Bible Devotions

Taught by God to Love One Another

But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to
you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;  and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing. 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 NKJV

Taught by God not by man but taught by God Himself through His Holy Spirit. One of the things we always prayed when opening up our bible studies, was “Lord, thank you for teaching us by Your Spirit.  We are not taught by the  words of man, but through your Holy Word by Your Holy Spirit. Thank you  for giving us Your light to guide us.”

It’s good to remember as we learn more about God, His character and His ways the Holy Spirit is the one revealing it to us.  Romans 8:16 NKJV says “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of
God”. It’s not by our effort that we now understand.  It is simply because God chooses to reveal Himself to us by His Spirit.

It’s much like how we’re saved.  It’s not because we did anything to deserve it. We can not work to be saved.  We can not earn salvation by doing good deeds. Salvation is a gift from God by grace, accepted by faith in Jesus Christ alone. Ephesians 2:8 NKJV says “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God”.

As we increase more and more, as Paul mentions above, our lives should reflect more and more of our Lord Jesus Christ’s character.  From today’s verse, let’s look at the three examples:

– Aspire to lead a quiet life.  That’s a good goal.  When the aspiration is   to live a quiet life, there’s no striving to get ahead at the office, do demanding   your own way or arguing your point with others. Instead, the priority is on living   a quiet life, getting along with others.  Doesn’t that sound peaceful?  I believe   when we live out what Matthew 22:39 NKJV says You shall love your neighbor   as yourself, we will be living a quiet life.

– To mind your own business. Oh, how difficult that it for some who like to gossip.  My pastor once taught us an easy way to tell if you were involved  in gossip:  If you not part of the problem or the solution, you shouldn’t be  talking about it.  That’s pretty easy.  If it’s not your problem and you have no part in the solution, keep your mouth shut.  Oh, by the way, trying to pass on the juicy details as prayer request still counts as gossip!  The scripture that comes to mind regarding   this point, is Matthew 7:3-5 NKJV And why do you look at the speck in your  brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you  say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is  in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then  you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

– To work with your own hands.  You demonstrate your commitment to supporting yourself and your family.  The bible says those who are lazy shouldn’t eat.  That means each one must pull his/her own weight.  We all
need to work.

Why do we need to understand all this? Each of us are living, breathing
bibles. We are Christ’s witnesses to the world. When those on the outside
look at your life, they should see Christ. Every day we’re alive, we should be growing in Christ-like character. As we examine our walk, we look for  ourselves to see Christ in our own life. If we can’t see Christ, stop and ask what’s lacking? Am I depending on my efforts to understand God?  Or am I relying on the Holy Spirit to reveal Himself to me? Am I aspiring to live a quiet life, minding my own business, working with my own hands? If not, why?
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Walk To Please God

Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus.  For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you  should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to  possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified.  For God did not call us to  uncleanness, but in holiness.  Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 NKJV

Paul urges the Thessalonians to walk pleasing to God, for they know the commandments of the Lord.  Last time we read “If we love Him, we obey His
commandments”( John 14:15 NKJV ).  When our hearts are genuinely tuned
into to God because we love Him, we will obey His commandments.  Jesus taught us His requirements are easy and light in Matthew 11:29-30 NKJV
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.””

God calls His chosen ones to be holy as He is holy.  Leviticus 19:2 NKJV
“”Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” This process of being holy is called sanctification.  It’s a setting apart or making separate the people of God.  How are we set apart?  We are set apart by our lifestyles and our  choices.

Let’s take a look at what Paul describes as sanctification or a call to be holy.  First he says abstain from sexual immorality.  This seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?  There’s more to sexual immorality than just the act of sex outside of marriage though.  It’s about the condition of one’s heart and trying to fill a deep spiritual longing with something it was never meant to be filled with.  Sexual immorality doesn’t just happen. You don’t wake up one day and say “I think I’ll go have sex with the next person I meet”.  It’s process of slowly giving yourself away,starting with your thought life.  If we start to think about something, and we allow ourselves to dwell on it, it begins to motivate us towards action. Perhaps we were hurt by our spouse, we dwell on the hurt
long enough, the enemy plants lies like”you deserve better than this” and “he/she doesn’t really love you anyway” in your mind.  You start listening to those lies and in time you the lies become real to you.  Your feelings and pride start to kick in and you find yourself acting on those thoughts and feelings.  If you don’t catch this early in the thought phase, you’re bound to act out in ways you will regret later.  As a man thinks, so he is one proverb says.  Have you checked your thought life lately?

