Bible Devotions

Faith in Christ = Righteousness

…and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; Philippians 3:9 NKJV

Oh how I love this verse! After I spent my entire life (before knowing Christ) trying to keep the laws/rules to “be good”, it left me rather unsatisfied. I always felt I needed to push myself harder to prove that I was good. It was so tiring.

Here Paul is explaining what is pure joy to me now…to be found in Christ. Being in Christ we are covered by His righteousness and clothed in Him. Isaiah 61:10 “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

What joy there is in believing God’s promise: John 3:16 “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.” Notice this verse doesn’t say “whoever works” or “whoever earns”, it says “whoever believes”. Jesus taught us to pray believing we have received already (Mark 11:24) and we shall have it.

Lord, thank you for saving me.  Your word is true.  You have changed me from the inside out.  Thank you for giving the weary rest for your yoke and burden is light, just like you said it was!  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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Excellent Knowledge of Christ

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ… Philippians 3:8 NKJV

Paul continues to say that of all his accomplishments of the past, he now considers rubbish compared to the excellent knowledge of Christ Jesus.

Once Christ comes into your life, the old life is gone and the new life has begun (2 Corinthians 5:17). Paul’s saying “for whom I have suffered the loss of all things” is like a sacrifice to the Lord because he no longer depends on them to define who he is. He gave all of his old ways to the Lord, that he may gain Christ and be made new.

What are you depending on?

What defines you?

May it be Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Father God above, you who made us and hold our very breath in your hand, guide us back to you.  May we depend on you each moment of every day.  Thank you for your grace and mercy and love.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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I No Longer Live, But Christ Lives in Me

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.
Philippians 3:7 NKJV

I can relate to this saying of Paul very well. Before I gave my life to Christ, I lived for myself. Everything I did was to promote me. I’d work hard, so I’d be recognized at work. I helped out where I could so people would say “she’s really a good girl”. I followed all the rules so that I would be good. Every certificate I earned boosted my ego and self-confidence. Every raise or bonus I received at work would cause me to puff up inside.

I thank Jesus for coming into my heart and taking all that away. With Christ in me, all those things were worthless to me. All my precious awards I tossed in the trash. I no longer needed them. I have Christ. Galatians 2:20 “I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Lord Jesus, You are my life.  Thank you for turning me away from worthless things and turning to the ONE who loves me unconditionally.  In your name I pray. Amen.

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Santified by Truth

For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. Philippians 3:3-6 NKJV

In Paul’s time one of the religious rituals was circumcision, but Paul is saying that the “true” circumcised are those who worship God in Spirit. We don’t have confidence in anything we’ve done because we are right with God through Jesus’ work on the cross (Titus 2:14). Paul was also telling them that if anyone had rights to brag about their accomplishments, he would be him. He followed all the strict laws his, before Christ knocked him off his horse on the Damascus road (Acts 9:3-9).

What I find interesting in Paul’s list is “concerning zeal, persecuting the church”. This statement shows us how someone can have great passion and zeal for something, and be completely wrong. Paul thought he knew how to right with God and he condemned those who didn’t follow the religious legal system.

That’s why we can’t rely on sincerity, because you can be sincerely wrong. John 17:17 says “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” So rejoice because God’s Word is true and it will set us apart for God.

Lord, thank you we don’t have to rely on our own efforts to be saved.  Thank you for making it possible for us to know you and live forever by faith in Jesus Christ.  In your name we pray, Amen.

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Regulations Won’t Save You

Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! Philippians 3:2 NKJ

Paul lived in the day when the religious “elite” had made so many regulations as to how to be right with God that it was impossible to keep them all. Even if you did manage to keep all their rules and regulations, you still wouldn’t be right with God. Nothing has really changes for us in our day. We still have different religious organizations with all the rules to follow.

However, God said it is not our sacrifice (our efforts) He wants. Psalm 40:6 says “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; My ears You have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require.” You couldn’t earn your salvation back then and you still can’t today. Romans 10:9-10 “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

The simple truth of the gospel is the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ (Romans 6:23), who paid our penalty for our sin, so we might live forever with Him. Believe Jesus Christ has saved you and you will be saved. Jesus taught us in Mark 11:24 “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”

Lord Jesus, you paid the price for our eternal life.  You set us free from trying to save our self.  You are the way, the truth, and the life.  Thank you for your forgiveness and gift of eternal life by faith through grace.  In your precious we pray. Amen.

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Listening is Best

How do we come to know God?  Reading His Word is a good place to start.  It’s packed full of stories, teachings and commands that outline who He is and who we are and how to live a truly blessed life.  I should know.  I lived 32 years without Him in my life.  I’ve lived through the consequences of my poor decisions.  I’ve lived long enough by my own self sufficiency’s to see it in others.  It’s easy to point it out because it’s still in me.  However, after spending the last 6 years studying God’s Word, reading it every day, it has started to take root in my heart.  The more I read God’s Word, the more His presence fills my very being ( Colossians 3:16 ) .

