Bible Devotions

You are My Witness

Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea. And say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.” Colossians 4:15-17 NKJV

When Paul wrote letters, he fully expected those letters would be read aloud for all to hear.  He encouraged the Colossians not only to read the letter but personally take the message to Laodicea and read it to everyone there. He wanted this message to be shared  with others in the body of Christ.  Do we think about the bible the same way?  Do we read it aloud among our friends and family?  Do we take it with us wherever we go, that we might share it with others along the way?  If not, why?

Jesus told his followers what they were to do, now that Jesus was going back to heaven.  Acts 1:7-8 “And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  He said they would be witnesses of Him.

What does a witness do?  From a court of law standpoint, a witness is can be crucial to whether a case is won or lost.  A witness, especially an eye-witness, has knowledge about what is being discussed.  They can shed light on the matter that no one else can.  They have “inside” knowledge.

Now, apply that description to yourself.  You are a witness of Jesus Christ.  You have first hand knowledge of how Christ changed your life by setting you free from your sins and giving you a new life by His Holy Spirit in you.

We are to be the salt & light of the world according to Matthew 5:13-16 “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. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

From Matthew 5:13 above we see that it takes effort to stay “salty”.  We need to be diligent in our relationship with Christ that we may be flavorful to the world.  From Matthew 5:15-16 above we see that we should not hid our light, but instead let it shine for all to see.  What’s preventing you from letting your light shine today? Pray and ask God for His wisdom, power and discernment about how to stare His glorious news with others.

May all who read this “take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”

Lord, thank you for allowing us to be part of your plan to share the good news with others. In Jesus’ name we pray Amen.

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God’s Word and Beef Jerky

While pondering awhile ago this analogy came to mind:  (I mean no disrespect towards God and His Word!)  God’s Word is like beef jerky.

What?  That’s right, at first bite beef jerky is tough and kind of hard to chew.   God’s Word can be like that sometimes.  Especially, if you haven’t given your life to Christ yet. In that case, God’s Word can be incredibly difficult to read.  The bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:14 “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

After you continue chewing on the beef jerky, you start noticing how rich and flavorful it is.  Again, I say God’s Word is like that too!  The more you read, the more you start understanding just how rich and flavorful it is.  One of the psalmist described God’s Word like this in Psalm 119:103: “How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth!”

Then the beef jerky becomes tender in your mouth, from all the chewing.  Yep, you guessed it!  God’s Word is like that too!  The bible has this uncanny ability to touch your heart right where you need special care.  It has the power to heal, to comfort and to tenderly correct us when we need correcting. 2 Timothy 3:15-17 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Have you stopped to consider how God is in the every day routines of life?  Even in the simple task of eating beef jerky, God’s grace and mercy and truth abound!

P.S.If you don’t know Christ yet and want to just, call out to Him.  He’s faithful to hear and answer your prayer.   You might pray something like:

Lord I believe your word when it says “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23) and that I am include in the word “all”.  Your word says the punishment for sin is death and I deserve it.  Your word also says “the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ” (Romans 6:23) .  So today, I’m asking for forgiveness and seeking a new life in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) .  Thank you, Jesus for saving me.  Amen.

 

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Who’s Perspective Do You Live By?

Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations– 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,”22 which all concern things which perish with the using according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. Colossians 2:20-23 NKJV

When we became Christians by allowing Jesus to rescue us from the penalty of our sins, we became new creations in Christ. The old is gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). Then being now new creations, why do we still operate out of our old ways? Could it be that we really don’t believe it? That’s what our actions would indicate.

We have a liberty in Christ which frees us from all bondage to rules and regulations. I’m not saying we’re above the law in a smug kind of way. As we operate out of Christ’s Spirit in His, we live out of love. As we live out of love, we fulfill the law as Galatians 5:14 says: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.””

Our minds and hearts need to be focused on the things that matter in eternity, not the things that have not lasting value. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

What are the things that are not seen? Motive, Character, Trust, Belief are just a few. Motive is what the Lord looks at. 1 Samuel 16:7 “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart”” Why we chose to do or not do that? Was it for selfish gain or to be seen as good before men? Or did you do or not do something in order to bring glory and honor to God? Why we do something is more important than the actual doing to God.

