Bible Devotions

Equipped for Mercy

 

God so loved the world He sent His Son to die for it (John 3:16).  Can you imagine giving your son to die for a world who doesn’t recognize what you’ve done for it?  Most military families know what this is like.  They chose to go into the service perhaps to do something great or become someone focused on something bigger than self. 

 

We believers are called to make a similar sacrifice each day, to live out our life focused on God’s bigger plan.  Christ didn’t wait for the world to accept Him before He died for it.  We can’t wait either.  We are called to die to self and forgive others just as Christ forgave us (Ephesians 4:32). 

 

Along with Christ’s forgiveness comes liberty, only we use this liberty as an opportunity to server one another in love (Galatians 5:13).  We don’t grow weary in doing what is right, for Christ didn’t grow weary before He completed His task of savings us all.  For it is by His great power in us that enables us to finish the work we’ve been called to do. 

 

Therefore, we keep on extending God’s mercy to everyone we come in contact with.  The mercy we extend could very well be the turning point for someone causing them to give their life to Christ. 

 Lord, thank you for your mercy.  Help us keep our mind focused on you and your purposes.  Let us not grow weary in doing all that you called us to.  Equip us with your mercy and allow us to forgive as you have forgiven us.  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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God’s Plan

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before hand that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10 NKJV

 

For We are His Workmanship

The “we” is collective, meaning more than one of us individually.  Remember, all believers are one body, the church.  Together we are His workmanship.  Isn’t it encouraging knowing we are part of something bigger and grander than just our self?  Knowing that each part within a body has a certain function and only when each part carries out their function, does the body work as intended by design.

 

Created in Christ Jesus

We started to become His workmanship the moment we trusted in Jesus Christ and received His gift of salvation.  We are a new creation in Christ.  Jesus alone does the building of the body.  He calls them to Himself and fits them in the proper place within the body.  His Spirit distributes gifts, talents, and abilities appropriate for their purpose within the body.  We can not say “I am the eye” or “I am the hand”, for it is Jesus who decides what our function is to be. 

 

For Good Works

There is a reason and purpose behind being His workmanship.  It is not to simply show off how awesome God is, although that’s part of it.  God always has a purpose.  We are hand-crafted by the God of the universe to do good works.  How do we know what’s good to do?  Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Does what you say encourage and build up someone’s faith?
  • Is your service done as though it is done for the Lord?
  • Is your act of giving helping expand the kingdom of God?
  • Are you caring for widows, orphans, oppressed, discouraged, and diseased or the poor?
  • Are you using your spiritual gifts?

If we answer yes to any of these, chances are we are doing good works.  Certainly, this is not an exhaustive list of all the ways to tell if we are doing good works, but it should help us stay on track with God’s plan. 

 

Which God Prepared Before Hand

God who created us and knows all things past, present and future has prepared the specific good works He wants us to carry out.  He has everything planned and worked out.  He even has His back up plans in place.  He is in complete control.  He has given us certain spiritual gifts such as pastering, teaching, speaking in tongues, encouraging, hospitability and generosity with an expectation these will be used for His glory. 

 

That We Should Walk in Them

Every spiritual gift given to us is for the purpose of operating in those gifts.   We are called to use the gifts.  Think about when you have given a gift to someone.  Did you expect them to open the gift and use it?  Of course you did.  No one would give a gift that just sat there without ever being opened.  We give gifts to be used and appreciated.  The same holds true for spiritual gifts.  It is in our using our God-given gifts God’s workmanship is demonstrated and His kingdom is expanded. 

 Lord thank you for your clarifying word.  Thank you for the spiritual gifts you’ve given us.  Enable us to recognize those gifts and to use them for your glory.  May we be empowered by the knowledge of your complete control and carry out the good works you prepare for us.  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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Imitators of God

Read Ephesians 4 through Ephesians 5:1-2

 

Paul writes in Ephesians 5:1 “Be imitators of God”.  Let’s explore what that means by reading Ephesians 4 together.

