Bible Devotions

Accepting His Will

 

So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, “The will of the Lord be done.” Acts 21:14 NKJV

 

Why is it so hard to accept the will of the Lord?  One reason is we can’t understand why pain and suffering are part of the Lord’s will.  When we study God’s word, it is pretty clear we will have tribulations.

 

James 1:2-3 NKJV “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”

 

John 16:33 NKJV “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

 

Romans 8:17 NKJV “and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”

 

Trials, testing, and tribulation are part of life.  But all of it God uses for good to those who love God and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).

 

Another reason for not accepting the Lord’s will is stubbornness or self-centeredness.  Again, studying God’s word reveals we are not the only stubborn ones.  Even God’s chosen ones, the Israelites, were stubborn.

 

Exodus 32:9 NKJV “And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people!”

 

2 Chronicles 30:8 NKJV “Now do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the LORD; and enter His sanctuary, which He has sanctified forever, and serve the LORD your God, that the fierceness of His wrath may turn away from you.”

 

Acts 7:51 NKJV “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.”

 

Let’s face it we want our way most of the time.  I have found when I am least willing to accept God’s will it is due to my own immaturity.   If thoughts like “I deserve it”, “It’s not fair”, “I have a right to…” are present, you can be sure you are out of God’s will.  Self-serving thoughts are not part of God’s will.

 

What did Jesus teach?  He told us to deny self, pick up our cross and follow Him (Mark 8:34).  He said if someone strikes you on the cheek, turn and give them the other cheek also (Matthew 5:39).  Jesus is our role model.  He laid down His life for us.  We in turn lay down our claim/desire to have things our way.

 

Ignorance is another reason for not accepting God’s will.  It is pretty hard to accept something you have never heard of before.  This is an easy one to correct.  Start reading God’s word.  Join a small group so you can talk with others about questions you may have about what you have read.  Pray God will open your eyes.

 

When Judgment Day comes, ignorance will not be an excuse that saves your hide. 

Romans 1:20-21 NKJV “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Creation points to God.  The stars of above, the ocean depth, the uncountable grains of sand on the beaches, and even the tree branches that reach heavenward all point to a creator.  The world we live in shows obvious signs of a “designer”.  It didn’t just happen by chance.  I saw a bumper sticker the other day saying “THE BIG BANG THEORY: GOD SPOKE AND BANG IT HAPPENED”. The evidence of God is all around us.  It’s even within us.  If you studied human anatomy for any length of time you would find evidence of God in how the body works.  We were made to know God, because He has put eternity in our hearts. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

We have looked at a few reasons for not accepting God’s will.  What’s holding you back?  If trials have stopped you in your tracks, trust God to use it for good.  If self-centeredness or stubbornness is the issue, pray for God to give you a desire to follow him.  If ignorance holds you back, read God’s word.

 

Jesus gives us peace beyond what the world offers.  You just need to trust and obey, there’s no better way.

 Lord thank you for your life-giving word. Give us a desire to follow hard after you.  Help us be God-center rather than self-absorbed. Give us endurance to get through the tough spots in life.  Help us see life from your perspective.  In Jesus’ name Amen.   © Elizabeth Marks, author of ThinkOnIt Devotions and has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.  For more devotions, bible studies and a recommended book store, visit http://www.ThinkOnItDevotions.com today.

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Seven Wonders

 

Read Psalm 119.

 

As I read Psalm 119 over and over, I started to see many things appear.  Let’s take a look the seven wonderful themes revealed in this section of scripture.  Read the psalm with me. 

 Reflecting on God

The psalmist writes 55 positive affirmations of God, His Word and His Character throughout this psalm.   This is a good example for us to follow too.  We need reminding of how big God really is to keep our problems in the proper perspective.  A several times the psalmist seems overly occupied with his thoughts about his difficulties and the wicked men around him.  During these times, he pens wonderful things as he realizes God is in control.  For example:

“The proud have dug pits for me…All your commandments are faithful.”

“Rivers of water run down from my eyes, because men do not keep Your law.  Righteous are You O Lord, and upright are Your judgments.”

“I see the treacherous and am disgusted because they don’t keep your word.  The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.”

 

Did you notice each time his mind focused on man, he pulled himself out of it by choosing to focus on God instead.  How beautiful!

 Following God’s Commands

The writer stresses the importance of following God’s commands by using words such as keep, kept, cling and observe 29 times in this psalm.  For example:

“To keep Your percepts diligently.”

“I shall observe it with my whole heart.”

“But now I keep Your word.”

“Because I keep Your percepts.”

“That I will keep Your righteous judgments.”

 

Remember at the time this psalm was written they had The Ten Commandments and a plethora of man-made laws added to it.  God said “Keep the Sabbath” and man added over 600 explanatory laws to “help” people keep the Sabbath, but all it did was make it harder to keep.  That seems like a lot of pressure, if you ask me.  Man can make up many rules and regulations, but one thing is for sure “rules with out relationship results in rebellion”, as our pastor always says.

