Bible Devotions

Recognized Value

She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night. Proverbs 31:18 NKJV

My mother is a gifted quilter. She makes incredibly beautiful quilts in all shapes and sizes. Some are hand-appliquéd and others are filled with quilted detailing. With all the talent she possesses evident in the beauty she creates, my mother still doesn’t see her work as good enough to sell.

Can you relate? No matter how hard you try for perfection you just can’t reach it. Then we are stuck pointing out all the flaws that others will never notice. Why are we so critical of our self?

The Proverbs 31 woman perceives her merchandise is good. She recognizes the worth and value others place on her handiwork. What a blessing. To know your product or service means something of value to someone is a great thrill. Doing something you enjoy and giving pleasure, worth or meaning to another is a gift of God.

It is motivating and energizing too. As the verse says her lamp does not go out by night. She probably waits for her family to retire for the night. Then she steals away to busily work on her next masterpiece. Who will cherish this piece she might wonder.

What are you gifted at but haven’t valued properly? Ask God to show you how to make use of His gifts for His glory. Do what you were made to do and God will take care of the rest.

Lord, thank you for giving us many gifts, talents, and abilities. Help us to recognize them and put them to good use for your glory. In Jesus’ 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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Her Strength is Mighty

She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms. Proverbs 31:17 NKJV

To gird means to put on, to wrap up, or to cover up. As strength is not something tangible like a coast, how does she gird herself with strength?

By reviewing the verses we have already studied Proverbs 31:10-17, we might gain some insight. Let’s look together how the Proverbs 31 woman puts on strength:

Verse 11 – She is strong because she is a trustworthy wife.

Verse 11 – She is strong through helping her husband as God intended.

Verse 12 – She is strong from continuing to do good without growing weary.

Verse 13 – She is strong through her willingness to work.

Verse 14 – She is strong as she loves her neighbor as herself and provides for them.

Verse 15 – She is strong by meeting the needs of others rather than her own.

Verse 16 – She is strong due to her wise decisions and thoughts toward the future.

Did you notice everything on the list above was action oriented? It makes perfect sense, because to strengthen a muscle, for example, one must exercise it. Let’s say you want to strengthen your stomach muscles. In that case, you will need to perform a series of tummy crunches, sit-ups and other exercises targeted at the specific area. It is only when those exercises are done on a regular basis that strength is developed in the muscles. Sadly, you can’t “think” your way to a firm tummy. It takes effort and lots of it.

This woman strengthens her spiritual muscles through the things she does. There is strength, confidence and peace knowing we do what is right and pleasing to God. The thoughts recorded here are not promoting self-reliance, self-motivation, or think-your-way-to-a-better-whatever kinds of attitudes, though. Behind the scenes this woman has put on the armor of God and draws her strength from Him. She would not be able to accomplish all she does by her own effort else she would be exhausted and overwhelmed. No, all this can only be done for the glory of God by the power of God working through her.

How do we tap the power of God hidden within us?

  • By renewing our mind with God’s Word (Romans 12:2).
  • By letting Christ dwell richly within us (Colossians 3:16).
  • By focusing our thoughts on what is pure, right, just, honorable and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).
  • By fixing our eyes on the eternal things rather than the temporary things (2 Corinthians 4:18).

When we learn these and apply them in our lives, the fruit of the Spirit will be evident just as it is in Proverbs 31 woman.

Lord Jesus, thank you for giving us everything we need to live a godly life until you return. Help us tap into your power within us. Teach to live by your Spirit rather than by our strength so we may bless others as you have blessed 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 book store, visit http://www.ThinkOnItDevotions.com today.

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She is Wise

She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard. Proverbs 31:16 NKJV

The woman who considers is one who thinks through the pros/cons and all the potential impacts to others that are wrapped up in the decision. It is wise to consider before deciding something.

She is able to make decisions. Some have a hard time deciding whether or not to make a large purchase. Others have a hard time figuring out what to wear in the morning. This woman clearly knows how to choose. She is willing to take risks. When she considers the risks she doesn’t let fear or failure stop her. She even has a track record of good decisions because the verse talks about her profits. She has done well with her financial gain in the past.

