Bible Devotions

We All Need Shelter

The Lord will be a shelter for His people… Joel 3:16 NKJV

The prophet Joel spoke of the “The Day of the Lord” coming. It is the Day of Judgment, when all the wrongs will be compensated.  It is a terrible and yet wonderful thing to behold.

Only those who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping and with mourning.”

Then the Lord will be zealous for His land and pity His people. The Lord will answer His people.

  • The Lord will
  • Remove you from the northern army
  • Cause the harvest to bloom
  • Cause the rain
  • Restore all the locusts have eaten
  • Satisfy you
  • Defend you
  • Pour out His Spirit upon us
  • Save those who call on the name of the Lord
  • Cause victory for His people
  • Strengthen His people
  • Be a shelter for His people
  • Pay back those who brought evil against His people
  • Acquit Judah and Jerusalem of bloodshed
  • Dwell in Zion

No matter what the circumstances look like, God is able to deliver us out of them. Look not at your foes. Look not at all you lack. Look not at the problems facing you.

Look, instead, to Jesus, the One who is able to rescue you.  God Almighty knows your troubles and has the power to save and deliver you. But it requires your trust. You must turn to Him, trust in His ability. Fear not, be glad and rejoice. For the Lord has done marvelous things!

Father, thank you for helping us through the difficult times in our life.  You provide a way out of every temptation.  You provide the strength we need to face all opposition.  We are ready to trust you. Deliver us Lord. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

© ThinkOnIt Bible Ministries Inc is a 501(c) (3) Public Charity helping you grow in knowledge and understanding of God’s Word.

 

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The Next Thing

Doug Fields wrote this wonderful little book called Refuel.  It talks about the practical relationship with God we can and should have.  In one section, he described how we can get stuck feeling overwhelmed by all it takes to follow God.

Think about it.  We’re supposed to pray, read the Bible, go to small group, tithe, go to church, be nice, and do all sorts of good things. Phew! All of these are very good things unless they have become a duty.  Sometimes that’s what our good works become, a chore, a must do, or an obligation.

Doug shares a great tip for overcoming that mindset, even if you don’t think you suffer from that mindset.  He says do not worry about all of it.  Instead concentrate on just the “next thing.”  In each moment of life we have a choice to follow our will or God’s will.  If we would stop and silently ask God for His help, direction or strength in the moment, God will surely answer.

Let me illustrate from my own experience while reading this book with my small group.  As background you need to know I have a physical problem with the muscles in my right arm that makes most movement painful.  In fact, even writing this physically hurts.  Okay now to get to my “next thing” moment.

One day standing in my kitchen I noticed how dirty the cabinets had become.  The doors have a molding detail that is great at collecting dust and dirt.  Did I mention the cabinets were white?  As I stood looking at the dirty kitchen cabinets I prayed, “Lord, you know the problem with my arm.  You know my husband desires cleanliness.  Would you please help me clean these cabinets?” Well, I got to work.  You know what? God gave me the strength in my arm to clean those cabinets.  Not only that but there was no pain later on either!

This is one example of how we can turn to God in the moment and give Him our “next thing.” No matter what you are facing, stop and give it to Him.  He will lead you through, give you wisdom, or provide the strength it takes for that moment.

If you haven’t read Doug’s book yet, you might want to get your own copy today.  I highly recommend it for individual or small group study.

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Consider Your Ways

Thus says the Lord, “Consider your ways!” Haggai 1:7 NKJV

Proverbs 14:12 tells us there is a path that seems right to us but it really leads to death.  When we only look at things from our human standpoint we are doing the very thing proverbs warns us about.

Our ways are not the Lord’s way, no matter how good they appear in our eyes (Isaiah 55:8-9).  The Lord’s ways are much higher, more pure, more truthful, and always right. Our ways are but filthy rags when standing before Almighty God.

So what is so wrong about our way anyway? Using Jesus’ teaching from Matthew 5 – 7, here’s a list of some of the ways we go wrong.

  • Angry without cause
  • Unresolved conflict with others
  • Lust after others
  • Divorce
  • Lying
  • Exaggerating
  • Not loving our enemy
  • Doing to be seen
  • Not forgiving
  • Desiring money over God
  • Worrying
  • Judging others without considering own sin first
  • Not asking God
  • Not doing what Jesus taught

 

Jesus said whoever hears these sayings of Mine and does them, he is a wise man.  No matter what comes against him, he will not fall because of his foundation on the Rock.

So looking at the list above, are there any that stand out or resonate with you? Ask God to help you overcome these and align yourself with His ways instead.

Consider our way means to validate our ways against God’s Word.  Let’s examine six things Scripture tells us about living God’s way.

