Bible Devotions

Thoughts, Actions, Feelings – in that Order

 

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

 

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

 

That’s why Paul told us to be renewed in our minds.  Romans 12:2 NKJV says “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  When we forsake that which the world does and focus on God, our thoughts are renewed and we are able to know what is pleasing to God. 

 

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

 

Unhealthy

Healthy

He who does not believe (verse 18, thoughts)

Their deeds were evil (verse 19, actions)

Hates the light (verse 20, feelings)

 

He who believes (verse 18, thoughts)

Does the truth (verse 21, actions)

Comes to light (verse 21, feelings)

 

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

 

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

 Lord, thank you for your saving grace and empowerment to do what please you.  Keep us on your godly pathway and help us remember our righteousness comes from you.  In Jesus’ name Amen.
© ThinkOnIt Bible Ministries Inc is a 501(c) (3) Public Charity helping you grow in God’s Word. Visit us at http://www.ThinkOnIt.org today.

 

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Doing Our Part

 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Acts 13:2 NKJV  

Obedience to the Lord

Did you happen to notice the first part of this verse?  It was “as they ministered” which means they did stuff for the Lord.  The point is action.  There must be a “doing” to our obedience to the Lord.  James 1:22 says we must be “doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving ourselves.”    Even Jesus was obedient to the Father.  John 6:38 says “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”   So laying aside our will and choosing to follow God’s will demonstrate our obedience to Him.  But did you know this is not something we can do on our own?

 

Receiving the Holy Spirit

Jesus taught us everything of our sinful nature is worthless in John 6:63: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”  Where does the Holy Spirit come from?  He is sent to us from Christ Himself (John 16:7).  John 15:26 says “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”  How do we receive the Holy Spirit? Ephesians 1:13-14 says “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” In other words, once you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, the Holy Spirit is given to you as a guarantee that you are saved. 

 Understanding God’s gift

First Corinthians 2:13-14 says “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”  The Holy Spirit is our teacher, guiding us in all truth.  Without Him we wouldn’t understand spiritual things.  He opens our eyes and makes us realize the sin in our life, so we can fully embrace the grace given to us.  Romans 8:16 says “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Romans 5:5 says “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 8:2 says “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” First Corinthians 2:12 says “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”  All this a great news, for now we know we are able to understand the glorious riches stored up for us in Christ Jesus. 

 

Empowering our Witness

Knowing all the depth of God’s love isn’t just for our benefit.  No, it’s more about sealing our understanding and compelling us to share His glorious plan with others.  One of the things I love about God is how He equips those He calls.  Let’s review some verses about that.  Acts 1:8 says “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  See He’s giving us the power to be His witness.  Romans 8:26-27 says “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”  Even when we don’t know how to pray, He helps us through His Spirit interceding for us.   How does this empowering happen?  Romans 12:1-2 give us a clue.  It says “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  By offering our lives as living sacrifices, allowing God’s Word to change the way we think, we prove God’s will is perfect, acceptable and good.   Romans 8:5 says “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” As we learn to walk by the Spirit rather than by our natural self, we become God’s witness to the world. 

 

What do you think?  Are you ready to do what God has already shown you?  Do you understand His precious gift better?  Is the Holy Spirit compelling you to share His message with others?

 

If you answer no to any of these questions, ask God to help you see things from His perspective.  Continue reading God’s Word and the truth will be revealed as His Spirit teaches you. 

 Lord thank you for your word and your Holy Spirit.  Lead us on the pathways of life and enable us to witness to the world through an obedient life in Christ.  In Jesus’ precious 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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Are your motives Right?

 

Do you know you can believe the preaching of God’s Word but still be off base? Check out Simon the ex-sorcerer in Acts 8:4-25. 

 

When our desire is for the miracle and not for the Miracle-Maker, rest assured our motives are not right.  This guy, Simon, apparently had done some amazing things.  The people praised him saying “This man is a great power of God.”  But Simon wasn’t of God, he was of self. 

 

Oh how important it is to measure our self against God’s standards, allowing His righteousness to be our plum line.  That’s why we study the Bible, to understand God and our self better. 

 

I can relate to Simon.  When I was trapped in perfectionism, I did all the “right” and “good” things.  People praised me for my high standards, quality of work and reliability.  On the inside, my heart craved the people’s attention and approval.  I did those things for appear great in their eyes.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing your own press when there’s no internal compass keeping us centered on the Lord.  It happened to Simon and to me before we knew the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Unfortunately, we don’t know how Simon’s story ends.  But we do know how God radically changed me!  The Purpose Driven Life book says, “It’s not about you”.  Remembering that is crucial to staying focused on God. 

 

Now when people praise me for good work, I turn it into an opportunity to remind others God deserves the credit.  He enables me to do what I do and now I do these things to please Him.  You know what?  It’s a whole lot more fun working for God that working for my self!

 

How about you?  What motivates you to do a good job?  Is it praise or approval from people?  Or is it for God’s pleasure? 

 

Learn to live your life for an audience of One.  It’s a lot less stressful knowing we don’t have to measure up to our own unrealistic standards. 

 Lord, thank you for setting us free from the approval of man.  Thank you for changing our motives to be pure and right from you.  Thank you for leading us on the pathway of your righteousness. 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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Conflicts – No one wins unless handled Biblically

 

As Peacemaking Women book shared in the Biblical Peacemaking chapter, we are called to unity in Christ through the Spirit of peace.  To validate that a review of scripture reveals the following verses on unity and living at peace with others:

  • Ephesians 4:1-3 “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
  • Philippians 2:1-3 “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
  • Romans 12:17-19 “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
  • Romans 15:5-7 “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
  • 1 Corinthians 1:9-11 “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

 

But conflict arises for many reasons and upsets this unity, if we allow it.  Rather than reacting too quickly in a heated emotional state, we are wise to wait and pray for discernment.  Reviewing scripture is a good place to start getting our focus back on God and His will for our lives through the conflict at hand. Seek first to have God point our anything offending in us, so we may confess our sins and remain humble.  Only when our sin is dealt with properly will we be able to humbly help others with their sin. 

 

What’s our solution to conflict?  As always, it’s found in the Word of God and prayer.  Following Jesus and the apostles’ examples of how they handled conflict, their teachings on restoring and forgiving others will show us the right way to approach conflict in our lives.

 Lord thank you for your wisdom and guidance through the pages of your blessed Word.  Thank you for your Spirit leading on the pathway of righteousness.  May we seek to be right with you before attempting to help any one else.  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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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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