Bible Devotions

Love One Another

John 13:34 NKJV A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 

Jesus gave us this commandment:  Love one another as I have loved you.  This fits so well with the topic of marriage.  In the bible study called Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas we looked at Luke 6:41-42 NKJV and discussed how God uses our spouse as a mirror to help us see what areas in our life need some improving. 

 

I wanted to expand on that thought.  In Luke 6, we saw we are not supposed to point out the “speck” in someone else’s eye until after we’ve dealt with the “plank” in our own eye.  Consider what it might be like to have someone constantly pointing out your flaws, when you can plainly see they have their own flaws they should be concentrating on.  Do you suppose the criticized person would feel loved?  I highly doubt it. 

 

When Jesus told us to love one another, he didn’t say love one another by any old standard or means.  He specifically said “love one another as I have loved you.”  That’s a whole different kind of love, isn’t.  Jesus’ love for us caused Him to physically give up His life to pay for our sins.  By His sacrifice, we are pardoned and given eternal life.  He laid down everything associated with His flesh that He would carry out God’s grace and extend forgiveness to those who didn’t deserve it.  Did He ask us if we wanted Him do that for us?  No, but out of love, He choose to do it.  Think about the ramifications in our marriage, if we choose to lay down our flesh, share God’s grace and dispense forgiveness to our spouse, who may not “deserve” it. 

 

Taking Jesus’ words to heart and applying them in our life may, in one sense, mean instead of focusing on our spouse’s weakness we consider our own weaknesses and remember the grace and forgiveness God has already given us.  This should compel us to extend the same grace and forgiveness towards our spouse. 

 Lord, thank you for your awesome love!  Thank you for your Words of Life!  Keep us coming back for more, learning and growing in You..  Help us lay down our life, as Jesus did, for the sake of loving others as You loved us.  In Jesus name Amen.  

© ThinkOnIt Bible Ministries Inc is a 501(c) (3) Public Charity helping you grow in knowledge and understanding of God's Word.

     

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A Modern Christmas Miracle

Miracles come in different packages.  Some miracles may simply be someone “showing up” at an appropriate time to help.  Others might be obedience to God’s prompting resulting in a blessing for someone who needed it.

 

 

I wanted to share my story of a Christmas miracle that happened when we “adopted-a-family” at Christmas time.  Usually, the family is a single mother, raising multiple kids on her own.  However, this year was starting to look like we missed the opportunity to help.

We got off to a late start and didn’t contact our church as early as we normally do.  I called the church anyway and hoped there was still time.  Unfortunately, the woman at church explained, the program had closed and all families on the list were already matched up with folks to provide for them.  “However” she said, “I’ll take your name and number, just in case we get another call.”


I was disappointed we hadn’t called earlier, but God is so good.  He arranged everything.  You see, at the very moment I was speaking with the woman at church, another woman was leaving a voice mail message saying she needed assistance. Within the next hour, I received a phone call from our church saying there was someone who needed help!  God knew our heart and desire to give even though it was last minute on our part He arranged the circumstance to allow us to bless someone.  But that’s not the best part!

 

 

When I visited with Carol, the woman we were providing for, she had told me about her miracle.  Earlier that day, Carol was in the parking lot of the small apartment complex where she lived.  She happened to be talking with a neighbor about her dire situation, while standing behind a parked car.  She didn’t know at the time, there was a woman sitting in the parked car, waiting to back out of the parking space.  After some time went by, Carol finally saw she was keeping this woman from leaving and quickly ran to her car window to apologize for delaying her.

The woman in the car said “No worries.  I’m supposed to give this to you” and she handed Carol a scrap of paper with Saddleback Church’s phone number on it.  Carol thanked the woman and stepped back allowing her to back out of the parking space.  Carol had never heard of Saddleback Church, but decided to call them anyway.

Back in her apartment, with her three kids and two little dogs, she called the number.  Not knowing what she would say really, except that she needed help, the phone rang and rang and rang.  Finally, she received a voice mail message saying to leave her information and someone would get back to her, which she did.  She let out a sign, figuring it was probably too late anyway and went about her business.

