Bible Devotions

A Comparison Part 1

Study the life of Jesus Christ as shown in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).   Create for a picture of God’s character and then consider the character of man.

 

Jesus Human

Sinless, perfect, pure, spotless

Sinful

 

This comparison helps us recognize our need for a Savior.  Romans 3:23 says we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.  John declares the good news: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 NKJV).  Jesus is the perfect lamb, pure and spotless given as a sacrifice to pay the price for the sinful world.  Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ.

 

Jesus Human

Aligned with the Father’s will

Manipulate to get our will done

 

Jesus knew His purpose and did not waver one bit.  He was all about doing His Father’s work.  He did only what His Father wanted done in complete and perfect submission and obedience to God’s will.  Ours is a self-centered nature that clashes with God’s will.  We want our way and usually manipulate and scheme to get it.

 

Jesus Human

Consistent with prayer

Occasionally pray (especially with the ‘big” stuff)

 

Jesus was always praying.  He made time for prayer.  He never made decisions without praying first.  He stayed connected to the Father through prayer.  As a result He was strengthened and enabled to carry out God’s purposes.  We, on the other hand, pray sometimes.  The Bible teaches us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  However, we forget to bring all things before the Lord in prayer.  Somehow we think God is too busy to hear even our smallest concerns.  We tend to call out to God when there’s a crisis or in a stressful situation.  But God longs for us to turn to Him in all situations.  Do we come to Him when we need to make a decision?  Do we ask for wisdom and guidance?  We do not come to Him as much as we should.  Therefore, Jesus is a good example of bringing everything to God in prayer.

 

May the comparisons we’ve drawn today encourage you to seek Him in all you do.  Know you are saved by His death and resurrection.  May Jesus’ example of following God’s will be our desire in our life.  May we bring everything before Him in prayer to stay connected with God and His will. 

 

Lord, Jesus thank you for your example to follow.  Thank you for leading us on the path of righteousness.  We ask for your guidance day by day.  Give us the desire for God’s will in our life. Help us turn to you so often in prayer not one area of our life is unexposed to your light.  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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Identifying Your Spiritual Gifts

The best place to start in understanding spiritual gifts is the Bible.  Find out what it says about spiritual gifts.  Here are few verses to read and consider:

Romans 12:3 – 8

1 Corinthians 12:1 -11, 27 – 31

Ephesians 4:11 – 12

1 Peter 4:9 – 11

Read the above verses, prayerfully.  Ask the Lord which of these gifts He has given you.

To help you document your gifts, most churches have an assessment sheet.  Saddleback Church as a one called S.H.A.P.E.  It stands for Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experience.  Assessing each area prayerfully, while writing down what you know about each area can help you understand what gifts you have. 

 Spiritual Gifts

Think about what other people have said you are good at.  Write those things down.

 Heart

What motivates you or really gets your passions flowing?  What do you love doing? Write it down.

 Abilities

List your current abilities.  Are you creative?  Are you organized?  Can you balance a checkbook?  Name everything you can think of.

 Personality

What kind of personality do you have?  Are you introverted or extroverted? Do you like routine or variety? Are you self-controlled or self-expressive? Are you cooperative or competitive?

 

Experience

What have you lived though?  What trials or obstacles have you overcome?  Don’t forget your work and educational experience too. 

 

With all these items written before you, prayerfully consider how God might want you to use these gifts to build His kingdom and equip the believers for ministry.  God will bless you as you live your life exercising your spiritual gifts for God’s glory.  Life will be exciting.  You will be energized.  As you refresher others, you in turn will be refreshed.  It’s God’s way. 

 

How about it?  Have you discovered your spiritual gifts?  Are you using them for God?  If not, why? 

 Lord, thank you for your variety of spiritual gifts and the knowledge you provide exactly the right gifts for each believer to prepare them for your call in their life.  Thank you for your equipping.  Enable each of us to be a doer of the word, seeking first your kingdom that you may have all the glory.  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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Does “Too Good to be True” Really Exist?

Once you received some mail from a popular sweepstakes company claiming you had already won a grand prize.Your mind races at the possibility and all you could do with the winnings.Does this sound too good to be true?Well, from the world’s perspective it is too good to be true.

What about a relationship with Jesus Christ?Is that too good to be true? Matthew 19:26 NKJV says “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Let’s consider a few benefits of believing Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Truth Revealed

God’s Word is alive and it renews us day by day.The more we read, the more He reveals Himself and our sinful nature.If we choose, we can respond the way God anticipates which is to agree with Him about our sin.When we do, we allow His Word to renew our minds, changing the way we think.For some this may mean a once prideful person has been transformed into a humble one.For others who were critical and judgmental it may mean their stony hearts are transplanted with a new tender heart of love.God’s Word reveals the truth and when we accept His truth wonderful things happen.Please don’t take this as once we become a Christian all our problems go away.Oh no, that is definitely not what’s being conveyed.But rather wonderful changes within occur when truth is allowed to penetrate our inner beings.

