Bible Devotions

Thoughts, Actions, Feelings – in that Order

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Unhealthy

Healthy

He who does not believe (verse 18, thoughts)

Their deeds were evil (verse 19, actions)

Hates the light (verse 20, feelings)

 

He who believes (verse 18, thoughts)

Does the truth (verse 21, actions)

Comes to light (verse 21, feelings)

 

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

 

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

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

 

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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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Proclaim the Good News

Sing to the LORD, bless His name; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Psalm 96:2 NKJV 

What is the Good News?

God loves you and wants you to be with Him forever in heaven.  But because we have a sinful nature our relationship with God has been broken.  God loved us so much, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to mend our relationship with God.  Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty for our sin (John 3:16).  We are no longer under judgment for our sins.  We are pardoned.  We are forgiven.  We are set free from bondage of sin.  We call this Salvation (Romans 6:23).  That’s only part of the good news.  There’s more! Jesus’ resurrection from the dead gives those who believe in Him a new life.  It’s a second chance to do life right.  He came to give us life and that more abundantly (John 10:10). 

 

How do we proclaim it?

We start by reading God’s Word to obtain a firm understanding of what God’s done for us.  The more God’s Word is allowed in our heart, the more we become like Him.  Our life, the choices we make, and the things we think about and the words we say become godly.  Morphing into the person God created us to be, we become lights to other around us.  Obeying God’s Word and living it out means we’ll use our gifts, talents, and abilities for God’s glory.  We’ll begin serving God by what we do and the attitudes behind why we do it.  The result is serving others as we learn to walk by the spirit rather than satisfying our own selfish desires (Romans 8:4).   We do these things moment by moment and day by day.

 

Who do we proclaim it to?

We proclaim the good news to anyone who asks about the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15).  As we go about our business we have an eye on the look out for anyone downtrodden, hopeless and hurting.  We take special care for the widows and orphans and poor among us (James 1:27).  We come along side them, serving and helping where we can, waiting for an opportunity to share God’s love and salvation story. 

 

 Where do we proclaim it?

Anywhere we are we proclaim the good news.  We share at work as we conduct business, or at home while having dinner with our family.  It could be at school in between classes or on the soccer field while we’re playing.  We can proclaim the good news any time and any where.  Remember we live in a free country.  We are not persecuted for our faith, as in some countries.  So what’s holding us back?  People are dying for good news.  We have it, so let’s start sharing it.

 

Why do we proclaim it?

God does not want a single one to perish but all to come to Him for salvation (2 Peter 3:9).  He wants people to come to faith and trust in Jesus Christ so they will be saved.  We share the good news out of love for God and love of others.  We share out of respect for God and obedience to His commands.  Jesus said in Matthew 28:19 “Go make disciples of all the nations”.   We proclaim the good news to praise God for all He’s done.  In doing so we strengthen our own convictions and help other’s faith and trust grow in God’s plan. 

 

In summary the good news is forgiveness of sin, eternal life in Christ, and a new life now.  We share the good news through obedience to God’s Word and coming along side the hurting, serving and helping them.  We proclaim the good news where ever we may be all for the glory of God. 

 Lord Jesus, thank you for saving us.  Thank you for your Word to us.  Give us the wisdom, discernment and courage to share your good news with the world around us.  May we be obedient to your Word shining your love on those around us all for your glory.  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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Where Do You Turn

Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, you who seek the Lord; Look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug.  Isaiah 51:1 NKJV 

Listen

There are many voices calling to us, but there is only one we should listen to.  God’s still small voice is the only one to be trusted for only He has out best interests in mind.

 

Follow

There are many examples to follow, but there is only one we should model our life around.  God Almighty’s Son Jesus Christ was perfectly obedient in all ways, even to the point of death to bring salvation to all who would believe in Him.  His example should be our measuring stick to compare our life to.

 

Seek

There are many things to seek in this life, but only one satisfies.  Jesus Christ fills the empty space within us that compels us to seek in the first place.  Seek first His Kingdom and all these things will be added, says Jesus. 

 

Look

There are many things to look to but only one encourages and builds us up.  God Almighty who created all things with a spoken word.  He made you in His image.  We must never forget that.  When thinking about whose image we bear, we must also remember the pit from which He pulled us out.  In doing so, we remain humble knowing how undeserving we are of His lavish grace, love and forgiveness. 

