Bible Devotions

God’s Plans Prevail

The chosen path through which God’s promise would come sometimes have what seems like delays.  Sarah waited 15 years after God said she would have a son.  Rebekah waited 20 years for a child.

I wonder if God did it this way so we would know it was Him orchestrating it. As humans we tend to have short memory spans.  We also tend to expect immediate results.  God doesn’t work like that.  He remembers all His promises and He delivers on those promises in a time pleasing to Him.

Sarah being in her 80s or 90s was still childless and knew it was not possible to conceive a child.  Her body was long past child baring years.  She, no doubt, was in menopause.  No periods means no eggs were produced.  Without an egg how can male sperm fertilize it to produce life?  Therefore, Sarah had given up on the idea of being a mother.

Sarah hears from Abraham they are to have a son.  Sarah thinks it won’t be from me, so she has her servant become a surrogate.  The servant has a son who grows.  When this son is 14 years old, God comes again saying, “No, Sarah will have a son and you will name him Isaac.”

Now fast forward to Isaac, who marries Rebekah.  They are married for 20 years and Rebekah hasn’t had a child yet.  Rebekah probably felt a lot like Sarah had – hopeless.  She probably had written off the idea of having children too! Then God tells her she will have not one but two nations come from.

What seems like a delay to us is really part of God’s plan.  These delays seem to reveal who is really in charge – God.  Even when we try to take matters into our own hands, like Sarah did, it doesn’t thwart God’s plans.

Is there something God has told you about that you are still waiting to happen?  Don’t give up.  Remember if it’s God’s will you can rest assured it will come to pass exactly when He wants it to.

Jesus Christ, Lord Almighty, you know the plans you have for us.  You know exactly when your will is going to be accomplished.  Help us to rely on your faithfulness.  Forgive us when we try to make your promises come true by our own efforts.  Lord we want your will and not ours to be done.  In your precious name we pray. Amen.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade. Author of and websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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Contagious Faith

Then he said, “O LORD God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham. Genesis 24:12 NKJV

Abraham is getting old. Since he can’t take the journey himself, he has a servant promise to go back to Abraham’s family to find a wife for Isaac. The servant reaches his intended destination, the city well where the women go to draw water.

Abraham’s faith must have been visible in his household. We don’t know what the servant believed about God but we do know that this was such a big assignment the servant prayed to Abraham’s God. He didn’t rush to pick out a wife rather he prayed for the Lord to lead him in making the right decision.

Genesis 24:12-14 says “Then he said, “O LORD God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham. Behold, here I stand by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your pitcher that I may drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’—let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. And by this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master.”

Before he even finishes the prayer, Rebekah shows up. She is daughter of Nahor, Abraham’s brother. Oh what luck for the servant! The scene unfolds exactly like the servant had prayed, as though God wanted him to know for certain this was the woman for Isaac. Luck or God’s providence? Definitely, God’s providence was guiding the situation.

The servant is overjoyed with what just happened, God answered his prayer! Can you picture the servant sitting by the well watching his prayer replayed in front of him? Imagine his jaw must have dropped or perhaps he started grinning like a child who was told he can have any toy he wanted.

So when he goes to Rebekah’s house to ask her father if she may come with him, he recounts the whole story of how he specifically prayed and Rebekah came, did and said exactly as he prayed! As he tells the story, no doubt he does it with excitement in his voice. He is most enthusiastic as he just experienced God’s grace in answering his humble prayer.

The servant not only reveals his purpose for coming, but also becomes a witness for God to Abraham’s family. The result is Abraham’s relatives believed it was God’s will. Genesis 24:50-51 NKJV says “Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, “The thing comes from the LORD; we cannot speak to you either bad or good. Here is Rebekah before you; take her and go, and let her be your master’s son’s wife, as the LORD has spoken.”

As we said, we don’t know what the servant believed about God before this assignment. But we do know the servant’s faith enlarged that day which caused him to worship the Lord and humble himself to God Almighty. From this point on, the servant had his own faith based on his own experience with God.

Isn’t this what we want for those around us? Is our faith visible to others? Does our faith inspire others to give God a try? For we know the Bible says “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” (Psalm 34:8) and “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:8).

Lord God Almighy, you long for each of us to come to you. Thank you for being a personal God. Help us give you a try and see for ourselves you are real and a rewarder of those who seek you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade. Author of and websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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Have Faith Even When It Doesn’t Make Sense

And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Genesis 22:12 NKJV

Abraham was tested to see if he would offer his long awaited and promised son to God as a sacrifice. Can you imagine waiting 15 years for the promise of God to come through only to have God require that you sacrifice him?