  • Romans 3:23 says all have sinned. No one is immune, no matter how “good” they appear.  Everyone is a sinner. We must recognize this about our self.
  • Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus.  Though sin must be dealt with, God sent Jesus to take on our sin, so we don’t have to die.  God took care of the sin problem for us, without ever asking if we wanted the help!
  • Matthew 7:21-23 tells us that doing religious things won’t save us.  Only a relationship with Jesus can! Just knowing about Him won’t cut it. We must have a relationship with Him to be saved.
  • Proverbs 3:5-6 says lean not on our own understanding but acknowledge Him in all our ways.  Give proper reverence to God who saved us.
  • Galatians 5:16 tells us to walk by the Spirit and we won’t fulfill the lust of our flesh.  God’s Spirit was given the moment we believed. He helps us live right.
  • Matthew 22:37-40 says to pursue love because it fulfills all the law.  God is love.  Pursue God through Jesus all the law and the commandments are complete in Him.

We live, breathe, and have our being in Christ.  If we stray away from Christ we sin.  We must cling to Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our faith.

 

Lord God and Father of Jesus Christ, we thank you for loving us enough to take on the sin problem and dying in our place.  Thank you for your Spirit to guide us in your truth.  May we continue to recognize we are only dust without Jesus.  In your precious name we pray, Jesus. Amen.

 

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Accountability – Do We Really Need It?

Thus says the Lord, “For three transgressions of ___________, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment…” Amos 1:3 NKJV

This phrase is repeated 8 times in chapter one and two combined.  Each time a different city or people group is called out. There are two categories of people mentioned in this ominous phrase. One category of people was anyone who did bad things to God’s people. We see Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab in this category.  The other category of people is God’s chosen people – Judah and Israel.

Six of those cities were being punished for things done against God’s people. They had done violent things, took people captive, delivered people into captivity, pursued his brother with a sword, and burned the king’s of Edom bones to line.

But interestingly God’s own people were also included in these phrases.  Judah is judged for having despised the law of the Lord, and keeping His commandments, and allowing lies to lead them astray. Israel is called out because they sold the righteous for silver, sold the poor for a pair of sandals, perverted the way of the humble, incest, defiling God’s holy name, idol worship, and drinking wine of the condemned.

Why does any of this matter to us?  This section of Scripture clearly shows us God will hold each of us accountable for our actions. That should cause us to shudder a little bit!

Which category of people do you fall into? Are you in the group opposed and against God’s people? Are you among God’s people?  In either case you will be accountable to God for your actions.

Let’s say you answered “I’m part of God’s people.” That’s great. Let’s look at the flaws God pointed out to see if any apply to us today.

Judah despised God’s laws. They did not keep God’s commandments and were led astray by lies.  Do any of these apply to you? Are you despising or obeying God’s laws? Do you follow truth or lies?

Israel was more concerned about money than people. They perverted the humble with heavy regulations. They allowed incest in their families. They defiled God’s holy name and worshipped idols instead of God. Is there anything that comes before God in your own life? Watch out that’s idol worship. Are you caught up with the cares of this world? This too can be a slippery slope leading to idol worship.  Are you a perfectionist, holding others to an impossible standard?  This is what the religious elite in Jesus’ day did and He scolded them more than once for it.

Father God Almighty, thank you for your word that reveals the truth. Help us recognize the truth about our self and turn to you for mercy and forgiveness.  Thank you for your hearing us. Thank you for your faithfulness to forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness through Jesus Christ. In His precious name we pray. Amen.

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10 Reasons to be Thankful

  1. God so loved the world He gave his only Begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16
  2. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1
  3. However when He, the Spirit of Truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. John 16:13
  4. Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1
  5. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption but he who sows to the Spirit will reap everlasting life. Galatians 6:8
  6. Being confident of this very thing, He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6
  7. But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3
  8. Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and 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. Ephesians 6:10-11
  9. Now this is the confidence we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. 2 John 2:14-15
  10. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

We, who believe Jesus is Lord and Savior, have been given much to be thankful for. God took care of the sin problem by having Jesus die in our place, even when we were his enemies. When we believe this, we are no longer condemned but set free. We are given the Holy Spirit to guide us in truth, help us live godly lives. It is by God’s power in us who transforms our lives. God establishes and protects and gives us armor. He hears our prayers. He gave us His word to be equipped for every good work.

Dear Lord, thank you for giving us so much of yourself.  In Jesus’ name we pray Amen.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

 

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I have chosen you

…for I have chosen you, says the Lord of hosts. Haggai 2:23 NKJV

Imagine God is saying this to you personally.  Elizabeth, I have chosen you.  ______, I have chosen you, says the Lord of hosts.  How would you respond?

Would you respond like Moses? O Lord let someone else go for Ii am slow of speech.

Would you respond like Mary did? Behold the maid servant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.