God’s Word guides us back to the garden path towards God’s richly abundant life ( John 10:10 ).  While you may still have to face life’s trials, God provides the strength and comfort to go through them.   That abundant life He talks about in His Word is not a life without troubles.  But rather it’s an obedient life, which is to say when trouble comes, that person will listen to and obey God’s directions ( 1 Samuel 15:22 ).  He’s always teaching us along the way.  Gently leading us His way by giving us plenty of opportunities for us to make the decision to listen to His prompting or choose our own way.

Let me give you a very practical example.  Today, I took my son to the skate park.  On the way, I was having this conversation with myself in mind.  It went something like this:

“Oh this park is so difficult to get to.”  (my voice)

“Go up the hill, park behind the building and take the stairs.” (God’s voice)

“But I don’t want to park up there, it’s too far to walk with James.” (my voice)

“Quit complaining; just make the U-turn at light.” (God’s voice)

“Oh, I can’t look at the sign”.  (my voice)

“No worries, I will make the left go up the street and U-turn there.”  (my voice)

After choosing to make the left and then the U-turn to reach the park’s parking lot, I find it’s full.  Argh!  When you exit the lot, you can only make a right hand turn and you guessed it at the next light you can’t make a U-turn.  I should have listened to God’s voice in the first place.  It would have been much quicker to just park in the upper lot and avoid the frustration of all those U-turns.

God is with us every moment of every day.  He dwells right there in our heart.  If we quiet our self long enough we can hear Him giving us gentle reminders.  He’s there trying to lead you on the path that’s best for you.  Won’t you give Him a moment to show you?

Lord, thank you for always being there and offering me the better choice.  Forgive me when I choose my way instead of your way.  In the end, I always find your way is the best.  Give me ears to hear you.  Give me a desire to obey you.  Help me avoid needless frustrations by listening to you in the first place.  In Jesus name. Amen.

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Does “Too Good to be True” Really Exist?

Once you received some mail from a popular sweepstakes company claiming you had already won a grand prize.  Your mind races at the possibility and all you could do with the winnings.  Does this sound too good to be true?  Well, from the world’s perspective it is too good to be true.

What about a relationship with Jesus Christ?  Is that too good to be true? Matthew 19:26 NKJV says “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Let’s consider a few benefits of believing Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Truth Revealed

God’s Word is alive and it renews us day by day.  The more we read, the more He reveals Himself and our sinful nature.  If we choose, we can respond the way God anticipates which is to agree with Him about our sin.  When we do, we allow His Word to renew our minds, changing the way we think.  For some this may mean a once prideful person has been transformed into a humble one.  For others who were critical and judgmental it may mean their stony hearts are transplanted with a new tender heart of love.  God’s Word reveals the truth and when we accept His truth wonderful things happen.  Please don’t take this as once we become a Christian all our problems go away.  Oh no, that is definitely not what’s being conveyed.  But rather wonderful changes within occur when truth is allowed to penetrate our inner beings.

Sins Forgiven

Psalm 103:12 NKJV says “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Jesus Christ took on our sin, paid the penalty for us by dying on the cross.  Even better news than that is Jesus rose again.  Death was not the end of Him, only the beginning of a new life.  With His resurrection we are given a new life too.   Romans 10:9 NKJV says “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  So the free gift of salvation God offers is as easy as believing and you will be saved.  Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” To further this wonderful benefit, Romans 8:1 also tells us there is no condemnation in Christ when we walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh.

Rewards Here

Psalm 37:4 NKJV says “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”  Choose to follow Him, read His Word, and apply His truths in your life.  Allow His Word to become real to you by living it out.  When you do He rewards you.  I’m not saying we come to the Lord simply for the benefits He offers.  But I am saying if you are diligent to seek Him and serious about pursuing Him, He will bring blessings into your life.   His word straightens us out and plants our feet on a firm foundation.  He directs us on the pathway of righteousness.  He leads us by His Spirit which we gave us as a guarantee of our salvation.  He changes the way we think, which improves our attitudes.  He enables us to love, forgive, and consider others above our self.  He provides everything we need to live a godly life here and now while we wait for the return of Christ.  He restores broken relationships.  He breaks the chains that bind us to our addictions.  He sets us free from sin.  The rewards He gives are unending and this is only speaking of here on earth.  There are far more blessings in the eternal sense, where no eye has seen, nor ear have heard, nor any mind can imagine what treasures await those who love God.

Is a relationship with Christ too good to be true?  While it does seem too good to be true, I want to reassure you all these things do exist.  There is no end to how good God can make it.  For me, I have found my relationship with Christ to be more rewarding, exciting, intimate, loving and honoring than I ever dreamed was possible.  I have experienced a new mind, new attitude, forgiveness of my sin, acceptance by the Father, a renewed love, a restored marriage and blessings of a second child.  I could go on, but I won’t.  I do encourage you to think about your life and count your blessings from knowing Christ.  It will revitalize your walk.


Lord Jesus, thank you for your willingness to die to cleanse us from all unrighteousness and make us right with the Father.  Thank you for the many rewards from our relationship with you.  Thank you for giving us eternal life in you.  In your precious name we pray. Amen.