Carol was so surprised when I called her just a couple hours later!  I explained our plan for provision and made arrangements to meet her later that evening.   My 12 year old son and I went to meet Carol and her kids around 8pm that night.   When we met we embraced and the tears of gratefulness began to flow.  Carol was amazed at what God had done!  I was thankful to be used to convey God’s blessing to her and her family.


It’s a beautiful thing being used by God.  Listening to His prompting and following through.  You just never know who will be blessed by your obedience.  In this case, we were able to bless a struggling single mom and her three kids.  In return, we were blessed knowing they would have a Merry Christmas after all.

 

May Jesus be your miracle this Christmas!

 

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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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Love Meets Needs

Read Judges 8:4-12

Gideon and his men were still in pursuit of the Midian kings and exhausted.  Gideon asks the men of Succoth for bread, but they said no because the Midian kings were not yet captured.  Gideon says he won’t forget their treatment of him.  In fact, Gideon says he’ll be back to tear their flesh with briers!

Moving on, Gideon asks the men of Penuel but they answer the same way as the men of Succoth did. Gideon replies, “When I am back in peace I will tear down this tower.”

Now the two kings Zebah and Zalmunna and their 15,000 men felt secure in their tents on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah. Gideon captured the kings and killed the whole army.

Notice how both Succoth and Penuel people would not help their fellow man?  Have you ever missed an opportunity to help another person?

Succoth responded in fear.  They wouldn’t help unless their kings we’re captured.  Penuel said the same thing.  Gideon gives us another clue why they responded that way by the mention of tearing down the tower.  It is possible the men of Penuel were too busy with their worship of false gods.

What prevents you from helping others?

Not enough time, money, energy or desire?

Too busy focusing on your own issues?

Don’t feel qualified?

Think there’s always someone else who can help?

Don’t think one person can make a difference?

Afraid of what others will think?

Think giving to others robs from you?

We are called to love one another.  Jesus took it further saying love your enemies.  Love meets needs.  If you see a need, that’s your opportunity to meet it.

Lord thank you for being willing to help us. Give us a desire to help others because you have helped us. In Jesus’ name Amen.

©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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Family what is it?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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Relational Conflicts

 

We’ve all had relational conflicts at one point or another, haven’t we?  The following list reveals some of the ways conflicts exhibit them self in our relationships:

  • A refusal to do or not do something.
  • A refusal to sacrifice our desire for someone else’s benefit.
  • A refusal to serve one another.
  • A refusal to place a high priority on relationships.
  • A refusal to see from another’s perspective.
  • A refusal to be open, honest and vulnerable.
  • A refusal to accept one another.
  • A refusal to stick it out until the end.

 

What do all these statements have in common?  They are geared towards self.  Selfishness damages relationships, doesn’t it?

 

What does the Bible teach about each of these things? 

  • That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; Colossians 1:10 NKJV
  • Your [God’s] will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Luke 11:2 NKJV
  • For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. Mark 10:45 NKJV
  • And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Genesis 2:18 NKJV
  • Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; Romans 12:10 NKJV
  • Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. James 5:16 NKJV
  • And is kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 NKJV
  • [Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7 NKJV

 

Want to remove conflict and create peace in your relationships?  Assess how well you’re currently handling your relationships.  Do you identify with anything on the first list?  Ask God for wisdom and discernment to turn the worldly refusal into a godly response.

 

This devotional idea came from the fifth chapter called Shalom-Filled Relationships out of the Peace Making Women book.  This book provides practical advice, tons of personal examples as well as lots of encouragement to guide us on the path of peace.  I highly recommend you buy your own copy at ThinkOnIt Devotions Bookstore. 

 Lord thank you for your word and wonderful God-centered resources to guide us on the pathways of peace.  Enable us to assess our relationships and give us the courage to handle them your way.  In Jesus’ name Amen.  

 

 

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

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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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Toxic People

 

Is there someone in your life that causes the hair on the back of your neck to bristle?  You know someone who always has to be right.  Someone who is “just telling it as it is”.  Sure, we all know someone like that.   The question is what do we do about them? 