Would you respond like Philip? We have found Him to whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets wrote – Jesus of Nazareth.

Well Jesus did say this to you in John 15:16 “You did not chose Me but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit…”

What is your response?

Father God, thank you for choosing us for your purposes. Lead us forward with your loving kindness. In Jesus’ name Amen.

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Yet you have not returned to Me says the Lord

Yet you have not returned to Me says the Lord. Amos 4 NKJV

Do God’s people really need reminding to return to Him? Yes. Apparently they do as we see in Amos chapter 4.

The opening verse is used five times in this chapter and every instance He is talking to the children of God, Israel, God’s chosen people.

If we are not careful to watch and pray to stay close to God, we will stray or drift away just as Israel did.

Let’s take a look at the offenses God’s children committed that are recorded for our benefit.

  • They oppressed the poor
  • They crush the needy
  • They got drunk
  • They bring sacrifices every morning and tithes every three years
  • They offer thanksgiving sacrifices with leaven
  • They proclaim and announce their freewill offerings

The Hebrew word for “oppress” is “asaq” meaning to press upon, for example to defraud, violate or overflow. Further definition includes get deceitfully, deceive, defraud, drink up, oppress, use oppression, oppressor, do violence, an do wrong.

The Hebrew word for “crush” is “rasas” meaning to crack in pieces, literally or figuratively, break, bruise, crush, discourage, oppress, and struggle together.

God cares for the poor and needy. In what ways do we find ourselves oppressing or crushing the poor? Remember, to not think about the poor is just as bad.  God wants us to care for the poor and needy.

Deuteronomy 15:11 For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’

How often do we drink our problems away? Proverbs 31:5 tells us drinking makes us forget the law and pervert justice for all the afflicted.

What about sacrifices? How often do we ask forgiveness from God? God would rather we obey Him from the beginning than continue asking forgiveness.

1 Samuel 15:22-23  “So Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.   Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,  He also has rejected you from being king.””

What about the good we do?  Are we quick to brag about it? Proverbs 20:6 says most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?  Psalm 5:5 says the boastful shall not stand in Your sight, you hate all workers of iniquity.

As we read God’s Word and study how the people responded, we can learn much about our self.  With God’s Holy Spirit to guide us in all truth, we can know how to take an accurate assessment of our self.  Once we recognize sin in our life, we confess it to God and knowing Jesus’ work on the cross has already forgiven our sin, we can ask for His power to avoid the same sin in the future. God is faithful an just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. But we have to be willing to turn to Him. Are you?

Father, thank you for your Word, your Spirit, your desire to do what is pleasing to you. Thank you for so many second chances.  In Jesus’ name we pray Amen.

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Sowing and Reaping – Where’s the Harvest?

You have sown much, and bring in little; Haggai 1:6 NKJV

The farming phrase of sowing and reaping is used many times throughout the Bible.  One reason might be because it is a phrase the people of that day would understand.  It was relevant to them.  Everyone grew their own food.  The concept of working the ground, planting seeds, and waiting for harvest was like a second nature to them.

Here in Haggai 1:6 we see the phrase “sown much.”  Typically when sowing seeds the more you sow or plant, the higher the yield of crop that grows.  But in this case the Lord points out “you have sown much and bring in very little.”

What could cause this to occur?

Let’s find out by looking at Mark 4 in the parable of the sower.  The sower went out to sow.  Some seed fell by the wayside and the birds ate it.  Some fell on the stony ground that didn’t have much earth.  When the sun came up it was scorched because it had no root it withered away.  Some seed fell aong thorns which choked it and yielded no crop.  But other seed fell among good ground and yielded a crop that increased thirty, sixty, and hundred-fold.

The seed is the Word of God. Satan comes to take away the Word sown in their hearts. The stony ground represents those who hear the Word gladly but only endure a short time when trouble comes they have no root to support them.  The ones sown among thorns are the ones burdened with the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and desire for other things choke out the Word of God and become unfruitful.  The seed in good soil represent those who hear the Word, accept it and bear fruit.

Based on Mark 4 parable of the sower, what kind of ground do the people in Haggai represent?

The stony ground might be a good fit for them.  They were far too busy building their own house than to build the temple of God.  They didn’t bear fruit because of the cares of this world, deceitfulness of riches and the desire for other things.

The seed is always of the Word of God.  The Word will always be there.  The soil or ground is the condition of one’s heart to receive the Word.  If the soil is not prepared it won’t be ready for the seed. Neglecting the soil can cause loss of fruit, as God may allow circumstances in one’s life to get their attention.

What kind of soil are you?

Lord, thank you for the promise of what we sow we also reap. Thank you it is always the same.  Teach us to sow what is helpful, right, and true.  Lead us back to you. In Jesus’ name Amen.

