Bible Devotions

Return to Me

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. Dueteronomy 15:11 says “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 15:21-23 says “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.

© ThinkOnIt Bible Ministries Inc is a 501(c) (3) Public Charity helping you grow in knowledge and understanding of God’s Word.  Visit us at http://www.ThinkOnIt.org today.

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The Mouth’s Role in Wisdom

Read Proverb 15.  

The mouth and the words springing forth from it play a pivotal role in wisdom.  As you read Proverbs 15 ponder the passages referring to the mouth, words or thoughts.  Let’s begin.

 

Avoiding Anger

Verse 1: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”   Not only do we learn a soft answer can alleviate wrath, but we are told what causes anger to start with.  When we choose to use a soft answer we are stopping anger before it can cause any damage.  How often do you choose a soft answer?

 

Using Rightly

Verse 2: “The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.”  Have you ever been tempted to say “I told you so”?  This verse clearly says the wise use knowledge rightly.  I’m confident saying “I told you so” is not helpful to the hearer (Ephesians 4:29).   In Verse 28 see another example of using the Word rightly, “The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.”  Combine these verses with verse one and it seems to be saying consider your words carefully before speaking.  How would you rate yourself on this one?

 

Planting Seeds

Verse 4: “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” Every word we speak is planting some kind of seed.  Are we planting wholesome seeds bringing life to others?  Or are we careless with harsh or negative words tearing others down?  Our words matter. Verse 11 says “Hell and Destruction are before the Lord; so how much more the hearts of the sons of man.”  Everything we say is before the Lord.  We would be wise to remember words spoken cannot be taken back.

 

Sharing Knowledge

Verse 7: “The lips of the wise disperse knowledge, but the heart of the fool does not do so.” Clearly we are instructed to share what we know.  We exist to bring glory to God.  One way is by sharing what we know about God with others.  Verse 9 says “The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but He loves him who follows righteousness.”  If we are to follow Jesus’ example, we are called to share our knowledge with others in a gentle way.  How often do you share with others?

 

Seeking Knowledge

Verse 14: “The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.”  Our time on this planet is limited.  While we are here, consider what we choose to put before us. Continual effort is required in filtering what we feed on.  What are you reading, watching and listening to?  Is it helpful, encouraging and leading to life? Or does is reek of worldly pleasures, deadly gossip or greedy gain? 

 

In summary, we have learned the mouth plays a critical role in wisdom.  It can help us avoid anger when used rightly.  It can plant seeds bringing life when shared with others.  It can help increase understanding when foolishness is avoided.  Now what are we going to do with this new knowledge? 

 Lord, thank you for your word.  Help us to apply it to our lives today.  We confess we haven’t always heeded your word.  Today, we ask for your help to live according to your way.  Enable us to share the knowledge you’ve given us to plant seeds leading to life. 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. Visit us at http://www.ThinkOnIt.org today.

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Pain Along The Journey

Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.  But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you. Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 NKJV

It’s all about the Lord, isn’t it?  Everything is the Lord’s.  He rules over it all.  He is the one guiding our hearts toward Him.  He gives us our very breathe.  He provides for our every need.  He guards us against the evil one.  We do none of this on our own.

God is faithful.  He will establish you.  This section of scripture reminds me of 1 Peter 5:10: But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”  After you have suffered a while it says.  We can conclude suffering is part of growth journey. There are some things we can never learn without suffering.

In my own journey, I had to suffer the consequences of poor choices.  I had many expectations in life, none of which came out the way I envisioned.  I was disappointed most of the time.  Then, again, I believe most perfectionists are disappointed constantly.  It’s a sad condition to live in.  As I became more critical of others and cynical about life, I resented everyone and I allowed bitterness to take up residence in my heart.  I did not handle things well in the past and it brought me more pain, than I ever imagined.

During times of suffering, God is there, eager to show Himself faithful, loving and kind.  All He asks is we turn to Him, trust Him and He will lead us out of the difficulty, whatever it may be.  I can say He was there for me.  When I finally could stand no more of my life, sobbing in the shower one morning, I prayed “Jesus, I have messed up my life! Help me! The bible says You died for my sins and rose again to give me a new life.  Please come into my life and give me a new life. Amen.”   I did not know how my life could ever be good again, but a wonderful peace came over me anyway.  He was there waiting for me to turn to Him.  He was faithful to answer my prayer.

God will perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you.  The bible teaches us this, but the Spirit of God living in us, confirms it in our own lives.  He did for me.  He will for you.  Are you trusting God today?  If not, ask Him to convince you how good He is. He will not disappoint!


Lord, thank you for wanting to come into our lives and heal us from our poor choices.  Thank you for your faithfulness to answer our prayers.  Thank you for dying for our sins and rising again to give us a new life in Christ Jesus. Amen.