Yet, Abraham responded with faith in obedience to this strange request. The Bible doesn’t tell us what went through Abraham’s mind. Somehow Abraham had enough faith to believe that God would work it all out in the end. After all God did promise Abraham’s descendants would more than the stars. This request sounded crazy, for God told Abraham his blessings would come through his heir Isaac. But Abraham did what God told him to do.

We read the whole story now with the added benefit of knowing it was just a test. God never intended for Abraham to sacrifice his son as a burnt offering. God wanted to know whether Abraham trusted him. Or should I say, God wanted to show Abraham that Abraham trusted God. God knows everything already.

Ever notice how we replace God with other good things? How easily things of this world creep into His place in our lives. How many of us need to be tested to see where our faith really lies? So next time God asks you to do something that seems completely illogical, respond in faith and do it. When we obey, He blesses us in ways we never thought possible.

Lord Almighty, hallowed is your name. Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Lead us in your way. Help us to trust you more this day, for you have our best interests in mind. Your plans and purposes are not to harm us but to give us a future and a hope. In Jesus’ precious name we pray. Amen.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade. Author of and websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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Nothing is Impossible for God

And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had spoken. Genesis 21:1 NKJV

Sarah who was barren and also in her 80s or 90s had laughed when the Lord told her she would conceive and bear a son. Sometimes God’s promises seem impossible. With God nothing is impossible. If He says it will happen you can rest assured it will happen. God can do the impossible.

I once was filled with bitterness, resentment, anger, hatred and murderous thoughts. My heart was hardened by years of disappointments and unmet relational needs. But then I learned of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for me. I called upon His name. He met me where I was and lifted me out of the pit I was in just like Psalm 40:2 NKJV says: He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.”

As I began the journey of my new life I discovered the truth of Romans 12:2 NKJV: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” God’s word did renew my mind! And just as Ezekiel 11:19 NKJV says: “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh,” God replaced my stony heart with a tender heart of flesh.

What I thought was impossible proved to be incredibly possible with God’s help. I know now God does what He says He will do. He can be trusted. He is faithful and just.

Is there something you think is impossible for God going on in your life today? Trust Him. He won’t let you down. Instead He may give you the desires of your heart, when you delight in Him just as Psalm 37:4 NKJV says.

Lord God Almighty, we are thankful nothing is too hard for you. Thank you for being faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Draw us near you today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade. Author of and websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.


Sin Has Consequence

And the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.” Genesis 18:20-21 NKJV

You have probably heard the “Miranda Rights” read to someone being arrested on a TV show before. It goes something like “every word you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” Well, everything we think, do and say will be used to determine our destiny.

Every decision we make to sin or not is known by God. Everything we do is witnessed by Him. There is nothing that will not be exposed. God is the Great Judge. He is just and fair. His rulings are right and true. He doesn’t make hasty decisions. Instead He investigates, verifies and gives the benefit of doubt to the accused.

If you read Genesis 18:22-33 you will see God is fair. Abraham pleaded with God for the sake of the righteous. God said He would spare the city if even ten righteous people were in it. But there were no righteous people and so God judged Sodom and Gomorrah. The cities were destroyed.

The people of Sodom and Gomorrah chose to sin. Their sin was very grave. It was so bad that an outcry was heard by God. Therefore, God had a choice to make: let the people continue doing wicked, evil, detestable things or take care of the problem so as not to spread wickedness to others.

They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, no, not one. Psalm 14:3 NKJV

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 NKJV

Sin is always dealt with. Romans 6:23 NKJV says “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The end of sin is death. Therefore, to continue to sin is to knowingly accept the fact one day we will die to pay the penalty of that sin. But did you also notice the later half of Romans 6:23 says “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord?”

It’s our choice to either follow God and live or follow sin and die. God will honor our choice. But we must make sure we are willing to accept the consequence of our choice.

Almighty God, thank you Lord Jesus for dying in our place to pay our sin debt. May we always remember the choice is ours to accept your gift and live or turn our backs on you and die. Give us a desire for your way. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade. Author of and websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.


Two Reminders

Read Genesis 17.

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” Genesis 17:1-2 NKJV

Change comes from God. As we see in the first verse, “walk before Me and be blameless.” When we are connected to God we will live differently. But sometimes it’s hard to remember that. We need reminders of what God has done and what He promised to do. So God gave Abram two reminders.

The first reminder is an actual name change. God said Abram was no longer Abram, but Abraham and Sarai was no longer Sarai, but Sarah. A change in identity is necessary for those walking with the Lord. God is Almighty. He is pure and sinless. He can not be in the presence of sin. The sin must be dealt with before we be in relations with God. Therefore, He changes Abram’s and Sarai’s identities to Abraham and Sarah as a verbal reminder God is the one in control and enabling them to be blameless. So it is with those who believe in Christ. We are no longer our own. We are now God’s, a new creation created in Jesus Christ. We have a new identity too. We are Christians.