Next, Paul goes on to say we should know how to possess his own vessel in
sanctification and honor. The bible teaches us that our body is the temple
of the Holy Spirit and our bodies are not our own. 1 Corinthians 6:19 NKJV
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is
in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” We were purchased by the precious blood of Christ and now God owns us.We are His,
not our own.  If we would remind ourselves that this body we live in is not our own, but rather God’s temple, we might be more willing to keep it clean,pure, and undefiled.  When you go to church (the building you worship
in) do you bring your trash and dump trash on the floor?  Of course not!

Then, why do we allow garbage to clutter our minds when our body is thesacred temple of the Holy Spirit?  Really think about it….God’s presence, the Holy Spirit, is in you.  He’s there when you are entertaining ungodly thoughts or committing a sexual immoral act.  That thought alone should help to quench the desire to fulfill your ungodly passion!  We are to walk by the Spirit and when we do we won’t fulfill the desires of the flesh.

How can a pure and holy God be coupled evil and darkness?  He can’t.
His light overpowers the darkness. Think about how darkness flees away, when we flip on a light switch.  Does darkness linger somewhere hidden in the
light?  No way, it’s gone completely.  That’s how it should be with us,who say we are believers of Christ and have the Holy Spirit within us. Romans 13:12 NKJV says”Therefore let us castoff the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” We are flooded with God’s light, therefore,darkness no longer exists in us.   That’s cause for rejoicing!!Jesus commissioned Paul to turn people from darkness to light in Acts 26:18 NKJV “I now send you,  to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.'”  We, too,are to be Christ’s witnesses, turning others from darkness to light, by living our lives sanctified by faith in Jesus and pleasing to God.
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May God Himself Direct Our Way

Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you.And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all,just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts  blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord  Jesus Christ with all His saints.I Thessalonians 3:11-13 NKJV

Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians is they may increase and abound in love to one another.Why is loving one another so important?  Can’t I just live my life to myself, without hurting anyone else?  Not if we say we’re followers of Christ.

Jesus said we’d be known by our love.  By this the world will know we are His disciples,if we love each other ( John 13:35 NKJV ).  If we love Him, we obey His commandments( John 14:15 NKJV ).  If we love Him, we abide in Him (1 John 4:16 NKJV ).  If we love,we put God on display in our life. 1 John 4:12 NKJV “No one has seen God at anytime.If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.” Notice how each sentence began with “if”.  That means love is a choice.  If we say we belong to Christ,love is the evidence.

Love sets the precedent.  Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NKJV definition of love:”Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all  things.”  Here’s quick test to see how well you are loving.  Try reading these verses again and this time substitute your name in place of the word love.  This will usually point out any areas in your life where you’re not being loving.When you discover you’re not loving the way it’s described here, don’t get discouraged,angry or frustrated, but rather take it to the Lord in prayer.
Ask Him to help you be loving and by His spirit dwelling in you, He will answer that prayer because it’s aligned with His will.Try it for yourself!

Paul also prays God will establish their hearts blameless in holiness. Does your heart ever condemn you?  Mine does.  But guess what?  I don’t have to listen to it, for I know it’s flawed.  Even when my heart condemns me, I remember there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus ( Romans 8:1 NKJV). Therefore, I know condemnation isn’t from God and I reject it. That’s a good example of why we need to read God’s Word on a regular basis.  If our thoughts don’t align with God’s truth, we reject them. This is what it means to take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ.  Without God’s truth hidden in our hearts and mind, how can we measure our thoughts against them?

In conclusion, we have read that love sets the precedent.  By our love the world will see God on display.  Though our hearts may condemn us, we are blameless before God because Christ’s death on the cross paid for our sins.   All charges against us have been dropped, so any condemnation is also  rejected.  The more we hide God’s Word in our hearts and minds, the more we  align ourselves with God’s perfect will.  How are you doing today? Are you aligned with His will?

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Good News of Your Faith and Love

But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us,  greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you– therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith. For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord. For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God,night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith? I Thessalonians 3:6-10 NKJV

Isn’t it great to hear how others are getting along in their faith?  It is when you’ve been praying for them.  What a joy to know those you’ve been praying for are,still, following the Lord and growing in their relationship with Christ.  Conversely,what a shame it is when you find out they are slipping away from the Lord.

Do you ever let other people’s troubled walk hinder your own?  Does the troubling news spur you on to pray further for them?  I guess it all depends on who you are trusting.

Let me give you an example from my life. I’m a small group leader and have been for several years.  The Lord has given me a shepherd’s heart toward the women in my group.I would pray for them constantly.   After my maternity leave, I thought I would return to leading the group, but God had other  plans.  I still kept in contact with my group via emails and occasional phone calls and they continued on together under my co-leader’s direction.

