Bible Devotions

Peace

We all want peace, don’t we?

What exactly is peace? 

From a worldly standpoint peace means absence of war or conflict.  However, spiritual peace, right standing with God, brings a peace not dependant on earthly circumstances.  Have you found yourself in a chaotic situation, yet you were calm and undisturbed?  It was not because you didn’t care about what was happening but on the contrary you were passionate about it and yet this peace exuded from you.     If you haven’t experienced that kind of peace yet, don’t worry your turn is coming.  I remember having a very “blessed” feeling amidst the baby crying, dog barking, phone ringing while trying to have a conversation over dinner one time.  It was such a wonderful moment it still moves me to worship God every time I think about it.  That’s the serenity of the peace we’re talking about today.

 

Where do we find it?

 

Jesus said “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” (John 16:33).   After explaining to His disciples the Holy Spirit would come to bring to remembrance everything He taught them, Jesus said “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).  Peace and the Holy Spirit are inseparable.

 

How do we get it?

 

Unity with the Holy Spirit and obedience to God’s Word is a good place to start.  Listening to the Spirit’s prompting and quickly following through with whatever direction He gives will definitely be rewarded.  Paul taught our thoughts play a huge role in whether we obtain God’s peace or not in Philippians 4:8-9: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

 

Did you see the connection?  Meditate on these things and do them.  There it is – obedience to God brings God’s peace.  However, we also need to be careful to obey for the right reasons.  We obey out of love for Christ.  He is the vine, we are the branches.  In Him we bear much fruit but apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).

 

How’s your peace today?  If it’s running low, check back in with the Holy Spirit, ask God to help you back on the path, read God’s Word and then be quick to obey.

Lord Jesus, we are so amazed by your wonderful peace.  Thank you for all you do in us. May your Spirit continue to lead us on the path of righteousness as we seek you in obedience to your Word.  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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Imitators of God

Read Ephesians 4 through Ephesians 5:1-2

 

Paul writes in Ephesians 5:1 “Be imitators of God”.  Let’s explore what that means by reading Ephesians 4 together.

 

Forgive as We are Forgiven

Walk worthy of our calling by being tenderhearted and forgiving towards one another.  Always remembering God forgave us, therefore, we forgive others.  We treat others better than they deserve because again that’s what God does to us.  We don’t deserve His abundant supply of mercy and grace, do we?  And yet, He generously pours it out on us.  He calls us to do the same to others around us.  We do our part to live at peace with others, getting along with all people to the best of our abilities.  When we are wronged we don’t hold it against them, we don’t seek revenge but rather give space and time for God to work it out.  God says vengeance is mine (Deuteronomy 32:35).

 

Sacrifice My Will

We consciously turn from our former conduct and put off the old man which grows corrupt according to deceitful lusts.  We lay aside all things that hinder our walk, such as sin that easily ensnares us (Hebrews 12:1).  We repent of our sins when we are made aware of them.  We cast down every thought that exalts it self over God (2 Corinthians 10:5).  We concentrate on being renewed in the Spirit of our mind, letting God’s word have its way (Romans 12:2), equipping us to put on the new man created after God in true righteousness and holiness.

 

Walk in Love

God is love, we walk in Him (1 John 4:8).  If we abide in Him, He abides in us (1 John 4:16).  First Corinthians 13:4-7 defines love as “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  So we speak the truth in love and are encouraged to do good without growing weary.  Our God does not grow weary of doing good for us, therefore, we don’t grow weary either.  Doing good also means knowing our purpose, using our gifts, talents and abilities to edify, encourage and build up others.  Therefore, we redeem the time and make the most of every opportunity by walking in love.

 

Follow Me

So if we look to Jesus as our example we will seek the Father and his will in all things.  We pray for strength to carry out His plan and purposes.  We lay aside our will and ask to have the Father’s will be done.  We will sacrifice our self for others as many times as is required until Christ returns to take us home.  Jesus did not leave us without the power to accomplish all this.  No, He left us His Spirit to guide us and empower us to do all God desires us to do. 

