Bible Devotions

Humility absence of Pride

Pride is not flattering.  Nor can pride save your life.  Proverbs 29:23 NKJV says pride will make your life miserable: “A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.” Proverbs 18:12 NKJV tells us pride comes before the fall: “Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, and before honor is humility.”

 

We know from the verses above pride and humility cannot coexist.  You can be either full of pride or full of humility.  The choice is ours. 

 

We have already looked at the evidence of submission in Jesus’ life which pointed to His humility.  Now, let’s take a look at how pride was absent from His humility as well. 

 

Others proclaimed His Deity

 

But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  John 6:69 NKJV

 

Then they all said, “Are you then the Son of God?”  So He said to them, “You rightly say that I am.” Luke 22:70 NKJV

 

Jesus knowing He was fully God did not parade around all puffed up with pride, arrogantly telling everyone He was the Messiah.  No, He quietly and humbly carried out His purpose on earth.  He let others praise Him, rather than Him touting He was God.

Not seeking His own Glory

Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. John 7:16-18 NKJV

Repeatedly, Jesus said He came to do the Father’s will.  Not His will but God’s will.  A prideful person can not submit to another because it would bruise their ego.  We see no filthy pride or ego in Jesus, the Son of God.

Relationship before Revelation

 

Reading through John 4:7-26 NKJV you realize Jesus took time to connect with a Samaritan woman in need.  She didn’t know she was in need, but Jesus did.  He re-arranged His traveling schedule to make sure He stopped over in Samaria for this appointment.  This woman had priority in Jesus’ heart.  His conversation started out on the light side “Give Me a drink”.  But with each exchange the conversation got deeper as He revealed more of Himself to this woman.  It wasn’t until the seventh exchange of words that He tells her plainly “I who speak to you am He”, when she mentioned the Messiah.

 

Jesus made a connection with this woman at the place of her need.  Once that need connection was established, He revealed who He was.  If Jesus were prideful, He would have just come out with it right away.  However, in His humble manner He creates a relationship, elevates this woman’s worth and value in that society and revealed Himself in gentle and kind way. 

 

Our Part

How are you at mirroring Jesus’ humility?  Do you brag about how great you?  Or do you wait for others to praise you in due time?  What motivates you? Do you seek your own benefit?  Or do you seek other’s benefit?  Do build relationship to reach others for Christ?  Or do you blast them by pointing out all their sins and reciting bible verses at them?

 

Lord Jesus you are the perfect example of humility.  Thank you the work you began in us you will finish.  Transform us into your image and your humility.  In your 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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What does humility look like?

One definition says humility is to offer in the spirit of submission. Jesus Christ is the example of true humility.  Let’s look at the evidence pointing to Jesus’ humility by reviewing Luke’s account of the life of Jesus.

 

Submitting to Father’s Will

  • Why did you seek Me?  Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business? (Luke 2:49) He knew why He came – to be about His Father’s business.
  • Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. (Luke 4:2)  He willing went where the Spirit led Him.
  • I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.  (Luke 4:43) He knew what God’s purpose was and committed His life to carrying it out.
  • Father if its is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not my will, by Yours be done.  (Luke 22:42)  Even when the command was hard to follow, He submitted to the Lord’s will rather than His own.

 

Willing to Suffer

  • Jesus submitted to cruelty of ignorant men.  Willing to be mocked and beaten.  He was doing to die to save. (Luke 22:63-65).
  • Jesus was falsely accused, but offered no defense.  He allowed them to falsely accuse Him because it was part of God’s plan to save humanity.

 

Willing to Forgive

  • When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” (Luke 5:20)
  • Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven. (Luke 7:48)
  • And anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; (Luke 12:10)
  • Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do. (Luke 23:34)

 

Willing to Sacrifice

  • Jesus was willing to sacrifice for the greater good.  Father into Your hands I commit My Spirit. (Luke 23:46).  He laid down His life to make our salvation possible.

 

How about us?  How willing are we to submit to God’s will, suffer, forgive or sacrifice for others?  Jesus is a model.  God sent His Spirit to guide us into His truth.  Day by day we are transformed into His image with His likeness.  Therefore, we should begin to see more of this type of humility in our own lives. 

 

Lord Jesus, thank you for being willing to submit to God’s plan.  Thank you for your forgiveness, willing to suffer and sacrifice for us.  Teach us to do the same.  In your 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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Return to Kindness

We have already discussed kindness as it relates to manners, politeness and action.  Today we want to focus on practical steps for implementing kindness. 

