Bible Devotions

Be Still

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 NKJV

Being still is a skill that develops over time. Not just being still through ordinary passing of time though. Rather this kind of being still occurs during trials and tribulations.  As the stress of life rains on us, depending on how we personally handle it, the outward self may appear still but the mind is anything but still.

The mind tries to comprehend why. Why is this happening? Why me, Lord? The mind tries to manipulate the situation to change the outcome to no avail.  It tries to be better, to think more godly thoughts but it fails.

The Bible tells us God loves us. Nothing can separate us from His love. God is with us, even in us in the form of His Spirit. It tells us all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. These things are true.

But if we haven’t fully grasped them as true for us they remain elusive. God is a personal being. He made each person different from all the others. Each creation is unique. That means each person has a unique path to God. Now don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying there are multiple ways to get to heaven. No. There’s one way through faith in Jesus. What I am saying is since we are all unique, then the way in which we fully grasp God and truth is unique too.  The circumstances, situations, the struggles all work to move us closer to God. With each difficulty brings an opportunity to trust.  Trust God more with each new problem. As we see His deliverance, His help, His provision we believe all of the more.

The more chances we have believed God is who He said He is, the more our faith grows.  Along with believing God, comes a peace that is beyond human understanding.  This peace brings a stillness that allows us to stand firm knowing who it is that creates the “be still” part from today’s verse.

The walls could be crashing down around you. Yet you are at peace in divine stillness because you know in whose hands you are in.

Have you experienced this kind of stillness yet? Don’t give up hope. It will come. Perhaps you need a few more opportunities to trust God first. Don’t worry. God knows what He’s doing. Your safe in His hands.

God, thank you for loving us and providing everything we need to understand your love for us. Reveal yourself to us and draw us to you. In Jesus’ name we pray. 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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Love is a Result

Love is the finished product.  We cannot wake up one day and decide to love everyone.  It may work temporarily.  As soon as the object of that love does something hurtful, we stop loving.  That’s our nature.

Jesus said, “You can do nothing apart from Me.” He means it.  All our efforts to love, our self-will and determination will fail.

Only God’s love lasts forever, unchanged.  Even when the object of His love turns their back on Him, God still loves them.  For the Bible tells us nothing can ever separate us from the love of God.  Hell can’t, heaven can’t, our fears can’t, and even our mistakes can’t.  God is love, therefore, His love remains forever.

If we crave more love in our life the answer is found in Jesus Christ.  First John 4:15 says, “whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him and he in God.” As long as we abide in God, we can love others.  First John 4:4 says, “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” Jesus said in John 15:10, “If you keep My commandments you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”  First John 4:16 says, “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”

As a result of abiding in God, and He in us, we will love one another because it is His Spirit in us doing the loving.  John 3:6 tells us we must be born again to receive this Spirit. When He comes to live in us He is responsible for guiding us in all truth, convicting us of sin, of righteousness and of judgment to come, which helps us stay on track with God’s commandments.

Then the fruit appears.  Galatians 5:22 tells us the first fruit of the Spirit is love.  Everything the Spirit of God does is loving.  Once we accept Jesus Christ into our life, God gives us His Spirit which empowers and equips us to desire and do what is pleasing to Him.  That means we have the ability to love others as our self and love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Just because we have received God’s Spirit doesn’t mean we automatically love all the time.  For God designed us each with free-will.  We can choose to walk by the Spirit of by our old worldly ways.  The Bible calls this walking by the flesh.

God gives us every opportunity to love.  He has equipped us to love, but the choice is still ours.  Next time we are tempted to ________________________, (you fill in the blank), S.T.O.P. Before you react, respond or rehearse how you might react, think of this acrostic.

S eek God’s perspective

T urn to God’s Word

O pen your heart to truth

P ray for God’s leading

Hiding God’s word in your heart and mind is a great way to guard against temptation.  You may be tempted to become easily angered, be rude, be selfish or any number of other ungodly things.  Whatever your temptation God always provides a way out.  Seek Him before, during and after the trying time and you will have peace that surpasses all understanding.

Thank you, God, for helping us to love as you have loved us. Thank you for your Holy Spirit to guide us along the pathway of life and righteousness. Thank you for making us right in your sight by the gift of Jesus Christ. In His 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.  Visit us at http://www.ThinkOnIt.org today.

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Do You Believe In The Son of Man?

This seems like a simply question, doesn’t it? My guess many “Christians” might answer that question with a resounding YES!

However, before we rashly answer the question we might consider what the phrase “The Son of Man” means.

