Bible Devotions

Riches of His Glory

Read Ephesians 3:14-21 NKJV: For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

God Himself decides who will be in His family. The members of His family are named by Him both in heaven and on earth. Therefore, if we are in God’s family it’s because He wanted it that way. This should give us great encouragement. We are desired, wanted and loved by God.

Notice God grants to us many things out of the riches of His glory. Let’s take a look at all He gives us:

  • Strengthened with might in our inner man – spiritual strength
  • Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith – God’s presence in us
  • Being rooted and grounded in love – not tossed around by hate but grounded in love
  • Able to understand how enormous God’s love for us really is
  • Be filled with all fullness of God.

How can He do this? God is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can even imagine though the power He works in us.

Why does He do this? It’s all for His glory, so we might glorify Him.

Think on these things today. Let God’s word sink deep within your soul. See if you experience more power to accomplish what God reveals for you to do today.

Lord, thank you for your gracious, abundant, extravagant love. Thank you for your encouraging word and for fellow believers to share the wonders of your love with. Help us to meditate night and day on your word. 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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Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 NKJV

Last week was a difficult and confusing week for me. My husband was on a non-paid vacation, which meant I would be getting up an hour later than usual, so as not to disturb him in the morning. By the end of the week, I felt like I was being tossed around by spiritual bullies. There was much swirling around in my mind. Anxiety around my teenage son’s behavior, concern about my father-in-law’s stroke, stress from listening to my husband dealing with the family about proper care for his father, plus the added burden I carried for my small group members. Phew! It all seemed too much.

Ever been there? I felt spiritually unbalanced. I still connected with God during the day, but it was different than in our special times together in the early morning hour. Then a thought came to me like a lightening bolt: less time with God equaled more chaos in life and emotions.

What makes this matter kind of funny is our small group is working through Saddleback’s Refuel Series. Refuel is about connecting with God and getting refueled by Him. We had just discussed what it looked and felt like to be spiritually empty. As I described to my groups how it felt to me, I was disconnected from the reality that I was in that moment spiritually empty! How could I not see it? All the signs were visible. I was cranky, less able to handle life’s challenges, impatience, easily frustrated, and feeling very unbalanced.

It wasn’t until after listening to Pastor Doug teach on the weekend that the pieces started to fall into place. I discovered I had inadvertently believed some lies about how I connect with God.

Lie #1: God only blesses me through me quiet times.

Lie #2: God doesn’t speak to me other than in my quiet times.

Lie #3: My run away emotions are due to not having a regular quiet time.

By believing these lies, I had essentially put God in a box of my own making. Something Pastor Doug said about connecting with God is easier than we think got me thinking. If the God of the universe, who spoke the world into existence, dwells in me, a believer in Jesus Christ, then He is always with me. He is with me. So the time I spent mentally grumbling about less time with God is baloney. I really had the same time. The real issue was I couldn’t connect with God the way I wanted to. The root problem: pride. I want it my way.

After confessing my sin, the more I dwelt on the fact God Almighty is in me, with me right now and in every moment, a wonderful release occurred. It was as though shackles fell from my wrists and self-imposed chains around my ankles dropped to the floor. There was a freedom, a liberating, exuberant freeness I felt.

Maybe Pastor Doug was right. It is easier to connect than we think. Just stop, be still and connect. We can do this any time, any where because God is right there with and in us! We are not bound be a certain time or place or routine. Although that special time and place may be comforting, we need to use caution not to rely on it for the soul connection with God like I had.

Father God who lives within us, thank you for your unending patience with us. It takes us so many trial and errors before we really get it sometimes. Thanks for not giving up on us. Help us to connect with you in every moment of the day. 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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Who Are You Controlled By?

Read Ephesians 1 and 2. If you have the time, read both chapters more than once. When I did I noticed the phrase “according to” really started to stand out. Check out these lists below. (Again if you didn’t read it for yourself first, STOP and READ IT before continuing.)

From Ephesians 1 “According to…

The good pleasure of His will”

The riches of His grace”

His good pleasure”

The purpose of Him”

The counsel of His will”

The working of His mighty power”

From Ephesians 2 “according to…

The course of this world”

The prince of the power of the air”

The lust of our flesh”

The desires of flesh and mind”

What does this mean?