 

Directing One’s Self

Twenty-eight times the psalmist uses “I will” statements as if to tell himself he is planning to stay on this path.  The future tense of these statements seems to reinforce his idea or his plan to follow God.  Below are some examples:

“I will never forget Your precepts.”

“But I will meditate on Your precepts.”

“But I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart.”

“I will delight myself in Your commandments.”

“I will walk at liberty.”

“I will speak of Your testimonies.”

 

Having a goal or commitment is definitely a good thing.  These “I will” statements are mini-proclamations of his desire to follow God.  We need to remember we can’t follow Him by our own strength or will power.  We need His Holy Spirit in us to guide us in all truth and help us live for Him.

 

Recounting Your Good Works

With almost the same quantity, the writer uses the past tense “I have” statements as he examines the good he has already done.  Some examples are:

“I have done justice and righteousness.”

“Yet I have not strayed from Your precepts.”

“I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes.”

 

While there is nothing wrong about reminiscing over good you have done, we do need to be careful our thoughts do not turn into a prideful account of “Look how good I am”. We can not be righteous in our own power.  Our righteousness is like “filthy rags” in God’s sight.

 

Meditating on God’s Word

A good anecdote to the problem of pride is to stay in God’s Word.  This could be one reason the psalmist mentions he will meditate, consider, incline or contemplate God’s Word 14 times.   Knowing God’s Word is truth and actively taking it in to ponder it, examine it, and consider the impacts of it are two different things.  Any time something is repeated means it is important.  We meditate on God’s Word to keep His truth firmly planted in our mind.  Listen to what the psalmist says:

“I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways.”

“So shall I meditate on Your wonderful works.”

“It is my meditation all the day.”

 

Thinking about God’s Word is how we take it in and let it sink deep within our hearts.  Considering the impact of God’s Word in our life is how we implement what we’re learned.

 

Delighting in God’s Commandments

Fifteen times the psalmist references delight, rejoice or long for God’s Word.  Reading God’s Word has this affect.  Hear the joy the psalmist experienced:

“But I delight in Your law.”

“Unless Your law had been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.”

“Behold I long for Your precepts.”

“For Your law is my delight.”

“I rejoice at Your Word, as one who finds great treasure.”

 

God’s Word penetrates our heart and touches us at our core.  It instructs, corrects, trains, and comforts us in our troubles.  There is nothing like the Word of God! 

 

Accepting Our Weakness

The last verse of this psalm sums it all up for me.  “Let my soul live and I shall praise You; and let Your judgments help me.  I have gone astray like a lost sheep; Seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commands.”

 

The psalmist acknowledges God is in control and it’s His Word that helps him.  Notice he also acknowledges his own weakness.  This is critical for us too.  We are all like lost sheep.  No matter how many times we say “I will” do what God wants our will is not strong enough to make us carry it out.  The psalmist recognizes this and puts it in God’s hands when he says “seek your servant”.  For it truly is God in us working to act and will us on God’s path.

 

Let’s recap what we’ve studied so far.  If our focus is on circumstances/troubles we are overwhelmed.  The solution is to remind ourselves of God and His all powerful ways.  If we try to keep God’s commands through will power alone we fail.  Even if we recount our good works, they are nothing but rags unless done by the power of the Holy Spirit in us.  The solution lies within God’s Word.  With the help of the Holy Spirit unlocking this treasure, we can accomplish all God prepared for us to do.  The result: God is honored and His Word is cherished more than sliver and gold.

 

How about you?  Did you enjoy reading Psalm 119 with me?  I hope so. 

 

Lord Jesus, thank you for your rich word leading us into everlasting life.  Thank you for your Holy Spirit who opens our eyes to your truth.  Helps us live for you this day.  In your precious name we pray, Amen.  

© Elizabeth Marks, author of ThinkOnIt Devotions and has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.  For more devotions, bible studies and a recommended book store, visit http://www.ThinkOnItDevotions.com today.

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Bible Study Method

  

Have you ever read a section of Scripture you are pretty familiar with?  Did you think you knew all that it meant already?  If you answered yes, I’d like you to take this challenge.

 

Try looking up familiar words in the dictionary.  Reading the definitions can reveal deeper meaning to the Scripture.  Most importantly, pray for the Holy Spirit’s leading and revelation.

 Lord, I have read your word.  As I read the definitions of some of the words, what further insight are you bringing me to?  In Jesus’ precious name amen. 

Let’s walk through an example.  Read Psalm 119: 1-2.

 

“Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart!”

 

Now look up the following words: Blessed, keep, and testimonies.  Each word will have multiple meanings so you will have to look at the context of Scripture to determine the best fitting definition.

 

Blessed – Enjoying happiness, bringing pleasure, contentment and good fortune

 

Keep- fulfill, to be faithful to, to act fittingly in relation to

 

Testimonies – the tablets inscribed with Mosaic law, the Ark containing the tablets, a divine decree attested in the Scriptures

 

Re-read Psalm 119:1-2 above.  Keep in mind these definitions as you come across those words we looked up.  Did that bring you to a deeper understanding of God’s word?  I hope so.  Now it’s your turn.  Enjoy.

