Bible Devotions

Shared Responsibility

When I was my father’s son, tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, He also taught me, and said to me: “Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live.” Proverbs 4:3-4 NKJV

What a beautiful picture of parenting! As God created both male and female, it is in both that His likeness is represented to the world. Parenting is a great example of how the shared responsibility between mother and father describe God’s character towards His children. Let’s look further:

  • When I was my father’s son. Why wouldn’t the writer just say “when I was young”? Maybe he knew his position in the family. Maybe out of respect for his father. Maybe he was pointing out the relationship aspect of family.
  • Tend and the only one in my mother’s sight. This may represent the writer’s young age. It may also refer to his mother’s dedication. She mostly likely was with him, watching, guiding, correcting and nurturing him through out the day. No doubt she was very involved and engaged in raising her son.
  • He also taught me and said “Let your heart retain my words. In order for a father to teach, he must be engaged with his children. This father actually spoke to his children. It is sad to hear how many children grow up with a silent, neglectful, disengaged, or uninterested father. This verse makes it pretty clear fathers have equal part in raising their children.
  • Keep my commands and live. Depending on your background these words may seem like an ultimatum. Consider the previous verses describing the love and care of this father towards his son. When love is present and actively demonstrated keep my commands and live sounds more like a compassionate plead for the child to choose the best path for his life.

What fatherly characteristics of God do you see in today’s verse?

What is most difficult for you to accept about God as your Father?

What can you do today to live more like a child of God?

If you are a parent, how can you engage more with your children?

O Father God in heaven, you are the perfect father. You have given us your word to show us how to live holy and pleasing lives. Enable us this day to accept your instructions and apply them in our lives. 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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Good Doctrine

Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, and give attention to know understanding; For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law. Proverbs 4:1-2 NKJV

God, our Father, wants us to listen to His instructions. Not just to listen but to become part of how we think and live for good reason.

We know the word doctrine means simply instructions. Webster’s Merriam defines it as a body of principles in a belief system. Another definition is a fundamental government policy in international relations. That’s interesting as we are told we are foreigners here on earth and our real home is in heaven. Therefore, one can say doctrine helps us live peaceable with one another until we go home.

A third definition of doctrine says it is a military principle or set of strategies. This, too, is interesting because we are in a battle on multiple fronts: (1) between the flesh and the spirit within us, (2) lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life (3) between Satan (evil) and God (good). The idea behind military strategies is to take control, gain the upper hand, and remain in power. That’s what God’s doctrine does for us in our fight against the enemies.

Again God says hear my instructions and do not forsake my laws. To forsake means to renounce or turn away from entirely. God pleads with us not to abandon His ways for the good doctrine He gives is for our benefit. Remember, His ways are higher than our ways His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. God is a loving, just, and merciful father who wants what’s best for His children.

In what ways can we give attention to God’s instructions today?

Father God in heaven, thank you for your word to us. Thank you for caring for us and leading us with your good doctrine. Enable us to heed it for our benefit. May we not forsake your instructions from this day forward. 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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Let Wisdom Reign

The wise shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the legacy of fools. Proverbs 3:35 NKJV

Over and over we are told the benefits of wisdom. It must be a very important topic to be repeated so much throughout the Bible.

We have seen in Proverbs 2:6 “the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 1:23 says “Turn at my rebuke; surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you.” Proverbs 1: 5 says “a wise man will hear and increasing learning and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.” James 1:5 exhorts us to ask for wisdom if we lack it and God will give it.

Receiving wisdom into our hearts will bring life to our souls says Proverbs 3:21-22. This life is being crafted into a glorious one modeled after Jesus Christ, as we continue to acknowledge God and follow His ways. One day we will be like Jesus, perfect. As a recovering perfectionist, that’s gloriously good news.

Do you have wisdom yet? If not, ask and it will be given.

Lord thank you for making it easy to know you and attain wisdom. Guard us from the paths that seem right to us but end in death. Lead on the path leading to life eternal with you. 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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Same Measure

Surely He scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble. Proverbs 3:34 NKJV

The word scorn in the noun form means to openly dislike or disrespect an object of extreme disdain, contempt or derision. To scorn means to treat with scorn, reject or dismiss as contemptible or unworthy.

God rejects those who openly despise Him. God considers them contemptible. Those who are scornful judge God not worthy of believing or following. Or perhaps they are just too pride to admit they need Him.

But God gives grace to the humble, why? When we are humble, we admit our need for God. We accept His offer to save us. We welcome Him into our lives. We acknowledge He is God and we are not. Knowing even the humble are not perfect or completely worthy by our own merit, God gives us grace.

This verse brings to mind another verse. Matthew 7:2 NKJV says “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” If we reject God, He will reject us. If we accept God, He will accept us.

Are there any areas of our life we are rejecting God? Ask God to help us turn everything over to His control, for He is worthy of our trust.