 

Step 1: Realize by God’s grace we live in America.  We are more fortunate than a large majority of the world.  God could have had us live in Africa, Darfar, Uganda or any other third-world country, but He chose America for us.  We don’t know why.  But we can be sure God has a plan for us.  With all this privilege comes responsibility.  Are we using our abilities and resources in a way pleasing to God?

 

Step 2: Begin with a smile.  Thinking about all we have to be thankful for puts us in the proper fame of mind and enables kindness to flow freely.  After all, we have so much why not share with others?

 

Step 3:  See a need and meet it. If you see someone carrying a bunch of packages struggling to open the door, offer to help carry and open the door for them.  If you see some trash on the ground as you’re walking along, stop and pick it up.  This simple act of being kind to the environment can spark others to care too.  If you are planning to go to the post office, ask your co-workers, family or neighbors if they need anything.  Picking up some extra stamps for someone who is not able to go on their own could be a great help.  If you’re in a meeting and notice no one taking notes, begin capturing the action items and decisions.  Send your notes to the meeting facilitator to share with all the attendees.

 

Have you noticed a pattern in these examples? That’s right, thoughtfulness, consideration for others and action on our part.  Doing something kind is all about helping someone else.  When we are focused on being thankful to God, we more readily and willingly want to help others.  That’s where God wants our focus – on others instead of on our self.

 

Here are a few more ideas:

  • Be patient when I feel like screaming
  • Take clothes to the dry cleaner without being asked
  • Send a card to a friend for no other reason that “I was thinking of you”
  • Smile at a passerby
  • Drop food off at a local food pantry
  • Give clothes to a charity
  • Recycle plastic bottles and aluminum cans

 

Lighten up, look out for ways to help and respond in kindness by getting involved.  You will never regret doing something kind for someone.  Your very act of kindness could lead others to care and respond like you did to them.  Caution being kind could also lead to a sense of well-being, gratefulness and joy in being helpful.  Who wouldn’t want those feelings in their life?

 

Lord Jesus, you are the ultimate example of kindness.  You died for us even when we did not know you.  You saved us before we knew we needed saving.  You took the initiative.  Enable us to be kind to others as well.  Help us take the initiative and get involved.  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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Only One Truth

“But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” John 6:68-69 NKJV

 

There is only one source of truth that being Jesus Christ.  John 1:1 says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:14 says “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” 

Just as Peter said we have come to believe, so we come to believe.  John 6:65 says “And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” If we believe, it is because God granted us belief.  

Mark 9:23-24 says “Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”  This man called out to God to help with his unbelief.  I believe the Lord answered his prayer.

The Bible is God’s Word.  It contains the truth.  Read it.  Believe it.  Be set free by the truth. 

Jesus, thank you for saving us when we were yet your enemies.  Thank you for your word and your Holy Spirit who teaches your truth.  In your name, Jesus, 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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Abide in Me

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. John 15:5 NKJV

When I looked up the word “abide” in the dictionary I found several interesting things.  In the verb tense one of “abide” definitions means to accept without objection.  Isn’t that what Jesus wants of us?  He wants us to accept Him without objection.  Isn’t that what has to happen for us to be saved?  We must accept Jesus for who He is and believed He died for us. 

The list of definitions also said it meant to remain stable or fixed in a state. This coincides with instructions from Paul as he exhorts us to keep our thoughts fixed on good things in Philippians 4:8-9.  We are instructed to renew our minds by letting God’s change the way we think in Romans 12:2.

One last definition was how “abide” also means to continue in place: sojourn.  This one really struck me because God has told us repeatedly throughout the whole Bible we are strangers and sojourners here on earth.

 

Leviticus 25:23 says “for you are strangers and sojourners with Me.” 

Psalm 39:12 “Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; Do not be silent at my tears; For I am a stranger with You, a sojourner, as all my fathers were.”

One Peter 2:11-12 says “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

 

Paul tells us to think on heavenly things instead of the temporary things (2 Corinthians 4:18).   The reason to think about heavenly things is to remind us this life is not all there is.  Heaven awaits us and earth is our temporary home.  We are to keep this perspective in all we do.  We cling tightly to Jesus Christ who is our sustainer, our provider and our very life.

 

Lord Jesus, thank you for being life to us.  Help us remember we are sojourners here on earth.  Teach us to enjoy what we have, use the opportunities we’re given to share God’s love with others and use our gifts, talents, and abilities to honor you.  In your 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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Bread of Life

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.  John 6:35 NKJV

Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. John 6:53 NKJV

I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”  John 6:51 NKJV

Until we know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we are dead in our trespasses and sins.  We may think we’re alive, but in the spiritual world we are dead.  This death is a separation from God.  Once we come to Jesus and believe in Him, we are given a new spiritual life which lives on in relationship with God forever. 

