Bible Devotions

Can you praise God when things aren’t going your Way?

Read Psalm 56.

What clues did the psalmist leave us that might help us learn to praise God in the midst of a trial?

Recognize God is still in control.Twenty-three times the psalmist points to God or references Him, in only thirteen verses.  This proves he knew God was in control.  He continued to call out to God through this psalm.

Recognize you are powerless. Humility is critical to getting help.  If you are not humble, you will never ask for help.  Look at verses one and two.  The Psalmist recognizes his weakness.  He knew he was unable to save him self and his enemies were too strong for him.  We should be so wise to see our own limitations.

 Trust God to work it out. Several times the psalmist uses affirming statements of trusting God.  Verses like “I will trust in You”, “In God I have put my trust”, and “This I know because God is for me” demonstrate he knew God’s Word and helped solidify his own faith and trust in God.

Remember the end of the rebellious. “Shall they escape by iniquity?”  God’s Word is clear the rebellious will not see the Kingdom of God.  There’s a place reserved for the wicked, unless they turn from their evil ways.  The psalmist reminds himself though they may say and do many evil things their reward is eternal separation from God.  They will not escape.

 Remember God’s delivered our soul from death. If the wicked are judged how much more sweet is the deliverance of the righteous?  Remembering the Lord has saved you, kept you from falling, and enabled you to live is cause for praise, even in the middle of a trial.

Next time you’re in facing a trial, remember how the psalmist dealt with it.  Know God is in control, you are powerless, trust Him to work it out and remember both the end of your enemy and your eternal salvation.  Then don’t forget to praise God in the middle of it.

Lord, thank you for your word of encouragement.  Help us to turn to you.  Teach us to trust you even in the middle of chaos.  Empower us with your Spirit.  Remind of us our end that we may be confident in your salvation.  In Jesus’ name Amen.  

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Suffering is Important

First Corinthians 1:4 says “Love suffers long” since God is love He suffered for us.  But in His sufferings many good things came into being.  Reading the book of Hebrews offers a glimpse of the manifold benefits of suffering.

Hebrews 2:10 “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”  By His sufferings we are granted salvation of our souls.  Our bondage to sin is broken.  We are captives set free by His sacrifice.

Hebrews 2:18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.”  Through the suffering Jesus endured, He is able to comfort us in our suffering.  He knows what it’s like, for He suffered terribly.  When we suffer, our minds go to His suffering, knowing we have not suffered nearly as dearly as He has.

Hebrews 5:8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”  Through His suffering He learned obedience.  This was the example for us to follow.  In our sufferings we, too, learn obedience to Him and we begin understand the God who saved us.

Hebrews 9:26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”  Our sin is dealt with once and for all.  No more sacrificial offerings are required.  Jesus’ sacrifice is enough.  Our debt is paid. 

So you see, good really can come from suffering.  Next time you are suffering, think about what Jesus suffered and ask God to show you what you are to learn through it. 

 Lord Jesus, thank you for your suffering.  You know what it is like to suffer.  Help us to see our suffering through your eyes of love.  In your name we pray. Amen. 

 

 

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God Hears

 

When God says something will happen we can rest assured it will come to pass.  King David wanted to build a house for God, but God said it would not be David, but his son Solomon who would do it (1 Chronicles 28:3). 

 

Fast forward to 2 Chronicles 7:11 NKJV “Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king’s house:  and Solomon successfully accomplished all that came into his heart to make in the house of the Lord and in his own house.”  See.  God said Solomon would build the house of the Lord and Solomon really did finish it.

 

When the Lord calls someone to do something for His kingdom, He equips.  One of Solomon’s purposes from God was to complete the Lord’s house.  With God’s help, he not only did it, but he “successfully accomplished all that came into his heart”.  Everything God plants in our heart to do, He makes happen. 

