Bible Devotions

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’s Characteristics

Today’s reading is a phenomenal chapter outlining characteristics of God.  Before you’ll see that let’s, start with pray:  Father God above, you alone are worthy of all praise.  You know all things.  You have provided everything we need to live a godly life until Christ returns.  Reveal your truths today through your Word by your Holy Spirit.  In Jesus’ name Amen.

Read Deuteronomy 29.  Read it slowly.  Read it more than once.  Take time to reflect on it.  Look for the facts first.  Move to the meaning of the words next.  Look for the timeless principle God is showing you.

Deuteronomy 29 is about the Lord speaking to the children of Israel through Moses.  He is reminding them of all God has done in their presence.  He is encouraging them to remain in covenant with the faithful God Almighty.

As mentioned, this chapter outlines some of God’s characteristics. Let’s take a look:

  • God’s power is on display in verses 2 – 3.
  • God’s compassion is evident in verses 4-8.
  • God’s kindness is extended in verse 9.
  • God’s authority and our accountability are shown in verses 10-11.
  • God’s faithfulness and reliability are depicted in verses 12-13.
  • God’s fairness to all is discussed in verses 14-15.
  • God’s mercifulness is outlined in verses 16-19.
  • God’s jealousy is graphically displayed in verses 20-22.
  • God’s wrath is explained in verses 24-28.
  • God’s revelation is spoken of in verse 29.

God, who is all-powerful, compassionate, kind, faithful, fair, merciful, jealous and has all authority is angry with those who do not come to Him.  God has blessings upon blessings for those who will receive Him.  God’s plans are not to harm but to prosper us.   In verse 9 He says “keep the words of this covenant that you may prosper.”

God wants all to prosper under His blessings, but it is conditional.  If we choose to enter the covenant we must acknowledge He is God, deny our self and idols, and turn to Him.   If we don’t turn, we choose to deceive our self, live in denial and we reap curses instead of blessings.  God doesn’t want us saying “‘I shall have peace, even though I follow the dictates of my heart’—as though the drunkard could be included with the sober.” (verse 19)  If we are to experience peace, it will be when we yield to God’s way of living, depending on Him to provide as a result of our obedience.

Speaking about depending on Him, it is God who makes and keeps the covenant with us.  He is faithful even when we are not.  For Romans 5:8 says “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  He was willing to make a way for us, even while we were His enemies.  We shunned Him.  We exalted our self as god.  We lived how we wanted to, yet God came in the flesh to die for our crimes against Him.  God’s covenant is for everyone who is willing to enter it.

It is my sincerest desire you take time with God and His word.  Prayerfully read it daily.  Let it change the way you think.  May you regard God’s Word as the oxygen you breathe, for in it contains the truth about life and death.  May you, as Moses said in Deuteronomy 30:19: “Choose life.”

Lord God, thank you for your life-giving words.  Thank you for your Spirit helping us discern your truth.  Teach us your way of life.  Enable us to receive your blessings through obedience to you.  We come, just as we are, to you this day.  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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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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Confess with Humility

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Are you able to admit when you are wrong? How about confessing your part in a disagreement? Are you able to come before someone and share your flaws, problems, addictions, hang-ups, or struggles?

If you answered yes, then chances are you are on your way to be humble. If you answered no even to one of these questions you might have to deal with your pride. James 4:8 NIV says “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want God opposing me. I want his grace instead.

No one can be humble when they are full of pride. One must first empty out the pride before humility will shine. How do we empty out the pride?

Start by identifying all the ways pride shows up in your life. This may take some time. You may want to start a journal to keep track of the times you spot it. If you don’t think you have pride, ask God to help you see. Look for situations where your thoughts are constantly about you. Bingo! There’s pride. Watch for times when your feelings are hurt when no recognizes your good deed and log that down too. Yep, more pride. Listen to your words. Are they bragging or boasting about your hard work or your efforts? Now, you’re starting to see pride.

This next step helps you deal with pride appropriately. Once pride is identified, learn to confess it to God through prayer as soon as possible. This will help get rid of pride before it becomes a stronghold. Learning to pray on the spot to confess your pride when it happens also develops a lifestyle of prayer which will draw you closer to God.

The last step in this exercise is talking things over with a trusted Christian friend of the same sex as you. Sometimes lessons aren’t learned completely until they’re shared with another believer who can help you see what you might have missed. Other times the believer is there for moral support. James 5:16 NIV says “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” It’s difficult being completely honest with our self. We need the strength of other believers to encourage onward so we don’t grow weary of doing what it right.