 

Read Isaiah 51.  It is a wonderful reminder of God’s strength, all He has done and all He will do.  If ever your mind drifts away from the Lord, rein it back in by reading God’s Word.  Remember His sovereignty, His might and your own sinfulness is a great place to start. 

 Lord, thank you for speaking to us through your word.  Thank you for your clear directions for life.  Thank you for dying for our sins and rising again to give us new life.  In Jesus’ 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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Are You Troubled?

Restless

Does your situation have you in a choke hold?  Are anxious thoughts plaguing you?  Do unmet needs have you down?  Are you paralyzed by fear?

 

When our thoughts are centered on our self, our situation and our own needs, we can be sure we are playing into our enemy’s trap.  For these are the opposite of what God would have us focus on.  Think about Jesus’ ministry on earth.  Was He ever troubled over how He would pay His bills?  Did He fret over what He would wear?  Was He ever concerned about get His own needs met?  No He wasn’t.  Instead He was focused on God and God’s will. So when we find our self stuck by our problems, our thoughts and our fears, we need to remember God has a plan and we’re part of it. 

 

Remember God

Mediate on God and His glory to help bring back the proper perspective.  Psalm 104 is a great example of thinking on God’s handiwork.  Thinking about all He has created will help you remember how powerful, mighty and awesome He is.  Thinking about His strength your problems seem smaller by comparison.  God knows all things from the beginning to the end and everything in between.  He will keep you in perfect peace when your mind is steadfast on Him because you trust Him (Isaiah 26:3).  Remember God’s perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).

 

Do Your Part

Put on God’s armor so you may stand firm.  Ephesians 6:10-18 NKJV says “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” 

 

Think on helpful things.  Philippians 4:7-8 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.”  Do good and don’t grow weary for at the right time you will reap a harvest of right living (Galatians 6:9).  Do not doubt the Lord will accomplish all He says He will.  Seek first His kingdom and all things will be added to you. 

 

When you find yourself restless check your thoughts.  Remember God and focus your thoughts on Him.  With God’s power within you do your part to abide in His love and the peace of God will guard your heart and mind (Philippians 4:7). 

 Lord, thank you for being able to calm our restless souls.  Thank you for your word to guide us in our knowledge of you.  Thank you for your spirit to lead us in your truth.  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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In His Presence

Those who choose to enter into God’s presence and earnestly seek Him in all they do, say or think will be blessed.  David was named by God as “a man after God’s own heart”.  That’s a pretty incredible thing to say about someone who was a murderer and adulterer.  But that’s story for another time.  Yes, David failed at times, just like we do, but he would always return to the Lord.  That makes him a good role model for us.  Read what King David writes in Psalm 84. 

My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord, my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. (Psalm 84:2 NKJV) Does your soul long for God?  Do you ache for Him?  If not, learn about Him.  Study what He’s done for you.  Focus on the majesty of Him and you will want to be near Him. 

 

Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they will still be praising You. (Psalm 84:4 NKJV) Staying focused on God no matter what’s going on around you causes you to see things from a different perspective.  When you remember God knows what He’s doing, you can praise Him, even while going through a tough trial in life.  David had plenty of trials in his life.  If David could praise God in the middle of his trials, surely we can too.

 

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage.  (Psalm 84:5 NKJV) Realizing we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us is a blessing.  David knew where his strength came from – the Lord.  In addition, he knew he was on a journey.  We are also on a journey to our real home in heaven.  Like Paul taught us we are to remember to keep our eyes on the eternal things and not the things we can see.  When eternity is our focus, we set our hearts in the direction of God and His Kingdom.  Then we can easily say what David did in Psalm 84:10 NKJV, “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.”    

 

Our soul longs for the Lord, our minds are set on eternity, and our strength comes from Him. For further reassurance, look at look at Psalm 84:11 NKJV: “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”  There are blessings waiting for you who follow the Lord. 

 Lord, thank you for using ordinary people as examples for us.  Thank you for the mercy and grace you pour out on us.  Help us long for you.  Guide our thoughts to the eternal things.  Remind us where our strength comes from.  Reassure us of your love and enable us to walk uprightly before you.  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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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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Bring Every Thought Captive

What does this saying, “bring every thought captive” imply?  It seems to imply intention, discipline, and purpose.  What does the word captive mean? Well, there seems to be two very fitting definitions: (1) Kept within bounds; confined (2) Held under control of another but having the appearance of independence.