Sins Forgiven

Psalm 103:12 NKJV says “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Jesus Christ took on our sin, paid the penalty for us by dying on the cross.Even better news than that is Jesus rose again.Death was not the end of Him, only the beginning of a new life.With His resurrection we are given a new life too.Romans 10:9 NKJV says “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”So the free gift of salvation God offers is as easy as believing and you will be saved.Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” To further this wonderful benefit, Romans 8:1 also tells us there is no condemnation in Christ when we walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh.

Rewards Here

Psalm 37:4 NKJV says “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”Choose to follow Him, read His Word, and apply His truths in your life.Allow His Word to become real to you by living it out.When you do He rewards you.I’m not saying we come to the Lord simply for the benefits He offers.But I am saying if you are diligent to seek Him and serious about pursuing Him, He will bring blessings into your life.His word straightens us out and plants our feet on a firm foundation.He directs us on the pathway of righteousness.He leads us by His Spirit which He gave us as a guarantee of our salvation.He changes the way we think, which improves our attitudes.He enables us to love, forgive, and consider others above our self.He provides everything we need to live a godly life here and now while we wait for the return of Christ.He restores broken relationships.He breaks the chains that bind us to our addictions.He sets us free from sin.The rewards He gives are unending and this is only speaking of here on earth.There are far more blessings in the eternal sense, where no eye has seen, nor ear have heard, nor any mind can imagine what treasures await those who love God.

Is a relationship with Christ too good to be true?While it does seem too good to be true, I want to reassure you all these things do exist.There is no end to how good God can make it.For me, I have found my relationship with Christ to be more rewarding, exciting, intimate, loving and honoring than I ever dreamed was possible.I have experienced a new mind, new attitude, forgiveness of my sin, acceptance by the Father, a renewed love, a restored marriage and blessings of a second child.I could go on, but I won’t.I do encourage you to think about your life and count your blessings from knowing Christ.It will revitalize your walk.

Lord Jesus, thank you for your willingness to die to cleanse us from all unrighteousness and make us right with the Father.Thank you for the many rewards from our relationship with you.Thank you for giving us eternal life in you.In your precious 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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Contrary to the Flesh

He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ Mark 7:6-7 NKJV 

Read Mark 7:1-21.  Some Pharisees had come to see Jesus and in the process they noticed how the disciples didn’t wash their hands in the ceremonial way the Pharisees were accustomed to.  They were fault-finders, a people quick to point out all that didn’t fit with their way.  It makes me wonder whether they really wanted to know more about Jesus.     

This section of scripture clearly outlines what matters most – the condition of the heart.  I love how Jesus heads straight for the issue, rather justifying or defending the disciples.  That’s a lesson we could all use.  So many times when others point out flaws in us, our pride is hurt and we want to retaliate.   Not, Jesus.  No, He points right back to the people pointing out the flaw.  Remember, when you point at some else’s sin, there’s three fingers pointing back at you.  

Jesus went on to explain we do not defile our self by not washing our hands.  There is no defilement which occurs by putting something into our mouth, but rather defilement occurs when our own evil from within comes out.  Mark 7:21-23For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”  

Why do we so eagerly point out another’s sin?  Why don’t we search our self with the same vigor?  It is our flesh – our sinful nature.  The Bible teaches us the flesh wars against the spiritual causing us to not do what is right (Galatians 5:17).  Jesus’ teachings and the Holy Spirit’s leading in our life is always contrary to the flesh’s desire.   

But we can have victory.  Look at what 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 God is Spirit, we worship in Spirit, therefore, setting our mind on the things of Spirit is honoring and well pleasing to God.   

Lord God thank you for your revealing Word.  Thank you for the power of your Holy Spirit in us to guide us in our decisions and enabling us to be well pleasing to you by setting our minds on the things of the Spirit.  May we honor you not only with our lips but with our whole heart. 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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Role Model of Walking by the Spirit

Read Colossians 4

Paul is a wonderful role model for us who choose to walk in the Spirit rather than walk after fleshy desires.

He does three things, in Colossians four, we need to do.

First he asks for prayer that God would open the door for the word.  Paul gives glory to God by giving God the credit for opening the way of sharing the gospel. He also is aligning his will and purpose to God’s.

The second thing we see Paul do is encourage the Colossians to walk in wisdom towards those who haven’t come to know Jesus yet.  He goes on to say “let your speech be seasoned with grace and salt.” Remember what Jesus said?  We are to be salt and light to the world.  Our words play a vital role.

