Bible Devotions

Power to be Free

“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.”  Acts 1:8 NKJV 

 

Jesus Christ came to set us free from the power of sin and death.  He paid the penalty for our sins, so we would die to that lifestyle and learn to walk in faith with Him.  He didn’t just take care of the sin problem we had, but also He left us with His Power to ensure we could live out the new life He offered us.   

John 16:13NKJV “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth;” The Holy Spirit was given us those who believe in Jesus (1 John 3:24 NKJV).  He is our guide, our teacher and our source of power.  We can no nothing out of our sinful nature pleasing to God, but filled with the Holy Spirit we can do all things pleasing to Him (Ephesians 5:8-10 NKJV). 

One of my favorite verses is Philippians 3:9 NLT “I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ.”  It’s all about Christ.  It is Him in me causing me to be pleasing to God.  His Power in me makes me righteous before God.  His Power sets me free from sin.  His Power enables me to walk by faith.  His Power enables the fruit of the Spirit in my life.  His Power causes the abundant life to be a reality.   

We have Power, that of the Holy Spirit, to will and do for the glory of God.  We are free!  So let’s tap into that Power, today.   

Lord Jesus, thank you for dying for our sins and giving us your Holy Spirit to enable us to live the life you called us to.  Enable us to following the Spirit’s leading in our life.  Set us free from all that would hinder our walk with you.  In your name we pray, Amen.  

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The Box

 

There once were two girl friends who lived next to each other.  Every day they would meet together and talk about what God was doing in their lives.  One day each friend discovered a box on their porch.  They both ran to meet each other and talk about the box they found. 

 

The first girl said “Look I found this box on my porch.  Although it is empty, I will treasure this gift always.” The second girl said “I found a box too, but mine was empty.”

 

The second girl decided to leave the box on the porch in hopes that during the night someone would come and fill it up.  In the morning she was disappointed.  Same thing occurred the next day and the next day.  Always hoping someone would come and fill up the box and then disappointed because no one came.

 

The first girl, however, didn’t focus on how empty the box was.  She instead chose to fill up her box.  For example, in spring time she stored flowers in it, during summer she put sand and seashells, and in the winter she put fresh pine sprigs and pine cones, etc. Her box was always full and brought her joy.

 

Who was most fulfilled by the box?  I imagine the first girl number was more satisfied. 

 

The key to the story above is to know that the box represents your life and it’s up to you to decide what to put into your life.  You can either wait for something to happen or you can cause something to happen.  We are always presented with this choice.  Isn’t that a wonderful thing to know?  The choices we make can either hinder our life or improve our life. 

 

So which girl are you more like? 

 

The parable I paraphrased above comes from a book I’m reading:  The Heartache No One Sees by Shiela Walsh.  It’s a book about Christ’s promise of healing for a woman’s wounded heart.  I’m only on Chapter 9, but so far it’s been enlightening.  Each chapter has application points to consider and there’s a complete bible study at the end f the book.  I’m taking my time with this book.  Reading one chapter at a time, reflecting on what I read and answering the questions for further revelation.   I’ll share more as I progress.

 

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Jesus is Heir of All Things

 

 

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. Hebrews 1:1-4 NKJV 

Jesus Christ is heir of all things, which is to stay all things belong to Him.  Think about when you become an heir of property, you become responsible for that asset.  All decisions as to what to do with it become yours, as heir and rightful owner.  There is no question of who owns it therefore no one can just walk up and snatch it away from you, because you are the heir.  If Jesus is heir of all things, this means He’s heir of you and me.  I find that wonderful news.  Look at what John 10:29 NKJV says: “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”  Once the heir has been chosen by God, nothing can change who receives the inheritance. 

In Luke 20 Jesus told a parable about the vineyard owner, who hired some people to tend the vineyard for him.  When harvest time came the owner sent his servants to collect his portion of the harvest.  Yet, the servants working the vineyard had begun to think of the vineyard as their own and killed the servants.  After several attempts to collect the harvest the owner’s servants were slaughtered each time.  The owner decides to send his son thinking he would be respected.  Look at what Luke 20:13-15 NKJV says: “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him.’ 14 But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.’ 15 So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them?”  

People may try to take possession of what is not theirs and it may appear in the short term they succeeded.  However, in the end they shall receive their reward.  God is a fair and just God who will hold each person accountable.  Think about who the heir of you is. 

Are you like the vinedressers, trying to take your own life as an inheritance unto yourself?  Remember, we are not our own.  We were purchased with the precious blood of Jesus Christ (Acts 20:28). 

Father God above, You alone are our heir.  We belong to You through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross to purchase our freedom from sin.  Help us to remember we are Yours. In Jesus name, Amen. 

