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 Modern Christmas Miracle

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

 

 

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

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


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

 

 

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

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

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

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


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

 

May Jesus be your miracle this Christmas!

 

© ThinkOnIt Bible Ministries Inc is a 501(c) (3) Public Charity

 

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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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Let God be Magnified

thinkonit-devotions-they-shall-obtain-joy-and-gladness.jpg Our strength comes from the Lord.  How will others see that?  They will see it by watching how we handle all that comes into our life.

 

As more difficulties, more work, and more demands are brought on us, God is magnified by our perseverance.  Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Our dependence on Him to provide the strength to get through will be evident to all.

 

I have a friend whose life is filled with chaos not of her own making.  You wouldn’t believe all the things this woman has lived through, yet she is the “poster-child” of perseverance and faith.  She has been an inspiration to me.  No matter what happens she faces it like Psalm 70:4 NKJV “Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; and let those who love Your salvation say continually, “Let God be magnified”.”

 

When things get tough remember Psalm 71:16 says “I will go in the strength of the Lord God; I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only”.

 

I am tremendously busy at work lately.  Usually I will have a busy day here or there, but since Labor Day my meeting schedule has been booked solid.  I don’t see a slow down until some time in October!  In situations like this, it’s easy to become frazzled or stressed because there’s no marginal time.  However, this is a prime opportunity to depend on God’s strength.  Where God leads, He will provide.  As I turn to Him in this busy season, His Peace is poured out on me.  Others can see how calm I am though there are many demands on me.  When they ask how I do it, there’s my chance to tell them how great God is!

 

You see, when we respond God’s way in all things, we really stand out.  That’s what being a witness for God is about.  You don’t have to shout or force people to see, they can see God’s doing something through our simple obedience to Him.  The result, God’s magnified and we get a chance to share His love with others when they ask.

 Lord, thank you for the opportunities to depend on You for our strength. Thank you for blessing our obedience in unexpected ways.  Let us make a difference for You in how we choose to handle life’s circumstances.  May our choices be honoring to You.  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

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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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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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