The third thing that stands out is how Paul describes others. Notice how he lifts up his fellow workers. He honors and encourages them.  Remember though Christ died for the world, it was the people which filled the world He cared about.  People are the priority.  How we treat others will demonstrate our love.  Jesus told us “they will know you are true disciples of mine by your love for one another.”

 Father, thank you for your Word that bring wisdom and life to us. Thank you for your guidance in truth.  Help us to love others the way you love us. In Jesus’ name we pray Amen.

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Can You Point Out What’s Wrong in Others?

Matthew 7:20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Jesus was teaching about false prophets.  Let’s review Matthew 5, 6, and 7 to look at the many signs of false prophets.

  • They are hypocrites. They judge others before they consider their own sin.
  • They store up treasures here on earth rather than in heaven.
  • They prefer the attention of men over God.
  • They fast in a way everyone knows it.
  • They pray to be seen by others.
  • They do good deeds that others may praise them.
  • They are not forgiving people.
  • They love only those who love them in return.
  • They give only the minimum required.
  • They swear by adding to their “yes” and “no” rather than letting the answer be the answer.
  • They think divorce is okay.
  • They think not committing the act of adultery or murder, they are sin-free.
  • They fit in with everyone.  They are not mocked or persecuted.
  • They are not merciful.
  • They do not hunger and thirst for righteousness.
  • They are not meek.
  • They do not mourn, nor are they poor in spirit.
  • They do not recognize their need.

We have looked at how to detect the false ones because it is very easy to point out what is wrong in other people.  That’s great as it means you can spot what needs to change.  But our job isn’t to point out what is wrong in others. No, our job is to look within our self. Therefore, this same list can help us detect how well we’re doing.

Now, let’s try a little exercise.  Prayerfully review the list above again, but this time turn it into a question.  For example, “Am I a hypocrite?” or “Do I say one thing and do another?” “Do I judge others before I consider I might struggle with the same sin?””Do I store up treasure here rather than in heaven?” “Do I prefer the attention and praise of man rather than God?””Do I do things to get noticed by others?”  You get the idea.

Stay open to what the Holy Spirit may reveal about your self.  It is His job to convict us of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come. Allow God to transform you into a being creation. Write down what He reveals. Try working on one issue at a time, until each items is dealt with appropriately.

God loves you so much.  He wants to develop your character to be Christ-like.  He wants you to be holy, as He is Holy. Remember, it is He who is in you working out His good pleasure in you.  He will continue until the day Jesus comes again.

Father God above thank you for loving us and wanting what is best for us.  Give us the courage to take an honest assessment of our self.  Help us to change what needs to be changed.  Give us a desire to please you alone. In Jesus’ name we pray Amen.


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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.

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How Did You Hear?

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, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15 NKJV

God chose you for salvation.  He sanctifies you by the Spirit and belief in truth.  He called you by the gospel.  You may have read the gospel on your own, or heard it read to you, or a friend may have told you.  Maybe you stumbled across the gospel over the internet or found a cassette tape of God’s teaching in your car.  However you heard it, God used it to reach you.

For me, I first heard the gospel in Saddleback Church’s Celebrate Recovery program. It was a strange idea to me at first – God came to earth in human flesh, died on the cross to pay for my sins, so I could receive forgiveness and eternal life.  It took time to sink in before I understood the full meaning of it.  (Not that you can fully understand because God’s love is so immense!) It got me started reading the Bible, but couldn’t understand why I always cried while reading it. I soon found and began listening to a Christian radio station that broadcasted Dr. J. Vernon McGee’s program called “The Bible Bus”, which taught the Word of God.   I also started listening to Greg Laurie’s sermons over the internet. It was here that the conversion of my heart occurred.  After hearing this message of forgiveness from multiple sources, it finally reached my heart!!

In February 2000 I gave my heart to Christ. He filled me with His Spirit and led my heart out of captivity!

The point of telling you all this, is simple.  You never know what will reach a lost soul.  It could be when you put your arm around a friend to comfort them.  Or maybe when you read stories to the elderly in a nursing or when you told someone about a radio program that teaches God’s Word.  The medium or vehicle used is not what’s important – it’s the message! In 1 Corinthians 3:6 NKJV Paul said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” We don’t cause people to believe in Christ, God does.  However, God does use our activities to bring them closer so He can change their hearts.

God wants to use you and me to reach the lost.  We can do that in many ways. Are you sharing God’s message with others?  If not, why?


Lord, thank you for leaving heaven to walk the earth as a human, so we could relate to you. Thank you for dying for our sins.  Thank you for setting us free with your forgiveness. Please give us the courage to share your message of grace and hope with others today. In Jesus’ name Amen.

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Does “Too Good to be True” Really Exist?