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Be Refreshed

I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, 5 hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, 6 that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. 7 For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother. Philemon 1:4-7 NKJV 

Today’s verse is so invigorating to me, like stepping into a nice warm bubble bath and letting all the cares of the world melt away in the bubbles. Once I’ve had a good soak in God’s Word, I feel like I can tackle any problem that comes my way.  I am renewed, recharged and equipped for life.  Imagine if these verses were written specifically to you.  How might you respond?   God’s Word is such a comfort to me and my hope is that you may find it so too.  

In the opening verse, Paul mentions how he thanks God and mentions Philemon in his prayers.  I don’t know about you, but something twinkles inside me, when I know others are thanking God and praying for me.  What an honor that someone would spend time with God praying on my behalf.   Paul goes on about how he has heard about Philemon’s love and faith.  Have you heard of other’s love and faith?  Usually to hear about something, means someone has to talk about it.  If you haven’t heard of other’s love and faith, then perhaps it’s time to start talking about the love and faith you see around you.   

Verse 6 says “that the sharing of your faith may become effective…”  Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do, share our faith?  I heard/read a devotion recently that talked about the transformation that takes place when you become a Christian and how that same transformation causes us to speak out about our faith, to share it with others because it is really good news.  If it’s really such great news, why are we not telling everyone we know?  

Because of the desire God gave me to encourage others with His Word the last verse is precious to me: “because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.”  It is my sincerest prayer that through these devotions, you may be refreshed too.  

Lord, thank You for Your Word that refreshed and renews our thinking.  Thank You for being available to us through prayer.  Give us a desire to please You by reading Your Word daily.  Enable us to live out what we learn from Your Word.  In Jesus name.  Amen. 

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Titus 3:9-11 NKJV

But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. 10 Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned. Titus 3:9-11 NKJV 

There is a time to retreat.  The Bible teaches we are not to engage is foolish disputes.  That tells me I am to over look things that would trigger a foolish dispute.  Some examples might be:

 

·         Perhaps someone is putting the dishes away in the wrong spot, rather than correct them and cause contention, I am to let it go. 

 

·         Someone is working on a project and you see there is a better way to do it.  You want to inform them to do it your way.  Rather than impress your way on them, you hold your tongue and allow them to finish the project on their own.

 

There is a time to reject someone who obviously isn’t willing to follow God’s commands.  If after you’ve attempted to bring them back to the Lord through godly admonishment and they still refuse to turn from their ways, we are called to “release” them.  Stop going after them.  Let them run their own course, keeping them prayer and in time, they may see the error of their way. 

 

In 1 Corinthians 5:13 NKJV Paul admonishes the church to “put away from yourselves the evil person.” He was speaking of a man in the church who was in obvious sin.  I think this verse goes well with today’s scripture.  We are to reject the decisive man, who chooses to walk contrary to the Lord.  Don’t linger and potentially enter into to foolish discussions.  Separate your self from such a one, for bad company corrupts good character.  

Lord, thank You for Your Word and Your Spirit who leads us into all truth.  Enable us to seek more of You and obey Your commands out of a heart of love, longing to please You. Help us know when to retreat rather than go after someone for Your sake.  Lead us day by day. In Jesus name, Amen.  

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Remember

  

Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. Titus 3:1-2 NKJV  

 

Fellowship is key to our obedient walk with Christ.  We need others in our lives, that be a “Paul” to us.  Look at what Paul writes in Titus.  He’s explaining we need to remind each other certain things, like obeying authorities and being ready for good work.  He also reminds us to love our neighbor and gives examples such as speak evil of no one, be peaceable, gentle and show humility to everyone.  All of these are very good advice to follow.     

Reading further into Titus 3, Paul reminds us what kind of people we also were at one time.  “3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.”  He doesn’t do it to shame us, but he remind us all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  No one is exempt from sin’s presence.  We are all affected by it.  This should help us stay humble towards one another.   

I love how scripture is so complete.  If we just stopped there, we’d be a mess.  We’d see 1) we need to obey and 2) we are sinners.  Not much hope in the first couple verses to motivate us towards obedient behavior, is there?   

At the right time, the rest of the verses come into play.  “4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  Can you imaging trying to carry out all of that good behavior in our own strength?  How exhausting!  In verse 4-7, Paul reminds us yet again, it’s not by our power that we can do these things.  It’s all because Christ sacrificed Himself, paid for our sins, set us free from the bondage of sin, and in rising from the dead, He gave us new life and enabled us to live out a godly life by giving us His Spirit to live in us.  All of this He did, not because we did anything to deserve it, but because of His mercy and grace!  This is what’s motivating!   

Let’s talk about some examples.   

How would you feel if you’d forgotten your lunch at home and had no money to buy lunch at school or work?  Then a friend or co-worker notices you have nothing to eat and buys you lunch without even asking you, and delivers to you.  How would you feel?   

