Bible Devotions

Overcome the World

What does this saying “overcome the world” mean?  Why should believers understand it?

First John 2:15-17 NKJV says “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.  And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”  If we love the world, the love of God is not in us.  The world is full of things not of God; therefore, we believers must overcome the world.

What does overcome mean?  From Dictionary.com here are a few definitions using “overcome” in the verb tense:

1. to get the better of in a struggle or conflict; conquer; defeat: to overcome the enemy.

 

2. to prevail over (opposition, a debility, temptations, etc.); surmount: to overcome one’s weaknesses.

 

3. to overpower or overwhelm in body or mind, as does liquor, a drug, exertion, or emotion: I was overcome with grief.

 

4. Archaic. to overspread or overrun.

–verb (used without object)

5. to gain the victory; win; conquer: a plan to overcome by any means possible.

It seems that overcome is to defeat our enemy or our weakness and conquer.  Who wouldn’t want to conquer their enemies and weaknesses?

Okay, so how do we overcome? 1 John 5:5 says “Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”   How simple it is!  Believe in Jesus the Son of God.  That’s it.  For Jesus even said “Be of good cheer I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).   When we believe in Jesus, His spirit takes of residence within us.  First John 4:4 says “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world”.

First John 3 is all about abiding in God.  When we abide in Him, He abides in us.  We demonstrate we abide in Him by practicing righteousness.  “Let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).  We overcome evil with good, by loving one another as Christ loved us.

The born again believer of Jesus Christ is delivered from sin and abides in Him and the wicked one can’t touch him (1 John 5:18).  Praise God!   Are you ready to overcome the world?  Believe and you receive was you ask for.

Lord, thank you for your victory.  We have overcome the world when we believe in You.  Thank you for your spirit to guide us in your truth and love.  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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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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Accepting His Will

 

So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, “The will of the Lord be done.” Acts 21:14 NKJV

 

Why is it so hard to accept the will of the Lord?  One reason is we can’t understand why pain and suffering are part of the Lord’s will.  When we study God’s word, it is pretty clear we will have tribulations.

 

James 1:2-3 NKJV “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”

 

John 16:33 NKJV “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

 

Romans 8:17 NKJV “and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”

 

Trials, testing, and tribulation are part of life.  But all of it God uses for good to those who love God and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).

 

Another reason for not accepting the Lord’s will is stubbornness or self-centeredness.  Again, studying God’s word reveals we are not the only stubborn ones.  Even God’s chosen ones, the Israelites, were stubborn.

 

Exodus 32:9 NKJV “And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people!”

 

2 Chronicles 30:8 NKJV “Now do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the LORD; and enter His sanctuary, which He has sanctified forever, and serve the LORD your God, that the fierceness of His wrath may turn away from you.”

 

Acts 7:51 NKJV “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.”

 

Let’s face it we want our way most of the time.  I have found when I am least willing to accept God’s will it is due to my own immaturity.   If thoughts like “I deserve it”, “It’s not fair”, “I have a right to…” are present, you can be sure you are out of God’s will.  Self-serving thoughts are not part of God’s will.

 

What did Jesus teach?  He told us to deny self, pick up our cross and follow Him (Mark 8:34).  He said if someone strikes you on the cheek, turn and give them the other cheek also (Matthew 5:39).  Jesus is our role model.  He laid down His life for us.  We in turn lay down our claim/desire to have things our way.

 

Ignorance is another reason for not accepting God’s will.  It is pretty hard to accept something you have never heard of before.  This is an easy one to correct.  Start reading God’s word.  Join a small group so you can talk with others about questions you may have about what you have read.  Pray God will open your eyes.

 

When Judgment Day comes, ignorance will not be an excuse that saves your hide. 

Romans 1:20-21 NKJV “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Creation points to God.  The stars of above, the ocean depth, the uncountable grains of sand on the beaches, and even the tree branches that reach heavenward all point to a creator.  The world we live in shows obvious signs of a “designer”.  It didn’t just happen by chance.  I saw a bumper sticker the other day saying “THE BIG BANG THEORY: GOD SPOKE AND BANG IT HAPPENED”. The evidence of God is all around us.  It’s even within us.  If you studied human anatomy for any length of time you would find evidence of God in how the body works.  We were made to know God, because He has put eternity in our hearts. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

We have looked at a few reasons for not accepting God’s will.  What’s holding you back?  If trials have stopped you in your tracks, trust God to use it for good.  If self-centeredness or stubbornness is the issue, pray for God to give you a desire to follow him.  If ignorance holds you back, read God’s word.

 

Jesus gives us peace beyond what the world offers.  You just need to trust and obey, there’s no better way.

 Lord thank you for your life-giving word. Give us a desire to follow hard after you.  Help us be God-center rather than self-absorbed. Give us endurance to get through the tough spots in life.  Help us see life from your perspective.  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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Wisdom and Obedience

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

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

Where does wisdom come from? 

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

How does wisdom work?

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

  • He stores up wisdom for us

  • He is our shield

  • He guards the paths of justice

  • He preserves the way of His saints

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

Wisdom tied to Obedience?

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

 

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

 

 

Got Wisdom?

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

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

© Elizabeth Marks, author of ThinkOnIt Devotions and has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.  For more devotions, bible studies and a recommended book store, visit http://www.ThinkOnItDevotions.com today.

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Careful with Comparisons

 

Do you ever compare your self to others?

 

Let’s say someone wrongs you.  In your heart you think “I would never do such a horrible thing.”  Are you not comparing your self to the person who did wrong?  What do you gain through this comparison?  Do you feel better than them or self-righteous?  Watch out, that’s how judgmental attitudes are formed.

 

Maybe you wouldn’t do exactly what they did, but guaranteed you let someone down before.  We all have made mistakes.  In the chapter on suffering in the Peace Making Women book it says we are more like the wrong-doer than unlike them.  Think about that.  It’s good to remember when we’re wronged by someone we are more like them than unlike them.  Instead of allowing thoughts of “I’d never do that”, try to remember you’ve failed at times too.  Then let God’s grace and mercy shine through.

 

How about when a neighbor has a better car, nicer lawn and more beautiful house than you?  Compared to you they have the best of everything.  Have you ever compared your things to their things?  What good can come from such a comparison?  Why do you suppose God included coveting as one of the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5:21)?  In all likelihood, it’s because He knew we’d be tempted to be envious of others.  Envy left unchecked turns into bitterness.  Bitterness clouds our judgment and grows into resentment. 

 

Instead of envying try thanking God for blessing your neighbor so richly and asking God to help them be good stewards of all He’s giving them.  Stay focused on God to avoid our self-center stinking thinking.

 

When comparisons start, be careful because that’s when we start developing judgmental, condemning or bitter attitudes.  That’s certainly not God honoring.  The only comparison we need is that of Christ.  How well do we respond like Christ in each situation?  Even then we need to be careful because it is not about being perfect by our own efforts.  Isaiah 64:6 tells us our efforts towards righteousness are like filthy rags.  It’s more about allowing Christ to live through us changing the way we react to what life throws at us.

 Lord thank you for your amazing mercy and grace towards us.  Help us remember to extend the same mercy and grace towards others.  Enable us to keep our eyes on you rather than others around us.  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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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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