Matthew 16:13-17 NIV says:

“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”

 

There are 83 references to “The Son of Man” in NIV translation.  Not all are references to Christ, but the ones with “Son” capitalized are.  Here are some for your consideration:

  • Matthew 20:28 “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
  • Matthew 24:27 “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”
  • Matthew 25:31 “”When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.”
  • Luke 21:36 “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
  • Luke 22:69 “But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”
  • John 1:51 “He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
  • John 5:27 “And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.”
  • Acts 7:57 “”Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.””

We can see clearly from these verses, the Son of Man is title displaying authority and Diety.  As we ponder on these verses, we might be inclined to add other fitting titles such as: Son of God, Messiah, King of kings, Lord of lords, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, and Almighty God.

Now think for a moment of all God has done.  He spoke the world into existence. He created all we see from nothing that was seen.  He created all the plants, the animals, the earth, the sky, the stars, the planets, and the sustaining power of the balance of our solar system.  He created people with a free will.  He gave us creativity, communication, and intellect. He holds the waves of the sea in His hand.  He is without time because a day is as a year to Him.  He healed people through touch, sight, and simply speaking it.  He raised people from the dead.  He spoke dry scattered bones back into place and breathed life into them. He caused the sun to stand still.  The earth quakes at His presence.  All of creation cries out in praise to Him.  Nothing is impossible for Him.

God, in the form of Jesus, reigns over everything.  You and I are included in everything, whether we choose to acknowledge Him or not.

If we do choose to believe Jesus is the Son of God, then we are agreeing to be under His authority.  We willingly yield to His agenda for our life and sacrifice our own.  In order to place our self under His authority we must be willing to accept our position when compared to God.

Let’s think about what position that might be.

He is God.  We are His creation.  He is Author of life. We are alive because He made us.  We can nothing apart from Him.  He holds our very breath in His hand.  God is holy, without sin, without deceit, and without hypocrisy.  In Him is every good gift.  We are not holy, we are stained. We are not pure, we are tainted with sin. We are not honorable, we are manipulative, selfish and hypocritical.  He is merciful. We are critical and judgmental. The list could go on. Just remember what Romans 3:23 says “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  This sin we speak of has to be dealt with.  Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death.”

We must see this about our self to fully appreciate how great God is.  He loved us enough to do something we could not do for our self. He made a way to cleanse us from every wrong. He took our sin upon Himself, and died in our place to pay for our sin.  The last part of Romans 6:23 says “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The sin is dealt with.  It is finished.  We who believe in Jesus’ atoning work on the cross, are forgiven our sin-dept.  We are dressed in His robe of righteousness, as if we had never sinned to begin with.

If we have fully grasped the meaning of God’s authority and our position under His authority, our life should show some signs that we are different beings.  Jesus said you must be born again to enter the kingdom of God.  Through faith we believe and are saved by His grace.  Our obedience to God’s Word is one outward expression of the inward transformation.  But don’t think you can short cut the process by avoiding looking at our sinful self and try to do more good things than bad, for that is evil in God’s sight.  The good works done are done from a heart so radically changed by the grace of God it is done in reverence and love for HIM and nothing from our self.

Now, having looked at the authority of God compared to our sinful state, are you able to answer the question?  Do you believe in the Son of Man?

Lord, Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. Thank you for coming to earth, dying for my sins, and raising to life again to free me from sin and death. Thank you for loving me that much! Help me to live in a way that’s pleasing to you. In your name I pray. Amen.

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Return to Me

Yet you have not returned to Me says the Lord. Amos 4 NKJV

Do God’s people really need reminding to return to Him? Yes. Apparently they do as we see in Amos chapter 4.

The opening verse is used five times in this chapter and every instance He is talking to the children of God, Israel, God’s chosen people.

If we are not careful to watch and pray to stay close to God, we will stray or drift away just as Israel did.

Let’s take a look at the offenses God’s children committed that are recorded for our benefit.

  • They oppressed the poor
  • They crush the needy
  • They got drunk
  • They bring sacrifices every morning and tithes every three years
  • They offer thanksgiving sacrifices with leaven
  • They proclaim and announce their freewill offerings

The Hebrew word for “oppress” is “asaq” meaning to press upon, for example to defraud, violate or overflow. Further definition includes get deceitfully, deceive, defraud, drink up, oppress, use oppression, oppressor, do violence, an do wrong.

The Hebrew word for “crush” is “rasas” meaning to crack in pieces, literally or figuratively, break, bruise, crush, discourage, oppress, and struggle together.

God cares for the poor and needy. In what ways do we find ourselves oppressing or crushing the poor? Remember, to not think about the poor is just as bad.  God wants us to care for the poor and needy. Dueteronomy 15:11 says “For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’”

How often do we drink our problems away? Proverbs 31:5 tells us drinking makes us forget the law and pervert justice for all the afflicted.