Let’s say you have a flat tire and you’re stranded on the side of the road.  You don’t know the first thing about changing a flat tire and you don’t belong to a convenient road side assistance program.  Just then a nice man stops, changes the tire for you and gets you back on the road.  How would you feel?  

What are your thoughts?  Would you have felt grateful in either of these situations?  I would.  These examples can not even come close to comparing to the wonderfulness of Christ’s help.  Jesus did more than change a flat tire or buy you food for a day.  He gave you a new life.  He purchased your ticket to heaven, your eternal home.  He picked you and I up out of the garbage, washed us off and set us, as jewels in His crown, into a new godly life! 

In conclusion, Paul goes on to say “8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.”  In order words, remind each other of all we have to be grateful for.  Do not let yourself or those around you slip into the routine of life and therefore be tempted to forget all that Christ has done.   Remembering these things will motivate us to carry on the good works God has called us to.   Fellowship with other believers can help us keep our focus on the Lord and what He’s done for us.  Where are you today?  Are you connected in a small group?  Join one today. 

Lord, thank You for Your Word that straightens us out and shows us all we have to be grateful for.  Bring godly people into our lives to be like Paul, reminding us of all You have done for us. Thank You, Jesus for Your mercy and grace.  In Your name, Amen.  

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Thought Life

To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.  Titus 1:15 NKJV 

 

How important are the thoughts we allow in our mind?  According to God’s Word, they are very important.  When we allow thoughts to linger or dwell on them, they turn into feelings.  Once feelings have kicked it, our emotions try to convince us into taking action.  It’s just how we were made.  

 

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.”  The mind plays a critical role in transforming us.  The mind must be renewed.  This indicates the mind needs to be renewed.  There is something dark in our mind which is not good, therefore, it needs to be renewed.   

 

Every moment since becoming a born again believer, I’ve noticed a conflict in my mind between what my mind wants to think about and what the Bible tells us we should think about.  Notice today’s verse.  It says “to the pure all things are pure”.  Do you see all things as pure?  If not, it’s an indication our thought life isn’t what it’s supposed to be.     

 

Philippians 4:8 NKJV says “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.”  These are want we should focus on and keep bringing our mind back to.  Only when we maintain our focus on these things, will we be able to say “to the pure all things are pure”.  Also remember who is all these things?  There is only one person – Jesus Christ.  When we dwell on the true, noble, just, pure, etc, we are dwelling on Christ Himself.   

 

To have this kind of focus takes work.  This isn’t as easy as waking up one morning and saying “Okay, self, you’re going to think only good thoughts today.”  Oh no, it takes a conscience awareness of what we are thinking about.  We have to create a new standard for what is acceptable in our thoughts.  If we judge our thoughts against Philippians 4:8 and find our thoughts don’t agree, then we are to cast it out of our mind.   

 

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 NKJV says “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”  We have God’s might to help us bring every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.  Our weapons to fight this mental battle are not limited to our human strength.  Instead they are mighty spiritual weapons able to defeat our enemy.   

 

Let’s recap.  We’ve learned what we think about is important and is an indicator of our spiritual condition.  We’ve discussed what we should be thinking about and we’ve discovered we’ve got God’s might to help us fight the mental battle and bring our thoughts into obedience.   

 

How are your thoughts today?  Did you check them against Philippians 4:8?  It’s not too late.  Simply ask God for help bringing your thoughts into submission.   

 

Lord God Almighty, thank you for your word that reveals the areas we fall short.  Thank you for leading us on the path of life.  Thank you for purifying us from all unrighteousness and giving us the strength we need to fight the mental battle and align our thoughts with you.  In Jesus name Amen.  

 

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Living the Word

 

 

The other day my son and I had a brief argument. Well, not really.  He walked into the room, got in my face and asked me something.  I didn’t like how he got in my face or the attitude with which the words were flung at me, so without answering his question I asked my own question:  “Why do you speak to me with such an attitude?”

“Because you speak to me with an attitude” was his reply.  Ouch!

 

There’s some truth in his statement. The whole scenario got me thinking.  I’ve been praying about how to change this dynamic for some time now.  Yesterday, very clearly the Lord was revealing how I may be good about reading His Word, but I’m missing the part about applying it.  Specifically regarding the following two verses:

 

Leviticus 19:18NKJV “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” 

How interesting.  Was I holding a grudge against me son?  I think I was very resentful of how he was treating me.  Father, forgive me.  However, thinking about loving my neighbor as myself, made me wonder how would I want to be treated, if I were in my son’s shoes?  