As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. John 6:57 NKJV

This new life comes from Jesus.  It can only be obtained by “he who feeds on Me” says Jesus.  Let’s think about bread for a moment, since that’s the symbol Jesus used to try to communicate this message of life. 

Physical bread is used to fill the void and satisfy something within.  It also nourishes, sustains, empowers and strengthens the body.  Eating physical bread causes us to take it in and it becomes part of us.  Our body uses the food to draw nourishment from it to fuel the body.  Likewise, when we take in Christ we are strengthened by Him, nourished by His words, and empowered by His Holy Spirit.

Hunger and thirst are used as symbols of something obviously lacking.  There is an emptiness inside which drives us to fill it.  We can try filling it with possessions, power, money, friends, lust, family, but the only thing that will slack this hunger and thirst is Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul understood this in Galatians 2:20 NKJV: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

How about you?  Can you say along with Paul “I no longer live but Christ lives in me”?

Lord Jesus thank you for being our Bread of Life. Thank you for granting us life forever when we come and believe in You. Lord, we take you in as we do bread and drink.  Thank you for your sacrifice that we may live on in you.  In your 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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Not Judgment but Salvation

 
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” John 5:24 NKJV

 

Jesus said He did not come to condemn, but to save that which is lost.   Jesus did not come to judge us, but rather to save us.  If He were to judge us, do you think He would have chosen to die on the cross?  He has the power to wipe us out with a single word if He wanted to.

 

When a parent does a child’s chores for them, it reinforces the child’s thoughts of entitlement and does harm to the child.  Had Jesus spoken away our sin, we might have developed an entitlement attitude too and might not have chosen to come to Him.

 

However, He chose to die on our behalf, to pay for our sins, make possible our forgiveness and give us life.  He chose to show us His love rather than His wrath.  He laid down His life so we could understand the extent of His love for us.  Jesus’ death on the cross was the tangible evidence of His willingness to save us. 

 

But let’s not stop at His death.  He came to give us life.    For as much as His death paid our sin debt, His resurrection gives us life.  Jesus, God in human flesh, has the power to lay down His life and to take it up again.  No other prophet in any other religion can say that.  All those prophets have died and their bones are among us today. 

 

Yes, Jesus died, but His tomb is empty.  Make no bones about it Jesus is alive.  He is at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us in heaven. 

 

Lord Jesus, you are God and alive to give us life.  Thank you for your sacrificial love.  Thank you for saving us.  In your 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

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Sin = Rejection of God’s Authority

Once we’ve grasped God is God and we are not, the next hurdle is accepting His absolute authority over every area of our life.  Can one believe in God and not accept His authority?  Yes, but what value is there in that?  Can one confess Jesus saved them and not have evidence in the form of a changed life? Yes, but what a tragedy of wasted blessings.  Can one sin, be forgiven over and over again?  Yes, but one might wonder if they ever accepted Jesus’ Lordship in their life.

 

Sin in its most basic form, regardless of type of sin, is the rejection of God’s way.  Sin is when we decide our way is better than God’s way.  God, in His gracious way, lets us go on the path we choose, even though He knows it leads to destruction. 

 

Here are a few ways we sin and the results:

God says

What we do

Result

Don’t steal

We take office products home from work.

We think no one will notice, but God sees us.

 

Don’t lie

We cheat on our income tax returns.

This is rebellion against the government God has put in place.

Don’t commit adultery

We justify our affair by saying God would want us to be happy.  

We mistakenly think God cares more about our comfort than our character.

 

Don’t murder

We kill unborn babies for no other reason than convenience to a woman not ready for a family.

This puts us in God’s place.  Only He has right to decide who lives and dies.

 

Sex is for marriage

We have sexual activity among our unwed singles. 

We choose to gratify the lust of flesh, rather than walk in the Spirit.

Don’t love money because you won’t love me

We are a materialist and greedy nation. 

 

We don’t tithe.  We don’t love God as we should.

He hates divorce

The divorce rate among Christians is in the double digits.

We have a poor witness to the world.

 

What’s wrong with our generation?  The answer is simple – sin.  People don’t like being told what they can and can not do.  We are prideful, self-centered, self-promoting, and lustful beings.  We want what we want, no matter the consequence.

 

The root cause of sin is lack of respect in God’s authority. Proverbs 9:10 tells us the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Fear of the Lord is respect for authority.  If God is the One in charge, what He says ought to stand.  Therefore, with so much sin going on one can only conclude the people are given over to their lustful desires and they have no fear of the Lord to restrain them.

