Bible Devotions

Bible Study on Ephesians 4:1-7 NKJV

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

As we consider this passage of God’s Word, look for the repeated phrases, the lists, character traits, and the action verbs. Think what the purpose of this writing might be. Look for the timeless principle you can apply. As you do, the Spirit of God in you will reveal the truth.

Let’s take a look. This seems to be exhortation to the Ephesians to walk worthy of their calling. Paul even seems to explain what walking worthy might look like. A worthy walk would include humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another in love and effort to keep unity of Spirit. Paul even goes on to remind the Ephesians of the bigger picture to which they belong: One body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God. Speaking of God, Paul describes God’s authority saying He is above all, through all and in you all. As one final closing thought, it is God of the Universe in us and the immense grace given to us that compels us to walk worthy in the first place! Therefore, one timeless principle could be the fact we really can love others because God in us enables us to do so.

Take some time to review this scripture yourself. Read it more than once. Meditate on it.

Try making a comparison of each character trait you see. For example, take humility and list out what humility is NOT. Humility is not defensive. It does not try to prove its point. Humility has no favorites. It does not put itself first.

Make a list of the repeated phrases and see what that list might tell you. For example: all the One statements. Perhaps one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God might be indicating a unity or bond we belong to.

You might try looking up the words beseech and endeavoring to get further understanding of those words.

Ask yourself how does “bond of peace”, “unity of Spirit” and “grace was given” relate to concept of us being the body of Christ?

What might God be trying to teach you? What truth can you apply in your life today? How does embracing the fact of God in us empower us to live for Him?

Lord, thank you for your word and your Spirit to guide us in your truth. Help us apply your truth in our lives today. In Jesus’ mighty 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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Prayer of Repentance

The following prayer was inspired based on the teaching of Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church’s Sunday Sermon April 26, 2009.

To you, O Lord, be the glory forever and ever. You God desire us to love you completely, to love you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Until we learn to do that, we live in rebellion to you. Forgive us Lord. We long to love you with all our being. You desire us to love others as our self. Help us love and serve others with all the strength and energy you supply. Identify when we aren’t loving or serving others as our self, reveal it that we may confess it and ask forgiveness. Your truth should be followed. Forgive us when we do not obey. You have told us in your word to obey your word continually. If we continue in your word we are your disciples. We long to be your disciples. We want to obey your word. Help us t be obedient continually, for we know your plans and purposes are for us and not to harm us, but to give us a future and a hope. Help us reflect your glory by living the way you intended. Where we are not, we confess it to you, seek your forgiveness and rely on your Holy Spirit in us to teach us your way of living. Help us to share your good news with others who may not know you. Give us the courage to explain, with gentleness and respect, the hope we have in you, whenever we are asked. Where we may have hoarded your hope, release it so others may come to know Jesus as Lord though our witness of you. Enable us to never give up meeting together with other believers, encouraging one another in love and good deeds. We confess sometimes we don’t want to participate in small groups, but it is your desire that we help each other by encouraging us to grow. Help us give you glory in these things this day and every day. Let your light in us shine brightly and draw others to you. In Jesus’ name we pray these things. 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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Access to the Father

in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. Ephesians 3:12 NKJV

Jesus Christ does more for us than simply save us from eternal destruction. Yes, it is true He paid for your sin and mine. As a result, punishment and judgment have past us. We are freed from sin and death. Praise God!

Jesus Christ opens the door to the Father. He is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). We now have a right to come before God Almighty without perishing. We have been adopted into God’s family. As a child of God, we can ask for anything according to His will and it will be done for us.

Can you grasp that? Anything asked in Jesus’ name will be done. John 15:16 says “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” We, too, can ask for anything and receive it. Matthew 7:7-8 says ““Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

What haven’t you asked for yet? God is waiting to pour out His blessings on His children. He is looking for those who seek Him. We have boldness, access and confidence through faith in Christ Jesus. Come to Him and ask.

Lord Jesus you are so precious to us. You took our punishment. You gave us a second chance. You bless abundantly. You enabled us to have a relationship with Father God. Is there nothing you can’t do? In Jesus’ name we pray these things. 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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For He Himself is our peace

For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.   19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:14-22 NKJV

The law separates people who think they keep the law and those who know they don’t. The law was meant to show everyone their sinfulness. Some used the law to show themselves better than others because they didn’t break certain laws. For others the law caused hopelessness because they could not keep it 100% of the time. The law drew a line between the people. It separated. It caused division, not unity in awareness of sin.

Enter Jesus Christ. Enough of the law. The people can’t keep it, so He will fulfill all the law for them. Now peace is possible. All people have access to God through Jesus Christ. Not two ways to God, one way through Christ Jesus. John 14:6 NKJV says “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Now we are no longer separated from others and from God. We are fellow citizens with the saints. We belong to the household of God. We are being fit together as a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. For Jesus is our peace. He is the ultimate Peacemaker. In Him we have peace. In Him we have assess to God. In Him we have forgiveness of sin. In Him we have life abundantly.

Lord Jesus we thank you for all you do for us. Thank you for the peace beyond our understanding. Thank you for life forever more. 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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Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Philippians 4:5 NKJV

How interesting Paul, the writer of Philippians, would choose the word gentleness to describe out witness to others. There are many other words he could have used like love, faith, boldness, truthfulness, integrity, wisdom, honor, etc. But gentleness?

