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Tag: bible

How to Become a Great Leader

Four traits you can learn from Deborah, Israel’s leader.

Written by GodLife on 21/05/2019
Series: Weekly Devotional
Tags: Bible, Leadership, Women
Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel.

Judges 5:7
Leadership comes from some of the strangest places. Over and over in the Bible, God tells us He sees what others do not in terms of capability and leadership. The story of Deborah in Judges 4 and 5 provides great insight into how God shapes leaders, from humble beginnings to wise judgement and even to defending their country. While there are many leadership lessons we can learn from Deborah, four stand out:

Great Christian leaders have confidence in their decisions because they depend on a close, personal relationship with God
Great Christian leaders trust their team to accomplish the task
Great Christian leaders are servants who don’t take credit for winning
Great Christian leaders rise to challenges through God’s strength
How did this all start?  
The book of Judges talks about many cycles of sin, slavery and salvation. Israel was oppressed because they had turned away from God, but when they turned back to Him, God raised up judges like Deborah to lead them. Judges were spiritual, political, judicial and often military leaders.

Why a close, personal relationship with God helps you in your decisions
As a wife, spiritual leader for the people, judge and prophetess, Deborah had to learn balance in all of those roles. Deborah had a special relationship with God. She was called by Him to lead, and she trusted God to show her His will. Her decisions were based on her relationship with God. Israel recognized that relationship and accepted her leadership. We should remember to seek God’s guidance to serve Him in whatever roles to which He calls us.

Great leaders trust the team
“My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel who offered themselves willingly among the people.” (Judges 5:9)  Unlike most of the judges, Deborah was not a military leader. God told her to commission a man named Barak to lead the army into battle. She knew there were others who had the skills to fight and trusted in them. Yet Barak refused to go into battle without her there. Even though Barak should have trusted God’s word, his condition for battle showed how much respect Deborah had as a leader. We learn that respect ran throughout the people.
Judges 5:15 tells us “the princes of Issachar came with Deborah, and Issachar faithful to Barak; into the valley they rushed at his heels."

Leaders should be servants
Deborah’s faith in God gave her confidence in the decisions she made. She had confidence in the military to carry out God’s plan. Deborah did not want any credit for the victory. She was modest yet assertive, taking on the mantle of leadership with strength and knowing when to step back. Great leaders follow Jesus’ example. “whoever would be great among you must be your servant . . . even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26, 28)

God gives you the strength to lead
While it was not typical for women to be judges in that time, Deborah heard God’s call and did not hesitate to give God’s words to the people. When the time came for action, she went with Barak to Kedesh. “Up!  For this is the day in which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand.  Does not the Lord go out before you?” (Judges 4:14)
God also granted her the gift of prophecy, proclaiming that Sisera (the commander of the enemy) would be delivered into the hand of a woman. When that prophecy came true, Deborah gave credit to God. Most of us try to depend on our own strength, only turning to God when we think we need it most. Deborah knew all of her strength came from God, and she walked with Him daily. Her actions provided a wonderful example to the people of Israel (and to us) of how God can use anyone, woman or man, to be a strong leader.

Pray this week:
“Lord, show me how to be a leader for You, no matter what role I am in. Give me opportunities to grow as a servant leader, following your example. Amen.” 

Which of the four traits of a good Christian leader do you struggle with? 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

What Does the Bible Say About Sex Before Marriage?

Does the Bible teach that sex before marriage is a sin?

Written by Gary Schneider on 23/04/2019

Series: Weekly Devotional

Tags: MarriageSexAdulteryPre MaritalPurity


“Let marriage be held in honor among all…”

Hebrews 13:4

Does the Bible even call sex before marriage a sin?

A lot of people in today’s world aren’t sure. Our culture has told us that we should do whatever makes us feel good in the moment and that we shouldn’t even consider what the moral thing to do is.

Here are several verses to consider when thinking about sex before marriage:

1. 1 Corinthians 7:2

“But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.”

In this verse, the apostle Paul describes any activity outside of marriage as “sexual immorality.” That means when we read of sexual immorality, it includes sex before marriage as one of many examples of sin.