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Temptations

My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. Proverbs 1:10 NKJV

What are you consenting to in your life?  What or who is enticing you to sin?

In your work are you tempted to:

· Gossip or listen to gossip about other co-workers?

· Lie by distorting or stretching the truth in your reports?

· Be lazy by not doing your work?

· Steal company time by arriving late, taking long lunches, and leaving early?

In your home life are you tempted to:

· Be preoccupied with your own interests you neglect your family?

· Slack off on doing your chores?

· Speak unkind words to one another?

· Be critical and judgmental of your family members?

In your mind are you tempted to:

· Think only about yourself and getting your way done?

· Listen to lying thoughts such as “I deserve better”, “I’m no good”, and “Nobody really loves me”?

· Refuse to think about God and His Word?

· Be anxious, troubled and worried about everything?

At school are you tempted to:

· Cheat on a test you didn’t study for?

· Skip a class you don’t like?

· Avoid people who are different from you?

· Not do your homework?

We are all tempted in many ways.  Just remember it is not a sin to be tempted. It’s how we respond to the temptation that determines whether it is sin or not.  Jesus was tempted yet without sin.

How did Jesus counter sin?  Read Luke 4:1-13.  He quoted scripture to remind Satan of truth.  He submitted to authority of God and resisted the devil.  He knew His purpose and His position and stood firm.

We can use the same three tactics to overcome our temptations:

1. Use the mighty Sword of the Spirit – the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17).

2. Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

3. Remember you are a child of God.  Nothing can separate you from the love of God.

We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus.  He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.  “Be of good cheer for I have overcome the world,” Jesus said.

Lord, thank you for not leaving us helpless against our enemy.  Thank you for your godly armor to protect us.  Thank you for your mighty Word of Truth.  Help us to use these tools of righteousness as our shield, defense and guide for life.  In Jesus’ name we pray Amen.

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Future and Present

Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Proverbs 4:25 NKJV

Two things jump out as I read this verse: future and present. We are to remember we have a glorious future awaiting us. No more pain, sorrow, sickness, death or sin, just a perfect world. We will be transformed into glorious new bodies that will last forever without growing old or decaying. Best of all, we will see Him, our Lord and Savior, the one who gave everything so we could stand in His presence one day. But to look constantly at the future without balance of the present would make us ineffective.

Scripture tells us not to turn to the right or the left but to continue straight on the path of righteousness. Keep our minds are fixed on Christ and we have peace. Keep our focus on the eternal things rather than the on the temporary things. It all comes back to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. It’s all made by Him. We are His. He’ll never forsake us for He has us inscribed us on the palm of His hand. It’s all about what He has done for us. That must never be shoved to the side but kept first and foremost in our thoughts and heart.

So on one hand we are to keep this future vision in mind at all times and on the other hand we are to consider the now. The present really can be a present but it takes practice. Rather than stressing over everything that has to be done, we learn to enjoy each moment. Remember every good and perfect gift comes from the Father in heaven. We learn to be thankful for everything. We are given life. Not to squander away through self-centered living but by being led by Him to reach others who are lost and hurting, just as He did.

Jesus is our example. We are to do as He did. We can because He’s given us His power in the form of the Holy Spirit living in us to guide us, teach us, prepare us and show us the things we are to do. Think about this, every new believer joining God’s family is another pair of eyes, ears, hands and feet the Lord chooses to minister through to reach others. As we draw close to God, we will know what is important to God – people. As we receive God’s love for us, we are able to extend God’s love for others by our participation in the present.

Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of life. Help us keep the balance between the future and present in order for us to minister to others out of your infinite resource of grace and love. In your name we pray. Amen.

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Busybodies

For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 NKJV

Have you ever watched the t.v. program called “Survivor”?  They take 16 people and put them on a deserted island for 39 days to see who will endure all 39 days without being voted off or going crazy in the process. When I read today’s scripture verse, it reminded me of an episode where one young man and two young women were not pulling their own weight around camp.  They had no problem eating the food others had gathered or caught.  They did not help with any of the real work, like searching for wood, carrying water to camp, fishing, or gathering coconuts.   All they did was sit in the little hut, snuggle together and gossip about the rest of the players on the island.

Have you ever known someone who was like that?  They are always eager to criticize, never willing to help anyone and always thinking about themselves.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t especially like being around people like that.  Do you ever feel like that?

However, Matthew 22:39 NKJV tells us to “Love your neighbor as yourself” so my attitude toward people like anything but loving. Colossians 3:23 NKJV tells us to do everything as if we’re doing to or for the Lord.  That’s great advice.  When we apply this advice, we are more willing to do anything for the Lord, even scrubbing floors, doing laundry, paying bills, going to work, or being loving towards others you don’t feel like loving.

Are you a busybody, unwilling to work?  Are you criticizing others for their lack of work?  Ask Jesus to help change your attitude toward others and focus on your own walk with the Lord.

Father, forgive us for having the wrong attitude towards people.  Help us love them as you love us.  Teach us to “work in quietness and eat our own bread”.  Enable us to being willing to do all things as if they are for You. In Jesus’ name Amen.

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