 

 

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How to Walk in the Spirit

Humble Self before God

It’s not about us.  This world does not exist to gratify our selfish desires, though many live as like it does.  The world and its entire people were created for God’s pleasure.  Psalm 149:4 NKJV “For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.” The Bible teaches us in Mark 8:34 to deny self and think of others first, in doing so, we honor God and operate in a humble manner. We become humble rather than prideful.  Pride is something God hates (Proverbs 8:13).

 

Transform through God’s Love

In humility we are able to understand the love God has for us.  It is a love so deep, willing to sacrifice His own Son to die for our sins (John 3:16).  It is a love so pure and good it can not leave us to our own devices. It pursues us.  It changes us, draws us deeper into a more meaningful life.  It perfects us, if we’ll let it (1 John 4:18).

 

Sense God’s Hand Everywhere

Keeping our mind focused on God enables us to look for and expect to see God working behind every circumstance.  The more we see God’s hand, the deep our faith grows, further equipping us to walk in the Spirit.  Again, we must be willing to see (1 Samuel 12:16).  When we do see, praise God for what He’s doing.  An attitude of praise is helpful for remaining in the Spirit.

 

Conform My Will to His

Having the proper perspective on self and God enables us to submit to the will of God.  Upon realizing we are not the center of all existence, rather God is, and it becomes easier to submit to His authority (Romans 10:13).  All human authority was put there by God and we are obligated to submit to that authority as well (Romans 13:1).  As we do submit is it honoring to God.  It may also put in right relations with others (Ephesians 5:21).

 

While this short article does not explain everything about the Spirit, it should be a good guide to get you started.  Walking by the Spirit is about staying humble, considering others first, being transformed by God’s love, sensing His hand everything, and allowing our will to be molded to God’s will.

 Lord, thank you for your love, your Son, you Word and your Spirit.  Lead us in your truth.  Shape us in your image.  Equip us to walk in the Spirit.  In Jesus’ name Amen.  

© ThinkOnIt Bible Ministries Inc is a 501(c) (3) Public Charity helping you grow in knowledge and understanding of God’s Word.

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Liberty in Christ

And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.  John 8:32 NKJV 

Believing in God

Living a life of liberty in Christ is possible by believing God.  The Bible tells us there is no darkness in Him, He can not lie, and His plans are to prosper us rather than to harm us (1 John 1:5, Jeremiah 29:11).  God is good and we can count on that.

 

Understanding the Truth

The Bible is the Word of God written through men as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Bible tells us it is good for doctrine, teaching, rebuking and correcting a man in righteousness that he might be lacking nothing (2 Timothy 3:16).   God gave each believer the gift of the Holy Spirit to dwell in us for the purpose of guiding us into all truth (Romans 5:5, John 16:7-14). 

 

Agreeing with God

A sinner is anyone who chooses his/her own way over God’s way. The Bible teaches we are all sinners who fall short of His glory (Romans 3:23).  As we read God’s Word it becomes obvious how we miss His glorious standard for us.  When we become aware of our sinfulness, we are expected to confess our sins and seek His forgiveness.  The Bible tells us He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

 

Accepting the Gift

The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). While on earth, Jesus Christ was God in human form.  He was the perfect, sinless example of how we are to during our life time.  He came to pay the price of our sin and make it possible for us to live for eternity.  In John 14:6 NKJV Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Anyone who believes in their heart and confesses with their mouth Jesus is Lord will be saved (Romans 10:9).

 

Renewing Your Mind

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).  Only God’s truth can renew your mind.  The Bible teaches us to think on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, are of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy – meditate on these things (Philippians 4:8).  Reading and meditating on God’s Word is crucial for renewing your mind.

 

Denying the Lies

As God’s Word infiltrates our minds and hearts, the lies we have believed start becoming visible.  We can recognize the lies easier by comparing them to the Word of God.  The Bible teaches us the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).  We are responsible for our thoughts.  If our thoughts are filled with lies, we need to capture them, make them obedient to Christ.  God’s Holy Spirit in us gives us the very power we need to make God’s Word dwell in our minds rather than lies.

 

Practicing the Truth

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1).  The old life of sin is gone and the new life of the Spirit has come.  If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).  Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).  When you do walk in the Spirit the following fruit will be evident in your life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

 

Living in Victory

If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law (Galatians 5:18).  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin:  He condemned sin in the flesh, 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 (Romans 8:2-4).  Christ has freed us from the power of sin, if we will accept His work, and allow His Spirit to renew our minds with God’s Word, we will live obediently and abundantly in truth. 

 

 Lord, thank you for your Word and Spirit.  Enable us to turn to you for forgiveness of sins. Teach us to walk by the Spirit that we may live in the liberty of Jesus Christ.  In His precious name, Amen.  

 

 

 

 

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