She is not out to acquire for the sake of gain. This woman’s intensions are for good. With her profits she doesn’t run out and go shopping for herself. With her profits she plants a vineyard. Think about how a vineyard might help others.

(1) It provides food for her family.

(2) It provides jobs for others because she needs laborers to tend the vineyard and help at harvest time.

(3) If she chooses to sell any of the harvest, she is supplying food to others.

(4) It provides additional income for her family, when she sells some of the harvest.

This woman is an intelligent business woman. Not only does she benefit all these people but she also invests for the future. What an example for us!

Lord Jesus, thank you for this godly woman’s example. Thank you, for the wisdom you provide when we ask for it. Help us to be wise, decisive and thoughtful of the future. 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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Sacrifice

She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants. Proverbs 31:15 NKJV

The woman in today’s verse is committed to her family. She rises early, sacrificing her own rest to provide for others. Nowhere does it mention, she does this because of the appreciation she gets. No, she does this out of love. She is pleasing God through her constant care for her family’s needs and that’s all that matters.

She knows what each family member needs. If one of her children has dietary restrictions, she would prepare food appropriate for them. If another didn’t like spices, she would prepare a meal without spices. She provides meals for the entire household. Even the maid servants she treats as part of the family by providing portions for them.

She cares for each one in ways that matter to them.

Food takes time to prepare. Especially, in bible times where they did not have modern conveniences such as electric or gas stoves, microwave ovens, and in-door ovens, etc. Just imagine making bread from scratch. If you are not familiar with the process, check out this How to Make Bread article at http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Make-Bread-without-a-bread-machine/ for more details. First gather the ingredients, then mix them in a precise measure. Next knead the dough for 8 to 9 minutes until the texture is just right (whatever that means!). Then let it rise for an hour. (Time consuming!) Move dough to pans and let rise again. Bake, cool and eat. That’s a lot of time, just for a loaf of bread!

So remember, this woman did everything without the cool gadgets and fancy appliances we have today. In a sense maybe it makes it easier for us to become “gourmet” cooks. For those on the receiving end of the meals, remember someone prepared the meal especially for you. It took time, preparation and care. Don’t sneer because it looks funny. Taste it and compliment the cook, even if you don’t like it.

Lord thank you for giving us the energy we need to carry out your purposes. Help us to focus on you today. If that means cooking for someone, help us make a meal that not only satisfies the hunger but brings joy to the taste buds. In Jesus’ 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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Gourmet Chef

She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar. Proverbs 31:14 NKJV

Food is necessary for our survival. However, this woman puts forth effort in making the necessary special. She doesn’t just make simple foods, but rather exotic and gourmet.

The mention of merchant ships brings to mind variety, not the “same old thing”. Perhaps this woman was very creative in her meal preparations. The verse says “she is like the merchant ship”. Maybe her food was prepared in such a way the eaters believe it must have come from far away.

Isn’t it nice to enjoy a new, different meal time experience? It brings pleasure, doesn’t it? It is a wonderful a woman who provides so abundantly for her family.

It is not only enjoyable, but it is also an opportunity for teaching her children about other cultures. Exposing them to new kinds of food, talking of where the food came from and the types of lives people led all over the world is a great way to expand our children’s thinking.

Are you the cook in the family? What is one way to bring some creativity to your meals? Don’t be afraid to try a new recipe. It just might be your family’s next favorite meal. It’s good for them to try new foods.

Lord thank you for the variety of food choices we have. Help us be grateful for every type of food set before us. Teach us ways to introduce new foods to our families. 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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Motivated

She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. Proverbs 31:13 NKJV

Have you ever met a self-motivated person? What characteristics stood out in that person? Maybe you noticed perseverance, independence, entrepreneurial ship, stability, or confidence to name a few.

The woman described in today’s verse is definitely a “go-getter”. She doesn’t dream about what to do, she does it. She doesn’t wait for opportunities to come her way, she makes them happen. She doesn’t just use whatever materials are on hand. No, she searches for the finest material. She makes special effort to get what she needs to deliver the best.