 

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.  And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma (Ephesians 5:1-2).

 Lord Jesus, thank you for your example to us.  Thank you for your spirit to lead us and equip us for all God wants us to do.  May be seek the Father and carry out His will in our generation.  In your name we pray, 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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The Ripple Effect

Have you ever noticed how one negative thing leads to another?  It seems once one thing goes wrong, many more wrongs follow.  Did you ever notice it’s not just negative or wrong that follow this pattern?  The pattern or rather principle is simple.  It’s called reaping and sowing.  The Bible teaches us these farming terms as a way of explaining how life works. 

 

Plant a corn seed and corn will grow.  This is called sowing.  At the appropriate time, you receive a harvest of corn.  This is called reaping.  It’s the same with any other kind of seed.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s a bean, tomato, or cucumber seed. All seeds will yield the kind of fruit God intended.   Sow this, reap that.  Understand?

 

In life, we too plant seeds.  Granted these are not physical seeds we put in the ground, but seeds none the less.  The seeds we sow come from things like our thoughts, our attitudes, our body language, and our actions or behaviors. 

 Our Thoughts

Our thoughts make all the difference in the world.  If we choose to dwell on unhealthy things, it is like planting a bad crop.  We will reap the consequences of unhealthy thoughts in the area of our attitude and actions.   With our thoughts focused on negative and unhealthy things, we make unwise choices.  Conversely, when we set our minds on healthy things like Philippians 4:8-9 suggests we reap a pleasant harvest of God’s peace guarding our hearts and minds. 

 Our Attitudes

Our attitudes come from whatever we allow our mind or thoughts to focus on.  Our attitude also rubs off on others.  Think about when you’ve been around someone with a bad attitude.  What did you not like about being with them?  To me hanging around those with bad attitudes causes me to be more negative and start complaining.  Those bad attitudes plant seeds in others.  When our attitude could use a little adjusting, the best place to start is with our thoughts.  Stop and think about what you are thinking.  Begin to notice what you dwell on.  Ask God to help you recognize unhealthy thoughts and replace them with godly thoughts instead.  Memorizing scripture is a great way to get God’s good stuff stored away in your gray matter.

 Our Body-Language

With our bodies we can convene sincere interest or disrespect for others.  Let me give you an example, a wife and husband are having a conversation.  The wife doesn’t necessarily agree with what the husband is saying and it’s very obvious because of her stance (hands on her hips) and her eye-rolling.  This communicates disrespect towards her husband.  The sad part is she probably doesn’t even know it.  We need to be cautious of our bodies and what we might be communicating through our body language.

 Our Actions

Of all the items we’ve discuss so far, this one is probably the “no-brainer”.   Actions we can see.  Therefore, it is should be pretty evident we are influencing others by what we choose to do or not do.    If a parent chooses to drink alcohol and smoke around their children, then there’s a good possibility the children will grow up thinking drinking and smoking are okay.  Our actions leave marks in another’s life whether for good or bad.  Our decision is to make our actions count for good.  Galatians 6:8 NKJV “For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” What good actions are doing today to influence others? 

 Lord Jesus, thank you for your saving grace.  Teach us to sow good seed that we may reap a good harvest of right living.  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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Why Prayer is Important

Have you ever had a close, intimate and satisfying relationship with someone you never talked to?  Of course you haven’t and it’s ridiculous to think it’s possible.  So why would we pretend to have a close relationship with God, without prayer? 

 

Prayer is communication with God.  Through prayer we offer our praise and worship to the One True God who deserves all praise.  Extolling all the virtues of God’s greatness helps us see life from His perspective.  It helps us see ourselves in proper relationship to Him.  We are His servants.  He is our God.