 

Forgive as We are Forgiven

Walk worthy of our calling by being tenderhearted and forgiving towards one another.  Always remembering God forgave us, therefore, we forgive others.  We treat others better than they deserve because again that’s what God does to us.  We don’t deserve His abundant supply of mercy and grace, do we?  And yet, He generously pours it out on us.  He calls us to do the same to others around us.  We do our part to live at peace with others, getting along with all people to the best of our abilities.  When we are wronged we don’t hold it against them, we don’t seek revenge but rather give space and time for God to work it out.  God says vengeance is mine (Deuteronomy 32:35).

 

Sacrifice My Will

We consciously turn from our former conduct and put off the old man which grows corrupt according to deceitful lusts.  We lay aside all things that hinder our walk, such as sin that easily ensnares us (Hebrews 12:1).  We repent of our sins when we are made aware of them.  We cast down every thought that exalts it self over God (2 Corinthians 10:5).  We concentrate on being renewed in the Spirit of our mind, letting God’s word have its way (Romans 12:2), equipping us to put on the new man created after God in true righteousness and holiness.

 

Walk in Love

God is love, we walk in Him (1 John 4:8).  If we abide in Him, He abides in us (1 John 4:16).  First Corinthians 13:4-7 defines love as “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  So we speak the truth in love and are encouraged to do good without growing weary.  Our God does not grow weary of doing good for us, therefore, we don’t grow weary either.  Doing good also means knowing our purpose, using our gifts, talents and abilities to edify, encourage and build up others.  Therefore, we redeem the time and make the most of every opportunity by walking in love.

 

Follow Me

So if we look to Jesus as our example we will seek the Father and his will in all things.  We pray for strength to carry out His plan and purposes.  We lay aside our will and ask to have the Father’s will be done.  We will sacrifice our self for others as many times as is required until Christ returns to take us home.  Jesus did not leave us without the power to accomplish all this.  No, He left us His Spirit to guide us and empower us to do all God desires us to do. 

 

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.  And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma (Ephesians 5:1-2).

 Lord Jesus, thank you for your example to us.  Thank you for your spirit to lead us and equip us for all God wants us to do.  May be seek the Father and carry out His will in our generation.  In your 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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Family what is it?

 

Merriam Webster’s Dictionary says family is a group of individuals living together under one head, coming from the same clan or race, and a people united by certain convictions as in a fellowship.

 

I want to call your attention to a few words in the above definition. 

 

Individuals are unique.  Each has its own personality, style, preferences, and beliefs.  God made us this way.  He loves variety.  Therefore, we are called to live at peace with everyone, as much as it depends on you (Romans 12:18).

 

One Head represents the One Authority we live under – God.  In God’s economy He planned for the husband to be head of the household, just as Jesus Christ is head of the church (Ephesians 5:25).  We are to live in submission to God, whether we are married or single. 

 

Same Clan – We are all part of the same human race.  We all have the same sinful nature.  Realizing we’re all in this life together will help us be more forgiving.  We are sinners by nature (Romans 3:23).  Even after we are born again in Christ, we may still make mistakes.  Let’s cut each other some slack by forgiving and being tender hearted towards one another.  After all God has forgiven you, how then can you withhold forgiveness to someone else?

 

United – We are united together in Christ Jesus.  Family is so important to God that He died for us to adopt us into His family (Ephesians 1:5). Jesus is the unifying entity that seals us together as a permanent family. 

 

With the above definition in mind, I’d like to say families are:

  • A place where we are loved for who we are not what we do.  We are accepted and belong.
  • A place of encouragement.  It may seem like the world is against us, but we know our family is for us.
  • A place to share our troubles without being blamed for them.

 

Sadly, this ideal isn’t the case a lot of the time.  Whether your family meets your expectations or not when you are a believer in Jesus Christ you are automatically adopted into the ideal family.  What we have today with out physical family will one day be gone.  But our spiritual family will remain together in heaven.