What about sacrifices? How often do we ask forgiveness from God? God would rather we obey Him from the beginning than continue asking forgiveness. 1 Samuel 15:21-23 says “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”

What about the good we do?  Are we quick to brag about it? Proverbs 20:6 says most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?  Psalm 5:5 says the boastful shall not stand in Your sight, you hate all workers of iniquity.

As we read God’s Word and study how the people responded, we can learn much about our self.  With God’s Holy Spirit to guide us in all truth, we can know how to take an accurate assessment of our self.  Once we recognize sin in our life, we confess it to God and knowing Jesus’ work on the cross has already forgiven our sin, we can ask for His power to avoid the same sin in the future. God is faithful an just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. But we have to be willing to turn to Him. Are you?

Father, thank you for your Word, your Spirit, your desire to do what is pleasing to you. Thank you for so many second chances.  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.  Visit us at http://www.ThinkOnIt.org today.

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Accountability – Do We Really Need It?

Thus says the Lord, “For three transgressions of ___________, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment…” Amos 1:3 NKJV

This phrase is repeated 8 times in chapter one and two combined.  Each time a different city or people group is called out. There are two categories of people mentioned in this ominous phrase. One category of people was anyone who did bad things to God’s people. We see Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab in this category.  The other category of people is God’s chosen people – Judah and Israel.

Six of those cities were being punished for things done against God’s people. They had done violent things, took people captive, delivered people into captivity, pursued his brother with a sword, and burned the king’s of Edom bones to line.

But interestingly God’s own people were also included in these phrases.  Judah is judged for having despised the law of the Lord, and keeping His commandments, and allowing lies to lead them astray. Israel is called out because they sold the righteous for silver, sold the poor for a pair of sandals, perverted the way of the humble, incest, defiling God’s holy name, idol worship, and drinking wine of the condemned.

Why does any of this matter to us?  This section of Scripture clearly shows us God will hold each of us accountable for our actions. That should cause us to shudder a little bit!

Which category of people do you fall into? Are you in the group opposed and against God’s people? Are you among God’s people?  In either case you will be accountable to God for your actions.

Let’s say you answered “I’m part of God’s people.” That’s great. Let’s look at the flaws God pointed out to see if any apply to us today.

Judah despised God’s laws. They did not keep God’s commandments and were led astray by lies.  Do any of these apply to you? Are you despising or obeying God’s laws? Do you follow truth or lies?

Israel was more concerned about money than people. They perverted the humble with heavy regulations. They allowed incest in their families. They defiled God’s holy name and worshipped idols instead of God. Is there anything that comes before God in your own life? Watch out that’s idol worship. Are you caught up with the cares of this world? This too can be a slippery slope leading to idol worship.  Are you a perfectionist, holding others to an impossible standard?  This is what the religious elite in Jesus’ day did and He scolded them more than once for it.

Father God Almighty, thank you for your word that reveals the truth. Help us recognize the truth about our self and turn to you for mercy and forgiveness.  Thank you for your hearing us. Thank you for your faithfulness to forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness through Jesus Christ. In His precious name we pray. Amen.

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10 Reasons to be Thankful

  1. God so loved the world He gave his only Begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16
  2. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1
  3. However when He, the Spirit of Truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. John 16:13
  4. Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1
  5. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption but he who sows to the Spirit will reap everlasting life. Galatians 6:8
  6. Being confident of this very thing, He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6
  7. But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3
  8. Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and 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. Ephesians 6:10-11
  9. Now this is the confidence we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. 2 John 2:14-15
  10. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

We, who believe Jesus is Lord and Savior, have been given much to be thankful for. God took care of the sin problem by having Jesus die in our place, even when we were his enemies. When we believe this, we are no longer condemned but set free. We are given the Holy Spirit to guide us in truth, help us live godly lives. It is by God’s power in us who transforms our lives. God establishes and protects and gives us armor. He hears our prayers. He gave us His word to be equipped for every good work.

Dear Lord, thank you for giving us so much of yourself.  In Jesus’ name we pray Amen.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

 

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The Meekness of Wisdom, Spiritual Wisdom

Read James 3

There are two kinds of wisdom. One is a worldly wisdom. The other is a spiritual wisdom. How can we tell the difference between them?

James explains where there is bitter envy, self-seeking, boasting, and lying this is wisdom of the world, which is earthly, sensual, and demonic. Spiritual wisdom comes from God is pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, with no partiality or hypocrisy.

