Bible Devotions

How To Pray

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. Colossians 9-12 NKJV

As God’s Word goes out it brings forth fruit that God intends ( Isaiah 55:11 ), for this reason Paul doesn’t cease to pray for the Colossians. Philippians 3:17 “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.” Paul lays out a wonderful example for us to follow in this section of scripture.

First, Paul says he does not cease to pray for them. This is very encouraging. Knowing someone is praying for you may help you feel loved, wanted and cared for. To have someone remember you and your needs in prayer and lift you up to the Father demonstrate love for one another. John 13:34-36 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”Second, Paul moves on to explain what he prays for. He asks that they may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. I can’t think of a better thing to pray for. Knowing that Isaiah 55:9 says “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” We can never fully understand the mind of God, so praying for knowledge of His will, wisdom and spiritual understanding is definitely a good idea.

Next Paul moves on to the action part, praying that they may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing and being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. We are representatives of Christ as such our thoughts, behaviors, attitudes and actions in this life reflect Him just as light let’s us see in the dark. Matthew 5:14-15 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” Paul prays for them to be fruitful in every good work and we all know the only way to be fruitful is to allow ourselves to walk by the Spirit as Romans 8:4 says “that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

Paul also addresses “the how” part when he prays that they be strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power. It’s by God’s Spirit, not our own, that we are given strength according to Ephesians 3:16 “to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man”

Paul also prays for all patience and longsuffering with joy. Who couldn’t use patience? Just when you think you’ve learned patience in one area, another area starts showing it needs patience too. How about longsuffering with joy? Did you know that when you are suffering and you display joy in the amidst of it you are a testimony of Christ? Matthew 5:12-13 says, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”

Finally, Paul ends his prayers with thanks to God for qualifying us to be partakers in His inheritance with the saints. Giving thanks is showing appreciation towards God. It’s demonstrates an awareness that all good comes from God as James 1:17 says “Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father.”

So now you know how to pray. Who can you start praying for today?

Lord thank you for your many examples in your word on how to pray for others.  Lead us by your spirit to pray in ways pleasing to you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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Fruit Bearing

Which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit. Colossians 1:6-8 NKJV

The word of God, the truth of the gospel which came to the Colossians also goes out in all the world to bring forth fruit. In Isaiah 55:11 God says “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

God’s Word always brings forth fruit in the form of changed minds, changed attitudes, changed hearts, changed lifestyles, and changed lives. Someone who studies the Word of God and allows it to transform ( Romans 12:2 ) them is like what Psalm 1:3 describes: “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.”

God says in Proverbs 8:19 “My fruit is better than gold, yes, than fine gold, And my revenue than choice silver.” Jesus taught us the importance of checking out other’s fruits in Matthew 7:15-21 when he said “You will know them by their fruits.” Especially important is examining those who teach God’s Word. We need to be wise and check out what they say against the Word of God to be sure what they teach is true. Just like the Bereans did in Paul’s time. Acts 17:10-12 “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”

We have a helper who does that in our lives. First Corinthians 2:12-14 “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” Thank God we have Him to discern spiritual things.

What about you? Do you listen to teachers or pastors and check out what they’re saying by looking it up for yourself in God’s Word?

Be wise, search scripture to validate the truth. That includes what you read in this devotion. Search God’s Word to make sure you are being taught truth.  Don’t just accept it without examination.

Lord Jesus, thank you for giving us everything we need to live a godly life until you return. Thank you for your Holy Spirit to guide us in all truth.  Teach us your ways Lord.  In your name we pray. Amen.

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Faith, Hope, Love

Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, Colossians 1:4-5 NKJV

The Colossians had faith, love and hope, so much so that it was heard of by others who didn’t live in Colosse. When you think about faith, love, and hope what do you suppose are the identifying attributes that cause people to take notice? Faith is trusting in God no matter what the circumstance may look like.

Let’s look at a few versus where Jesus points out faith of others.

  • In Matthew 8:9-11 in the story of the centurion “When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” The Centurion believed and told Jesus to just say the word and his servant would be healed.
  • In Matthew 9:1-3 “Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith…” Jesus probably got a kick out of seeing these four guys tear up the roof to lower their paralytic friend down in front of Jesus to be healed. These friends acted so their friend could be healed. Their faith was demonstrated.
  • Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Faith demonstrates belief. We can see how important faith is in Matthew 9:29 “Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.” If things are done according to our faith, then we better start implementing our faith, don’t you think!

What about hope? How can you tell someone has hope? If they have hope, they have faith. No hope, no faith. The two are integrated and can not be separated.

  • Hebrews 6:19 says “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast”.
  • 1 Peter 1:13 says we should rest in hope: “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;”

In who do we hope? First Peter 1:20-22 tells us “so that your faith and hope are in God.” Having hope in our Lord, means we wait patiently for His promises to come to pass. First Thessalonians 1:3 “remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father”. Remember every word He speaks will not return void as Isaiah 55:11 says “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

We’ve looked at faith and hope, now we’ll look at love. How is love demonstrated?