Proverbs 28:13 NIV says “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” If we want to learn to be humble, we identify pride in our life then confess it to God and others through prayer. Openly facing our flaws and asking for God’s grace is the path towards humility. Of course, none of this is possible with out the power from Jesus Christ in us. Through Him we can do all things.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade. Author of ThinkOnItBibleDevotions.com , YourBibleWitnessAtWork.com, & BeingWomenOfInfluence.com websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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Now I know for Certain

 And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.” Acts 12:11 NKJV 

God knows exactly what each of us needs to truly believe.  In Peter’s case, he was able to walk with Jesus Christ for 3 years and was given the power to heal people (Acts 9:33-35) and raise them from the dead (Acts 9:36-41).  He also received a vision regarding the definition of clean food to relieve his fears of associating with Gentiles and he was miraculously delivered from prison (Acts 12).  All these things lead Peter to conclude: “Now I know for certain”. 

 

It was the same for me.  The Lord forgave me of great sin, removed my bitter/resentful/angry heart and replaced it with a tender heart of love.  He answered even my smallest prayers.   He renewed my marriage and blessed us with a second son.  He has blessed me with many godly encouragers in my life and this writing ministry.  He speaks to me through His Word, by impressions and through repeated confirmations.  All these things have led me to say, like Peter, “Now I know for certain” the Lord is true, just and right and all He allows is used for His glory, even the bad things. 

 

What do you need in order to believe in Jesus? 

 

God already knows and is working on revealing it to you in His perfect timing.  If you struggle with some unanswered questions, ask God to help you trust Him.  The answer will come at just the right time.  Then you will be able to say “Now I know for certain”.

 Lord, bless those who are struggling today with answers to their prayers.  Continue your good work in them.  Draw them to a deeper understanding of you, so they may say “Now I know for certain”.  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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Mercy and Truth

 

As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. Acts 8:3 NKJV

 

Saul knew God’s word, but it had never penetrated his heart. Anyone who did not conform to his expectation of godliness was wrong in his sight.  How often do we do the same thing?

 

Proverbs 3:3-4 NKJV says “Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.”  God is both mercy and truth.  When we embrace Him, we embrace mercy and truth. 

 

Remembering how much mercy God has shown us can help us shower others with mercy.  Instead of judging someone for their differences, we accept them and extend mercy.  As we develop a relationship with them we share God’s truth by our attitudes, actions and our words.

 

Saul, at this point, had not allowed God to change the way he thought.  He took God’s Word and attempted to apply it by his own understanding.  We error greatly when we do that.  Instead we should follow Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”  

 

Wisdom and true understanding come from God.  When wisdom enters our heart and knowledge is pleasant to our soul, discretion will preserve us according to Proverbs 2:10.  God’s mercy towards us and empowered by His Holy Spirit, we are able to turn from our old nature of judging others and to put on our new nature which is Christ-like.

 

Granted we are not perfect yet.  We all make mistakes, like Saul did, but we don’t lose hope, for God is able to use everything for good.  Look what He did with Saul’s persecution of the church in Acts 8:4: “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.”  Saul’s persecution made the believers scatter, which in turn made God’s Word reach many others.  God is so good.

 

Are you binding mercy and truth around your neck and writing them on the tablet of your heart?  Trust in Him and not in our own understanding.   It’s the best way. 

 Lord, thank you for your encouraging word.  Enable us to remember your mercy and truth.  Teach us to lean on you rather than our own understanding.  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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Peace – We all want It

At church two weeks ago, while checking out what books were available, I ran across a book with the title: Peace Making Women – Biblical Hope for Resolving Conflict.  It was written by two women, Tara Klena Barthel and Judy Babler, who are both counselors.  

 

It’s delightfully interwoven with God’s Word in almost every sentence.  That’s my kind of writing!  While I haven’t read the whole book yet, I thought I would share what I’ve gleaned from the first chapter. 

 

The premise behind peace is having peace with God.  If that’s not there, trying to get peace with others or even yourself is impossible.  The first chapter focuses on our relationship with God.  It attempts to uncover unbiblical thinking that robs you of your security in Christ.  It exposes the lies we may have believed and points you right back to the source of life itself – God and His Word.  

 

At the end of each chapter are Personal Reflections questions.  Hang on to your hats, ladies, there not just one, two or three questions, but ten!  That’s right.  The ten probing questions really get you thinking about your relationship with God.   For example, question number one is about how you became acquainted with the gospel, naming some of your favorite verses and why they are so precious to you. 

 

Because of how I came to know Christ, there were two sections of scripture that God used to draw me closer to Him.

(1)    Luke 23:40-43 – about Jesus on the Cross with the two thieves.  When one thief recognizes Jesus did nothing to deserve death on the cross, he says “remember me when you come into your kingdom” and Jesus responds “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”  Oh how those verses convey the simplicity in Christ.  Nothing more is required than believing in Jesus and receiving the gift of salvation He offers.