 

God, who knew us before we existed, before he formed the world, knows what’s best for us.  His plans are to prosper and not to harm us, to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).  God’s Word is full of His provision, parental care, and healthy guidelines for living a victorious, abundantly full, godly life.  All of this is possible only when we accept God for who He is and accept His right to reign over us.  We can choose His high way or we can hit the dirt road leading to death.  The choice is ours. 

 

Lord, help us recognize sin for what it is – rebellion against your authority.  Lord, bring us into a right relationship with you.  Help us accept your authority and live a godly life until Christ returns.  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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Kindness kills Criticism

 

In general, most people have an internal mechanism that tells them when they are doing wrong.  It’s called a conscience.  God made us this way so it is not necessary for another to tell someone when they are doing wrong. 

 

Sadly, many people think they are helping by pointing out what’s wrong in other people’s lives.  Jesus taught us in Matthew 7:1-5 we should not be fault finders by judging others.  We have enough to worry about by examining our own life. 

 

One way to show kindness is by eliminating our constant criticizing of others.  How do we know if we are criticizing others?  Do you hold people to ridiculously high standards?  Do you expect people to do things your way?  Do you always have to be right?  If you answered yes to one or more of those questions, chances are you are may be a perfectionist. 

 

Perhaps you are unaware how perfectionism is all about judging others.  Who gave us the right to judge others?  No one, it is a role some of us took upon our self.  Guess what?  Only God Himself has the right to judge because He is perfectly balanced between mercy and justice.  Furthermore, He is holy, pure, righteous and true.  He knows the beginning and the end.  Only He can judge appropriately.

 

When we point out other’s flaws, repeatedly, we are not helping the other person any.  Holding people to our standard, rather than God’s standard is to judge them.  The more critical we are with others, the more critical others will be of us.   Jesus says focus on our own issues and let others focus on theirs. 

 

But how do I stop criticizing when that’s just the way I am?  Well, it may be the way you are, but the all powerful God has the ability to change you into His likeness.  Anyone who wishes to follow Jesus must deny self, carry the cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23).

 

It all starts with one step.  Start small.  Take another step and pretty soon you have changed your behavior with God’s help.  Here are some practical steps to help you avoid criticizing others:

  1. Recognize when you are about to criticize and hold your tongue.
  2. Pray for the Father’s wisdom and discernment, asking Him if what you were about to say is helpful, loving and encouraging.
  3. Yield yourself to the Holy Spirit’s leading.  Most of the time, this means denying what you would do and choosing to do what’s right instead.

 

Pouring out kindness on those who, in our opinion, who don’t deserve it is what God’s Word tells us to do.  Why not start today by keeping our tongue from criticizing someone?

 

Lord, thank you for not criticizing us though you would have plenty of opportunity.  Help us to treat others as you do in kindness, mercy, and truth.  Teach us your way, Lord.  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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Priorities

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4 NKVJ

Jesus told us in Matthew 6:33 seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and you will have everything you need.  Where is your priority?  Jesus made it clear that God’s kingdom should be our first priority.  Paul is confirming it in today’s verse also.

Looking at our thought life is one indicator of our priorities. Where do we focus our thoughts?  Are you thinking about the office politics and how to get ahead?  Are you wondering how you’re going to pay your bills?  Are you worried you won’t fit in a school?  Jesus said no one can ever add a cubit to their height by worrying, so why bother?  Read more about what Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-32.

Time is another indicator.  The first church is a good example of where to spend time. Look at Acts 2:42 “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Where do we spend out time?  Do we make time for God every day?  Do we read His Word?  Do we talk with Him throughout the day in prayer?  How much time do you spend watching television? Or reading a book?  What about serving others?  Or community work?  If you’re willing to spend time on something, then that something is priority in your life.

Another way to determine priority is by your checkbook.  Again look at the first church in Acts 2:44-45 “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” Where do you spend your money?  Do you tithe? Giving back to God what’s rightfully His before you pay your bills, is certainly sign that your priorities on God.  What about the money you have left after you tithe and pay your bills?  Where does it go?

We must be cautious, not to do these things for the sake of doing them or just to be seen by men.  Jesus has a strong warning for us in Matthew 7:21-23  ““Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

If we’re in properly relationship with our Lord, then our motives will be properly aligned with His will and our thoughts, time and money will reflect His priorities too.  Examine yourself today.  Are you aligned with Him?  Check you’re priorities.  Are you focused on God’s kingdom?  If not why?

Lord Jesus, thank you for interrupting our lives and bringing us to a saving faith in you.  Help us to focus our thoughts, time and resources on seeking your kingdom first.  In your precious 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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