Can you tell the difference between someone doing a task out of duty versus out of willingness? Absolutely, the person operating out of duty has no joy, no pleasure in what they do because it is done out of obligation. Work is just one more “must be done” things on the list. By contrast, the person who works willingly appears joyful, pleasant, optimistic, and eager to help and never runs out of energy.

The lady in our verse today is in the second camp described above. She works willingly with her hands. She is not afraid of messing up, ruining things, failing or getting dirty! She uses her God-given talents for good. She lets none of her abilities stand idle and unused. She enjoys creating with her hands, especially when it benefits others, as we will see in other verses later.

Yes, motivation and willingness to work are qualities of a contributing member. Whether it is a wife, mother, child, employee or a manager mastering these two traits will gain you a favorable reputation with God and man.

How about you? Do you possess these traits? If not, why? Ask God to help you improve in these areas.

Lord Jesus, thank you for your willingness to work in and through us when we are surrendered to you. There is a plan and purpose behind all going on in our lives. Help us to align to your will so God gets the glory in all we do. In your precious 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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She does good

She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. Proverbs 31:12 NKJV

How many married women can say they do good to their husbands all the time? My guess it not many. Sometimes its hard to do good isn’t it? And it’s especially challenging when we are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. However, those things are all items we can take care of we would recognize them as factors robbing our ability to do good.

The Bible teaches us to continue doing good without growing weary for at the appropriate time we will reap if we don’t lose heart (Galatians 6:9). So we are called to guard against that which would make us not do good things. One way to stay guarded is to keep our thoughts fixed on what is true, pure, right, just, honorable and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).

Here is a practical example. When we are tempted to grumble and complain about something our husbands did or didn’t do, said or didn’t say, we are called to exercise the ninth gift of the spirit – self-control. We do this by switching our minds away from complaining and remember all the good. The Bible says do everything without grumbling or complaining, and instead give thanks for this is God’s will for you every day (Philippians 2:13-15).

Did you notice today’s verse says “all the days of her life”? This verse supports married-for-life idea. Take the good with the bad, in sickness and in health, in poverty and in riches, employed or unemployed and stand with your husband. Please notice this verse doesn’t say it is an easy task. It merely confirms God’s heart with regards to hating divorce as Malachi 2:16 says.

All the way through in the Bible we are told to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21, Matthew 5:42-44, Psalm 34:14, Proverbs 13:21, Isaiah 7:15, Jeremiah 13:23, Amos 5:14, Luke 6:35, 1 Peter 3:11). Doing good to our husbands is one way we do that. But why do good? Why does good overcome evil? It is because the only way to stop the cycle of evil is by countering with what is good and right. If someone is constantly throwing bitter words towards you and you respond with only kind, gentle and loving words back, the bitter person will eventually cease in their attack. If they can’t spin you out of control with their words, they will move on to other people or things. The result is evil is foiled in that situation. While the world and society may advise us to “dump the loser”, God calls us to a greater purpose of overcoming evil by doing good to your man all the days of your life.

What do you think? Are you doing good to your husband? If not, why? Ask God to show you ways to love your husband and do good to him.

Lord Jesus, your word is so clear if only we would listen and apply your teaching. Help us have the faith, strength, trust and courage to do what you have called us to do. In your precious name we want to overcome evil by doing good this day. 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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Trust

The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. Proverbs 31:11 NKJV

This husband can rest securely because at the center of his being he knows he can trust his wife. What a wonderful picture of a healthy marriage.

A marriage is the closest, most intimate relationship between two people who are not blood related. The Bible teaches us “two shall become one flesh” and when a husband loves his wife he’s actually loving himself (Matthew 19:6, Ephesians 5:28). Given the nature of marriage, think of everything that is at risk when we open our self up to this intimate relationship. Below are a few points to consider:

  • Emotional connection or bond
  • Friendship and companionship
  • Financial security
  • Confidence, self-esteem
  • Stability
  • Being loved and loving in return
  • Helping one another
  • Wisdom in decision making
  • Joy in parenting

For the husband portrayed in today’s verse, trusting his wife is a safe thing to do. Can your husband trust you? If not, it’s time to start building trusting. What are some ways to begin building trust? After looking at the following list, you will probably come up with several of your own ideas.