 

Rather than wasting precious time complaining about the dysfunction we see in our earthly family, let’s try to find common ground and practice loving one another as the Lord loves us. 

 

What are you doing to promote a godly family?  Is your love without hypocrisy?  Are you kind and affectionate, giving preference to one another? (Romans 12:9-10).

 

Remember God has a plan and purpose for you being part of your family.  He is working in you to grow you to be more Christ-like.  In the family setting, conflicts and all, He is developing godly character in us. 

 Lord, thank you for placing us in earthly families.  Help us to grow Christ-like character until you welcome us in heaven.  In Jesus’ name Amen.  

© Elizabeth Marks, author of ThinkOnIt Devotions and has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.  For more devotions, bible studies and a recommended book store, visit http://www.ThinkOnItDevotions.com today.

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In Your Anger Do Not Sin

But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” Acts 16:18 NKJV

 

There are two things I’d like to point out from this verse.  One Paul is human just like us and he knew who the authority was.

 

(1)    Seeing Paul annoyed really comforts me, as I become annoyed a lot.  But Paul, when annoyed, responded with Christ rather than criticism.  That makes him a great example for us.   Paul lived what he preached.  He wrote “in your angry do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26).  We see in today’s verse, Paul didn’t let his annoyance become sin.  He chose the high way instead of the human way.   He turned the matter over to Jesus.  And Jesus took care of the problem.

(2)    Paul knew in himself he had no power.  Christ has all the power and authority.  Jesus said to us “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14).  Paul took Jesus at His word and was able to do some extraordinary things.

 

We can too.  In the moment when we are annoyed, angry, hurt, lonely, grieving or in any other unpleasant state of mind, we can choose to trust Jesus.  We can pray, as Paul did, “I command you _____________ (fill in the blank with your emotion or negative thought) in the name of Jesus Christ to leave me this minute.” Watch and see how the Lord helps you in with that struggle.  It worked for Paul.  It works for me.  It will work for you too.

 

Lord thank you for your word that brings us to your truth each time we read it.  Thank you for your power and authority over all things, even our emotions.  Help us to trust you in our weakness moments.  For you are our strength.  In Jesus’ name we pray Amen.

 

 

 

© Elizabeth Marks, author of ThinkOnIt Devotions and has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.  For more devotions, bible studies and a recommended book store, visit http://www.ThinkOnItDevotions.com today.

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Doing Our Part

 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Acts 13:2 NKJV  

Obedience to the Lord

Did you happen to notice the first part of this verse?  It was “as they ministered” which means they did stuff for the Lord.  The point is action.  There must be a “doing” to our obedience to the Lord.  James 1:22 says we must be “doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving ourselves.”    Even Jesus was obedient to the Father.  John 6:38 says “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”   So laying aside our will and choosing to follow God’s will demonstrate our obedience to Him.  But did you know this is not something we can do on our own?

 

Receiving the Holy Spirit

Jesus taught us everything of our sinful nature is worthless in John 6:63: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”  Where does the Holy Spirit come from?  He is sent to us from Christ Himself (John 16:7).  John 15:26 says “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”  How do we receive the Holy Spirit? Ephesians 1:13-14 says “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” In other words, once you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, the Holy Spirit is given to you as a guarantee that you are saved. 

 Understanding God’s gift

First Corinthians 2:13-14 says “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 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.”  The Holy Spirit is our teacher, guiding us in all truth.  Without Him we wouldn’t understand spiritual things.  He opens our eyes and makes us realize the sin in our life, so we can fully embrace the grace given to us.  Romans 8:16 says “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Romans 5:5 says “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.” Romans 8:2 says “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” First Corinthians 2:12 says “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”  All this a great news, for now we know we are able to understand the glorious riches stored up for us in Christ Jesus. 