The more I meditated on these phrases, the more it seems they are pictures of who we are controlled by. Once we were controlled by the list in Ephesians 2. But God intervened. He has a plan and we are part of it. Now we, who believe, are Spirit-led by God Himself. Ephesians 1 list seems like a reminder of who it’s all for and who is really in control.

Which of these two lists best represents you?

If the second list presently reflects you, would you like list one to represent you instead?

All it takes is a decision to believe what God said. Believe in His Son Jesus, who He sent to save us. He died on a cross to pay for your sin and mine. God is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Well, if you’re still undecided maybe call out to God like the father in Mark 9:24 did, “Lord I believe; help my unbelief!”

  • Recognize we all sin (Romans 3:23).
  • Acknowledge Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9).
  • Become a child of God who is adopted into the family of God through faith in Christ (1 John 3:1, Ephesians 1:5).

Salvation is a gift of God no one can earn it or boast about it, because it is God’s doing. Our part is to receive the gift and open it to experience the joy of His Salvation.

Lord Jesus, we believe we are sinners and need your saving grace. Help us accept your gift of Salvation. Help our unbelief. Forgive us and make us new creations in you. We pray these things in your name and you said the Father will give us whatever we ask according to His will in your 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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Witness Where You Are

Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there. 2 The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3 And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. 5 So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had in the house and in the field. 6 Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate. Genesis 39:1-6 NKJV

Joseph was taken against his will to a foreign land and sold as a slave. But God was with him. Joseph’s master could even see the Lord was with Joseph. What could he see? Perhaps Joseph did not let his circumstances define him. Maybe Joseph had a good attitude. Or consider Joseph may have depended on God moment by moment. Whatever he did, with God’s help, he prospered.

Joseph must have been a very dependable, hard working and thoughtful servant. He must have been obedient and willing to serve because we see he found favor with his master. In fact, Potiphar was so impressed with Joseph’s work ethic, pleasant attitude and prosperity from the Lord, he gave Joseph even more authority. We see obedience brings rewards. We see God made Joseph successful. Everything in Joseph’s hands prospered, that is to say he multiplied whatever Potiphar’s gave him to manage.

As time marched on, Joseph proved reliable and Potiphar placed more and more into his hands. Potiphar gave so much into Joseph’s care that he himself didn’t really know all that he had. That’s trust, don’t you think? Joseph was a slave, yet Potiphar trusted him with his livelihood, his estate, and all he had.

Do you thing things would have worked out so nicely if Joseph had been bitter, resentful or angry about his situation?

Do you think Potiphar would give his estate to Joseph if he had been careless or lazy?

God is looking for those willing to serve Him where they are. You may not be where you want to be, but that doesn’t change God’s expectation of you. You have been given talents, abilities and spiritual gifts to further God’s Kingdom and build up His church. Are you going to step up and excel like Joseph did?

In what ways can you demonstrate God is with you where you are today?

Lord Jesus, thank you for being with us. Thank you for blessing us so richly with your grace. Help us to remember all we have in you, while we are in places we may not want to be. Encourage our hearts to do the right thing, to serve you where ever we are. 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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More than Meets the Eye

So they took Joseph’s tunic, killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the tunic in the blood. 32 Then they sent the tunic of many colors, and they brought it to their father and said, “We have found this. Do you know whether it is your son’s tunic or not?” 33 And he recognized it and said, “It is my son’s tunic. A wild beast has devoured him. Without doubt Joseph is torn to pieces.” 34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his waist, and mourned for his son many days. 35 And all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and he said, “For I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning.” Thus his father wept for him. 36 Now the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard. Genesis 37:31-36 NKJV

What do we see happening here? The brothers are off deceiving again. This time it is to deceive their father. We see Jacob reacting out of fear and assuming the worst possible thing has happened to his favorite son. But, we also see Joseph being sold again. This time Joseph is sold into the hands of an influential captain of the guard and officer of Pharoh.

What’s really happening? There is definitely more going on than what Jacob can see from his perspective. All he knew was what his sons told him, what he saw with his own eyes and the absence of Joseph. Jacob reacted to what was before him, even though it was not the truth.