2. Hebrews 13:4

“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”

What does an undefiled marriage bed look like? It looks likes a bed that a husband and a wife share exclusively together. Any kind of sex that is before, outside or in addition to a married relationship of husband and wife is sinful according to the Bible.

3. Galatians 5:19-21

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

In this long list of sins, the sexual sins that Paul includes are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, and orgies. It would be impossible to argue that the Bible approves of sex outside of marriage. Elsewhere, (1 Corinthians 7:2-5), Paul gives permission for sex between a married man and woman, thus all other forms of sex are sinful.

4. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality, that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles, who do not know God…”

Here, Paul contrasts a believer’s self-control over his body with living out of control, burning in passionate lust. The first is living a life that is pleasing to God and is holy, while the second is living a life that does not honor God. In which group do you belong? Does sleeping with someone you meet at a club or are not married to demonstrate control over one’s body, or is it done in the passion of lust?

5. 1 Corinthians 6:18-20

“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

These verses speak to the basis of God’s claim on our body. A Christian is to refrain from sexual intercourse with anyone to whom they are not married because Christians belong to God. We have been given the great gift of God indwelling us — the Holy Spirit lives within us — so when we join ourselves to others through one-night stands or anyone we are not married to, we are violating our own body, the other person’s body and the Lord, who has purchased us by pouring out his own body and blood.

If you’ve had sex before marriage, don’t worry! Hope is not lost. God is more than able to forgive you of all of your sins — even the sin of having sex before or outside of marriage. 

1 John 1:9 promises us: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Turn away from all sexual immorality and seek to live under God’s forgiving love. 

For those of us who do struggle with burning passion, just know that it is worth it to wait for the right time to enjoy the gift of sex. Pray that the Lord will bring you a faithful and God-fearing spouse. Sex is a wonderful privilege that comes with great responsibility. You will not regret living your life God’s way!


Pray this week:

Lord Jesus, you know all the ways I have sinned against you and disobeyed your Word. Please forgive me and cleanse my body, soul and spirit with your precious blood. As your child and as a temple of the Holy Spirit, I surrender my body to you. Thank you Jesus for strengthening me and blessing my future spouse with the same blessing that you now give to me. In Jesus’ name Amen. 


How about taking a first step and asking for God’s help? Are you willing to do that?

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

One Practical Way to Study the Bible

How can you figure out what a passage is saying?

Written by Gary Fleetwood on 15/01/2019

Series: Weekly Devotional

Tags: BibleInterpretationScriptureGrowWord


but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 1:2

There are many different ways to study the Bible. You can study a book, a chapter, a verse, a word, or a Bible character.  You can do a devotional study, an in-depth study, or a topical study of a particular subject.  However, a very simple way to study the Bible is by what is called “inductive Bible study”.  The word “inductive” refers to the process of analyzing something, and it has three parts — observation, interpretation, and application.

What is observation?

Observation asks, “What is this passage saying?”  This takes effort. Too often we read something, but we do not take the time to observe what we are reading. My first rule for Bible study is to never get in a hurry.  Why? Because God is never in a hurry. The word “meditate” in Psalm 1:2 means to digest what is being read. The word “meditate” comes from how a cow chews its food by taking it down into its stomach and then bringing it back up to chew on some more. The cow has four stomachs, so it does this four times before the food is fully digested. So, read the passage you are studying several times and mark down anything that stands out in your reading — key words, key phrases, repeated words or phrases, encouragements, warnings, and anything else that seems important.  By writing down what you observe, the meaning will become clearer to you.

What is interpretation?

Interpretation asks, “What does this passage mean?”  Most every passage should have an obvious meaning simply because God has not designed the Bible to be mysterious or vague.  There is no benefit in God hiding His meaning from a believer.  Whenever my children were growing up, I never tried to make what I wanted them to do to be mysterious.  Remember, we cannot interpret the Bible based only on what the words mean to us.  The correct question is, “What did these words mean to the people to whom they were originally written?”  Normally, that means the reader needs to have a good Bible dictionary to help them understand the words the writer used. If you are not able to obtain a good Bible dictionary, then a simple rule would be to simply allow the “obvious” meaning to control and govern your interpretation.

What is application?