© ThinkOnIt Bible Ministries Inc is a 501(c) (3) Public CharityHolding out Hope to those who are Hopeless

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Rules versus Righteousness

  

“They came to the chief priests and elders, and said, “We have bound ourselves under a great oath that we will eat nothing until we have killed Paul.”” Acts 23:14 NKJV

As I pondered over this verse I thought of rules versus righteousness. There were about forty Jews who took this oath to kill Paul. These men were angry enough to take a pledge to kill someone.  But to let anger drive you to make hasty decisions you will regret later is not only foolishness but it is sin.  The Bible teaches “in your anger do not sin” (Psalm 4:4 NIV). 

According to these Jews the rules had to be followed.  Anyone who rejected the rules would be punished.  Isn’t that just like man? We make a rule and expect others to follow it.  When they don’t, we say they deserve punishment.  If God wanted us to follow rules, He wouldn’t have sent His Son, Jesus.  For God said, “This is my Son, whom I love and I am well pleased.  Listen to Him.” (Matthew 17:5 NIV)

These Jews were so bent on following a rule of taking an oath they were blind to how wrong their planned action was.   Paul did nothing worthy of death, yet these men were willing to deny them self food and water until they killed him. Killing someone without cause is wrong.  Jesus took this a step further saying even being angry at your brethren without cause puts us in danger of judgment (Matthew 5:22 NKJV).  

The thing is we usually think we have a just cause, don’t we?  That’s where righteousness comes in. Righteousness defined by Merriam Webster is acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin and morally right or justifiable.  The Bible teaches us in Psalm 14:3 NKJV “They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, no, not one”.  No one is good, except God.  Our righteousness is worthless in His sight.  The only righteousness that is worth its weight in gold comes from God Himself.  These Jews were not practicing righteousness that comes from God, but what comes from man.  If they were following God, I’m sure they would have remembered Exodus 21:14 NKJV “But if a man schemes and kills another man deliberately, take him away from my altar and put him to death.”

Next time anger tries to over take you, stop and ask your self “Why am I angry?”, “Am I trying to get someone to follow my rule?”, “Am I acting in accord with God’s Word?” Submit to the Lord, resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7).   God’s righteousness is what we need, not rules. 

 Lord thank you for your precious word and your Holy Spirit who reveals your truth to us.  Thank you for your righteousness that sets us free from rules and brings us into relationship with you.  Help us in every way grow into your likeness.  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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The Mouth is connected to the Heart

 

The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of justice. The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide. Psalm 37:30-31 NKJV

 

To speak of wisdom and justice one must have God’s Word securely hidden away in his heart.  For the things proceeding from our mouth come from the heart (Matthew 15:18).   Jesus taught us out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34).  He also warned us we would be either justified or condemned by our words (Matthew 12:37).  Let’s face it, how many times have we said something we regretted later? 

 

Jesus knows us when he asks “How can you, being evil, speak of good things?”  The truth is we can’t speak good from our own resources because of our fallen sinful nature.  James 3:6 says the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity.  Proverbs 15:14 says “The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouth of the fools feeds on foolishness.”  What are we feeding on today?

 

We need to be careful with our words.  We can use words to build others up or tear them down.  Jesus told us for every idle word spoken we will be accountable in the Day of Judgment (Matthew 12:36).  This should compel us to use words sparingly and to make sure the words we do use are pure and pleasant and pleasing to the Lord (Proverbs 15:26).

 

So far we’ve learned our sinful and foolish nature prevents us from speaking good.  How can we every speak good?  There is good news, Jesus taught us a good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things and that means we can do (Matthew 12:35).  Through Jesus Christ in us, we can be good and bring forth good things.  But we have a responsibility to store up good in the treasure of our hearts.

 

How do we do that?  We immerse our self in God’s Word.   We find ways to fill our mind with His goodness.  We read His Word daily.  We listen to His teaching whenever possible.  Maybe we start listening to Bible teaching on the radio as we get ready for work or while driving anywhere.  We memorize God’s Word, so we’ll never be with out it and so the Holy Spirit can bring it forth when we need it. 

 

We are blessed with many opportunities to receive God’s Word.  We have churches to attend, tapes/CDs to listen to when we miss church.  There’s even on-line streaming audio message of church services available.  We have books, magazines, email devotions, newsletters and of course the Bible itself.  Between radio and internet technologies we really have no excuse for not getting enough of God’s Word stored away in our hearts. 

 

Stop and consider the words we speak.  Are they words of good building others up, coming from God’s Word stored in the treasure of our heart?  Or are they evil words of envy, strife, anger, fear and selfishness pouring out of an evil treasure stored in our heart? 

 

Deuteronomy 30:15-16 NKJV says “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.”

Oh that you would choose life and good that come from embracing God.

 Lord thank you for your life-giving word.  Enable us to keep our mind set on you. Help us to seek you in all things and store good treasure in our hearts that our words may be helpful to the hearers.  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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