Bible Devotions

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.  
© 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 Path before Us

Read Isaiah 55:1-3.

 

Who is God’s salvation for?

It is for everyone.  Does it say it is for the Jews only? No.  Does it say it is for the rule-keepers?  No.  Does it say it is for a certain people group?  No.  God’s salvation is for EVERYONE.

 

How do you know you need salvation?

Everyone thirsts.  God gave you a desire or longing to know Him because He made you after His own image.  Father, Son and Holy Spirit are together as One in community with each other.  There is something inside us that longs for the same community and compels us to satisfy the thirst.

 

Why doesn’t God just save us?

He extends His offer of salvation to us, but we must choose to come.  He is a loving Father who desires us to love Him in return.  Real love is not forced.  If He made us to love Him, we’d be nothing more than robots doing what we were programmed to do.  By allowing us to choose Him, it is a richer, lovelier response.  We have to decide to believe Him.  We have to decide to follow Him.   Without our willingness to love Him, it would be meaningless to Him.

 

How come God gives us more than we need?

He is a generous, loving Father who wants to pour out His love on us.  He doesn’t want to simply satisfy our thirst with water only.  No, He wants to satisfy and fulfill to over-flowing our soul with wine and milk. 

 

Is the offer of salvation really free?

Yes.  It costs us nothing.  We pay no money to enter.  We can’t earn it by being good or following a set of rules.  There is nothing we can do to get salvation through any kind of effort on our part.

 

Why do we work so hard to buy bread that doesn’t satisfy?

We are deceived.  We have chosen to believe working for something makes it better.  When we try to work or earn our salvation, we make our self to be a god saying “this is how to be saved”.  Do you think this is pleasing to God?  How prideful of us!  God made us. He is the One True God, not us.  How dare we think we know better than Him!  He has already given us the gift of salvation.  He told us where to look and who holds the key.  It’s up to us to listen.

 

Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me.  Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you (Isaiah 55:2-3 NKJV).

 Lord, thank you for your gift of salvation.  May we come and buy with no money the bread that satisfies.  May we reject our desires to earn our way and simply come as you have called. 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 Teachable Moment

Yesterday my son and I were out looking for a new backpack to prepare him for school.   We found a store with exactly the right one, so we went to the check out line.  As the clerk was ringing up our purchases, he could not find the price tag for the backpack.  Unfortunately, there was not another one like it to verify the price.  So the clerk asked me how much it was.  I replied “There were similar ones for $49.95”.  The clerk, not wanting to over charge me declared, “I’ll ring it up as $29.95.”  We left the store.

 

While walking to the next store, I unzipped the backpack to place inside the other bag of school supplies to make my load easier to carry.  That’s when I saw it — the price tag.   As I slowly withdrew the price tag, I said aloud “Wow, we got a great deal on this backpack”, showing my son the real price.  My son replied, “Now, you’re going to go back aren’t you?”

 

My answer surprised me a little, as we were in a hurry.  “Yes, I’m going back.  I could not possibly go on as if nothing happened, for that would be lying.  If I chose to keep the backpack, how would that be showing I live by the Word of God?  Would it be truthful? Would I be a doer of the Word?”  So we returned to the store where we bought the backpack.

 

As the clerk saw me draw near, he had a surprised look on his face.  Although he was helping another customer, he asked me why I had returned.  I told him, I found the price tag and couldn’t live with being under-charged for the item.  He was very grateful I returned.  The man the clerk was helping even commented “you did the right thing.”   I said, “Thank you, I know.  You see I have my 13 year old son with me, so it is good for him to seem me practice what I preach.”

 

After the transaction was over, my son and I discussed how important it was to be truthful at all times, even when it may not be convenient.  We will all be accountable to God one day on how we handled each situation.  We also talked about how that one situation was a good witness to several people; the clerk, the other customer, the store manager and my son, not to mention my husband when we shared the story with him too. Proverbs 12:22 says “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.”  I just love how the Lord uses the ordinary to help teach us the way to go.  It was a delight to do the right thing.  This situation reminded me of Proverbs 22:6 in action: “Train up a child in the way he should go.  And when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Lord Jesus, thank you for your Holy Spirit enabling us to make the right decisions by being truthful.  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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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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Mindful of the Things of God

Get behind Me, Satan!  For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.  Mark 8:33 NKJV 

Remember, the gospels are a narrative genre requires us to look at the full context of any specific verse to fully understand what is being communicating.  As you read, ask yourself two questions:

(1) What further insight does this reveal about Jesus as Messiah? 

(2) As His disciple, how should I respond to Him? 

 

Read Mark 8:27-38. 

 

In verses 27-29 Jesus asks His disciples who people were saying He was.  Then He asked His disciples the same question and Peter replied “You are the Christ”.   In verse 31 Jesus explains what’s going to happen to Him.  In verse 32 a paraphrase of Peter, “No way, Lord, let it not happen to you.”  In verse 33 Jesus replies with today’s verse above.  In the remaining verses Jesus teaches about the commitment required in being one of His disciples. 