What timeless principle do we see in this passage? God is always working behind the scenes. Though Jacob could only see one part of the story, God was developing another other chapter not yet visible.

How often do we react to what’s happening around us without considering what God might be doing in the background?

The apostle Paul understood the concept of God working behind the scenes as he penned this in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” So until the time comes when we’ll see all the benefits of the eternal things, let’s respond in faith rather than reacting in fear. Do not be distraught over what’s happening to you. Instead rejoice knowing the Maker of the Universe is working all things for the good to those who love God and are called according to His purposes.

Lord thank you for having everything under control. When we don’t understand what’s happening to us, help us cling with faith to the truth you are working behind the scenes. 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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God’s Protection

Now when they saw him afar off, even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him. 19 Then they said to one another, “Look, this dreamer is coming! 20 Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, ‘Some wild beast has devoured him.’ We shall see what will become of his dreams!”
21 But Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands, and said, “Let us not kill him.” 22 And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit which is in the wilderness, and do not lay a hand on him”—that he might deliver him out of their hands, and bring him back to his father.
23 So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him. 24 Then they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty; there was no water in it.
25 And they sat down to eat a meal. Then they lifted their eyes and looked, and there was a company of Ishmaelites, coming from Gilead with their camels, bearing spices, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry them down to Egypt. 26 So Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27 Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother and our flesh.” And his brothers listened. 28 Then Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.
29 Then Reuben returned to the pit, and indeed Joseph was not in the pit; and he tore his clothes. 30 And he returned to his brothers and said, “The lad is no more; and I, where shall I go?” Genesis 37:18-30 NKJV

What is happening in this section of scripture?

Brothers are scheming against their brother. Most of them want to kill Joseph, but Rueben didn’t. Reuben stood up to the other brother and suggested they not kill Joseph. Judah got the others thinking about making a profit off of their brother Joseph by selling him. The brothers stripped Joseph of his father’s gift to him – the multi-colored coat, just to humiliate him. The brothers were self-centered thinking about themselves – about profit to them, eating a meal while they had thrown Joseph in a pit.

Can you spot a timeless principle here?

God is in control even when bad things happen. God’s hand of protection was on Joseph. Notice how God used Rueben to save Joseph from being murdered.

How could looking at the situation from God’s perspective help us stay calm in tough times in life?

Lord God Almighty your word says you are with us therefore who or what shall we fear? You are in control. You will work everything out for the good of those who love you and are called according to you purposes. Help us remember that in times of trials. 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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Are You Trustworthy?

Then his brothers went to feed their father’s flock in Shechem. 13 And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers feeding the flock in Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” So he said to him, “Here I am.” 14 Then he said to him, “Please go and see if it is well with your brothers and well with the flocks, and bring back word to me.” So he sent him out of the Valley of Hebron, and he went to Shechem. 15 Now a certain man found him, and there he was, wandering in the field. And the man asked him, saying, “What are you seeking?” 16 So he said, “I am seeking my brothers. Please tell me where they are feeding their flocks.” 17 And the man said, “They have departed from here, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’ ” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them in Dothan. Genesis 37:12-17 (NKJV)

As first glance you might read the above and want to simply move on thinking there’s no real point to the words you just read. But let’s pause long enough to see the meaning. Read the above verses again if you need to. Think about each character and what they said or didn’t say and what they did or didn’t do. As I ask questions below, feel free to add your own comments or observations.

What do we learn from Israel? He didn’t trust his sons because he used Joseph as a watch dog or spy. He trusted Joseph to bring an honest report back of his brother’s dealings.

What do we learn from Joseph? He was quick to listen. He respected his father. He was obedient. He was diligent. He didn’t give up when he didn’t find his brothers in Shechem, but continued until he found them.

What do we learn from the brothers? They say one thing and do another. In other words they were liars. They were not trustworthy. They prefer doing things their way. They want to be on their own. They didn’t like their father sending Joseph to check up on them.

What timeless principles can we apply? Respect leads to obedience. Obedience leads to integrity. Integrity leads to trustworthiness.

Are you trustworthy? Do you struggle with being filled with integrity? What areas need more obedience in your life? Who do you need to show more respect?

