few days with my family for the Thanksgiving holiday. As a result, I will not be posting extra commentary, but I will continue to post suggested Scripture readings for each day. Regular posts will resume on December 2. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Ephesians 5:15–21 (ESV)

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

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With Thankfulness in Your Hearts

Colossians 316 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I will be traveling over the next few days with my family for the Thanksgiving holiday. As a result, I will not be posting extra commentary, but I will continue to post suggested Scripture readings for each day. Regular posts will resume on December 2. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Colossians 3:15–17 (ESV)

15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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I Give Thanks with My Whole Heart

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Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I will be traveling over the next few days with my family for the Thanksgiving holiday. As a result, I will not be posting extra commentary, but I will continue to post suggested Scripture readings for each day. Regular posts will resume on December 2. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Psalm 138:1–8 (ESV)

1 I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
2 I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
3 On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased.

4 All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O LORD,
for they have heard the words of your mouth,
5 and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD,
for great is the glory of the LORD.
6 For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly,
but the haughty he knows from afar.

7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and your right hand delivers me.
8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Make Known His Deeds

praise thanks

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do included a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are currently looking at different passages on being thankful as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Psalm 105:1–6 (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!

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

planet earth

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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.