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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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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Proclaim the Good News

Sing to the LORD, bless His name; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Psalm 96:2 NKJV 

What is the Good News?

God loves you and wants you to be with Him forever in heaven.  But because we have a sinful nature our relationship with God has been broken.  God loved us so much, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to mend our relationship with God.  Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty for our sin (John 3:16).  We are no longer under judgment for our sins.  We are pardoned.  We are forgiven.  We are set free from bondage of sin.  We call this Salvation (Romans 6:23).  That’s only part of the good news.  There’s more! Jesus’ resurrection from the dead gives those who believe in Him a new life.  It’s a second chance to do life right.  He came to give us life and that more abundantly (John 10:10). 

 

How do we proclaim it?

We start by reading God’s Word to obtain a firm understanding of what God’s done for us.  The more God’s Word is allowed in our heart, the more we become like Him.  Our life, the choices we make, and the things we think about and the words we say become godly.  Morphing into the person God created us to be, we become lights to other around us.  Obeying God’s Word and living it out means we’ll use our gifts, talents, and abilities for God’s glory.  We’ll begin serving God by what we do and the attitudes behind why we do it.  The result is serving others as we learn to walk by the spirit rather than satisfying our own selfish desires (Romans 8:4).   We do these things moment by moment and day by day.

 

Who do we proclaim it to?

We proclaim the good news to anyone who asks about the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15).  As we go about our business we have an eye on the look out for anyone downtrodden, hopeless and hurting.  We take special care for the widows and orphans and poor among us (James 1:27).  We come along side them, serving and helping where we can, waiting for an opportunity to share God’s love and salvation story. 

 

 Where do we proclaim it?

Anywhere we are we proclaim the good news.  We share at work as we conduct business, or at home while having dinner with our family.  It could be at school in between classes or on the soccer field while we’re playing.  We can proclaim the good news any time and any where.  Remember we live in a free country.  We are not persecuted for our faith, as in some countries.  So what’s holding us back?  People are dying for good news.  We have it, so let’s start sharing it.

 

Why do we proclaim it?

God does not want a single one to perish but all to come to Him for salvation (2 Peter 3:9).  He wants people to come to faith and trust in Jesus Christ so they will be saved.  We share the good news out of love for God and love of others.  We share out of respect for God and obedience to His commands.  Jesus said in Matthew 28:19 “Go make disciples of all the nations”.   We proclaim the good news to praise God for all He’s done.  In doing so we strengthen our own convictions and help other’s faith and trust grow in God’s plan. 

 

In summary the good news is forgiveness of sin, eternal life in Christ, and a new life now.  We share the good news through obedience to God’s Word and coming along side the hurting, serving and helping them.  We proclaim the good news where ever we may be all for the glory of God. 

 Lord Jesus, thank you for saving us.  Thank you for your Word to us.  Give us the wisdom, discernment and courage to share your good news with the world around us.  May we be obedient to your Word shining your love on those around us all for your 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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The Faithful are Answered part 3

Part 3 of 3

 

Read 1 Samuel 1-3

 

All through these chapters we see the contrast between good and evil.  God’s Word is full of examples outlining the consequences of godly behavior, as well as what happens to the wicked.  This section of scripture is no different.  The table below outlines a few examples of the different types of behavior and how it is rewarded.

 

Good

Evil

V1:11 Hannah earnestly prays for male child and v1:20 God gives her Samuel

V2:12 Sons of Eli were corrupt and V2:34 both will die on the same day as a sign of God’s judgment.

V1:26-27 Hannah gives Samuel back to the God as she promised and v3:20 Samuel becomes prophet of God

V2:25 Eli’s sons did not heed the voice of their father and the Lord desired to kill them.

V3:21 Samuel ministers to the Lord and God reveals Himself

V3:13 Eli’s sons made themselves vile and Eli didn’t restrain them therefore v3:14 Eli’s house won’t be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.

 

Please notice the good side is represented by purity of heart and obedience.  Also note, the evil side is represented by self-centered willfulness and disobedience.

 

Eli, the priest and his two sons perpetrated evil on a regular basis.   This is set up in contrast to the purity of Hannah’s request for a child and Samuel the answer to her prayers.  Notice each time the deeds of Eli’s sons were mentioned, the next statement is about Samuel: “But Samuel ministered before the Lord”.   

 

Eli, the priest failed as a parent to teach his own children about the Lord.  Then as if to show Eli his error, God sends Samuel to live with him.  Samuel coming from the purity of Hannah remains pure while living with Eli and the wicked sons.  Samuel ministers to the Lord, without even knowing the Lord yet.

 

The time comes when the Lord calls Samuel, but he doesn’t recognize the call and thinks it is Eli calling him.  Three times the Lord calls Samuel and three times he runs to Eli saying “Here I am”.  Finally, Eli discerns it is the Lord calling Samuel and instructs him to listen / respond to the Lord.  Eli was not right with God because of the evil he allowed to continue in the house of God.  The fact it took Eli three times to figure it out the Lord was calling says Eli was not attuned to the Lord.   He should have been able to recognize it sooner.