 

Empowering our Witness

Knowing all the depth of God’s love isn’t just for our benefit.  No, it’s more about sealing our understanding and compelling us to share His glorious plan with others.  One of the things I love about God is how He equips those He calls.  Let’s review some verses about that.  Acts 1:8 says “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.”  See He’s giving us the power to be His witness.  Romans 8:26-27 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 groaning which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”  Even when we don’t know how to pray, He helps us through His Spirit interceding for us.   How does this empowering happen?  Romans 12:1-2 give us a clue.  It says “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And 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.”  By offering our lives as living sacrifices, allowing God’s Word to change the way we think, we prove God’s will is perfect, acceptable and good.   Romans 8:5 says “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” As we learn to walk by the Spirit rather than by our natural self, we become God’s witness to the world. 

 

What do you think?  Are you ready to do what God has already shown you?  Do you understand His precious gift better?  Is the Holy Spirit compelling you to share His message with others?

 

If you answer no to any of these questions, ask God to help you see things from His perspective.  Continue reading God’s Word and the truth will be revealed as His Spirit teaches you. 

 Lord thank you for your word and your Holy Spirit.  Lead us on the pathways of life and enable us to witness to the world through an obedient life in Christ.  In Jesus’ precious name Amen.  © Elizabeth Marks, author of ThinkOnIt Devotions and has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.  For more devotions, bible studies and a recommended book store, visit http://www.ThinkOnItDevotions.com today.

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Impact for God’s Kingdom

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Read Acts 4:1-14

 

Peter and John were at the temple teaching and preaching to various people about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.  The first thing to notice is the different kinds of people they spoke to: regular people, religious people such as priests, working people like the captain of the temple and other religious people called the Sadducees. 

 

To me this speaks of getting God’s Word out to all people, no matter what their background or current state of living they may be in.  God wants all His creation to hear and believe His Word.  The Bible teaches God doesn’t want a single one to perish (Matthew 18:14).

 

Next we see a threefold reaction to this teaching.  First, the people became greatly disturbed.  When you are not ready for the truth it can be very disturbing.  Think about it.  You’re going about your business, thinking everything is fine and then you’re confronted with the truth and can plainly see you’re on the wrong side.  That doesn’t make a lot of people feel real comfortable.  The Bible teaches men loved darkness rather than light (John 3:19).  In darkness, their evil deeds can go on unnoticed by others.  We are called to expose the darkness with God’s glorious light (Ephesians 5:11).  For as we walk in the light, the blood of Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7).

 

Second, the people grabbed Peter and John and through them in jail.  Following Christ has its cost.  Peter and John were experiencing it.  All they did was speak what they knew to be true and they were treated harshly by being wrongly imprisoned.  In our country, we might not find our selves being thrown in prison for witnessing to someone (at least not yet); we will encounter persecution of some kind.  For example, folks you considered friends may stop hanging with you when you start telling them about Jesus.  Why, even your own family members may shun you.  Just remember, Jesus said that would happen in Matthew 5.

 

Third, about five thousand men heard the word and believed.  Can you imagine having an impact like that?  Simply speaking God’s truth and five thousand people came to believe!  Now, that’s a miracle only God can work.  Doesn’t the minor inconvenience Peter and John experienced pale in comparison?  We may not always see this kind of result, but we can trust God to work the miracles when we are obedient to His calling.  Galatians 6:9 tells us not to grow weary of doing good for at the right time we’ll reap a harvest if we don’t lose heart.  We are to continue on whether or not it looks like we’re making a difference, because in reality we are making an impact for God’s Kingdom through our obedience.

 Lord, thank you for your word and your spirit leading us in truth.  May we be bold like Peter and John to share your word with everyone regardless of the inconvenience it may bring.  May we continue to do what is right, knowing you will work it out for good.  In Jesus’ name Amen.  

 

© Elizabeth Marks, author of ThinkOnIt Devotions and has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.  For more articles, devotions and book reviews, visit http://www.ThinkOnItDevotions.com today.

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