Perhaps it is because Jesus Himself was humble. With humility comes gentleness. Maybe it was to encourage the believers to “softly” proclaim the good news so as not to turn others away.

Did you know gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit? Galatians 5:23 says gentleness comes after faithful and before self-control.

Does gentleness describe you? Why or why not?

Let’s look at a few ways gentleness is demonstrated:

No Condemnation

Gentleness is displayed by not being critical of others. Not passing judgment on other people’s sins is an act of gentleness.

  • Luke 23:34 NKJV Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
  • Luke 23:43 NKJV And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
  • John 8:11 NKJV And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

Let Them Voice Their Need

Jesus asked the people what they needed. Remember, He knew already but He gave them the chance to verbally state their needs.

  • Mark 10:36 NKJV And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
  • Luke 18:41 NKJV Jesus saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
  • Matthew 26:50 NKJV But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?”

Tender Address

Jesus was so tender towards those who needed Him. Notice how He used such comforting addresses like son, daughter, little girl, and young man. Can’t you feel His tender care?

  • Matthew 9:2 NKJV Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”
  • 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.”
  • Mark 5:41 NKJV Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi,” which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.”
  • Luke 7:14 NKJV Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.”

So Jesus is our role model. By His Spirit in us we too can model for others what Jesus did for us.

Action Steps:

In what ways can you be less condemning and more forgiving today?

How might changing the way you address someone in conversation lead to more open and honest exchange?

How can you add a little tenderness to your conversations today?

Lord Jesus, you are our example of gentleness. By your mighty Spirit in us, help us be more gentle today. In your 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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Rejoice in the Lord

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Philippians 4:4 NKJV

This is one verse so packed full with awesome truth. The Lord is someone to rejoice in. Why? Stop and think about it.

  • He created everything we see and everything we don’t see.
  • He provides for our daily needs.
  • He has numbered every hair on our head. He cares for us.
  • He guides us and directs our paths.
  • He saved us from death and separation from Him.
  • He lives in us giving us the power and the will to do the right thing.
  • He comforts us in our pain and sorrow.

This list could go on and on. Make your own list. Refer to it when you are feeling low. Allow the truth of God to lift your spirit.

That leads me to the second point. Why should we rejoice in Him? Are there any practical benefits? Absolutely!

  • Putting focus on God makes our current difficulties seem manageable. After all God does have the power to help.
  • Changing our thoughts from anxious, worried or fearfulness to what is true, noble, right, pure, admirable, lovely, excellent and praiseworthy will definitely improve our attitude.
  • Peace that is beyond our limited understanding will flow when we are fixed on the Peacegiver – Jesus Christ, our Lord.
  • It moves us away from our limited view and moves us towards the unlimited view God alone can provide.

Lastly, the verse says “rejoice in the Lord.” It doesn’t say rejoice in our bad circumstances. We can’t rejoice in all circumstances. If we only rejoice when situations are to our liking, we are missing out on God’s blessings. It’s not the circumstance that prompts the rejoicing – it’s the Lord.

But we can rejoice in the Lord during any circumstance. The Lord is good and never changes. As a result, any time is great time to rejoice in Him. Perhaps the best time is when our situation seems hopeless. Try it yourself and see if it is true for you.

Lord God, thank you for always being there for us. Thank you for being the reason we can rejoice at all times. Thank you for your precious word and Holy Spirit to guide us into your truth. Help us come to you this day. Fill us with your desire. 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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Rich in Mercy

God’s Word is full of mind-blowing truths. If we took the time to dwell on them I am confidant we would never cease to praise Him. The Psalmist thought that way in Psalm 40:5 NKJV: “Many, O LORD my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done; and Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order; If I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.”

So today let’s do it. Let’s look at the truth God is rich in mercy. To grasp the mercy part it is essential we understand the sin part. Consider the following scripture relating to sin:

  • Romans 3:23 NKJV: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
  • Psalm 14:1 NKJV: The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good.
  • Psalm 53:3 NKJV: Every one of them has turned aside; They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.

Now, looking at these verses please notice the words, “all”, “none”, “every one”, “not one”. Are you and I included in those words? You bet we are!

Is it rational to let the guilty go free without punishment? No, you might say. You’re right. Sin must be dealt with as Romans 6:23 NKJV says “For the wages of sin is death.” That means you and I deserve death.

Now, consider the penalty of death has been paid for already. It’s wasn’t paid by the sinful people who committed the crime. Instead it was paid by an innocence, holy, pure and righteous person on our behalf. Consider the following scriptures:

  • Isaiah 53:6 NKJV: All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
  • Isaiah 53:8 NKJV: For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
  • Isaiah 53:5 NKJV: But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
  • Romans 5:8 NKJV: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
  • Romans 6:23 NKJV: but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Why is God so full of mercy towards us? Why does He love us that much? We don’t know. But we ask like David did “Why do you think so highly of a mere man?”

Lord Almighty who is rich in mercy because of His great love for us, help us to cling to you this day. May our thoughts lingered on what you have done for us. May our actions be filled with love for you towards those around us. 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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