Luke gives us a clue in Luke 6:35 “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High.” God’s love is greater for John says 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.” Jesus said in John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” We too, should lay aside our selves for the love of others.

Why do we love, because Jesus commanded it.

  • John 13:34-36 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
  • First Corinthians 13:13 “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Apparently, the Colossians were doing all this and Paul takes note of it and re-confirms they are following the truth of the gospel. This reminds me to always affirm others when I see them following the word of God too! Who can you affirm today?

Father above, how great you are! Thank you for your hope that does not disappoint, your love that never fails and faith that lasts forever.  In Jesus’ name we pray Amen.

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Giving Thanks

We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Colossians 1:3 NKJV

Thanks to God is the first clue that our thoughts need to be  fixed on Him.

Are we giving thanks to God at every turn?

See what Paul says about giving thanks in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Being thankful is God’s will for us, so in everything let us give thanks.

Before I came to Christ, my thoughts were not very positive and I found it difficult to give thanks readily. Now, being a new creation in Christ ( 2 Corinthians 5:17 ) it’s much easier giving thanks. Sometimes, I wake up in the morning with thankfulness and praise to God on my mind. How wonderful it is!

Prayer is the next clue that your relationship with God is flourishing. Paul mentions he is always praying for the Colossians.

How often are you in prayer, once a day or throughout the day?

Here’s the key — pray always.

The psalmist knew it in Psalm 55:17 “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice.” If Jonah could pray from the belly of a fish in Jonah 2:1 “Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly” then we can certainly pray in whatever condition we find ourselves. Even when we don’t know what to pray the Holy Spirit in us helps us for in Romans 8:26 is says “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

Where can you start being thankful today?

Jesus, thank you for coming into my life and changing my heart. Thank you for your word which changes the way I think. Thank you for your love that surpasses human understanding.  Thank you for your presence. In your name we pray. Amen.

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Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:1-2 NKJV

Paul is always pointing to Christ and to God. Paul did not boast about himself, though he could have. Remember his list of accomplishments? Philippians 3:4-6 “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.”

Paul had plenty to brag about, but he didn’t because he no longer depended on those things to define who he was. Instead he lived according to Psalm 44:8 “In God we boast all day long, And praise Your name forever.” Paul says he’s an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, meaning he did not choose Christ, but Christ chose him. We have been chosen too. Second Thessalonians 2:13 “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth…”

In the last part of today’s verse, notice how Paul uses words like brother, saint and faithful brethren in Christ, Paul’s reference to these words is confirming that we are all one in Christ ( Romans 12:5 ). We belong together.

Now, who wouldn’t be encouraged if they were called “faithful brethren” in a greeting? Grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ seems to be Paul’s unique opening in his letters. Again, he points to the only source of grace and peace — God and Jesus Christ.

Lord Jesus, thank you for being our peace.  Thank you for your grace and forgiveness and love.  Help us extend your mercies and love towards those we come in contact with on a daily basis. In your name we pray. Amen.

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Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. Philippians 4:21-23 NKJV

Have you ever been greeted by someone you didn’t know, but somehow you felt like you knew them?

Well, that’s what it should be like among believers. We all have Christ dwelling in us, therefore, we should be recognizable even if we never met.

Paul says to the Philippians “Greet every saint in Christ Jesus.” If you have an inkling that someone is a believer, by all means go introduce yourself, say hello, and greet them. We are all connected as believers being one body and one mind in Christ Jesus. Romans 12:5 “so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”

Thank you God, that you set the lonely in families.  Thank you for drawing us into your family of believers.  Thank you for your Holy Spirit that is with us where ever we go. In Jesus’ name we pray Amen.

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Heavenly Treasure

Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. Philippians 4:14-20 NKJV

Generosity doesn’t come easy for some. It didn’t for a certain rich man in a parable Jesus warned us about earthly wealth in Luke 12:16-20 “Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, “What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?” So he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”” But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?”

But the Philippians were generous. They assisted Paul with his very needs, although Paul didn’t ask for it. Paul was quick to thank them for sending things for him. Paul didn’t focus on what he got out of it, his concern was on the Philippians’ fruit, that they gave because they wanted to, out of a heart and passion for God’s work. Matthew 10:42 “And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”

When we give from the place of desire for God’s kingdom, we store up treasure in heaven. Jesus taught us in Matthew 18-20 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” If we keep our focus on heaven, then we won’t be preoccupied with all the stuff we can collect on earth.

Jesus you are God. You are the only to focus on.  Thank you for saving us for your purpose and glory.  Thank you for giving us desires that please you.  May be give hilariously and abundantly.  In your name we pray. Amen.