Once you received some mail from a popular sweepstakes company claiming you had already won a grand prize.  Your mind races at the possibility and all you could do with the winnings.  Does this sound too good to be true?  Well, from the world’s perspective it is too good to be true.

What about a relationship with Jesus Christ?  Is that too good to be true? Matthew 19:26 NKJV says “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Let’s consider a few benefits of believing Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Truth Revealed

God’s Word is alive and it renews us day by day.  The more we read, the more He reveals Himself and our sinful nature.  If we choose, we can respond the way God anticipates which is to agree with Him about our sin.  When we do, we allow His Word to renew our minds, changing the way we think.  For some this may mean a once prideful person has been transformed into a humble one.  For others who were critical and judgmental it may mean their stony hearts are transplanted with a new tender heart of love.  God’s Word reveals the truth and when we accept His truth wonderful things happen.  Please don’t take this as once we become a Christian all our problems go away.  Oh no, that is definitely not what’s being conveyed.  But rather wonderful changes within occur when truth is allowed to penetrate our inner beings.

Sins Forgiven

Psalm 103:12 NKJV says “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Jesus Christ took on our sin, paid the penalty for us by dying on the cross.  Even better news than that is Jesus rose again.  Death was not the end of Him, only the beginning of a new life.  With His resurrection we are given a new life too.   Romans 10:9 NKJV says “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  So the free gift of salvation God offers is as easy as believing and you will be saved.  Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” To further this wonderful benefit, Romans 8:1 also tells us there is no condemnation in Christ when we walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh.

Rewards Here

Psalm 37:4 NKJV says “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”  Choose to follow Him, read His Word, and apply His truths in your life.  Allow His Word to become real to you by living it out.  When you do He rewards you.  I’m not saying we come to the Lord simply for the benefits He offers.  But I am saying if you are diligent to seek Him and serious about pursuing Him, He will bring blessings into your life.   His word straightens us out and plants our feet on a firm foundation.  He directs us on the pathway of righteousness.  He leads us by His Spirit which we gave us as a guarantee of our salvation.  He changes the way we think, which improves our attitudes.  He enables us to love, forgive, and consider others above our self.  He provides everything we need to live a godly life here and now while we wait for the return of Christ.  He restores broken relationships.  He breaks the chains that bind us to our addictions.  He sets us free from sin.  The rewards He gives are unending and this is only speaking of here on earth.  There are far more blessings in the eternal sense, where no eye has seen, nor ear have heard, nor any mind can imagine what treasures await those who love God.

Is a relationship with Christ too good to be true?  While it does seem too good to be true, I want to reassure you all these things do exist.  There is no end to how good God can make it.  For me, I have found my relationship with Christ to be more rewarding, exciting, intimate, loving and honoring than I ever dreamed was possible.  I have experienced a new mind, new attitude, forgiveness of my sin, acceptance by the Father, a renewed love, a restored marriage and blessings of a second child.  I could go on, but I won’t.  I do encourage you to think about your life and count your blessings from knowing Christ.  It will revitalize your walk.


Lord Jesus, thank you for your willingness to die to cleanse us from all unrighteousness and make us right with the Father.  Thank you for the many rewards from our relationship with you.  Thank you for giving us eternal life in you.  In your precious name we pray. Amen.

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That They May Know

Read Joshua 3

God wants His people to know He is real.  He orchestrates the most elaborate ways to demonstrate to us He exists.  Joshua 3 contains another example.

The Lord is preparing Joshua for what God is going to do.  He says “By this you shall know I am with you as I was with Moses.” What’s the first thing you think of when you think of Moses?  You might think of the parting of the Rea Sea.  Here Joshua is with the children of Israel and the Jordan river blocks their way into the Promised Land.  God prepares Joshua and Joshua prepares the people.

As the priests, the Levites and the representatives from each tribe step into the Jordan river, carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord, the water stacks up in a heap! The children of Israel walk across the Jordan on dry ground.

Only God could make that happen!  So again God shows His might through the physical miracle that they shall know it was Him.

God still does things to let us know He’s with us.  For me, I’ve experienced times of extraordinary peace in the middle of chaos.  Other times a particular verse resonates strongly during my quiet time.  Then throughout the day I come across that same verse either by hearing, seeing or reading about it in an email.  To me, this is one way He’s letting me know – yes – that was ME speaking to you.  Answered prayer is another way He confirms His existence.  I’m not saying every prayer is answered.  However, many of them are.  When I notice it has been answered it amazes me God cares so much for me!

So what ways does God let you know He’s real?

Lord thank you for wanting us to know.  Thank you for your unique way of letting each of us know you are real.  Lead us this day in your truth.  In Jesus’ name we come. Amen.

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©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade.  Author of ThinkOnItBibleDevotions.com and BeingWomenOfInfluence.com websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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