Lord, thank you for opening our eyes to see the truth and freeing us from a life of scorn. Thank you for the grace poured out on the humble. Enable us to extend grace to others as you have extended it to us. 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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Home is where the Heart is

The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the just. Proverbs 3:33 NKJV

A house is a place where we live. Not just a physical place but also a state of being, as in “existing” versus “truly living”. A home is more than a physical place because it is centered on people rather a building. A home is about relationships with our family, those we love and connect with on an intimate level.

How much of our relational troubles stem from our “playing house” rather than our “coming home”? Sure we can work hard to keep our house looking nice, but will a tidy house bring contentment to our soul? There lies the curse. If our focus is not right it breeds discontentment and unrest.

How do we move out of the house mode and into home?

The first step is becoming relational by asking Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior. This is the most important relationship because without this one no other relationship will stand. With the foundational relationship cemented, Christ starts working on our relationships with others. With the Holy Spirit’s help we change what needs to adjusted so relationship can flourish.

The blessings come as our priorities align with God’s. He values people, so we shall too. When we look back and survey where we came from, standing here now we reap the bountiful blessings of being home.

Lord Jesus, thank you for guiding us home. Help us participate with your Holy Spirit to improve our relationships. Thank you for wanting a relationship with us rather than our keeping rules and regulations. 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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God’s Ways are Different

Do not envy the oppressor, and choose none of his ways; For the perverse person is an abomination to the LORD, but His secret counsel is with the upright. Proverbs 3:31-32 NKJV

In God’s economy things are very different. To be a great leader we must be a servant to all. Faith as small a mustard seed can move mountains. It is more blessed to give than receive. Deny self and focus on other’s interests not just your own. On earth, we don’t see God’s ways played out much. We see man’s ways instead: me-first, take all you can, pride, arrogance, and “I deserve it” thinking.

The strange thing is those who live for them self appear to have it all: a good job, perfect family, nice house and cars. They live for pleasure, taking exotic vacations and buying boats they can’t really afford. They’ve got it made. Or do they?

If our eye is on the people who have it all, we will become envious wishing we had those nice things too. David had similar struggles as he considered the perverse people in time. Read Psalm 37. There is a road that seems right to man but leads to death. Choose the road leading to life instead. If our focus is on what they have and what we lack we won’t find contentment and will become oppressed by worldly passions.

God pleads us not to go that way but instead remember His secret counsel is with the upright. In the end, the Lord’s team wins, no matter how bleak it may appear in the meantime. So forget, we are on the winning team.

Lord, forgive us for loosing our focus. Help us keep our eyes on eternal things rather than the temporary. Remind us with your word the end of the wicked. Their time of prosperity is short, but ours goes on forever. 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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Contend with Man

Do not strive with a man without cause, if he has done you no harm. Proverbs 3:30 NKJV

Dictionary.com defines “strive” in the verb tense this way:

1.

to exert oneself vigorously; try hard: He strove to make himself understood.

2.

to make strenuous efforts toward any goal: to strive for success.

3.

to contend in opposition, battle, or any conflict; compete.

4.

to struggle vigorously, as in opposition or resistance: to strive against fate.

5.

to rival; vie.

Based on the context of Proverbs 3, we’ve been talking about how to become a good neighbor. Therefore, any of the last three definitions from above might apply to today’s verse.

We are not to contend in conflict with someone without cause. Meaning we should not be the one creating the conflict. We are not to struggle vigorously in opposition with our neighbor without cause when no harm or foul has occurred. Don’t be opposed to someone when they’ve never done anything wrong to you. We are not to rival with someone. We are not in competition with anyone.

These are really good points. How often do we fail at them? Do we hold grudges against someone because we heard some unflattering thing about them? Do we compete against other trying to get the best jobs? Do we measure our success based on how we compare to the Jones down the street? Do we secretly harbor hate in our hearts for someone, all the while pretending we love people? First John 2:11 NKJV says “But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” First John 3:15 NKJV continues saying “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”

If there’s no harm done to you, we are to drop the striving. Get rid of any thoughts that would lead us down the path of destruction. Switch gears and think of the good things about the person instead. Be thankful for the person. Even if we can’t name one thing to be thankful for, we most certainly can be thankful God used this person to get us to contemplate God’s ways and evaluate how well we are abiding them.

Lord, thank you for your word. Help us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Enable us to put away all bitterness that leads to death. Teach us not to contend with man. 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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Better Together

Do not devise evil against your neighbor, for he dwells by you for safety’s sake. Proverbs 3:29 NKJV

People were made to be with people.  People are not meant to be alone, living in isolation.  For when they are alone they are attacked and weakened.

We need others for protection.  We need each other for balance.  We need others in our life to help us grow.  We need others for the best return on our efforts.

Let’s look at Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: We are more creative and capable of much bigger things together.  Working together causes us to bring out the God-given gifts in each other.

