Bible Devotions

God Hears

 

When God says something will happen we can rest assured it will come to pass.  King David wanted to build a house for God, but God said it would not be David, but his son Solomon who would do it (1 Chronicles 28:3). 

 

Fast forward to 2 Chronicles 7:11 NKJV “Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king’s house:  and Solomon successfully accomplished all that came into his heart to make in the house of the Lord and in his own house.”  See.  God said Solomon would build the house of the Lord and Solomon really did finish it.

 

When the Lord calls someone to do something for His kingdom, He equips.  One of Solomon’s purposes from God was to complete the Lord’s house.  With God’s help, he not only did it, but he “successfully accomplished all that came into his heart”.  Everything God plants in our heart to do, He makes happen. 

 

It is so encouraging to know God can be trusted to follow through on whatever He promises.  So when we read 2 Chronicles 7:14 we should have great joy: “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

 

God will hear, forgive and heal, if we choose to humble our self before Him.  As we agree with God about our sins, seek Him and turn from our old ways, He will hear and respond.  That was the case for me.  Once I humbled myself, confessed my sins, He answered me, forgave me and healed me.  All that’s left is for me to continue carrying out God’s purpose in my life, as He reveals it to me.  This I know: He is the One working it out through me.  My part is willing obedience to Him.

 

How about you?  Have you humbled yourself before the Lord?  Have you agreed with God about your sin?  Are you seeking His forgiveness?  Why wait?  He’s waiting.  He will answer when you turn to Him.

 Lord, thank you for hearing us when we humble our self before you.  Thank you for your forgiveness.  Thank you for being faithful to answer us.  Draw us near.  May we always hear you.  In Jesus’ name Amen.  
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By Faith I Stand

By faith I am saved. It is God’s grace through faith in Jesus I am saved. I did nothing to deserve or earn it, except believe it. (Ephesians 2:8)

By faith I have power to do all things through Jesus. For He strengthens me for every task I must complete. (Philippians 4:13)

By faith I have desires to do what pleases God. For God is working in me giving me the desire and power to do what pleases Him. (Philippians 2:13)

By faith I will complete what I am meant to complete. I am confident God who began the good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

By faith I will not be anxious about anything but in everything I will bring it to God with thanksgiving. (Philippians 4:6)

By faith I have all that I need. For my God meets my needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

By faith I face trials of many kinds and rejoice knowing the testing of my faith produces perseverance and maturity, so I will be complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:4)

By faith I will be quick to listen and slow to speak and slow to anger. For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life God desires. (James 1:19-20)

By faith I will do what God’s words say and not just listen to it and deceive myself. (James 1:22)

By faith I will show my faith by what I do. (James 2:18)

By faith I will conduct myself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. (Philippians 1:27)

What other “By faith” statements would you add to this list? Please comment below and share your ideas with others to be an encourager of the faith.

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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. 

 

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Blessed by Doing

 

Are you a forgetful hearer?  You listen to God’s Word at church on Sunday, but come Monday you are living your life as you choose with no regard to what you heard on Sunday? 

 

The Bible tells us those who hear only actually deceive themselves.  James 1:22 NKJV says “But be doers of the word, and not just hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  So how does one become a doer of the word? 

 

James 1:25 NKJV gives us some clues: “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”    James continues to say we need to bridle our tongue, care for orphans and widows in their trouble and keep our self uncorrupted by the world.

 

Jesus teaches us by carrying out God’s commands we become like a wise man. Matthew 7:24 NKJV says “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.”  Jesus continued to say though rain, floods and wind came against the house, it stood because it was founded upon the rock.  The same is true for us, when we trust in Christ we become founded upon the rock.  Nothing can move us. 

 

Jesus also taught us about servants and masters in John 13:1-17, when he washed the disciple’s feet.  A servant is not above the master.  We are servants to God, which means our own will is NOT above God’s.  Likewise, the one sent is not greater than the one doing the sending.  We are sent by God to carrying out His good purposes in this life.  We are NOT greater than God who’s sending us.  Jesus capped off this teaching saying “If you know these things blessed are you if you do them.” 

 

Look at what James 1:12 NKJV says “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved he will receive the crown of life which the Lord promised to those who love Him.”

 

So fellow believer, let us endure temptations and follow Christ’s example.  Let us be doers of the word that we may be called wise and not deceive our self.  For Jesus said in Matthew 7:21 NKJV “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”

 Lord Jesus, thank you for your cleansing, healing, righteousness word.  Thank you for your Spirit enabling us to walk in your word and become doers of the word.  Help us continue in your way all the days of life that we may be lights to the world for you. In your name we pray. Amen.  

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What Would You Die For?

Have you ever stopped to consider what you would be willing to die for?

After reading in Mark chapter 16 about the torture and death of Jesus on the cross, it got me thinking about His willingness to go through all that.

Sure, Jesus struggled, as any man would, with the idea at the garden of Gethsemane when He prayed, “Abba, Father all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” Mark 14:36

But Jesus went through it anyway. Though it was agonizingly painful and people didn’t understand, He still did it. He did nothing to prevent God’s will. He did not try to get out of His responsibility. He held fast to His purpose – to save mankind from sin.

Why did He do this? He is God, all powerful. He could have changed time, erased the sin, or changed us so we wouldn’t sin again. Why go through this messy, painful ordeal? Hebrews 12:2 says Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before Him.” What was the joy that kept Jesus on track? To accomplish God’s will to save mankind!

He did it for love. To satisfy God’s wrath over the sin you and I committed. The Just God of the Universe had to punish sin or else He wouldn’t be Just. To prove His love and great mercy towards His most priced creation, He took our place and suffered on our behalf! God did this for you and me!