 

Toxic people irritate, nit-pick us over the most trivia matters.  They are a hypocritical, legalistic, guilt-tripping, critical, condemning, judgmental lot.  These people could be our own family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers. 

 

How did they get that way?

Pastor Rick explained in this week’s sermon the top 3 reasons were envy, greed and bitterness.  The message was full of verses about how Jesus dealt with the toxic people of His time – the Pharisees.  It was practical and something we could all use not only to identify toxic people around us but also to self-assess our own thoughts, motives and behaviors. 

 

The sermon concludes with five biblical things you can do if you have toxic people in your life.  It also outlined how coming to Jesus is the only way we can avoid becoming toxic people our selves.  I can testify to Pastor Rick’s message, for I was a toxic person before I gave my life to Christ.  Everything he pointed out sounded like my old self, but oh how I thank God I’m no longer like that.  I’m certainly not perfect, but Christ has done some amazing things in me and He can for anyone else who’s willing to come to Him.  I highly recommend you get a copy of this message.  After you hear it, you just might want to buy a few extra to give to family and friends.  You never know, this message might be just what they need to hear to turn them around.

 

By the way, Pastor Rick will be teaching on Toxic People for the next two weeks, so you’ll have an opportunity to come hear for your self.  Join us at Saddleback Church.  For details on service times visit, http://www.saddlebackfamily.com/home/today.asp today.

 Lord may we recognize toxic traits in others and our self.  By Your power may we learn to live as Christ did, always pointing others to Your truth.  Help us to come to You with the areas in our self that need Your grace, so we may be able to extend grace to others.  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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Parallels

parallel-roads-along-residential-area-ph121_017.jpg  Two roads before us.  

The Bible tells us everything exists for God to bring glory to Him.  Genesis 1:31 NKJV says “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.”  All creation speaks of God and points back to Him.  Everything we see physically has an underlying purpose to guide people back to God. 

There are two vital principles to both the physical and the spiritual life.  Both sustaining and learning efforts must be present for an enjoyable, satisfying life to exist, whether physical or spiritual. 

For example, we must sustain our self physically with food, water and sleep, else we perish.  What happens when we don’t eat?  We get hungry, weak, and vulnerable to attack, as well as we might get sick and/or die.  Well, the same thing happens in our spiritual life when we don’t take in God’s Word.

How do we know we have a spiritual self?  When we become Christians by trusting Jesus Christ to save us, we are born again with a new spiritual dimension.  The old is gone and new has come, we are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

 Just as the physical body needs food, water, and sleep to survive, the spiritual body requires the same elements.  Food is Jesus Christ who is the bread of life (John 6:35).  God’s Word tells us about Jesus.  Luke 4:4 NKJV says “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”  Jesus Christ in Holy Spirit form is the living water springing up within us to everlasting life (John 7:10 and John 7:38).  Sleep or rather rest comes when we keep our mind steadfast on God because we trust Him (Isaiah 26:3 and Philippians 4:8-9).  

We also need to keep learning else we injure our self and others and/or perish.  Just like a young child must learn not to touch a boiling pot on the stove, else they get burned, we as children of God must learn not to touch or become involved with anything that would cause us or others to sin.   We also have to learn to walk by the Spirit.  We learn to speak the truth in love, just as we learn to love others as our self.  

How do we learn?  The same way we do physically.  In school we learn from our teacher.  In Spirit, we learn from the Holy Spirit as well as from Bible teachers and pastors.  We have role models to follow (apostles and saints from the Bible).  In school we might have a study group, and in Spirit we learn from other believers through fellowship.   

Both our physical and spiritual life depend on effort on our part to sustain and continue learning.   Are you neglecting your spiritual life?  There are grave consequences in doing so.  May this short devotion be just what you need to spark a renewed effort to sustaining and learning in your spiritual life.    

Lord help us have spiritual eyes to see You in everything.  May the world around us always keep pointing us back to You.  Help us continue to sustain our relationship with You.  Let us not grow weary in doing what You’ve called us to do.  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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