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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God’s Plan

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before hand that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10 NKJV

 

For We are His Workmanship

The “we” is collective, meaning more than one of us individually.  Remember, all believers are one body, the church.  Together we are His workmanship.  Isn’t it encouraging knowing we are part of something bigger and grander than just our self?  Knowing that each part within a body has a certain function and only when each part carries out their function, does the body work as intended by design.

 

Created in Christ Jesus

We started to become His workmanship the moment we trusted in Jesus Christ and received His gift of salvation.  We are a new creation in Christ.  Jesus alone does the building of the body.  He calls them to Himself and fits them in the proper place within the body.  His Spirit distributes gifts, talents, and abilities appropriate for their purpose within the body.  We can not say “I am the eye” or “I am the hand”, for it is Jesus who decides what our function is to be. 

 

For Good Works

There is a reason and purpose behind being His workmanship.  It is not to simply show off how awesome God is, although that’s part of it.  God always has a purpose.  We are hand-crafted by the God of the universe to do good works.  How do we know what’s good to do?  Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Does what you say encourage and build up someone’s faith?
  • Is your service done as though it is done for the Lord?
  • Is your act of giving helping expand the kingdom of God?
  • Are you caring for widows, orphans, oppressed, discouraged, and diseased or the poor?
  • Are you using your spiritual gifts?

If we answer yes to any of these, chances are we are doing good works.  Certainly, this is not an exhaustive list of all the ways to tell if we are doing good works, but it should help us stay on track with God’s plan. 

 

Which God Prepared Before Hand

God who created us and knows all things past, present and future has prepared the specific good works He wants us to carry out.  He has everything planned and worked out.  He even has His back up plans in place.  He is in complete control.  He has given us certain spiritual gifts such as pastering, teaching, speaking in tongues, encouraging, hospitability and generosity with an expectation these will be used for His glory. 

 

That We Should Walk in Them

Every spiritual gift given to us is for the purpose of operating in those gifts.   We are called to use the gifts.  Think about when you have given a gift to someone.  Did you expect them to open the gift and use it?  Of course you did.  No one would give a gift that just sat there without ever being opened.  We give gifts to be used and appreciated.  The same holds true for spiritual gifts.  It is in our using our God-given gifts God’s workmanship is demonstrated and His kingdom is expanded. 

 Lord thank you for your clarifying word.  Thank you for the spiritual gifts you’ve given us.  Enable us to recognize those gifts and to use them for your glory.  May we be empowered by the knowledge of your complete control and carry out the good works you prepare for us.  In Jesus’ name Amen. 

© ThinkOnIt Bible Ministries Inc is a 501(c) (3) Public Charity helping you grow in knowledge and understanding of God’s Word.

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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. Deuteronomy 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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Seeking a Spirit-Filled Life

The Bible has much to say about a Spirit-filled life.  Every believer wants to be filled with God’s Spirit and the truth is they are.  Today we are going to look at what a Spirit-filled life looks like.  As you read, consider whether these traits are visible in your own life.  If not, pray to our Father and ask Him to help you remove the obstacles preventing this kind of life.  

Marked by Humility

Believers who are well aware of their own sin are much more likely to be forgiving of another’s sin.  They are not judging, critical or condemning for they themselves know they are sinners too. They extend mercy and grace to others because they’ve received mercy and grace from God.  Humble people tend to lack pride, self-promotion and wanting their own way. 

 Considered to be Loving

A loving person is one who is servant-hearted and considers others above themselves.   First Corinthians 13:4-8 NKJV says this about love: “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.
Love never fails.”

 Confident in God

The Spirit-filled believer is confident in God’s ability as proven by what God has already done in their life.  They know they are forgiven, a huge miracle in itself.  They are not bound by past sins because Christ has already paid the price for those sins.  Praying without ceasing is commonplace in this person’s life because they have experienced the power of God and subsequently know how to depend on God for everything. 

 

Obedient to God

The believer who practices daily living God’s commands is considered to be obedient.  This individual knows there is safety and security in submitting to the authority of God.  The one goal of the believer is to love God with all their body, soul, mind and strength and love others as themselves (Luke 10:27). The obedient disciple of Christ will deny self, carry their cross and follow Him daily by putting off the old sinful nature and purposing putting on the new Spirit-directed nature (Luke 9:23, 2 Corinthians 5:17). 

 

In summary a Spirit-filled life will be evident by the spiritual fruit we see in their lives.  Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV lists the type of fruit produced by the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”  If you are feeling discouraged about your progress, do not be deceived but rather cast those thoughts away from you.  Remember no one lives the Spirit-filled life perfectly in this life, but as believers we are called to yearn for it.  God is the one working in us to transform us to His image and He’s not done with us yet. 

 Lord, we thank you for saving us from a life of sin and for giving us you’re Spirit to guide us into truth to live for you.  Thank you for your life-giving word equipping us to live godly lives until Christ returns.  May we bring glory by allowing the Spirit to produce its fruit in our lives.  In Jesus’ name Amen.

 

 

© ThinkOnIt Bible Ministries Inc is a 501(c) (3) Public Charity helping you grow in knowledge and understanding of God’s Word. Visit us at http://www.ThinkOnIt.org today.


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How Easily They Forgot Who They Followed

Read Mark 6

 

 

After reading this chapter, what seems like for the hundredth time, it started to take on a whole new meaning.  Instead of focusing on one or two verses and drawing some conclusions, the Spirit prompted me to read the whole chapter again.  As I read it over again several times, I began to focus on the disciples, their actions, and their words.  Try it for yourself. 