I’m sure you’ve heard the Golden Rule:  Treat others as you would want to be treated.  Well, there’s good reason for it.  Look at what Matthew 7:2 NLT says: “For you will be treated as you treat others.”  Therefore, I think I was speaking with attitude towards my son, perhaps mixed with anger and frustration (but we’ll save that for another story).  

These verses were percolating in my mind, like a coffee pot brewing hot java. The next morning while driving my son to school I began to share with him what God had showed me regarding what transpired the night before.  “When we love our neighbor, we are willing to do for them what we would want done for us.  Truly loving someone means we’ll be intentional with our words.  Rather than letting ourselves react to what someone says to us, we hold our tongue, wait and then purposefully respond out of love.  This also means that we respond in love, regardless of whether the person speaking to us deserves to be treated nicely or not.  We express love because God has loved us, when we don’t deserve it.  It is our responsibility, as Christians, to show the same kind of love to those around us, even when they don’t deserve it.  By doing so, we become witnesses of God’s grace, mercy and love.  That’s what makes us different from the world.  That example can draw others to God.”  

This may seem like a no-brainer for some of you and it did to me.  While I knew this before the scenario occurred, God brought me to a deeper understanding of this truth.  It was a wonderful moment of Aha!   Now, I really get it! 

How about you?  Are you loving your neighbor as yourself?  Stop and take a moment to consider how you are treating people around you.  Are you treating them how you would want to be treated?  Or are you letting resentment creep in to color your response toward them? 

Lord God Almighty, you alone deserve all praise, you alone deserve all love.  Thank you, Lord for showing us the real way to love others as our self.  Enable us to respond with loving intentions rather than out of an automatic reaction.  In Jesus name Amen. 

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The Good Law

But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust. 1 Timothy 1:8-11 NKJV 

 

Have you ever noticed how we agree with the law when it’s catching “the bad guys”?  But did you ever think you were a bad guy? Have you ever been caught by the law?  (Ever get a speeding ticket?) Did you think the law was good when you were caught by it?  Why is it when we’re caught by it, the law is not good but troublesome? 

 

 

Today’s verse indicates the law is good when used lawfully.  The purpose of the law is to expose wrong doing.  If we were honest with ourselves, we would find wrong doing inside our hearts.  While at first glance you might not see yourself in the list in today’s verse, but I ask you to take a closer look.  We are insubordinate because we do not follow God’s commands.  We are sinners as Romans 3:23 tells us. We even fall into the category about things which are contrary to sound doctrine.  Really no one is exempt from the law.

 

 

I’ve heard it preached the Ten Commandments were given to point the way to Christ by getting the people to recognize they could not keep the commandments.   If you study the Ten Commandments you will find you have not been able to keep them either.  For this reason a Savior is needed, who can free us of the penalty of these commandments.  Thank God, for His glorious plan of Salvation. 

 

 

Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, came to earth, lived a sinless life (Hebrews 4:15) and chose to die on the cross to pay for our sins (Hebrews 9:7).  God didn’t stop there.  He even raised Christ again, to give us a new life in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:4).  Again, God didn’t stop at clearing the record against us.  He, then gave us His Holy Spirit to live in us, which was the guarantee of His promises to us (2 Corinthians 1:22).  He gave us everything we need to live godly lives until Christ returns to take us home.  Of course, all of these wonderful things are available to everyone who puts their trust in Jesus Christ. 

What an amazing God we have!

 

 

Lord, thank you for your law which exposes the wrong in us and points us to Christ our Savior. Thank you for not abandoning us, but saving us and equipping us for a new life in Christ Jesus.  Enable us to live our lives holy and pleasing to do.  In Jesus’ name Amen.  

 

If you haven’t given your life to Jesus yet and you’d like to, just pray a simple prayer like this:  Father God, I now understand I’m a sinner and need saving.  Jesus please come into my life and save me.  In Jesus’ name Amen.  It’s that simple.  You believe in your heart and confess with your mouth and you will be saved (Romans 10:9).

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To Know and Follow Hard After You

 

 

There’s a Christian song with a lyric “to know and follow hard after you” that I can’t seem to get out of my head this morning.  Isn’t that the goal of every Christian?  We long to know God and to spend our energies following hard after Him. 

 

What do you do to follow hard after Him?  Do you seek Him in prayer?  Do you look for Him in His Word?  Do you talk about Him with other believers?  Do you witness His beauty all around us in nature? 

 

Keeping God on the top of your mind is important.  It’s how we ensure He is first and foremost in our life.  How often do you think of Him?  How often do you speak with Him?  How often do you listen to what He’s saying to you? 

 

Lord, thank you for being with us always and for never leaving us.  Thank you for coming to live in us.  Help us keep you top priority in our minds, to think on the things that are true, lovely, excellent and pure.  You, Lord, are worthy of all praise.  In Jesus name, Amen.  

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