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But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:10-13 NKJV

Have you ever had a need that was met by an unexpected source? The Philippians helped Paul when they had the opportunity. But Paul is sharing how he does not depend on this support. He has learned to be content in whatever state he’s in.

Can you say that about yourself?

Our enemy likes to plant seeds of discontent into our hearts and mind. If we’re not careful, those seeds will grow into bitterness and resentfulness, which can ruin our lives. Paul says “everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry.” He can enjoy when he has plenty without seeking for more and he can tolerate being hungry without giving in to anger or frustration.

A friend of mine told me about an acrostic H.A.L.T. It’s like an early warning system, to help us recognize the enemy’s tactics in our lives.

H stands for hungry. If you’re hungry get something to eat ( Job 18:12 ).

A stands for angry. If you’re angry ask yourself why? Pray about it and ask God what the proper way for dealing with it is ( Ephesians 4:26 ).

L stands for lonely. Remember we are not alone, even if there’s no one around us, we have Christ living in us ( John 16:12-14 ).

T stands for tired. If you’re tired, maybe it’s time to rest. For even God rested on the seventh day ( Exodus 31:17 ). Care for yourself, if you don’t, you will become weak and vulnerable.

The enemy will have a field day with you. Ephesians 6:10-11 says “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Notice Ephesians verse says “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might”? It’s not be our efforts that we are strong. Paul tells the Philippians “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. We can too!

Lord Jesus thank you for being the source of my strength.  In you I can do all things.  In Your name I pray Amen.

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Watch Me

The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9 NKJV

In the previous 8 verses Paul talked about unity, being of one mind in Christ, rejoicing, being in prayer always, being thankful and setting our minds on the things which are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy. Now he says, you’ve learned, received and saw in me what you now need to do.

James spoke of the same message in James 1:21-23 “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:25 says “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”

Who doesn’t want to be blessed? In the path of obedience lays blessing. Obedience is talked about throughout the bible. In fact, search for word the “obey”. You’ll find 154 references to that one word.

Some of the verses are:

  • Genesis 22:18 “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
  • Exodus 19:5 “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.”
  • Deuteronomy 30:18-20 “that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days”.
  • Isaiah 50:10 “Who among you fears the LORD? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness And has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD And rely upon his God.”

One thing I noticed in the list of 154 verses, is about two-thirds of these verses were talking about the consequence of not obeying God. While there is certainly blessing in obedience, there is also consequences for choosing not to obey. I’ve found this to be true in my own life. Check it out for yourself.

Sometimes it’s easier to choose God’s way, when you know someone is watching you. In today’s verse, Paul says do what you’ve seen me do. Talk about accountability. Paul was putting his life on display and urging others to follow his example. That sounds like a lot of pressure to always make sure you’re doing right, so others may follow. But remember, if Paul was operating out of his own flesh, it would have been exhausting to always keep the law. Paul’s had a secret weapon — Christ Himself dwelling in him, giving him the strength to do all things ( Philippians 4:13 ). Actually, it wasn’t a secret. Paul constantly told others about Him.

Lord Jesus, thank you for the secret weapon – your Holy Spirit – giving us the strength to do what is pleasing to you. Thank you for loving us. In Your name we pray. Amen.

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True, Noble, Just…

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy– meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8 NKJV

Last time, Paul was instructing the Philippians to be anxious for nothing and to prayer about everything. This verse goes right along with it. What we allow our minds to dwell on will ultimately become visible in our lives through actions, behaviors or attitudes. Paul’s instructions this time are focused on guarding one’s mind. Look at the verse, you see it’s a list of things: true, noble, just, pure, lovely, good report, virtue and praiseworthy. Paul says meditate on these things. Why? Maybe he offers this so the Philippians will stop being fault finders.

Perhaps he offers this to point out there is only one person who fits this description — Jesus Christ. If your focus in on Jesus Christ and Him alone, then your mind will be flooded with light and your life will overflow with godliness. Isn’t is difficult being around people who only point out faults? You know it is.

Conversely, isn’t it wonderful being around people who constantly see the good in things? Of course it is. Paul’s instruction to Philippians is wise council for all of us, to move us into a state that allows us to look at all the positive things in life. In doing so, we will be offering Christ to the world.

In Max Lucado’s book “Come Thirsty”, he was talking about how Jesus never reminder the disciples of their failures, even though He had plenty of examples to point out. He never brought up their past mistakes. He never said “I told you so” when they disappointed him. Well, setting our minds on the things above and not on earthly things below ( Collosians 3:2 ), will help us do the same thing. Follow Christ’s example, don’t mention other people’s failures. Watch and see how controlling your tongue ( Psalm 39:1 ) has a great impact on your relationships.

Lord, thank you for giving us your Holy Spirit to control our tongues and not point out failures.  Thank you for forgiving us of our failures.  Help us extend your grace towards others.  In Jesus’ name we pray Amen.

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