While you can see the results of someone’s character you can not see the character itself. God’s in the business of improving our character. In every way He is shaping us, molding us and developing Christ-like character in us. Romans 5:3-5 “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Trust is what allowed Abraham to tie up his son Isaac and offer him to the Lord in Genesis 22. In order to give your own flesh and blood you have to trust that the Lord knows what he’s doing. God promised Abraham’s seed would be more numerous than the sands of the shores and that this promise would come through Isaac. Therefore, if the Lord was now asking for Isaac as a burnt offering, then the Lord would raise him from the dead to fulfill the promise. That took faith. Faith is based on trust. Did you ever stop to think about trust? It is not something you just have. It has to be built. It takes time to learn to trust. That’s why I like keeping a prayer journal. In it I journal out my prayers and God’s answers my prayers. If ever I seem to be waning in my faith, reviewing that journal re-energizes it! To see in black & white, all the times where God came through for me, is so amazing to me. Try it and see for yourself!

Belief or faith itself is unseen, but you can see the results of it. Hebrews 11:1 says: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The entire chapter of Hebrews 11 describes various ordinary people from the Old Testament who had faith. From Abel to Noah and Abraham and Sarah, they all live out of faith. In every story you’ll find ordinary people asked to something that seemed strange by the world’s standards, and yet carried it out by faith.

It’s all about perspective. Who’s perspective are you going to live by? Yours or the Lords?

Lord Jesus, thank you that in You we have liberty.  Thank you for showing yourself to us and delivering us from an unfulfilled life.  Thank you for the abundant life in You.  In Jesus’ name we pray Amen.

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We Are Reconciled

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. Colossians 1:19-20 NKJV

In the beginning, God made the world in a certain order and pattern. He didn’t just randomly throw it all together. He methodically created it all one piece at a time, with order and in order. Read Genesis 1, to see for yourself. God is the God of order, not of chaos as seen in 1 Corinthians 14:33 “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”

Part of His plan, was laying out the foundation of how God operates with His creation. For God to be a loving God, He can not allow evil to go unpunished. Therefore, He set up a way for the people’s sins to be passed to an animal, which was then killed as an offering to the Lord. The Old Testament provides a picture of how the death of an animal, paid for sins committed by the people, but the offerings had to take place over and over again. It never took away the people’s sin, only pacified the penalty of sin by killing an animal instead. The penalty of sin is death ( Romans 6:23 ). There is no forgiveness of sin, without death. The Old Testament offering system was meant to be a shadow of the things to come.

God, not wanting anyone to perish from their own sin ( John 3:16 ), decided He would reconcile the world to Himself, through death on the cross and put an end to the ritual of animal sacrifice.

He knew from the beginning we would sin, but loved us any way, sending His son Jesus to die in our place, when we were still His enemies because of our sin ( Romans 5:11 ).

Are you trusting in God’s love today?

Lord Jesus, thank you for reconciling us to the Father.  You lived and died and rose again that we would die to sin and live in you forever! Thank You! In your precious name we pray. Amen.

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Are You a Headless Chicken?

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. Colossians 1:15-18 NKJV

No one has ever seen God, they say. But Jesus said in John 14:9 “He who has seen Me has seen the Father”.  Jesus Christ is God – He is the image of the invisible God, who reigns over all creation. He gave us His Spirit to confirm that truth in us. John 16:13 “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.”

Before anything was created, Jesus was there, with God and was God. John 1:1-4 describes Jesus this way: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Everything exists by Him, meaning He holds it all together and for Him, meaning all of this is for His pleasure.

I once saw a television program that was doing a story about a headless chicken. There was this farmer, who went to collect a chicken for dinner. He proceeded to cut of it’s head, but the chicken squirmed out of the farmer’s hand and ran around. The chicken, no joke, lived for more than two weeks without a head! How can this be? They had footage of the chicken being hand feed by pouring the food down it’s throat! Yikes! My apologies if this is too graphic, but it’s a great illustration. Can a body function with out a head? Not usually.

How often do we, as Christians, operate like the chicken without a head? By that I mean, we squirm out of our Lord’s hands and want to do things our way instead of His way. Now, with the chicken it only lived a shorted while. What would happen if we chose to disconnect from the head? How long would we last?

There are plenty of pictures of this principle in scripture. Let’s look at just three.

-John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” Can a branch cut off from the vine  survive? No, it withers and dies over several days.

-Psalm 1:3 “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.”Can a tree survive without water? Of  course not. Given plenty of water it produces fruit. The same can be said for the Christian and God’s Word.

-Romans 12:5 “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” We are described as a member of the body, just like we have a hand or foot or a kidney (for that matter) in our physical body.

If we are the body, who is the head you might ask? Jesus Christ is the head of the body of Christ. So let us remember to hold fast to the Head as said in Colossians 2:18-20  “…holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.”

Are you holding fast to Christ the head? If not, why?

Lord Jesus, thank you for being our head.  In you we live, breathe, and have our being.  Thank you for sustaining us.  Direct us on your path this day. In your name we pray. Amen.

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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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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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Chosen

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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Greetings

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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