 

Prayer communication is a two way street.  We talk to God and He talks to us.  We don’t just bring our cares, worries, frustrations to Him.  But He speaks to us, revealing Him self to us through prayer.  There have been times when I puzzled over how a certain thing was going to work out in my life and through prayer God calmed my fear of uncertainty and answered my requests, further building my trust in Him.  He helps us recognize all things are possible when we believe Him.  He gives rest to those who seek Him wholeheartedly through prayer. 

 

Ephesians 1:17-20 NKJV records some powerful blessings that come through prayer.  

  • You receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him
  • Your eyes of your understanding being enlightened
  • You may know what is the hope of His calling
  • You understand the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints
  • You understand exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe

 

Prayer is a mighty piece of God’s armor we are called to use in our fight to remain victorious in this life.  Read Ephesians 6:10-20, paying close attention to verse 18.  After all the putting on of the various pieces of armor, Paul urges us to pray in the spirit always, being watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.  Why?  Because critical we stay connected to our power source.

 

How’s your prayer life?  Are you seeking to know God through prayer?  He’s waiting to talk with you?  Looking for peace that surpasses all understanding?  Look up to the One who can provide that peace, Jesus Christ. 

 

Lord Jesus thank you for hearing our prayers, calming our fears and speaking to us through prayer.  Thank you for giving us the spirit of wisdom, revelation and knowledge of God, greatness of your power and the hope of your calling through prayer.  Enable us to understand the riches of your glory and greatness of your power towards us. 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.  Visit us at http://www.ThinkOnIt.org
for more devotions, Bible studies, and small group resources.

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If God’s Peace is Like a River, What’s blocking the Flow?

“Your peace would have been like a river”, Isaish 48:18 NKJV 

God wants us to enjoy His peace.  The Bible is full of instructions on how to obtain that peace.  Being obedient to God’s Word is the key.  When we are willing to be under His all encompassing authority, His peace will be like a river in us.   

Let’s take a further look at this wonderful imagery and see what more we can learn from comparing God’s peace to a river.   

A river is a moving stream of water.  It doesn’t stand still, it flows.  It has a starting source and it continues down a pre-determined path until it reaches its final destination.  Let’s apply this thinking to our spiritual lives.  Once we’re saved (given our life to Christ), we aren’t done.  There’s still work to do.  We have to keep moving forward in our relationship with Christ.  Jesus Christ is the source.  He is the author and finisher or our faith (Hebrews 12:2).  We are also on a pre-determined path, a course set and held by the hand of God with a final destination being heaven.  Until we reach heaven, we are being transformed into Christ’s image and His character is being developed in us.   

Sometimes rivers get blocked up and there are few reasons for that.  Some are for good reasons and some are bad.  Let’s consider them and as we do, think about how it applies to us spiritually.  

Dead stuff like fallen leaves, broken branches, and other loose items find its way into the river.  For a time those items don’t hinder the river.  However, when the river narrows, as all rivers do at some point, all that stuff floating in the river starts to pile up.  This doesn’t usually cause the river to cease flowing, but it can reduce the flow of the river.   

What stuff is making its way into our spiritual river? It could be unconfessed sin, unwillingness to submit to God, or always wanting to know the “why” before you obey.  It also could be lack of belief, lack of trust or a build up of pride, or self-centeredness in our life. 

Other times the river is blocked from a beaver settling in and making a dam.  The beaver is doing only what comes natural to him, as God designed.  The beaver painstakingly takes broken branches, twigs, and other natural lumber and strategically places them in the flow of the river.  The dam acts as a river flow regulator.  Without the dam, downstream the river could overflow and cause more damage.  However, God takes care of it by sending the beavers to build their home in the river.   

At times in our lives, there may be situations or circumstances that seem to be a hindrance to us.  In the end, we discover it was all part of God’s glorious plan to help us grow in our faith, our love and in our character.   It’s not something we’d choose for our self, but we have to experience them nonetheless. 