And God said to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.” Genesis 17:9-11 NKJV

The second reminder was a physical marker. God told Abraham that he and all the males among him should be circumcised. This is a very interesting area of the body for a reminder, is it not? The foreskin located on the man’s reproductive organ is not something that’s visible to most people. Typically, we keep our reproductive parts covered. So this reminder speaks of the change God causes is an internal change not easily seen by others. Not only is the reminder not commonly visible, but it is extremely personal. The symbol of God’s covenant is carved into the man’s physical body in such a way as he will see it each time he relieves himself. This speaks to the fact we need to remember God’s promises every day. Perhaps circumcise also is a means of dealing with pride also. Think about how a man takes pride in his reproductive organ. (You’ve heard men brag about their reproductive organ.) Having this extremely painful procedure done on their prize possession might speak to the fact that pride must be dealt with.

So what reminders do we have today to help us remember what God has done?

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 NKJV

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 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. Galatians 2:20 NKJV

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6 NKJV

Lord God Almighty, you are the one who makes the covenants with His people. You are the one who changes us from the inside. Help us to remember all that you have done and all you promise to still do. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade. Author of and websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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Where’s the Faith Now?


Read Genesis 16.

Previously God had told Abram all the promises He was making with Him. The one about having a son must have really meant a lot to Abram and to Sarai, enough so to take matters into their own hands.

After Sarai was done laughing about her becoming pregnant, she responds with no faith at all. She doesn’t believe what Abram’s is telling her. She doesn’t believe God is going to do it. Therefore, she does what any other efficiency and productivity minded person would do. She starts scheming how to make this things happen.

So Sarai comes up with a plan. She gives her hand maid to Abram as a wife thinking she could bare children through her. I never could understand that whole surrogate-pregnancy. It would be too emotional for me to handle! But get this, Abram signs up for it!

But the blame is not all on Sarai. What about Abram’s faith? A minute ago he believed God and his belief caused God to credit him with righteousness. Why did Abram agree to his wife’s plan?

Meanwhile, this hand maid named Hagar is treated like a piece of meat, used, abused and cast out. This reminds me of a book called “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things.” But God cares for her and her son, even as God’s “chosen people” mistreat her.

We can’t really fault Sarai or Abram for their actions because their too similar to our own. Has God told you He’s going to do something and you couldn’t wait so you tried to make it happen in your timing?

Psalm 46:10 NKJV says “Be still and know I am God. What God says He will do will come to pass in His timing just as Habakkuk 2:3 NKJV says “For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”

Lord help us to be patient and let you fulfill your plan and purpose in your timing. If there are things we are pushing along ahead of you, reveal them so we can rest in knowing you will bring it about without our effort. In Jesus’ name Amen.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade. Author of and websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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Repent with Sincerity

Remember what 2 Chronicles 7:14 said? There are four steps leading to healing. Humble ourselves, pray and seek God were the first three steps. These steps prepared us for the action step.

The fourth step in healing is repentance. Don’t let the word “repent” scare you. It simply means turning from and turning to something. It’s a decision to change your mind. It means to stop one way and start another. God asks us to turn from ungodly ways and turn to Him.

So let’s look at what we need to turn from as 2 Timothy 3:2-5 outlines:

For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

Pastor Rick Warren took these items and looked each word up in the Greek to seek further meaning. We’ll use his list (taken from January 10-11, 2009 sermon) as our checklist below. Rate how frequently you see these appearing in your life. Use the following scale: 1 for not at all, 2 for occasionally, 3 more than I’d like, 4 becoming a habit, and 5 all the time.


1 2 3 4 5

Money focused

1 2 3 4 5

Self promoting

1 2 3 4 5

Status conscious

1 2 3 4 5


1 2 3 4 5

Rude, disrespectful

1 2 3 4 5


1 2 3 4 5

Crude and profane

1 2 3 4 5

Unkind and heartless

1 2 3 4 5

Unwilling to forgive

1 2 3 4 5

Slanders and gossips

1 2 3 4 5

Impulsive and uncontrolled

1 2 3 4 5

Loves violence

1 2 3 4 5

Cynical, hate do-gooders

1 2 3 4 5


1 2 3 4 5

Reckless and rash, irresponsible

1 2 3 4 5

Puffed up with pride

1 2 3 4 5

Choosing pleasure over God

1 2 3 4 5

Fake spirituality

1 2 3 4 5

If you rated any item more than a 1, stop. Pray and ask God to help you repent of this ungodly behavior. Confess it and ask for forgiveness.