  • Don’t gossip. When your husband does or says something irritating, don’t call your girlfriend and tell her everything. Try extending grace and forgiveness instead.
  • Don’t validate yourself. When you are disagreeing with your husband, don’t bring in others to validate your own “rightness” in the situation. Try agreeing to disagree. The world’s not going to end if you don’t agree on everything.
  • Be helpful. When you notice your husband’s work clothes need cleaning, take them to the dry cleaner before he asks.
  • Watch how much money you spend. Being a good steward of money is a great way to demonstrate trustworthiness.
  • If you work outside the home, use discretion and wisdom. Never go to lunch with a male co-worker alone. Give no reason for anyone to suspect there may anything sexual going on with another man. Rumors get started very easily, so don’t damage your reputation. If you have to dine with someone of the opposite sex, invite another person of the same sex to go with you.

Above all these suggestions is prayer. Ask God to show you where you need to improve. Ask for His strength and courage to do what needs to be done to build trust in your marriage.

Lord Jesus, thank you for trusting us with your message of love. Enable us to display your love in all our relationships. Where distrust exists, enable us to change in appropriate ways to rebuild trust. 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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Virtue

Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. Proverbs 31:10 NKJV

What is virtue? In a nutshell it means you have morals. Someone exhibiting virtue is demonstrating morality in their life. A virtuous person is ethical, righteous and noble because they conform to an established code of conduct, which outlines right and wrong. It means this morality or virtue is visible in the person’s life. Anyone can see whether you are moral or virtuous by watching your affairs.

Why is a virtuous person worth more than rubies? Think about it. Would a morally sound person be trustworthy? Absolutely. Would a moral person do anything against the law? Probably not. Would a moral person steal from you? I doubt it. Would a moral person take unfair advantage of you? No way. Therefore, we all want virtuous people around us, just as we should desire to be virtuous our self.

Someone moral and virtuous has their eye on something bigger than them self. As a result, they order their steps knowing they are accountable for their words and actions. In America it is hard to find virtue-minded people. Our culture is filled with “me-first” thinking and we tend to take all we have for granted.

So how do we know what is right and wrong? Some say you are born knowing what is right and wrong. Others say as long as you are not hurting anyone it must be right. There’s even a song lyric that says “if it feels this good it can’t be bad”. The truth about right and wrong is found in one place – the Bible.

Proverbs 1:7 NKJV says “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.”

Proverbs 2: 2, 5 NKJV says if we incline our ear to wisdom, and apply our heart to understanding, then we will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. However, God’s Word also says “but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).

Are we going to be wise and learn from the Lord? Or are we like the fool who chooses his own way and despises wisdom and instruction? What steps can we take to develop virtue in our life today?

Lord God Almighty, you have called us sons and daughters when we believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The foundation is laid, now continue your good work in us and develop us into moral and virtuous people this day. 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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Our Example

Jesus answered him, “I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing. John 18:20 NKJV

As we consider what it means to share the gospel with others, we need to keep our eyes on how Jesus it. He is our example to follow.

His message is for everyone who will hear it.

  • Matthew 13:43Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
  • Mark 4:24Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given.”
  • 1 Timothy 4:16Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”

He proclaimed it everywhere openly.

  • Mark 1:38 “But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.””
  • Mark 3:1 “And He entered the synagogue”
  • Mark 4:1 “And again He began to teach by the sea.”
  • Mark 6:1 “Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him.”

He did not teach anyone privately, but always in the company of others.

  • Matthew 15:30Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them.”
  • Matthew 19:2And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there.”
  • Matthew 20:29Now as they went out of Jericho, a great multitude followed Him.”

He plays no favorites, but gives all the same opportunity to come.

  • Matthew 11:28Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
  • Luke 9:23Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
  • Matthew 19:14But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.””

How are you doing? Are you sharing the message with everyone? Are you proclaiming it openly everywhere you go? Are you avoiding favorites and sharing with all people?

Lord Jesus, thank you for your example to us this day. Empower us with your Spirit to proclaim your message to all, in all places, and without playing favorites. Draw us to you. In your blessed 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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