 

It is so encouraging to know God can be trusted to follow through on whatever He promises.  So when we read 2 Chronicles 7:14 we should have great joy: “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

 

God will hear, forgive and heal, if we choose to humble our self before Him.  As we agree with God about our sins, seek Him and turn from our old ways, He will hear and respond.  That was the case for me.  Once I humbled myself, confessed my sins, He answered me, forgave me and healed me.  All that’s left is for me to continue carrying out God’s purpose in my life, as He reveals it to me.  This I know: He is the One working it out through me.  My part is willing obedience to Him.

 

How about you?  Have you humbled yourself before the Lord?  Have you agreed with God about your sin?  Are you seeking His forgiveness?  Why wait?  He’s waiting.  He will answer when you turn to Him.

 Lord, thank you for hearing us when we humble our self before you.  Thank you for your forgiveness.  Thank you for being faithful to answer us.  Draw us near.  May we always hear you.  In Jesus’ name Amen.  
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Thoughts, Actions, Feelings – in that Order

 

My pastor taught about a reoccurring pattern he saw in the lives of those he ministered to.  What they thought about influenced what they did and as a result they had certain feelings.  This pattern is the same whether it is about good and healthy things or negative and unhealthy things. 

 

For example, if my thoughts are focused on how my needs are not being met, my actions are influenced to do something to get my needs met and my feelings tell me it’s not working.  Those feelings influence my thoughts and so the unhealthy cycle continues.  If, however, we choose to keep our thoughts on God, our actions are influenced by God and our feelings become healthy as we look at things from God’s perspective.  It’s the same reoccurring pattern or cycle; thoughts lead to action, action leads to feeling and feelings influence the thoughts.

 

That’s why Paul told us to be renewed in our minds.  Romans 12:2 NKJV says “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.”  When we forsake that which the world does and focus on God, our thoughts are renewed and we are able to know what is pleasing to God. 

 

Another example of this pattern is given by Jesus in John 3:18-21 NKJV: “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.  21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”  Can you see the pattern?

 

Unhealthy

Healthy

He who does not believe (verse 18, thoughts)

Their deeds were evil (verse 19, actions)

Hates the light (verse 20, feelings)

 

He who believes (verse 18, thoughts)

Does the truth (verse 21, actions)

Comes to light (verse 21, feelings)

 

If we find our self on the unhealthy side of this cycle, we can change by allowing God to change our thoughts and by taking godly actions whether we feel like it or not.  Our feelings will catch up as we do what God prefers.  From my own personal experience, God enabled me to love my husband when the feelings weren’t there.  Due to obedience to God’s Word, my thoughts were renewed, my actions were godly and the result was new feelings of love developed between us. 

 

Though we are not ruled by our emotions because Christ alone is our Lord and King, feelings can be used as an alert system.  Feelings can tell us if we’re operating on the unhealthy or healthy side of this cycle.  Check your feelings, dig into God’s Word and let the mind of Christ lead you forward. 

 Lord, thank you for your saving grace and empowerment to do what please you.  Keep us on your godly pathway and help us remember our righteousness comes from you.  In Jesus’ name Amen.
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Overcome the World

What does this saying “overcome the world” mean?  Why should believers understand it?

First John 2:15-17 NKJV says “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.  And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”  If we love the world, the love of God is not in us.  The world is full of things not of God; therefore, we believers must overcome the world.

What does overcome mean?  From Dictionary.com here are a few definitions using “overcome” in the verb tense:

1. to get the better of in a struggle or conflict; conquer; defeat: to overcome the enemy.

 

2. to prevail over (opposition, a debility, temptations, etc.); surmount: to overcome one’s weaknesses.

 

3. to overpower or overwhelm in body or mind, as does liquor, a drug, exertion, or emotion: I was overcome with grief.

 

4. Archaic. to overspread or overrun.

–verb (used without object)

5. to gain the victory; win; conquer: a plan to overcome by any means possible.

It seems that overcome is to defeat our enemy or our weakness and conquer.  Who wouldn’t want to conquer their enemies and weaknesses?

Okay, so how do we overcome? 1 John 5:5 says “Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”   How simple it is!  Believe in Jesus the Son of God.  That’s it.  For Jesus even said “Be of good cheer I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).   When we believe in Jesus, His spirit takes of residence within us.  First John 4:4 says “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world”.