 

Jesus’ rebuke of Peter is a strong one which re-enforces the importance we should place on our thoughts.  If we allow our thoughts to dwell on our self, our desires and what’s best for us, we are effectively walking with Satan rather than with our Lord. 

 

When Jesus says whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up the cross and follow Me, He was indicating the kind of commitment required to be His disciple.  First, He says him deny himself.  This is not a martyr mentality, but rather a choice to think of others instead of self.  That is so contrary to our natural thoughts, isn’t it?  Would you be willing to do that?  Second, He says take up the cross which seems to indicate the need for crucifying all that is not of God in our life.  It is a symbolic way of describing the purifying process in our life as we strip away all that would hinder our walk with the Lord.  Third, He says follow Me.  This step can only be accomplished if, in fact, the first two steps are carried out. 

 

As Christ, Jesus is mindful of God’s will and carries out God’s plan no matter what.  In this section of scripture, Jesus is revealing what it takes to be one of His disciples.  God is calling us to a higher way of living.  A life marked by selflessness and a relentless focus on the things of God rather than the things of men. 

 

So what are you mindful of; things of this world, your own well-being or things of God?

 

The choice is yours.  Who do you want to follow?   The One who came to give you life or the one who wants to steal, kill and destroy all that is from God?

 Lord, thank you for who you are.  Thank you for your word of truth. Increase our understanding of you by rightly interpreting 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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A Matter of Choice

 

Have you ever noticed how the routine hurts of life can lead us to think we don’t have any choice?  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  Life is all about choice.  We have more power to choose than we give our self credit for. 

 

We make choices all the time.  We choose to make a friend, get married, or have children.  We also choose to give love or give respect.  We choose to commit to a relationship and to put forth effort to maintain that relationship.  We even choose to believe God or not.

 Choice in Attitude

The easiest and most cost effective method of make-over is by adjusting your attitude.  Believe it or not you have a choice about how your attitude affects your life.  You can choose to let the circumstances of life cause negative thoughts to rule your mind.  Or you can choose to think on all you have to be thankful for.  Who is easier to be around someone who is always negative and complaining or someone who always thinks positively and gives people the benefit of doubt?  Philippians 2:5 says “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” He was humble and servant-hearted.  Are you?

 

Choice in Speech

Our words have a major impact on everyone around us.  We can use our words as weapons tearing down people with harsh, uncaring sayings.  We can use our words to build people up, encourage them with God’s Word.  A pleasant word at the right time is like honey for the soul (Proverbs 16:24). 

 

Choice in Marriage

You may have decided to get married.  Part of this commitment was to love and respect your spouse for the rest of your natural life.  This commitment requires work to maintain.  When wives choose to respect their husbands the man is more likely to respond by loving his wife.  Likewise when husbands choose to love their wives, the woman is more likely to respond by respecting her husband.  When both choose to give the other what they need, both are satisfied and God is honored by their obedience. Refer to Ephesians 5:22-33 for biblical instructions for husbands and wives.  Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ Cracking the Communication Code, the Secret to Speaking Your Mate’s Language is a great resource for helping us understand each other better.

 

Choice in Parenting

Whether you decided to have children or are around children a lot, you have a choice to make.  Will you commit to being a godly influence? Will you raise your child in love and admonition of the Lord? Or will you continue to worry about yourself and leave your child to figure things out on their own?  If God’s given you children, you have a choice to be a good steward. You can either build them up and encourage them or neglect them.  Which is honoring to God?  Proverbs 22:6 NKJV says “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”

 

Choice in Relationships

Regardless of type of relationship you’re in, you may choose to display God’s character or not.  You can choose to love others as God has loved you.  Or you can try manipulating others to get your needs met.  Where two people come together without expecting anything in return are good relationships.  These people extend grace, forgiveness and mercy.  They seek to understand before being understood.  They seek the other’s best interest over their own (Philippians 2:4).  As they put others first, they fulfill God’s command.  Blessings come when we are obedient.

 Choice in Salvation

God honors our decisions.  If our decision takes us down the path of eternal destruction, God will be crushed by your decision but He will allow you to continue in your own way.   Just like in every other area of life, you have a choice for salvation.  God’s plans and purpose are not to harm us but to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).  We can choose to accept God’s way, Jesus’ death on the cross to pay for our sins and His resurrection which brings us life eternal or not.  He won’t force you to accept His truth but He surely hopes you will recognize the extent of His love for you and come to Him (Matthew 18:14).

 

In every aspect of life, we have a choice to follow God’s way or our own way.  Have you noticed when ever you choose your own way, things don’t turn out exactly how you planned?  That’s because you don’t know everything, like God does.  He knows what’s best for us and He longs to lead us down the path of righteousness. 

 Lord, you alone know what’s best for us.  Help us to turn to you with all our choices.  Equip us to make the choice to follow you in all areas of our life.  In Jesus’ name Amen.