Now what about you? What are you willing to die for? Would you die for any of these things?

  • Money
  • Sex
  • Possession
  • Power
  • Fame
  • A lie

I’m guessing you would answer no to these items. After all if you died you would be able to enjoy any of those things you died for, right? Seems silly doesn’t it?

People and truth are worth dying for. Jesus proved it. He died to save people. He died to reveal truth of His word. What He said would happen (and was foretold in Scripture) actually did happen.

The best part of this story is Jesus lives! He came back to life after the cross! He lives. He wants a relationship with us. He offers to live in us. He gives His Holy Spirit to anyone who believes. They become part of His family, granted the right to become children of God.

Do you want to be part of His family?

Believe in your heart and confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and you will be saved (Romans 10:9-10).

 

Lord Jesus, thank you for dying for me. Lord I believe you are the Son of God. I believe the Bible is your word. Save me this moment and make me part of your family. This I pray in your name Jesus. Amen.

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Do You Trust Me?

What if someone dear to your heart asked you to place your most prized possession in a clean trash can? Would you do it? Your response reveals how much you trust this person.

Read Genesis 22:1-13

God ask Abraham to do something similar with his beloved son, Isaac.  Because Abraham willing did what God asked, he was considered righteous.  You see God never intended to have Abraham kill his son. It was a test to see if Abraham trusted God.

Why must trust be tested?

If you were quick to obey, it means you value and trust that person more than the object you placed in the trash can. This is a sign of an authentic relationship. But if you did not place the object in the trash can, it means you don’t trust the person who asked you to do this.

God is asking each of us “do you trust me?” Our response determines how much we trust Him.

At the end of Abraham’s test, Isaac remained.  He was not taken from Abraham at all.  Notice Abraham’s test was to offer Isaac as a burnt offering.  This was all God told Abraham. Now think about this for a minute.  God gave Abraham only one step of His plan.  God did not reveal the whole picture upfront.  If the whole thing was revealed up front there would be no reason for trust. Abraham would have known how it worked out and he would have just gone through the motions without any internal struggle.

God wants us to trust Him.  He will ask us to do something we don’t want to do.  When He does it is like Him asking, “do you trust me?” We won’t know how it works out, but we are asked to believe it will.  God loves us and wants what’s best for us.

Without the internal struggle to decide to trust, we would not be drawn closer to God afterward.  You see, when we obey, we are testing God to see if He is real.  When we obey, the end result proves God’s intentions towards us are pure, right, and true.  But if we never obey, we miss the opportunity to find out how pure, honorable, right, and true God is.

So what has God asked you to do lately? What is your response? Are you willing to trust Him?

Take courage! Though the watery trials may get you wet, He is with you and won’t allow those trials to overflow you.

Lord, thank you for the trials and tests. Thank you for your love and patience.  Help us to trust in you more with each trial.  In Jesus’ name we 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.

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The Nice Game

Did you ever notice how God uses children to point the way?  One day while sitting around the dinner table, my seven year old son, James, says “Let me teach you how to play the nice game.” My teenage son, Scott, was less than enthusiastic; we followed our younger son’s instructions anyway.

James told us the basic rules of the game. One person says something nice about another person at the table who is sitting to their right of them. That person then shares something nice about the person on their right and so on until everyone has had something nice said about them.

The next rule surprised me but was worth doing. Then you switch directions.  If you started on the right side, now you switch directions and go around the table to the left. This allows another person’s nice comments to be said.

The last rule is similar to the previous one. On the next round, you select the persons in front of you to compliment and continue until everyone has said something nice to all persons at your table.

This was so much fun. You see am I the only woman in my family.  I am usually starved for conversation. My youngest shared a simple game to start up the conversation! It was like a dream come true. It was refreshing and energizing.

This idea isn’t new to me, though. It has been used in small groups but with a different angle. Instead of saying something nice, each person thanks God for something or praises Him for one of His character traits. In fact I have used this very game principle in my own small group.  But it’s funny that when it is suggested by a young person how more acceptable it was to play the game.

Children are a gift from God. I pray you have children in your life, even if the children are not your own.  Being around children can positively influence you to grow in your faith and relationships!

Thank you, Lord, for your mysterious ways. Thank you for children who are a blessing in our lives. Thank you for allowing us to see your grace in everyday interactions with children.  In Jesus’ name Amen.

 

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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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The Lord will be a shelter for His people… Joel 3:16 NKJV

The prophet Joel spoke of the “The Day of the Lord” coming. It is the Day of Judgment, when all the wrongs will be compensated.  It is a terrible and yet wonderful thing to behold.

Only those who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping and with mourning.”

Then the Lord will be zealous for His land and pity His people. The Lord will answer His people.

The Lord will

  • Remove you from the northern army
  • Cause the harvest to bloom
  • Cause the rain
  • Restore all the locusts have eaten
  • Satisfy you
  • Defend you
  • Pour out His Spirit upon us
  • Save those who call on the name of the Lord
  • Cause victory for His people
  • Strengthen His people
  • Be a shelter for His people
  • Pay back those who brought evil against His people
  • Acquit Judah and Jerusalem of bloodshed
  • Dwell in Zion

No matter what the circumstances look like, God is able to deliver us out of them. Look not at your foes. Look not at all you lack. Look not at the problems facing you.

Look, instead, to Jesus, the One who is able to rescue you.  God Almighty knows your troubles and has the power to save and deliver you. But it requires your trust. You must turn to Him, trust in His ability. Fear not, be glad and rejoice. For the Lord has done marvelous things!

Father, thank you for helping us through the difficult times in our life.  You provide a way out of every temptation.  You provide the strength we need to face all opposition.  We are ready to trust you. Deliver us Lord. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

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