In the opening verses 1 – 4 we see the disciples followed Jesus to His own town, where the people who knew Jesus from childhood had difficulty believing what He taught. 

Verses 7-12 Jesus sends out the disciples in pairs to preach the gospel of repentance.  In the process Jesus gives them the power to cast out demons and heal the sick.  Maybe Jesus sent the disciples out because His own people didn’t believe Him. Perhaps the people might believe if the message came from someone else.   In any case, please notice Jesus provided the power to do what He wanted the disciples to do.

Later in verse 30-32 the twelve disciples returned with a report of all the things they did.  No doubt, the disciples had explained everything with great excitement and rejoicing.  Imagine being able to cast out an unclean spirit or to heal a sick person.  It must have been astounding!  Jesus, knowing what is to come, responses by asking the disciples to come away and rest.  After having a wonderful spiritual experience, we would be wise to take Jesus’ advice and rest, for many times temptation comes on the heels of elation. 

Next in verses 33-43 is the feeding of 5,000, a familiar story.  Remember, the disciples had just been through an exciting spiritual journey casting out demons, healing people, and resting with Jesus when they returned. Verse 34-36 says “And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread;for they have nothing to eat.””  What a contrast between Jesus’ compassion for the people and the disciples’ response “send them away”.   Obviously, the disciples were focused on themselves, rather than on the work of God or other people.    Do you suppose the disciples were resentful of all the people because they wanted to spend more time with Jesus?  Were they just tired? Or did they wish the responsibility of caring for all the people would go away?   In any case, look how Jesus responses to the disciples: “You give them something to eat.”  How do the disciples respond to that?  No way, how could we afford to feed all these people.  Now, what a minute, didn’t Jesus give the disciples the power to cast out demons and to heal the sick?  Yes.  No where did we read that power was taken away from the disciples.  Here they are being tested.  Are they passing or failing the test?  It doesn’t look good from my vantage point.  

In verses 45-52 we see the disciples are tested further by going before Jesus to the other side of the lake.  Jesus stays behind to send the people home and to pray.  He notices a strong wind has made the disciples’ journey across the water difficult, the rowing was hard.  He decides to visit them by walking to them on the water, thereby demonstrating some of His Godly power, revealing who He really is to His frightened disciples.  How do the disciples respond?  The Bible says “And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were troubled.”  If they saw Him, why were they afraid?   Verse 52 gives us the answer: “For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.”  They failed the first test regarding the feeding of the 5,000, because they didn’t think they had the power to perform the miracle and it caused their hearts be hardened with unbelief.  When the next testing came, they saw Jesus, knowing what He was capable of so far, yet they didn’t believe He could walk on water.   So, they failed again with a greater degree of disbelief.  So it goes with us.  One disbelief leads to another and another.  This is an excellent reminder for us to keep ourselves in the love of God.  

The disciples had forgotten the power given to them and therefore couldn’t feed the needy people.  The disciples had also forgotten where their power came from and as a result, could not rejoice when the Power of God was demonstrated.  Remember the feeding of 5,000?  How five loaves and two fishes could feed that many people was an awesome miracle, but the disciples didn’t rejoice at all.  When we forget God’s Holy Spirit is in us we, too, will fail rejoice when we witness God’s miracles.   

Next, they saw Jesus walking on water.  Another amazing miracle, but instead of rejoicing at His mighty power they became fearful.  1 John 4:18 NKJV tells us: There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:16 NKJV teaches us: “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”  If the disciples had abided in His love, they would not have been fearful.  When did they stop abiding in His love?  About the time they forgot His power was in them.   

If you find yourself fearful, cut yourself some slack.  You’re not perfected yet.  Know that God’s not done with you yet.  Allow God’s Word to shape you into His image.  Remember, it is God in you giving you the desire, the will, and the power to carry out His glorious purposes.

 Lord thank you for your precious Word that teaches us about you.  Help us to learn from what we read.  Enable us to leverage your power in us to accomplish all you ask of us.  Teach us to abide in your love.  In Jesus’ name Amen.  

 

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Taught by the Spirit

I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. Proverbs 4:11 NKJV

It is really the Lord who teaches us wisdom and leads us to the right path.  Let’s look at several verses which convey this:

He has put eternity in their hearts – Ecclesiastes 3:11 NKJV.  Having eternity in our hearts means we have the capacity to know God.  He made us to know Him.

The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. – Isaiah 11:2 NKJV This verse makes it clear the Spirit of the Lord provides the wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and fear of the Lord.  Without the Spirit we would have none of these.

Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh – Ezekiel 11:19 NKJV A personal favorite, God puts this new spirit in us and takes away our hard heart making it possible for us to accept Him!

For the Holy Spirit will teach you – Luke 12:12 NKJV How much clearer does He need to be?  It is the Holy Spirit who teaches us.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. – John 14:26 NKJV What does the Spirit teach us?  ALL THINGS.

It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit – Luke 2:26 NKJV We don’t learn things of God on our own, by our own efforts, rather it is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.

Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the LORD of hosts. – Zechariah 4:6 NKJV Again, we see it’s not by our efforts, not by brute force either, but only by the Holy Spirit that His will is done.

Lord thank you for giving us your Spirit to guide us in all truth.  Reveal yourself to us this day that we may stay on the right path.  In Jesus’ name we pray. 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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