In the Old Testament, cities were walled in, meaning there was a wall going all around the city for protection against invaders.  Usually these cities were made next to a river, so the river would run under the wall and through the city providing a source of fresh water to the people living there.  When an enemy came against the city, there were times when they would cut off the water supply to the city, as a way to get the city to surrender.   How they blocked off the water, isn’t the important part.  I simply wanted you to recognize an enemy can block the flow.  

How is the enemy blocking your flow today?  Our enemy, Satan, doesn’t want us growing in the Lord.  He’ll do all sorts of things to block God’s peace in our life.  Recognize the enemy exists and prepare yourself to stand against him by putting on the armor of God.  Read Ephesians 6:10-20 for details.   

Let’s review our comparison of God’s peace as a river:

1)      Stuff comes into the river and can reduce the flow.  The “stuff” is sin, disobedience, or wanting our way instead of God’s way.

2)      Beavers make dams which regulate the flow of the river.  There are things God brings into our life to help us grow spiritually.

3)      Enemies can block the river’s flow.  Our enemy, Satan, doesn’t want us growing in the Lord.  We must prepare for battle by putting on the armor of God.    

 

How’s your river of God’s peace flowing today?  Is the flow reduced by debris?  Is God working on growing your through trials?  Is the enemy after you?

Remember what the Psalmist penned in Psalm 27:1, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”  Jesus encouraged us with, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Next time peace seems lacking in your life, think about this analogy.  Perhaps there’s something you can do about it.  For the rest, take it to God in prayer, trust Him to be with you through it and know the waters will not overwhelm you (Isaiah 43:2-3).

Lord God, thank You for making Your peace like a river available to us through Jesus Christ.  Help us be obedient to Your Word by the leading of Your Holy Spirit in us. Enable us to stand against our enemy by putting on the armor of God.  May we grow in our relationship with You more each day. 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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Rest for Our Souls

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”  Isaiah 30:15 NKJV

How are we saved?  Returning to the Lord and resting in what Jesus has done for us is the only way we are saved.  First we need to recognize we are sinners and need a savior.  Second we need to turn to the Lord for forgiveness.  Third we need to trust Him to save us.

Isn’t it beautiful how the Lord says in rest you shall be saved?  That means there’s no striving, no earning, no pleading, no bargaining, just rest.  We are to leave the saving up to Him.  He has done it all.  We are to come to Him and rest in His finished work on the cross.

Look at the second part of the verse: in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.  The only way to hear the Lord is to be quiet and listen.  Do you have time where you just sit and listen for the Lord?  If not, why?

The more we listen to the Lord, doing what He says, the more our confidence grows because we know He always means what He says.  We become doers of the Word and our trust in Him grows.  In turn our confidence is built up in Him.   Then nothing can shake our faith because we are not dependent on our self but rather on Him.

Take time today to ponder this verse.  Read it many times.  Ask the Lord to show you what He’s trying to say and what this verse should mean to you.

Lord, thank you for your work on our behalf.  Thank you for saving us and giving us confidence in your finished work.  Enable us to return to you daily, being quiet to hear you when we pray.  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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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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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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Family what is it?

 

Merriam Webster’s Dictionary says family is a group of individuals living together under one head, coming from the same clan or race, and a people united by certain convictions as in a fellowship.

 

I want to call your attention to a few words in the above definition. 

 

Individuals are unique.  Each has its own personality, style, preferences, and beliefs.  God made us this way.  He loves variety.  Therefore, we are called to live at peace with everyone, as much as it depends on you (Romans 12:18).

 

One Head represents the One Authority we live under – God.  In God’s economy He planned for the husband to be head of the household, just as Jesus Christ is head of the church (Ephesians 5:25).  We are to live in submission to God, whether we are married or single. 