(2)    John 8:1-11 – about the woman caught in adultery.  Jesus, great merciful Lord and Savior, takes time to point out everyone’s sin when He says “He who is without sin among you, let him throw the stone at her first.”  He put the adulterous woman on the same level as everyone.  She was no worse than those who accused her.  Then precious Jesus says to her “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”  How liberating!  Knowing you deserve death for your sins, yet set free instead!

 

Oh ladies, this book is worth checking out for your self.  Visit ThinkOnIt Devotions book store or go to your nearest Christian book store and buy a copy for yourself.  As I continue reading this great resource, more insight is bound come which I’ll gladly pass along to you.

 

Lord, thank you for leading these women to write this book.  May this book be used to draw women deeper in their relationship with you.  May your word go out to all the world and change hearts everywhere.  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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One to Many

thinkonit-devotions-and-the-peace-of-god.jpgRead Acts 3.

 

God uses ordinary things to convey His glory.  Let’s look at Act 3 as an example.  It starts out with an ordinary scene: a lame beggar at the temple gate.  In that day and age the lame had no way to support themselves except for asking for a handout.  This scene turns out to be the spring board to sharing God’s message. 

 

Look at how God’s glory radiates from this scene.  When the lame man is healed personally, what does he do?  Acts 3:8 tells us he was walking, leaping and praising God.  When a life is changed by God it is dramatic, just like this lame man walking again was dramatic.  When my hardened heart was melted away by God’s love and forgiveness I was jumping for joy praising God too. 

 

Others were affected by this man’s healing causing them to wonder what was going on.  The lame man was so excited about being healed and Acts 3:9 tells us others saw him.  When we react to what God’s done for us and we are not ashamed or afraid to show it, others take notice.  This is exactly what God wants.  He wants us to be examples of His grace, so others will come to Him for salvation. 

 

As people often do, they gravitate to the humans involved in an extraordinary event.  Again God has a way to use that.  Look at what Peter did when all the people looked to him as the miracle worker in Acts 3:12-16.  Peter turns the people’s attention off himself and on to God who did the work.  Next he reminds the people of their refusal to accept Jesus as the Son of God and how they murdered him on the cross.  He goes on to say it is by Jesus’ name, through faith in His name that has made this man strong.  If Peter had stopped here, it would have been crushing for those who heard but that was not the plan of God. 

 

Peter explains “I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers”.  All the things the prophets spoke had to be fulfilled he tells them.  In essence they played a critical role in fulfilling prophecy.  However, it’s now time for them to repent, be converted that their sins may be blotted out and times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19).  Peter offers the people a way out, showing them how all of God’s prophets spoke of these things and how the message was to turn them away from their sins.

 

Isn’t it beautiful how God uses one changed life to cause many others to come to know him?  What’s holding you back from displaying God’s glory?  You never know who could be influenced to make a decision for Christ through your example, just as this lame man didn’t know his healing would result in many coming to know God’s awesome power. 

 Lord Jesus, thank you for taking away our sin and giving us power in your name.  May we boldly live out our changed lives so others may come to know you.  In your name we pray 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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Great Mercy

at-the-arch.jpg

In Acts chapter 2, we see how great the mercy of God is towards the Jews who crucified Christ.  It was Pentecost when all the believers came together in one accord early in the morning.  God poured His Holy Spirit upon them and immediately they started praising God in other languages. 

 

Next, the Jews who saw this happen began hearing their own native languages being spoken by the believers.  How strange this must have been to them.  How could a Galilean speak their language?  Don’t you just love how God gets people’s attention?

 

The Jews’ first reaction was to say the believers were drunk.  Peter stands up and says no they are not drunk but filled with God’s Spirit.  He recounts all that happened to Jesus, using scripture to point out Jesus was the Son of God and stately plainly the Jews were responsible for Jesus being crucified. 

 

By this the Jews are cut to the heart and appealing to Peter asking “what can we do”?  The answer is clear: “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remissions of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Then those who gladly received Peter’s words were baptized. 

 

The believers continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.  They continued daily in one accord at end of the chapter, as they had done in the beginning of the chapter.  The result was “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”

 

It’s a simple message: Jesus Christ died for our sins.  Those who receive this message will have life and be saved.  New daily habits are formed such as reading God’s Word, fellowshipping with other believers, taking communion in remembrance of Christ and in prayers. 

 

Are you experiencing these new habits?  If not, why? 

 Lord Jesus, thank you for taking away the sins of the world.  Thank you for saving us and giving us your Holy Spirit.  Fill us again today that we may know the extent of your love for us.  Compel us onward in your Word, fellowship, communion and prayer.  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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