 

Eli didn’t teach his own sons, so he probably didn’t teach Samuel either.  Notice how Samuel is right before God in the same environment as Eli’s wicked sons.   What was the difference?  One difference is Samuel had a praying mother, Hannah.  She was so grateful the Lord answered her prayers, she probably prayed for Samuel everyday. 

 

What can we draw from the examples today?  We each have a choice to follow God or not.  Our environment is not to be blamed for whether we or not we choose God.  As we see Samuel being raised in a wicked environment still chose to follow God.  We can to.

 Lord thank you for your clear instructions.  Enable us to turn to you in obedience.  Cast away from us any selfish, rebellious thoughts and deeds and equip us for godly living until Christ returns.  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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And it was Good

Read Genesis 1.

What was good?  Everything God created.  Really?  Everything from the light and land to stars and man all of it was good.  Why is that?  Because God has a plan and specific purpose for everything He made.  Let’s review.

Light – He created light to separate the darkness.  He divided night which was dark and day which is light. 

Heaven – He created a firmament to divide the waters above and below the heavens. 

Land – He gathered the seas together in one place, so land would appear.  Land was the foundation of the rest of His creation. 

Plants – He created grass and herbs and fruit trees.  All of these plants gave seed to repopulate themselves.

Stars – He created the stars, sun and moon for the specific purpose of being used for signs and seasons, giving light to the earth and to rule over day and night.

Water Creatures and Birds – He created everything that lives in the waters and the birds which fly above the waters.  All of these were to be fruitful and multiply.

Land Animals – He created all the animals that dwell on land and each one being able to repopulate it self.

Man – He created man, in His own image, to have dominion over all He had created.  He also expected man to be fruitful and multiply. 

 

What does all this say about God, His purpose and plan for people? 

(1) God is creator of all.  He made everything we see and even the things we can’t see up in the heavens.  He is all powerful, as everything was made by Him simply speaking it into existence.  Nothing is too hard or impossible for God.

(2) God had a purpose for everything He made.  There was nothing just thrown together on a spur of the moment.  There was purpose in each creation.  Thought and intention went into the making of all we see.  Everything exists for a reason. 

(3) Everything God created was good.  After each thing He made, He’d step back and say “it was good.”  In fact, in verse 31 it says “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.”

 Lord God Almighty, hallow be your name your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.  You desire all praise.  You alone are worthy.  You have every right to reign for you created it all with purpose.  Thank you for your Word which leads to your truth.  Enable us to understand you more.  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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Why God?

For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt any one.  James 1:13 NKJV 

Why God, why?  How come we so easily blame God when bad things happen in our life? 

The Bible teaches us God does not tempt us.  God is good and there is no darkness in Him.  As believers, we need to get that firmly seated in our minds and hearts.  He draws us near Him.  He doesn’t cause us to turn from Him. God is good period end of story. 

Temptation is a tool of Satan.  For he [Satan] knows what James 1:14-15 says: “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

Romans 3:23 tells us all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  That means as humans we all have the capacity to sin.  Satan loves it when we sin because it’s in direct opposition to God.  Anything that leads us away from God, leads us towards Satan.

So what can we do about it?  I believe we can be prepared, just as God’s Word teaches us. 

  • We need to recognize our humanity and know we will sin.  1 John 1:9 NKJV “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 
  • We need to recognize where we are most tempted, so we can guard against it. Ephesians 6:10-18 is a great verse to memorize. 
  • We need accountability with other believers, to help us stay on track with the Lord. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
  • We need God’s Word every day to renew our minds and to align our will to His. (Romans 12:2)
  • Next time you are tempted, remember God’s not the author of it.  He may allow it because it’s good to strengthen your commitment to Him, but remember He doesn’t create the temptation.  That’s our enemy’s job.    

Lord thank you for your Word that straightens us out and helps us know our self and you better.  Enable us to recognize who is behind our temptations.  Teach us to guard our self against our own desires.  Enable us to want accountability in our life and to renew our minds with your Word.  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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Time to Choose

But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirty-fold, some sixty, and some a hundred.  Mark 4:3 NKJV 

 

Read Mark 4:3-8.  This is the parable of the sower who planted some seeds.  This parable outlines four different results the sower encountered.  To recap here’s a list of the four results in my own words.

1)      Some seed that fell by the wayside and the birds of the air devoured the seed.

2)      Some seed fell among stony ground where the sun scorched it and it soon withered because it had on root.

3)      Some seed among thorns which choked it and yielded no crop.

4)      Lastly, some seed fell on good ground and yielded crop, increased and produced thirty, sixty and hundred fold.

 

Read Mark 4:13-20.  This is the section Jesus explains the parable to His disciples.  What a good God we have, to give us a parable as well as the explanation of it!  Here’s a paraphrase of Jesus’ explanation:

1)      The seed [God’s Word] on the wayside can be stolen by Satan, if we let him.