One day I got some heart breaking news about one woman in my group.  This woman was committing a sin.  As we all do, although, this sin was the same grievous sin as mine.When I heard of this, I anguished over the situation. I felt like I should have shared more of my testimony with this woman, so she would know that others go through it too and then she would have been more likely to turn back to the Lord.  I felt like I let this woman (and group) down  by not continuing with them.  I wanted to drop everything and go them.  At this point, I was letting someone else walk hinder my own.  In affect, I was being prideful about my influence as the leader of the group – with thoughts like”if I had just been there, this wouldn’t have happened” running through my mind.   I was trusting in my leadership – instead of God’s. To make matters worse for the group, some of them wanted to put the woman out of the group as 1 Corinthians 5 teaches.  Others wanted to let her stay, as godly influence is what she needed.  That opened door of sin caused much difficulty and division for the group.   That’s exactly what our enemy planned to do.

However, the Lord had other plans.  As I debated over running back to the group or staying where I felt the Lord was leading me, the Lord impressed upon me everyone is responsible for their own choices and there was nothing
I could have said or done differently to prevent this shameful situation from occurring in the first place.   In addition, He seemed to be telling me to  PRAY.  So PRAYED I did, for a solid week!

I prayed this woman would recognize her sin, repent and come back to God.
I prayed God would change this woman’s stony heart and replace it with a tender heart of love,like He had done for me.  I prayed the group would focus on God and His Word following His teaching and putting it into practice in all situations.  I prayed for wisdom and discern mention what role I was to place in this.

After all that praying, I knew I had to stop all communications with her – I even stopped sending these devotions.  1 Corinthians 5:5 NKJV says “…deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”  When someone in the church is caught up in sin, the Bible teaches we the church body are to put them out of our fellowship.  By doing so, they may realize their sin and repent.  This is very difficult, especially when they are your friends, but if they are allowed to stay it influences others toward sin.  We can not compromise.

As God is holy, we are to be holy. The bible says in 1 Corinthians 5:11-12 NKJV: “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater,or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner–not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?  But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”” Galatians 5:9 NKJV says “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”  That means a little sin will affect us all.  Two  Corinthians 6:14 NKJV says “Do not be unequally yoked together with  unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?And what communion has light with darkness?” Sometimes, a person has to fail  and experience the consequence of their decisions before they come back to the Lord.  I know this personally, as that’s how it happened for me.  I trust in  our Lord, this woman will turn around too.  I still pray for her and hope she will repent and come back to the Lord, but it’s her decision.  For now I wait expectantly for the Lord to work in her life.  One day I will rejoice hearing her story of how Christ changed her life, it’s just a matter of time.

So next time you find yourself in a similar situation, stop to think about who you are trusting in that moment. Are you trusting yourself, other people or God? Remember to pray for wisdom and discernment and become a “doer of  the word” as James 1:22 NKJV teaches.

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Attitudes of the Heart

But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence,not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire.Therefore we wanted to come to you–even I, Paul, time and again–but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy. 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 NKJV

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, they say.  Before I knew the Lord, absence only caused me further pain, and my thoughts turned to bitterness and resentment.  I’ve found this saying to be true only when my heart is right with God.  When our priority is on God,the attitudes of the heart become pure and your heart can grow fond when missing someone.There are many  reasons why we become separated from others.  We get busy and don’t make time for connecting with our friends.  We work a lot of extra hours trying to make more money to pay those bills and buy luxuries of this life.  Maybe we start to dislike hanging around anyone who doesn’t think like we do.  The list could go on for miles.

Just like the many reasons we let relationships with people falter, we do the same thing with God.  Maybe we get so busy in our ministry that we stop having those quiet times with the Lord.  Maybe we start thinking we can handle the little things in life, so we stop bringing those requests to the Lord in prayer.  We loose our thankfulness, stop recognizing all He’s done for us and become complacent.

There is another reason that many people fail to realize is working against them.  Satan.  Paul mentions in today’s verse that Satan hindered him.  This is a very good reminder we have an enemy that wants us to fail. The Bible says Satan prowls around looking for someone to devour.1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring  lion,seeking whom he may devour.” It also says he is a liar and the father of lies, when he lies he speaks from his own resources (John 8:44 NKJV).   Satan’s primary purpose is to steal, kill and destroy the things of God ( John 10:10 NKJV ).

Satan is just as real as God.  But don’t be deceived into thinking he has as much power as God,because he doesn’t.  Satan is a created being, just like we are.  No created thing can ever have more power than the Creator.