Our thoughts determine our heart, which determines our words and actions.  To bring our thoughts captive is to hold them within godly bounds.  To confine our thoughts to what is good, noble, pure, just, praiseworthy, honorable, and true (Philippians 4:8-9).

But who we bring our thoughts captive to is also critical.  We could make them captive to our self, but that would lead us down a path that seems right but ends in death. No. The only choice for a Christian is to make our thoughts captive to Jesus Christ.  Only Jesus holds control over us, while giving us the freedom to choose whether we submit to His authority or not.

How do we make our thoughts captive to Christ?

Find out more here.

(c) ThinkOnIt Bible Ministries Inc.

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A Good Soldier of Christ Jesus

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.

2 Timothy 2:3-4 NKJV

What does a good soldier look like?  What does he do or not do?  Here are some thoughts on this topic.

A good soldier….

Shows up for duty, whatever may be assigned

Comes ready for action and prepared

Does not question authority’s commands

Follows through with orders as directed

Knows his weapons and how to use them

Knows when to engage the battle and when to retreat

Works well with others to carry out the Commander’s plans

Knows it is not about making self important

Is disciplined and spiritually fit

Knows the enemy has been defeated and is certain the Lord is victorious

Is not entangles in the affairs of life

Aims to please the One who enlisted him

Follows the rules

How about you?  Are you a good soldier of Christ Jesus?  Are there areas you need to work on?  Get your heart aligned with Jesus and He will work out the rest.

©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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Everything for Good?

 

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NJKV

 

What an extreme idea!  God uses everything for good to those who love Him.  If everything is used for my beneficial good, then surely I will be filled with a great confidence in God working out the details. 

 

Sadly, a lot of times hurts from those we love drives us deeper in despair.  Where is the good when the harsh words are flying?  It is during those times we forget God’s promise to bring good out of everything.  When we are hurt, we just want to get out of the pain, so our focus is on fleeing.  Our focus is on the short-term gain of removing the pain. 

 

Sometimes God does great things in the short-term.  One time, God saved me from accidentally running over a mother pushing her baby’s stroller in a crosswalk, when I didn’t see them!  But most of the time, God is working on developing the fruit of the Spirit or in other words His character in us.  This is a long-term process, not short-term.

 

Think about a peach.  Does it simply pop out of the branch one day?  No.  It takes time to grow.  It starts out as a blossom, which is pollinated by a bee.  It turns into a small bud and over several weeks, as the tree provides nourishment, it grows into what we know is a peach. 

 

We are just like that peach.  We are God’s blossoms pollinated by His Word through the Holy Spirit.  When we start seeing evidence of our changed life we enter the budding phase.  With proper nourishment from the Tree of Life (God’s Word), over time we grow more like Jesus Christ. 

 

God creator of the universe, who has every day of our life written in His book before He ever made us, uses all things in our life to develop His fruit, His character in us.  Can He use my mistakes?  Absolutely He’ll help us make better choices next time.  Can He use the wrong things done to me?  You know He does when He teaches us to forgive those who hurt us and bless those you use us. Can He use my wrong motives? Sure He can, as He reveals His pure motives we learn to trust Him.  Can He use my financial burden?  Yes.  He helps us see all things come from Him.  Can He use my grieving over a death? You bet He will use it to guide our thoughts to eternity.  Can He use a toddler’s temper tantrum? No doubt He uses these to help us grow our patience.

 

It is really about how we think about all that goes on in our life.  Philippians 4:8 teaches us to keep our thoughts fixed on what is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praise worthy.  We are to meditate on these things.  The tough part is most of the time things masquerade in bad situations, negative attitudes, self-centered behavior and other evil of our day.

 

The challenge to us believers is to take God at His Word, to trust some how some way He will bring good out of it.  We may not see the good right away.  It may take time, just like the peach took time to grow.  Hang in there through the tough stuff, having confidence in God’s ability to bring good from it. In the end, we know God will bring good to those who love Him. 

 

Lord thank you for bringing good out of all things.  Help us to trust in your timing.  Enable us to keep our thoughts fixed on you as you develop the fruit of the Spirit in 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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