If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! We all fall at some point.  Therefore, we need someone on our side to pick us up and set us on the right path again.

Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? We need others near us to keep us warm.  Not just physically warm, but spiritually warm as well.  By our selves we can’t stay warm.  Picture single hot coal removed from a fire.  At first is hot, but over time it looses its heat.  Eventually, it will no longer be on fire because it wasn’t near the other coals keeping it lit.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. This may represent more than the physical as well.  When we are alone, we lack someone speaking truth into our lives. Without truth, we are tempted to believe lies and our minds are easily overpowered by worldly thoughts, lustful thoughts and prideful self-centered thinking.  This is exactly where our enemy wants us.  However, having someone near can quickly squelch those ungodly thoughts and bring us near the heart of God.

God wants us to be with other people.  His plan is not carried out in isolation.  Granted you might feel like doing evil to a grumpy, mean neighbor, but just think.  Maybe he doesn’t have someone in his life.  Maybe that someone is you.

Lord forgive us when we so easily want to do harm than good.  Grow us up in you’re him image so we learn to live together with others.  Equip us this day for what lie ahead.  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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Reflect

Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,” when you have it with you. Proverbs 3:28 NKJV

If you noticed your neighbor was trying to change their car’s flat tire but didn’t have a jack to change it with but you did, would you wait until the next day to load them the jack?

If you witnessed a neighborhood boy falling out of a tree breaking his leg and knowing his parents weren’t home, would you wait until the next day to offer help?

These are rather ridiculous examples but the point is to get us thinking about helping others. When a need is brought to our attention it is an opportunity to let Christ move us to action. There’s a line in Disney’s movie called “Meet the Robinsons” that says “See a need, meet a need” which is very fitting. It captures the essence of today’s verse.

Try not to get hung up on the word neighbor. It doesn’t mean only your next door neighbor. Rather it means anyone and everyone. It could be someone from your own family, a co-worker, a class mate or a fellow shopper at the supermarket.

When a need present itself and we have what is required to care for the need it is our Christian responsibility to reflect God in that moment. Isn’t that a transforming thought? Think about it. Our role in this world is to reflect the character of God as we grow to be like Him. Therefore, every situation and circumstance has the potential for reflecting the world’s way or God’s way. What gets reflected is up to us.

Matthew 5:16 says “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” So go forth and shine!

Lord thank you for your word that compels us with truth and love to do what it right. Equip us to choose to reflect your grace in each moment. Inspire us to help others as you have helped us. 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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Power to do Good

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so. Proverbs 3:27 NKJV

How do we respond to someone collecting change in front of a supermarket? Or when we see a troubled co-worker? Or after hearing about the plight of an orphan needing a sponsor?

Are you like me at times? It’s just too painful to think about all the suffering people. I mean really, how can one person help anyway? Do you turn away, refuse to see, deny the problem and carry on your own merry way?

If so, remember God blesses us so we can bless others. We can’t bless if we don’t open ourselves up to see people who need the blessing. Ask God to open our eyes to see the hurting people. Then ask Him for compassion and seek courage to lay aside your own needs/desires to be used by God instead.

Whether it is dropping change in a collection bin, or asking a co-worker if they are okay, it is within our power to do good. Maybe you don’t have much money, you still have time. Consider using your time to bless someone. Volunteer somewhere, give your time instead.

Since May, my 3-year-old son and I have been visiting an elderly woman in a nursing home. We simply walked in one day and asked to visit someone who hadn’t had a visitor in some time. We were told about Rose. She’s 98-years-old and hadn’t had a visitor in over two years! That broke my heart. Can you imagine sitting there waiting for someone to come and being disappointed each day as no one came? Let me tell you, it has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. We visit Rose each Sunday for maybe an hour or so. We just listen to what Rose wants to say. She’s full of stories from her life. Rose loves the company, but more than that the other residents enjoy watching my son strolling through the halls saying “hi” to everyone he passes. Our being there makes Rose feel treasured valued and cared for. What an awesome privilege to give time to bless someone.

There are many ways to do good. Here’s a list of some easy and mostly free ways to you can start doing good.

  • Try smiling at the checker at the checkout counter.
  • Say hello to folks as you step into an elevator.
  • Say thank you to your children’s teachers.
  • Write a letter of appreciation to someone.
  • Place a thank you note in your mail box to bless the mail carrier.
  • Stick love notes in your family’s lunch box.
  • Pray for someone other than yourself

The best place to start is by thinking about what others do for you. As you consider the many things they do for you, you will never run out of people to bless. Develop godly habits and integrate doing good into your life today. Proverbs 11:25 says “The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.” I have found this to be true in my life.

Lord thank you for opening our eyes and allowing us to be used for good in the lives of others. Help us focus on your will rather than our own. May we refresh others and in doing so be refreshed ourselves. 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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