Picture the meekness of wisdom as we consider how Jesus behaved during his arrest and crucification.  He was pure and sinless. He was peaceful when arrested. He was gentle when He healed the soldier’s ear cut off by his overly enthusiast disciple. He willingly yielded Himself to cruel men to be killed. He was full of mercy as He hung nailed to the cross and asked the Father, “Forgive them they know not what they do.” Jesus played no favorites when he told the thief on the cross next to Him, “Today you will be in paradise.” Jesus was not a hypocrite as He said He would lay down his life and take it up again and He did!

True wisdom allows us to be meek, as Jesus’ example points out. He knew who He was. He knew where He came from and where He would return.  He knew His power and that of His Father. He knew He could do anything He wanted to do, yet He choose to do the One thing to save all who believe!

Unless we understand who we are in Christ, it is difficult to be humble. Only seeing the reality of our hopelessness of our own strength, and the power of Christ can we humble ourselves.

How is your wisdom?

Check it against James’ definition. Are there signs of bitter envy or self-seeking embedded in your logic? If so watch out. You are operating from a worldly view.  Are you able to show good conduct through works done in the meekness of wisdom? If so you are on your way to walking worthy of your calling as a child of God.

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God is Faithful and True

According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear! Haggai 2:5 NKJV

God had gotten the people’s attention in chapter 1 of Haggai. The people were stirred and ready to rebuild the temple. The task seemed daunting as compared to the original temple.  The new temple didn’t even come close to the same grandeur of the first temple.  As the people began to despair, God the encourager says, “be strong and work; for I am with you.”

God doesn’t just say “I will be with you”, but He sends His Spirit to remain among them. With God’s Spirit among them, they are instructed not to fear. The psalmist said, “If God is for us who can be against us” and “What can meer man do to me when the Lord is with me?”

Over and over we are told what God says He does.  We have the proof in the historical record of the Bible. Everything the Lord said, He did.  Anything not done yet means the time hasn’t come yet. He is still planning to do it.

God is faithful and true.  He is with you. You can depend on it.

Lord thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for your Spirit to be with us.  Thank you for giving us everything we need to live a godly life until you return. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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Complete In Him

Read Colossians 3

God’s love completes us. With His great love towards us, and in us we are able to carry out all Paul describes in this chapter; everything for putting off the old man with its wicked deeds to putting on the new man who is able to forgive.  God’s love makes us holy and beloved enabling us to put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness and longsuffering.  God’s love in us makes us thankful too.

Every relationship we have with others is transformed by God’s love in us.  We do all things as though we are doing it for the Lord.  We become grateful for all He has done for us.

Thank you, Lord, for transforming us by your mighty love.  Thank you for your Holy Spirit to guide us in your ways.  Thank you for forgiving us in Jesus Christ. In His precious name we pray. Amen.

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Knowledge of God

And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Matthew 9:11-13 NKJV 

Today’s verse is very popular.  I’m sure you’ve probably heard it before, although you probably heard Mark or Luke’s account instead.   

Mark 2:16-18 NKJV “When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”” 

Luke 5:30-32 NKJV “Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”” 

We’re looking at Matthew’s verse because it adds another dimension to this message.   The over arching message of these verses is that God calls sinners to repentance, that much is very clear.  Matthew documents more.  Jesus told the Pharisees, who should have known why God calls sinners to repentance, “go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’”.   

The Pharisees were content in their ability to follow the rules to prove they were righteous before man.  They lived by regulations that elevated themselves in the eyes of the common people.  Their outward appearance would be such the average person when gazing upon the Pharisee would say “There goes a holy man”.   

Jesus is pointing out something the Pharisees missed in all their study of God’s Word.  The most precious aspect of God – mercy.  There’s a footnote on this verse in my Bible referencing Hosea 6:6 NKJV, “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”   The New Living Translations provides more contemporary understanding: “I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.” Can’t you just hear God’s longing for us to know and to love Him?   

God’s not interested in us following a set of rules for the sake of saying we kept the commandments.  He’s more concerned with our understanding Him.  With understanding comes love.  With love comes obedience.  With obedience comes freedom from sin.   

Beth Moore mentioned in her Breaking Free video “We are challenged to adjust our life based on the truth we learned.”  We don’t just read God’s Word.  We need to internalize it and allow God to change the way we think (Romans 12:2). 

Where are you today?  Are you challenged by this truth?  Are you like the Pharisees busy keeping a set of rules, making sure you like “appear” more righteous before people?  Are you showing love and being merciful towards others?   

Lord God above, You are worthy of all love.  Thank You for making it possible for us sinners to come directly to Your throne by dying for us.  Thank You for Your Holy Spirit living in us to give us a desire to know You.  Enable us to receive Your Word and live it out in our lives.  In Jesus’ name Amen.   

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