If you find yourself being plagued by unruly, evil thoughts, memories of past sins, doubts fears,anxiety or worry, bring it all to the Lord in prayer and don’t forget to pray “by the power and authority of Jesus Christ, get behind me Satan.”  As James 4:7 NKJV says “submit to the Lord,resist the devil and he will flee from you”, I can assure you from my own personal  experience,when you stand firm on the Word of God, doing what it says, Satan will flee from you.

Don’t believe me?   Read how Jesus handled Satan’s temptations for yourself in Luke 4 NKJV.
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The Word of God is Truth

For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men,but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans,  who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets,and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the  measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.”1 Thessalonians 2:13-16 NKJV

Change happens.  For some it is scary.  For others it is joyous.  When you receive the Word of God and welcome it in your heart, it has the power to transform you.  Along with this wonderful transformation are some not so nice consequences.  One such consequence is others might treat you differently.

Look at Luke 21:15-17 NKJV: “for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. You will be  betrayed even by parents and brothers,relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.”  Wow! That’s a strong verse, is it not? You mean when I come to know Christ as my Savior, my family will betray me?  Well, not always, but sadly for a lot of believers the answer to that question is yes.

Two Corinthians 2:14-16 NKJV tells us:  “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ,and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.  To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?”  Once Christ dwells in us, we give off a fragrance to the world.  Some people smell death,while others smell life.

Why does one person see death and another see life?  One explanation might be because God has written His word on our hearts.  Jeremiah 31:33 NKJV says: “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”  Deep down inside we know what is right and wrong.  Those who choose to rebel, know they are rebelling against God.  Therefore, those who rebel will have the hardest time rejoicing with you regarding your salvation, for they  themselves are perishing.Some have a false opinion that when you become born again, you’re troubles will disappear.  That is simply not truth as we’ve discussed above.  Sometimes becoming born again brings new troubles into your life.

No matter how we are treated because of our new found faith in Christ, we can choose to love others as Christ loved us.  Look at John 15:13: “Greater  love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”  We can  choose to lay down our responses to any unkindness towards us, for Christ’s sake, knowing John 15:14 tells us: “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.”

Are you choosing to follow Christ’s example today?

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Walk Worthy of God Who Calls You

For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day,that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.  You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we  behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and  comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. 1  Thessalonians 2:9-12 NKJV

If anyone is considering quitting their job to go into “ministry” full time, stop.  The first verse above tells us that Paul worked.  He had a job, so he was able to  provide for himself.  Yet, he still preached the gospel.

I had a co-worker and friend of mine tell me she was considering leaving her job,where we both worked, and finding a Christian job or perhaps work at the church.She felt like she needed to move in the direction of ministry.  I thought this was kind of funny.  From my perspective, I’ve always thought ministry  happens wherever you are.  In fact, where I work, I am ministering by being  who I am in Christ.

Don’t misunderstand, there’s nothing wrong with working for the church or a Christian employer.  Just be certain that God is really calling you to make a change.  Pray, ask for wisdom.  Don’t overlook the opportunities right before you.  Remember, everyone needs to know Christ and be saved. Chances are there are plenty of folks around you that could use the saving grace of Christ to give them hope for eternity.

After much prayer and self examination, in the end, my friend decided, she was in a way trying to run away from the ugliness of the secular world. Now, she is ministering right where she is.  It’s beautiful to watch her discover how to use her gifts in her current role to minister to those around her.

Be who God called you to be.  Keep alert and pray for everyone around you. Even if you never say a single word about Christ, you still can make a difference through prayer and the decisions you make at work.  Be faithful to God, right where He has you.  One day, you’ll heard Him say what Matthew 25:21 says: “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, mygood and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together! ‘”

Look around, who needs an encouraging word?  Who needs some uplifting prayers?  Is anyone really exempt from those questions?  The answer: Everyone needs it.  Start today,pray for someone you work with and you’ll be starting your own ministry, right where you are!

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Entrusted with the Gospel

But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak,not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at  any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for   covetousness–God is witness.  Nor did we seek glory from men, either from  you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own   children.  I Thessalonians 2:4-8 NKJV

Oh how these verses are chalked full of good advice.  Paul starts out with confidence saying he’s been “approved by God” to be “entrusted with the  gospel”.  This speaks of two things:  God knows what He’s doing and He trusts   Paul to delivery the message.  What a great honor and privilege! If you’re   eyes have been opened to God’s truth, you are approved by God and entrust  with the gospel,too!

Paul is so down to earth.  Even though he knows he’s approved by God, he is  not a people pleaser,because he knows who tests our hearts – God.  ( 1 Samuel  6:7  “but the LORD looks at the heart.”)He lives his life to please an audience of one – he lives for God.  Therefore, he uses no flattering words,or cloak of covetousness as he shares the gospel with others.  Paul was not one of those guys who said what you wanted to hear, to win you over to his side.  He never sought man’s glory, but spoke truth in love. I imagine this psalm was among the ones he memorized:  Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.”