Acts 3:19 NKJV says “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Now who doesn’t want their sins blotted out and times of refreshing to come?

Act now. Turn from your ungodly ways and turn to God Himself. In this turning you are repenting. If repentance comes with sincerity, it is well pleasing to God and He will be glorified.

Lord Almighty, your Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment to come. May your word settle deep without our hearts that we may be convicted of ungodly behaviors to confess them and be freed from them. Forgive us our sins and send your times of refreshing. In Jesus’ name Amen.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade. Author of and websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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Seek God with Intensity

Is God your first priority? Is He your daily passion?

Well, He is if we are diligent in seeking Him. Deuteronomy 4:29 NKJV says “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

So what keeps us from seeking God? Many things keep us from approaching Him with our needs and troubles. Let’s take a look at a few:

Pride is a biggy. We might think we can handle things on our own. After all we have a good life. Maybe we’re married, have a good income, nice house, reliable cars and a family. Things are good we may think why do I need God?

Busyness is another distracter. We are just too busy to think about God. Really, look at everything we are expected to do each day. Get the kids ready for school, make breakfast, lunches and get dinner ready. Then there’s work to do, either outside or inside the home. Then the chores pile up like laundry, cleaning, yard work, car maintenance, and paying all the bills. That doesn’t even account for all the errands and driving the kids to after school activities. We are busy.

Personal pleasures may be another thing keeping us from God. Maybe we have an incomplete or warped picture of God that we think He’s out to get us or remove all fun in life. We live for enjoyment, entertainment and pleasure, like the songs says “if it feels this good it can’t be bad.” We live for pleasure.

Can you relate to any of those excuses? Yes, they are excuses. For each one there are things we could do to make room for God if we simply choose to. If we are serious about seeking God, then we are also serious about removing the obstacles. Remember we can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

So let’s look at how to overcome each of these obstacles.

Handling Pride

First is recognizing pride. Once you see it, confess it to God through prayer. Then be watchful of repeating the same prideful behavior or attitude. You may find yourself confessing the same issue more than once. Don’t worry, just do it as many times as it takes. For more on handling pride see Confess with Humility.

Handling Busyness

Busyness is simply letting life run you rather than you planning your life. What we need here are two tools of productivity. First is setting your priorities. What is most important to you? Identify it. Write it down. Second is time management. Schedule what’s most important. For example, make an appointment with God each day, even if for only 15 minutes. Then protect that time slot. Do not let anything get in the way. Everything else can wait a mere 15 minutes. Learn to say no to unimportant activities that fill your time. Make room for God.

Handling Personal Pleasures

If you think there’s no fun, excitement or adventure in living a godly life, you couldn’t be further from the truth. Following God is filled with joy, wonder and adventure as we look to see what He plans to do next in and through us. So what’s needed here is a commitment to seek God and Bible studies to help you get to know the real God and His ways.

Are you willing to do whatever it takes to tackle the excuses and seek God?

Hebrews 11:6 NKJV “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

Matthew 6:33 NKJV “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

God takes care of His people. When you set your mind on Him He brings about perfect peace for those who trust Him (Isaiah 26:3).

Lord God Almighty, you are a rewarder of those who seek you. Encourage our hearts today that we may seek you with all our heart and soul. Let us do whatever it takes to make room for you and seek you every day of our life. In Jesus’ name we pray Amen.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade. Author of ,, & websites. She has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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Pray with Tenacity


Before we pray, we must humble ourselves. For if we don’t we will be like those who pray and don’t receive because they pray amiss as James 4:3 says. When we come to the Lord Almighty in prayer we must believer and not doubt. For he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind says James 1:6.

Jesus healed many based on their belief. Let’s look a few examples:

Matthew 8:13 NKJV: Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.

Matthew 9:22 NKJV: But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour.

Matthew 9:29 NKJV: Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.”

Luke 7:50 NKJV: Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Luke 8:50 NKJV: But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.”

Remember when we put on the armor of God in Ephesians 6, the last piece of armor is prayer. Praying always in the Spirit, so our prayers are aligned with God’s will. Colossians 4:2 says Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving. In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus told his disciples in Mark 14:38: Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Try keeping a prayer journal. Make four columns on the page label as such Date | Request | Date Answered | Way God Answered. This is a fabulous tool to keep your faith strong. It’s helpful to review when you get a little discouraged. Sharing this with others is a great way to encourage others in their faith too!

Lord God Almighty, you know our hearts and minds. Help us to desire you alone and put you first this day. Enable us to believe and not doubt when we pray. Equip us to pray always and not to give up. In Jesus’ name we pray Amen.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade. Author of ,, & websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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