2)      The seed on stony ground had no root and only endured a short while. We have no root in our self.  We can’t live by our own self-sufficiency for the long haul.

3)      Cares of the world were more important than God.

4)      Good ground represented those who hear God’s Word, accepted it and resulted in bearing lots of fruit.

 

As I mediated on these verses over the course of several days, here’s what the Lord seemed to be saying to me.  See if it makes sense to you. 

1)      We can defend our self against the enemy who wants to take God’s Word away. We don’t have to be Satan’s victims.

2)      We can protect against too much exposure to sunlight [truth] too.  Take in what we can handle, apply it to our lives and move to the next principle.  Too much truth can be overwhelming and discouraging.  One truth at a time develops roots. 

3)      We can guard against the thorns by routinely pulling the weeds.  Don’t let things fester, instead deal with problems head on with God’s grace and wisdom to handle them properly. 

4)      Lastly, when we choose to implement God’s principles in our live, we are choosing to hear and do what His Word says.  The result is lots of fruit.

 

We all have a choice to make.  Will we choose to be hindered like the first three results?  Or will we choose to be “good ground” that readily accepts God’s Word and applies it?  The choice is ours.  By the power and authority given to us in Christ Jesus, with His Spirit in us, we have the power to choose to be “good ground”. 

 

Lord thank you for your truth that sets us captives free.  Thank you for your power to carry out your good purposes in our life.  Thank you for enabling us to choose to be “good ground”.  May we apply your truth in our life, shine for you and reap much fruit in your name, Jesus. 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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Shine as Lights in the World

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16.  

Jesus said we are the light of the world.  Paul also teaches us to shine as lights in the world.  What does this mean to shine? 

 

After pondering this for some time yesterday, and considering what God has said in His Word, there are several things that stand to me.  Believers, we have Christ dwelling in us and it should be obvious to the rest of the world.  It’s not us doing the shining, but it’s Christ in us shining out of us.  We reflect Christ to the world. 

 

How does the light shine?  What happens that causes the light to shine forth?

  • We are called to do all things without complaining and disputing, so we become blameless and harmless and shine among the crooked and perverse generation we live in.  (Philippians 2:15)
  • We are called to deny self, pick up our cross and follow Jesus daily.  His example leads us to put aside our own will and follow God’s will instead. (Luke 9:23)
  • We are called to walk by the spirit so we don’t fulfill the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)
  • We are called to put off our old sinful nature and put on Christ’s righteousness instead.  (Ephesians 4:22)
  • We are told to overcome evil with good.  (Romans 12:21)
  • If our enemy is hungry, feed him.  If he’s thirsty, give him something to drink.  (Proverbs 25:21)
  • We’re commanded to love our enemy, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us. (Matthew 5:44)
  • We’re commanded to forgive one another because God’s forgiven us. (Luke 6:37) 

There are many more examples I could site, but knowing what the Word of God says is one thing and putting these things into practice by obeying the Word of God is what makes the difference.   

Think about it the next time you’re tempted to grumble or complain about having to do something you don’t really want to do.  What would Jesus do?  Would He complain or would He simply serve?  We are to reflect Jesus.  As a result, our responses to life’s demands should cause others to notice there’s something positively different about us.   

Living in obedience to God’s Word will have a radical impact on the world around us because it is so different.  Review the above list again.  By nature, we do not think or behave like that.  But, by the Spirit, we do.   

Are you allowing the Spirit to lead you in obedience to God’s Word?  When you do, you are shining as a light to the world. 

Lord thank you for your word and spirit that helps us live the life you desire for us.  Enable us to shine as lights to the world.  May we be obedient to your word and be a witness for you.  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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Good Isn’t Enough

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good.” Mark 10:18 NLT 

Being good just isn’t enough, because our definition of good is flawed by our sinful nature.  Each and every one of us is not perfect.  We all fail in one way or another at one time or other.  This is not to discourage you, but to encourage you by explaining we’re all in the same boat. 

 

Have you ever felt all alone in your failing?  Reach out, talk to others.  You’ll soon find they have failed too.  I know I have.  Failure (or sin) is common to all people.  No one is exempt from sin. 

 

Jesus stated only God is good and that’s the point of this devotions.  We will never be good enough based on our merits.  We can’t earn our way to “goodness” or salvation.  I love what Paul said in Philippians 3:9 NLT “I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ.” 

Wouldn’t it be easier for us to earn our way?  Set the bar, know how what must be done and follow it.  Well, that’s been done already.  God gave us His commandments and we couldn’t keep them.  So perhaps it’s not so easy after all.   

God’s merciful nature took care of sin problem for us.  We can be good, but not of our self.  We can be good ONLY through faith in Christ.   

Lord Jesus thank you for taking our sin upon yourself and dying for us.  You gave your life that we might live.  Thank you Lord for giving us your righteousness.  We can be good by wrapping our self in you. 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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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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