 

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

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Sin Has Consequence

And the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.” Genesis 18:20-21 NKJV

You have probably heard the “Miranda Rights” read to someone being arrested on a TV show before. It goes something like “every word you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” Well, everything we think, do and say will be used to determine our destiny.

Every decision we make to sin or not is known by God. Everything we do is witnessed by Him. There is nothing that will not be exposed. God is the Great Judge. He is just and fair. His rulings are right and true. He doesn’t make hasty decisions. Instead He investigates, verifies and gives the benefit of doubt to the accused.

If you read Genesis 18:22-33 you will see God is fair. Abraham pleaded with God for the sake of the righteous. God said He would spare the city if even ten righteous people were in it. But there were no righteous people and so God judged Sodom and Gomorrah. The cities were destroyed.

The people of Sodom and Gomorrah chose to sin. Their sin was very grave. It was so bad that an outcry was heard by God. Therefore, God had a choice to make: let the people continue doing wicked, evil, detestable things or take care of the problem so as not to spread wickedness to others.

They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, no, not one. Psalm 14:3 NKJV

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 NKJV

Sin is always dealt with. Romans 6:23 NKJV says “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The end of sin is death. Therefore, to continue to sin is to knowingly accept the fact one day we will die to pay the penalty of that sin. But did you also notice the later half of Romans 6:23 says “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord?”

It’s our choice to either follow God and live or follow sin and die. God will honor our choice. But we must make sure we are willing to accept the consequence of our choice.

Almighty God, thank you Lord Jesus for dying in our place to pay our sin debt. May we always remember the choice is ours to accept your gift and live or turn our backs on you and die. Give us a desire for your way. In Jesus’ name we pray. 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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In Your Anger Do Not Sin

But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” Acts 16:18 NKJV

 

There are two things I’d like to point out from this verse.  One Paul is human just like us and he knew who the authority was.

 

(1)    Seeing Paul annoyed really comforts me, as I become annoyed a lot.  But Paul, when annoyed, responded with Christ rather than criticism.  That makes him a great example for us.   Paul lived what he preached.  He wrote “in your angry do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26).  We see in today’s verse, Paul didn’t let his annoyance become sin.  He chose the high way instead of the human way.   He turned the matter over to Jesus.  And Jesus took care of the problem.

(2)    Paul knew in himself he had no power.  Christ has all the power and authority.  Jesus said to us “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14).  Paul took Jesus at His word and was able to do some extraordinary things.

 

We can too.  In the moment when we are annoyed, angry, hurt, lonely, grieving or in any other unpleasant state of mind, we can choose to trust Jesus.  We can pray, as Paul did, “I command you _____________ (fill in the blank with your emotion or negative thought) in the name of Jesus Christ to leave me this minute.” Watch and see how the Lord helps you in with that struggle.  It worked for Paul.  It works for me.  It will work for you too.

 

Lord thank you for your word that brings us to your truth each time we read it.  Thank you for your power and authority over all things, even our emotions.  Help us to trust you in our weakness moments.  For you are our strength.  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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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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Wisdom and Obedience

 A wise man hears and increases learning. Proverbs 1:5 NKJV 

What do you think of when you say the word wisdom?  Does good judgment come to mind?  What about obedience?  That’s right obedience.  Ever consider how obedience and wisdom go hand and hand?   Let’s review Proverbs 1 and 2 and conclude with first two verses of Proverbs 3.  Get out your bible and read along with me.   

Where does wisdom come from? 

According to Proverbs 2:6 it comes from God:  For the Lord gives wisdom, from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.  Therefore, with our hearts open to God, we ask Him for wisdom.  James 1:5 NKJV says “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

How does wisdom work?

Look at Proverbs 2:7-9 and see what the Lord does for those who seek Him, cry out for discernment, apply their heart to understanding and incline their ear to wisdom:

  • He stores up wisdom for us

  • He is our shield

  • He guards the paths of justice

  • He preserves the way of His saints

 The benefit of wisdom entering our heart is knowledge pleasant to our soul. Discretion preserves us, understanding will keep us, to deliver us away from evil (Proverbs 2:10-12). 

Wisdom tied to Obedience?

Jesus told us to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves in Matthew 10:16.  James calls us to be doers of the word (James 1:22).  Jesus said in Matthew 7:24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.”  But this not just a New Testament teaching, no this goes back to the Old Testament as well.  Jeremiah 23:22 says “But if they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they would have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their doings.”   

 

Wisdom comes when we hear God’s Word and apply His truth in our life.  When we actually do what we hear, wisdom is the result.  That wisdom guards our life by the power and grace that comes from God alone. 

 

 

Got Wisdom?

My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will added to you. Proverbs 3:1-2 NKJV. 

 Lord Jesus, may our hearts be open to Your precious wisdom giving Word.  Enable us to not only hear but do what You have told us.  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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