Bible Devotions

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.

 

 

© 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 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. 

© 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 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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Devoted to What?

 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. Acts 10:1-2 NKJV 

Merriam Webster defines devout as (1) devoted to religion or to religious duties or exercises, (2) expressing devotion or piety (attitude), (3) devoted to a pursuit, belief, or mode or behavior, serious, earnest. 

 

Based on outward appearances this Cornelius would have looked like he knew God.  However, God knew the true condition of this man’s heart.  God knew he was missing something so He sent Cornelius a message and at the same time He prepared Peter to deliver the message. 

 

Reading Acts 10 reminds me of other verses:

  • Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
  • Proverbs 8:17 NKJV “I love those who love me, And those who seek me diligently will find me.”
  • Jeremiah 29:13 NKJV “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

 

This man was earnestly, sincerely seeking God.  He was rewarded for his obedience and brought to a fuller, more complete knowledge of God when Peter shared Christ with him.  God is awesome.  He does hear and answer our prayers.  When we seek Him, He is found.

 

What’s our take-away?  Don’t let outward appearances keep us from sharing Christ.  Just because someone looks religious by their actions, doesn’t necessarily mean they know the Lord Jesus our Savior. Speak to them about Christ when you are lead by the Spirit to do so.  You’ll never be sorry, when someone believes in Christ through your faithfulness to share.

 Lord, thank you for your word that proves to us you are as you say you are and you do as you say you will do.  Thank you that we can trust you are a God of your Word.  Help us to be sensitive to your leading and share Christ with everyone around us at your prompting.  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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Idolatry Stands in the Way of Peace

 What’s the greatest commandment of God?  Matthew 22:37 NKJV says “Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’”  Jesus was quoting from Deuteronomy 6:5.   Anything that hinders us from doing exactly that is an idol.   Idols are not good because they lead us away from God and down a path leading to death.  Idols are not God, therefore, they can not satisfy our longings.  Idols have no power except the power to enslave us. They are a trap preventing us from pursuing our relationship with God.  What stands in the way of peace with God for you?

  • Work-a-holism
  • Guilt over your sins
  • Watching too much television
  • Constant perfectionist tendencies
  • Being overwhelmed with worry, anxiety or fear
  • Being too legalistic following the letter of the law
  • Thoughts and longings for a more intimate marriage
  • A hobby your spending extraordinary amount of time on

 To overcome idols in our life, we first must identify them.  Second, we confess our sins to God and seek His forgiveness and ask for His strength to turn away from the idols.  Third, we allow God’s Word to change how we think.  Lastly, we ask a godly friend to become an accountability partner.   

Where are you struggling today?  James 5:16 NKJV says “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

 Lord we thank you for your spirit who reveals idols in our lives that need to be dealt with and for your strength to turn from idols.  May your word renew our minds that we would know your good and perfect will.  Help us to be accountable to you through the help of 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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Outcry to God or Prophetic Verses?

thinkonit-devotions-i-am-comeabundantly.jpg   Read Psalm 69  

Reading Psalm 69 there seems to be more than just David’s outcry to God going on.  You may need to read this psalm more than once to pick it up.  It was interesting to see this psalm in a different light.  At first, I was going to write about how verse 6 is a good moral lesson for us to remember how our behavior affects others and may prevent others from coming to Christ.  However, the more I meditated on that verse in context of the whole psalm, more meaning came out and it wasn’t limited to being just about David.  I started to see how much of this psalm is about Jesus. 

 

For example, look at verse seven through twelve:

7 “Because for Your sake I have borne reproach;
         Shame has covered my face.
 8 I have become a stranger to my brothers,
         And an alien to my mother’s children;
 9 Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up,
         And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.
 10 When I wept and chastened my soul with fasting,
         That became my reproach.
 11 I also made sackcloth my garment;
         I became a byword to them.
 12 Those who sit in the gate speak against me,
         And I am the song of the drunkards.”

 

Is that not fitting of Jesus?  Think about each line and how it fits Jesus to a tee.

 

Compare verse 8 above with Matthew 12:46-47.  In Matthew his mother and brothers were coming to get and try to take him home because at this time they didn’t believe and thought he was crazy.  Therefore, he became a stranger or alien to his own family.

 

Compare verse 9 with 1 Peter 2:24 NKJV “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.” Didn’t Jesus take the reproach of those who were against God upon Himself?

 

What about verse 11 above?  Whose name do people use when they curse?

 

Also see verses nineteen through twenty-one as reference to Jesus’ time on the cross.  Verses twenty-nine to thirty-one speak of how Jesus’ time on cross is more acceptable than offering ox and bulls. 

 

One more interesting point is in verses twenty-two through twenty-eight that seems to be outlining the consequences for not accepting Jesus’ offer of salvation.  While verses thirty-two through thirty-four seem to be the consequences of those who do accept Him.

 

We don’t have time to outline the whole psalm here, but I did want to give you a taste and hopefully compel you to check it out for yourself.

 

In closing, we can see how Acts 10:43 NKJV “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” is in fact, true.

 Lord thank You for your word of truth.  Lead us deeper in our relationship with You.  Enable us to share with others the generous mercy You extend to all people.  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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Impact for God’s Kingdom

thinkonit-devotions-yellow-sunflowerdelight.jpg

Read Acts 4:1-14

 

Peter and John were at the temple teaching and preaching to various people about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.  The first thing to notice is the different kinds of people they spoke to: regular people, religious people such as priests, working people like the captain of the temple and other religious people called the Sadducees. 

 

To me this speaks of getting God’s Word out to all people, no matter what their background or current state of living they may be in.  God wants all His creation to hear and believe His Word.  The Bible teaches God doesn’t want a single one to perish (Matthew 18:14).

 

Next we see a threefold reaction to this teaching.  First, the people became greatly disturbed.  When you are not ready for the truth it can be very disturbing.  Think about it.  You’re going about your business, thinking everything is fine and then you’re confronted with the truth and can plainly see you’re on the wrong side.  That doesn’t make a lot of people feel real comfortable.  The Bible teaches men loved darkness rather than light (John 3:19).  In darkness, their evil deeds can go on unnoticed by others.  We are called to expose the darkness with God’s glorious light (Ephesians 5:11).  For as we walk in the light, the blood of Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7).

 

Second, the people grabbed Peter and John and through them in jail.  Following Christ has its cost.  Peter and John were experiencing it.  All they did was speak what they knew to be true and they were treated harshly by being wrongly imprisoned.  In our country, we might not find our selves being thrown in prison for witnessing to someone (at least not yet); we will encounter persecution of some kind.  For example, folks you considered friends may stop hanging with you when you start telling them about Jesus.  Why, even your own family members may shun you.  Just remember, Jesus said that would happen in Matthew 5.

 

Third, about five thousand men heard the word and believed.  Can you imagine having an impact like that?  Simply speaking God’s truth and five thousand people came to believe!  Now, that’s a miracle only God can work.  Doesn’t the minor inconvenience Peter and John experienced pale in comparison?  We may not always see this kind of result, but we can trust God to work the miracles when we are obedient to His calling.  Galatians 6:9 tells us not to grow weary of doing good for at the right time we’ll reap a harvest if we don’t lose heart.  We are to continue on whether or not it looks like we’re making a difference, because in reality we are making an impact for God’s Kingdom through our obedience.

 Lord, thank you for your word and your spirit leading us in truth.  May we be bold like Peter and John to share your word with everyone regardless of the inconvenience it may bring.  May we continue to do what is right, knowing you will work it out for good.  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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