 Lord thank you for your precious word of truth.  Thank you for your Holy Spirit who guides us into your truth.  Give us a desire to examine your word deeply.  Open our eyes Lord and our hearts that we may see you more clearly and desire you wholeheartedly.  In Jesus name we pray these things amen. 

 

 

© Elizabeth Marks, author of ThinkOnIt Devotions and has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.  For more devotions, bible studies and a recommended book store, visit http://www.ThinkOnItDevotions.com today.

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Where’s the fruit?

But the fruit of the spirit is love,  joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23 HSCB 

This is a wonderful first be used as a mere in my life.  For example, when I review this verse I looked to see how many of these traits I can see in my life.  If I notice I’m lacking joy or peace, I might consider where my thoughts have been focused.  Perhaps I’ve stopped focusing on God and started focusing on how a particular thing in my life isn’t going according to my plan.  Then it’s time to confess and come back to God.  He graciously fills me back up again with his spirit.   

The more we yield ourselves to the leading of the Holy Spirit the more these traits will be evident in our lives.  If we aren’t seeing them in our life, we might consider our thoughts and examine our motives.  It might be an indicator we are walking according to our flesh rather than according to the spirit.  Romans 8:5 says “for those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit, the things of the spirit.”  Jesus says in John 6:63 “… the flesh profits nothing.  The words that I speak are spirit, and they are life.” So model yourself after the word of God for we know that it leads to life.  Where have you set your mind today?

Lord, thank you for your word and your Holy Spirit to lead us in your truth.  Enable us to yield to you that the fruit of the Spirit may be evident in our lives today.  In Jesus’ name Amen.  

© Elizabeth Marks, author of ThinkOnIt Devotions and has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.  For more devotions, bible studies and a recommended book store, visit http://www.ThinkOnItDevotions.com today.

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Acts 19

Read Acts 19:13-20.

 

Jewish exorcists, the seven sons of Sceva and a Jewish chief priest were all attempting to cast out an evil spirit by the power held in the name of Jesus which Paul preached.  They did not have faith to call on Jesus himself.  They said “We exorcise you in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches.”

 

This reminds me of Simon the sorcerer from Acts 8: 14 – 25.  He wanted to buy the Holy Spirit’s power just as these guys wanted the power but not the relationship.  They wanted a position and recognition without a personal sacrifice.

 

I just love how the evil spirit responded to what I’ll call the pretenders.  The evil spirit answered and said “Jesus I know, Paul I know; but who are you?”  See even the evil spirit knows who’s a real threat to them.  Obviously, these guys were not connected to Christ.  They might have known about Jesus through hearing and seeing what Paul did but they did not know Jesus firsthand. 

 

This is critical.  You cannot be saved through someone else’s relationship with Christ.  You can only be saved through your own trust in Jesus.  You, yourself, must come to a place of understanding through faith and trust Jesus to save you.

 

This also reminds me how some people may do great things in the name of Jesus yet they will be turned away in the end as never knowing the Lord.  Those who called “Lord, Lord” were told they practiced lawlessness, according to Matthew 7:21-23.   

 

But what happened to those doing the exorcising?  The evil spirit leapt on them, overpowered them and prevailed against them. They fled naked and wounded.  They were exposed and the truth was not in them.

 

If we try to fight evil without knowing Christ personally we, too, will be overpowered.  Evil may be stronger than us but Christ is stronger than all evil.  For the Bible tells us in 1 John 4:4 NKJV “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”    As believers we have Christ living in us.  James 4:7 NKJV tells us how to handle evil: “Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Therefore, we have a power greater than the evil in this world. 

 

This story became known to all Jews and Greeks in the area.  Fear fell on them and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.  Proverbs 9:10 NKJV tells us “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”  Many heard of the Lord and came confessing their deeds.  The more of God you experience the greater the realization of your sins.  Those that believed started confessing their wrongdoings.  That’s the first part of trusting Christ.

 

Next we see those who confessed didn’t just leave it with words alone.  No, they demonstrated a change had taken place by burning all their magic books which added up to 50,000 pieces of silver.  When we come to Christ, we have to get rid of anything that would hinder our walk with God.  That may mean changing friends, jobs, hobbies, and some forms of entertainment. We know it need to be very selective of what we put before us especially the media we take in.

 

Remember, following Christ has its cost.  But I can tell you from experience it’s worth it.  Jesus told us those who give up houses and mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, or property for my sake will be repaid hundredfold in this life and the next (Matthew19:29).

 

As a result of their turning to God, the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.  And so it is with us.  When we allow God’s word to penetrate our heart and renew our minds, God is glorified.

 Lord, thank you for your life giving word.  Thank you for caring enough to die for our sins so we could have a right relationship with God.  Thank you for your Holy Spirit who guides us in your truth.  Thanks for giving us the strength to do all things in your name. Amen.  © Elizabeth Marks, author of ThinkOnIt Devotions and has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.  For more devotions, bible studies and a recommended book store, visit http://www.ThinkOnItDevotions.com today.

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