 

Same Clan – We are all part of the same human race.  We all have the same sinful nature.  Realizing we’re all in this life together will help us be more forgiving.  We are sinners by nature (Romans 3:23).  Even after we are born again in Christ, we may still make mistakes.  Let’s cut each other some slack by forgiving and being tender hearted towards one another.  After all God has forgiven you, how then can you withhold forgiveness to someone else?

 

United – We are united together in Christ Jesus.  Family is so important to God that He died for us to adopt us into His family (Ephesians 1:5). Jesus is the unifying entity that seals us together as a permanent family. 

 

With the above definition in mind, I’d like to say families are:

  • A place where we are loved for who we are not what we do.  We are accepted and belong.
  • A place of encouragement.  It may seem like the world is against us, but we know our family is for us.
  • A place to share our troubles without being blamed for them.

 

Sadly, this ideal isn’t the case a lot of the time.  Whether your family meets your expectations or not when you are a believer in Jesus Christ you are automatically adopted into the ideal family.  What we have today with out physical family will one day be gone.  But our spiritual family will remain together in heaven.

 

Rather than wasting precious time complaining about the dysfunction we see in our earthly family, let’s try to find common ground and practice loving one another as the Lord loves us. 

 

What are you doing to promote a godly family?  Is your love without hypocrisy?  Are you kind and affectionate, giving preference to one another? (Romans 12:9-10).

 

Remember God has a plan and purpose for you being part of your family.  He is working in you to grow you to be more Christ-like.  In the family setting, conflicts and all, He is developing godly character in us. 

 Lord, thank you for placing us in earthly families.  Help us to grow Christ-like character until you welcome us in heaven.  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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Getting our Attention

 

Read Acts 9.

 

God has ways of getting our attention.  With Saul of Tarsus, God literally knocked Saul off his horse and blinded him. Sometimes God allows sickness or other physical ailments to get us to slow down.  Maybe we have been doing too much and need a reminder to do only what the Lord wills. Other times God might use a loss of a job to get our attention. 

 

The question is are we paying attention?  Are we reading the signs God’s placed in our lives? 

 

The Lord doesn’t just get our attention and leave us wondering.  He is specific with us.  Look at how He interacts with Saul in Acts 9:6 “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”  I find that very comforting.  Imagine you were just struck blind.  I’m sure our mind would be racing thinking all sorts of things: how will I provide for my family, how can I care for myself, who will help me, how do I get things done, etc.   Though we may not be afflicted in same way as Saul, the Lord still wants us to listen for what we must do and be confident He will lead us. 

 

During the days Saul had no sight, I’m sure he spent plenty of time praying.  He was probably reassessing his life wondering what he did wrong to deserve this affliction. Isn’t that just like us?  When something goes “wrong” we think we must have done something to cause it.  I’m sure that’s the case sometimes like when we have to reap the consequences for our sin.  There are plenty of other situations that are not caused by us but rather used for God to develop His image in us.  Maybe we need to learn patience or perseverance or faith.  Circumstances can help us develop godly character traits.

 

In Acts 9:9 it says Saul went without food or drink for the entire three days.  The Bible doesn’t tell us why.  We could speculate many reasons.  Perhaps he meant his denial of food as a fast to help increase he chances of his prayers being heard.  Maybe he was so consumed with his predicament he just couldn’t eat.  Here’s a stretch, maybe he was fearful that someone who try to poison him in his weakened state.  After all he was persecuting the Christians in that day.  We don’t know why he didn’t eat or drink in all that time.  But we do know God was using those days to radically change Saul’s life. 

 

Is God trying to get your attention?  Listen.  He will tell you what you must do.  Isaiah 26:3 says of God: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Also in Isaiah 30:15 “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” It’s time for us to follow the advice of Psalm 46:10:  “Be still and know I am God.”   Lastly, we’ll end with Proverbs 3:5-6 “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.”

 

Lord thank you that all things work together for good for those who love you and are called according to your purposes.  Help us recognize when you are trying to get our attention.  Enable us to listen for your clear direction.  Give us the courage to obey.  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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