When you realize God is witness to all that you do, it’s a little easier to stay on the right track.  God watches over all of us.  For some this can be a scary thought, but only if they choose not to obey.  For those who long to obey God, the idea of His ever-presence is comforting and reassuring.  David knew God was watching.I pray God would be able to say the following about us: 1 Kings 15:5 “David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and had not  turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life”.

In Paul’s day, the religious leaders were very pious.  Jesus had this to say in Matthew 23:5-7 about the religious: “But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. 6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the    synagogues, 7greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi,  Rabbi.'” Paul wasn’t like that.  His life stood out as being different than the  religious leaders.  Even so, when he ministered to the churches, he didn’t make demands because of his position as apostle.  He was humble and gentle among them.  He was also tender – look at the last part of the verse.  He cared for the people as a nursing mother who cherishes her own children.

Paul’s attitude was much like Jesus.  Do you remember how Jesus felt about Jerusalem?  Matthew 23:36-37″O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”I imagine Paul was like that with those he shepherded.

In summary we need to keep the proper perspective.  We can take courage  we are approved by God and entrusted with the gospel, holding this  responsibility with high regard.  As we speak the truth in love, we will remember that God sees everything, so we order our lives to be pleasing to God alone.

© ThinkOnIt Bible Ministries Inc.

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Want Safety and Security? It’s found here.

But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure,
without fear of evil.” Proverbs 1:33 NKJV

This verse begins with a “but” so we need to go back to see what
came before to fully understand this passage. Read Proverbs 1:20-33.
What is depicted?

Wisdom cries out yet no one listens. Scorners delight in scorning
and fools hate knowledge. The Lord offers to pour out His Spirit and
make His word known. The people refuse to turn at His rebuke, dis-
daining His counsel. When calamity and terror come like a storm,
their destruction is like a whirlwind. Because of the repeated
rejection of the Lord, the people will not find help when they need
it. The Lord has given them over to their own desires. Their
complacency will destroy them.

That’s a dark and grim picture, but it describes our day very well.
There will come a time when the Lord refuses to answer prayers of
those who continually reject Him. No one knows how many rejections
are too many.

The good news is we don’t have to live in the described darkness. We
can choose to turn at His rebuke, listen to Him and dwell in safety
without fear of evil. As Joshua said to the people in Joshua 24:15
choose this day who you will serve, I ask you are you going to serve
your own desires or serve the true living merciful God Almighty?

Lord you are merciful to those who listen. Open our hearts, eyes and
hears to receive your wise counsel. Let us not turn away from your
rebuke but rather accept it and be made into your glorious image.
In Jesus’ name we pray these things. Amen.

© ThinkOnIt Bible Ministries Inc.

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Sowing and Reaping

Then you will understand righteousness and justice, equity and every
good path. Proverbs 2:9 NKJV

Whenever I see “then” I always look for the preceding “if”. They
usually go together if and then. It’s just like the principle of
sowing and reaping. If you plant corn seeds, you reap corn at
harvest time. The “if” is like the sowing part and the “then” is the
reaping part. What you put in, you usually get out. Make sense?

So let’s go back and read Proverbs 2:1-5 and see the “if” for the
“then” in today’s verse.

To paraphrase…

IF you

receive my words

treasure my commands within you

incline your ear to wisdom

apply your heart to understanding

cry out for discernment

lift up your voice for understanding

seek wisdom

search for hidden treasures

THEN, you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find knowledge
of God.

Did you notice all those items were things we do? If we manage to do
those things we not only understand the fear of the Lord, but also
God goes on to demonstrate what He does on our behalf. Look at
Proverbs 2:6-9.

The Lord gives wisdom

He speaks knowledge and understanding

He stores up sound wisdom for the upright

He is a shield to those who walk uprightly

He guards the paths of justice

He preserves the way of His saints.

God’s word is filled with example after example of sowing/reaping
and the if/then statements. God rewards those who put forth effort
to know Him. God will not bless you just because you ask. No, there
must be a commitment on our part. If we commit to His commands, He
will give the wisdom, knowledge, understanding and protection we
desire. He will preserve our way.

Lord God Almighty you are fair and just. You have explained how
things work regarding sowing and reaping. Give us a desire for you
that we may commit to your commands. We long for your wisdom,
knowledge, understanding, protection and preservation. Help us put
forth the effort in seeking you that we may understand your reward.
In Jesus’ name Amen.

© ThinkOnIt Bible Ministries
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