First John 3 is all about abiding in God.  When we abide in Him, He abides in us.  We demonstrate we abide in Him by practicing righteousness.  “Let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).  We overcome evil with good, by loving one another as Christ loved us.

The born again believer of Jesus Christ is delivered from sin and abides in Him and the wicked one can’t touch him (1 John 5:18).  Praise God!   Are you ready to overcome the world?  Believe and you receive was you ask for.

Lord, thank you for your victory.  We have overcome the world when we believe in You.  Thank you for your spirit to guide us in your truth and love.  In Jesus’ name Amen. 

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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. 

 

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God Uses Ordinary People

Reading Isaiah 53 this morning, verse two stuck in my mind:  “He had no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.”  The more that verse played in my mind, the more Hebrews 11 came to mind.  God has a history of taking regular, ordinary people and doing some extraordinary things through them. 

 

Read Hebrews 11.

 

Able was an ordinary young man who gave an excellent offering to the Lord.  Enoch pleased God.  Noah built an ark when God asked him to.  Abraham lived with his wife along with his dad, when God called him out of his country.  Sarah was barren but gave birth to Isaac in her old age.  Jacob was an ordinary father who played favorites with his sons.  Joseph was a regular teenager who’s brothers were jealous and sold him into slavery, but God used all that was wrongly done to him for good when he became second in charge in Egypt. Moses was a normal Hebrew boy God used to deliver the people from crushing hand of Pharaoh.  Joshua was an ordinary man with faith in God, so he led the people of God to defeat Jericho.  Rahab was a common prostitute, yet she believed God and saved the Joshua’s spies.  There are many more examples through out the Bible.  The point is God used all these ordinary people, who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to fight the armies of the aliens (Hebrews 11:33-34).

 

If Christ Himself was ordinary being a lowly carpenter’s son, why would we expect God to use only special people for His purposes?  The fact is He doesn’t.  “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;” 1 Corinthians 1:27 declares.   Why just look at who Jesus chose for His disciples?  A tax collector named Levi (Matthew) and simple fishermen (Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John).  These uneducated men went on to turn the world upside down because they had been found to have been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). 

 

What did all these ordinary people have in common? They believed God in faith.  Hebrews 11:6 says “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”.  From the Old Testament examples to the New Testament examples, the people believed God against all odds.  They willingly submitted to His will in their life, even when it meant giving up their livelihood to follow Him.  Some left family and friends, some left their countries to live in a foreign land and still others gave up their jobs to follow God’s leading.  Their faith was real and it was demonstrated with action.  They were obedient to God’s commands.  When God said go, they went.

 

Think God can’t or won’t use you?  Think again.  His glory shines the greatest through the weakest of vessels.   When it seems impossible that good can come from a highly dysfunctional life, that’s just when God shows up to make everyone gasp at the wonderful of His mercy and love.   If you believe God, submit to His will and are obedient to His Word, stand back and watch the work of the Lord.  “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?” says the Lord in Isaiah 43:19 NLT.

 Lord thank you for using ordinary people for your purposes.  It gives us hope that our lives can make a difference for your kingdom.  May we believe you, submit to your will and be quick to obey your commands.  In Jesus’ name Amen.

 

 

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Peace

We all want peace, don’t we?

What exactly is peace? 

From a worldly standpoint peace means absence of war or conflict.  However, spiritual peace, right standing with God, brings a peace not dependant on earthly circumstances.  Have you found yourself in a chaotic situation, yet you were calm and undisturbed?  It was not because you didn’t care about what was happening but on the contrary you were passionate about it and yet this peace exuded from you.     If you haven’t experienced that kind of peace yet, don’t worry your turn is coming.  I remember having a very “blessed” feeling amidst the baby crying, dog barking, phone ringing while trying to have a conversation over dinner one time.  It was such a wonderful moment it still moves me to worship God every time I think about it.  That’s the serenity of the peace we’re talking about today.

 

Where do we find it?

 

Jesus said “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).   After explaining to His disciples the Holy Spirit would come to bring to remembrance everything He taught them, Jesus said “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).  Peace and the Holy Spirit are inseparable.