Lord thank you for your word. Teach us to live godly lives until you return. Help us to apply your word in our lives so we too can be respectful, obedient, having integrity and become trustworthy. 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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The Dream

Read with me Genesis 37:1-11

Now Jacob dwelt in the land where his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan. 2 This is the history of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brothers. And the lad was with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to his father. 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors. 4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him. 5 Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. 6 So he said to them, “Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: 7 There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.” 8 And his brothers said to him, “Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. 9 Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.” 10 So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?” 11 And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind. Gen 37:1-11 (NKJV)

What do we learn from Jacob / Israel?

He was dwelling as a stranger. He had many wives and sons. He gave gifts to Joseph, but not his other sons. He was offended by Joseph’s dream. He wondered what the dream foretold in the future.

What do we learn about the brothers?

They compared themselves to Joseph. They didn’t like Joseph who spied on them. They hated Joseph and couldn’t speak peaceably to him. They envied Joseph. They didn’t feel loved by their father.

What do we learn about Joseph?

He told the truth, without regard to how others would reaction. He was loved by his father. He treated his brothers kindly, even though they hated him. He shared his dreams with his family. He was naïve, innocent and had pure motives.

What things should we avoid?

Nothing good comes from playing favorites or by comparing our self to others. We should also avoid not speaking, even when we think others might not receive our message.

What timeless principle do we see in action here?

Joseph spoke the truth. He did not concern himself with how others would react to what he said. He simply spoke what was on his heart.

How about you?

Do you compare yourself to others? God made you unique. There is no one else like you. Comparing yourself to others is like comparing an apple and an orange. They are two different things that can’t be compared using the same scale.

Do you favor one person over another? God favors no one. He loves everyone, even those who hate Him. God was willing to die on the cross to pay for your sin and mine because He loved us so. To top it off, He died while we were still His enemies because of our rebellion against Him and His ways. God wants all to come to know Him and be saved. He doesn’t favor one over another, neither should we.

Do you fear others’ response so you don’t speak what’s on your heart? We do not know how others will respond to things we say. We can guess, but the fact is sometimes people surprise you. Don’t hold others back simply because they once rejected something you said. They might have had a change of heart and need to hear what God wants to speak through you. Speak what God tells you.

Lord God Almighty, you know the hearts and minds of men and women. Help us not to favor others or compare our self to others. Help us to speak the truth in love. 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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Praise Report

I just wanted to thank you all for praying for my computer.  I also wanted to let you know how God answered our prayers.  I took my computer to work, as I work for a laptop company and know a few techies.

Well, God made sure I hooked up with just the skilled person He intended.  This individual tried everything within his means using tools at his disposal.  Unfortunately, he couldn’t see any data on the drive.  Rather than stop there, this person went beyond the noraml troubleshooting.

In his personal toolkit, he had a software package he thought would help.  So on his lunch hour he took my computer home and used the tool on it.  This tool allowed him to see my data and back it up.  The backup process took many hours, so he even worked on it during his after hours time.  He sacrifices his personal time to help me!

God sent a man who mirrored His sacrificial qualities to fix my computer!  After a few days my computer was up and running again.  Now my work begins to re-file my data and re-load all my programs.  I just can’t thank God enough for this tremendously helpful, skilled technician.  Thank you John B, dinner and a movie is on me!

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Prayer Request

Loyal ThinkOnIt Bible Devotion readers I need your help.

Over the weekend my computer was attacked resulting in the loss of family photos, three years of devotions, various Bible Studies, all the non-profit documentation, all website management files, and even program files.  Literally everything disappeared.

Please pray the data is recovered, so God gets the glory for resurrecting my computer for the second time! (But even if it isn’t recovered, God still gets the glory!)

I would like to share that God has already used this situation to witness to my son, who was simply amazed that I was not angry over the loss.  He experienced the loss of his computer data last year, so he knows how painful it is.  When he commented on how I could be so calm, three things came to mind which I shared with him:

  • Philippians 4:5-7 NKJV Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV …old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
  • Still I’m going to praise You, God! Your plans and purposes will prevail, Lord God Almighty!

Thank you, faithful readers for praying for this ministry.  May God richly bless you for putting Him first in your life.