 

How do we get it?

 

Unity with the Holy Spirit and obedience to God’s Word is a good place to start.  Listening to the Spirit’s prompting and quickly following through with whatever direction He gives will definitely be rewarded.  Paul taught our thoughts play a huge role in whether we obtain God’s peace or not in Philippians 4:8-9: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

 

Did you see the connection?  Meditate on these things and do them.  There it is – obedience to God brings God’s peace.  However, we also need to be careful to obey for the right reasons.  We obey out of love for Christ.  He is the vine, we are the branches.  In Him we bear much fruit but apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).

 

How’s your peace today?  If it’s running low, check back in with the Holy Spirit, ask God to help you back on the path, read God’s Word and then be quick to obey.

Lord Jesus, we are so amazed by your wonderful peace.  Thank you for all you do in us. May your Spirit continue to lead us on the path of righteousness as we seek you in obedience to your Word.  In Jesus name Amen.  

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A Comparison Part 2

 We are continuing our comparison between Jesus and humans. 

 

Jesus Human

Forgiving

Struggle to forgive, choosing to hang on to the hurt longer than we should

 

Did Jesus wait until people had there act together before He forgave them of their sin?  No He didn’t.  In some cases, He forgave them when they weren’t expecting it (Matthew 9:2, John 18:11, John 5:14). Jesus knows what we need, even when we don’t.  Forgiveness of sins sets us free to become who God intended us to be.  Jesus seemed to forgive quite easily.  Imagine hanging on a cross, nails driven into your flesh and calling out to God “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).  How about us?  How easily do we forgive?  We are never asked to forgive more than we our self have been forgiven (Luke 6:37). 

 

Jesus Human

Unconditional Love

Love when it goes our way (I’ll love you if you do this or that)

 

God so loved the world He willingly sacrificed His Son to pay for our sins (John 3:16).  He did it, while we could care less about Him.  Now that’s unconditional love: doing for another with no expectation of getting anything in return.  Oh how hard it is for us to love like that.  We tend to think along the lines of “I’ll love you as long as you met my needs.”

 

Jesus Human

Secure with who He was and where He came from

Insecure, doubting and fearful

 

Jesus was secure with Himself. He was confident in who He was.  There was no doubt about what He came to do (John 13:3).  Insecurity in us is caused by our refusal to follow God’s perfect plan.  When we rebel against God we open our self up to the tricks of our enemy.  Satan’s main weapon is doubt and fear.  Our slowness to accept what God has for us causes us to doubt our purpose, our identity and our meaning which robs God’s glory.  

 

Jesus Human

Compassion for others

Occasionally care for others when it’s convenient

 

How many times does the Bible say Jesus looked on them with compassion?  Matthew 9:36, Mark 1:41, Luke 10:33 are just a few examples. He had compassion many more times as well.  The point is no matter how busy or tired Jesus was He always had compassion for others.  He focused on the bigger picture—saving souls.  How often are we compassionate towards others?  We occasionally care for others, when it is convenient to our schedules.  True compassion reaches out always.

   

Jesus Human

He is truth

Struggle to be truthful, tell “little white lies” or fail to speak the truth in love

 

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). He is truth, therefore He can not lie (Titus 1:2).  The James 1:21 teaches “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  If don’t practice the truth in our lives are deceiving our self.  What is it to deceive but to lie to our self?  We lie to our self when we don’t do what God calls us to.  We lie to others when we choose not to speak the truth in love. 

 

So why do this comparison?  If was not to injury us, but to encourage us.  These things cannot do be done without God’s grace and power.  If we attempt to do all these things in our own strength we will fail.  But Jesus hasn’t abandoned us; instead He fills us with His Spirit.  It is His Essence in us with all power and might which carries out God’s desire through us.  Jesus says follow Me.  Are you willing?

 Lord Jesus thank you for all you have done for us.  Enable us to recognize your hand in our life.  Teach us to depend on your might rather than our own efforts.  Lead us in your way.  In Jesus’ name Amen. 

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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.

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