Application asks, “How should I apply this passage to my life?”  Obviously, it does no good to read a passage and discover its truth, but then not be willing to apply what we have learned to our life.  A very wise man once said that “90 percent of knowing the will of God is being willing to do the will of God before we know what it is.”  It is the simple idea of just saying, “Yes, Lord,” before we ever start reading.  Please appreciate that God will never ask us to do something that does not actually benefit our life.  As we learn what God desires for our life, we have the privilege to begin applying God’s truth to our life.  Application is what equips us to face the trials and the difficulties that life will bring our way.

So, going forward, remember that the more you develop a consistent and meaningful way of studying the Bible, the more skilled you will become in understanding God’s Word so that you can actually apply it to your life.  Remember — never get in a hurry when studying God’s Word.  Just take your time and He will give you greater understanding.


Pray this week:

“Father, please help me to learn how to study your Word in such a way that it can really benefit my life.  Please help me not to just read it, but to dig into it so that I can really know your perfect will for my life.”


How and when can you set aside time this week to read the Bible and truly understand what it is saying?

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

More on How to Avoid Misusing the Bible

Be prepared to defend the Gospel

Written by Dan Lee on 06/11/2018

Series: Weekly Devotional

Tags: BibleWisdom


Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

Just last week, we talked about ways to avoid misinterpreting the Bible. Today, we want to conclude this two-part devotional series by pointing out something just as important — using the knowledge we gain from studying His Word to better represent the Lord. 

A while ago when I was in school, my teacher would always put us in groups to research and prepare a presentation about a certain topic related to the class. I would prepare for days! My teacher was known for asking difficult questions just to make sure we all did our work. Sure enough, when question time came around, you bet I was prepared to answer all the questions! My peers, not so much. 

It’s the same when it comes to learning the Bible. You must always be prepared so you don’t look foolish. How can you defend the Word of God when you yourself may take out of context?

Let’s use the following verses as examples of how to better interpret the Bible. 

Take it step, by step 

Let’s break down one of the most popular verses quoted by people looking for assurance of a good life. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

You might look at this verse and think that God never intends anything bad to happen to you. 

However, when we read this whole chapter in Jeremiah, we find first that something bad has already happened to Israel — they had been defeated by the Babylonians and forcibly removed from their homeland. They were living in exile, slaves to a wicked foreign empire. 

Another prophet, Hananiah, had been telling the Israelites what they wanted to hear: that their captivity would last just two years. Jeremiah’s answer to him? “You are a false prophet, and you’re going to die.” And Hananiah did die (Jeremiah 28:12-17).

Then Jeremiah sent a letter from Jerusalem to the exiles in Babylon telling them the truth: They were going to be there for a while. A LONG while:

 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29:10-14)

Yes, the Lord had a plan to restore Israel to their homeland, but it would take place in 70 years — after most of the listeners had died! Not only that, but the promise was conditioned on Israel praying and seeking God with all their heart (Jeremiah 29:12-13).

Your calling 

So what does Jeremiah 29:11 promise for today’s believers? It does not promise peace and prosperity now, but instead promises restoration in the future. For us, the ultimate restoration comes at the return of Jesus and the establishment of His kingdom.

We don’t know when the Lord will be coming back for His church. Until then, we encourage you to go deeper in your relationship with Him and be a living testimony of the truth He brings to the world. Fall in love with His truth and be ready to defend the hope that lives within you. (1 Peter 3:15)


Pray this week:

Lord, I ask you to give me the opportunity to use the wisdom I gain through your Word to share the truth with those around me. Amen. 


Are you prepared to defend your faith when brought difficult questions?

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

How to Avoid Misusing the Bible

Go deeper in your walk with the Lord

Written by Dan Lee on 30/10/2018

Series: Weekly Devotional

Tags: BibleReadingVerseStudying


Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

Today, we start a two-part devotional on how to avoid misusing the Bible. But first, let’s start with a story about some blind men who encountered an elephant. One of the blind men wrapped his arms around the elephant’s leg and said, “An elephant is like a tree!” Another touched the elephant’s trunk and declared, “No, it’s like a large snake.” They touched the ear or the tail and said, “a fan” or, “a rope” — and so on. Each one came up with a different and incomplete conclusion about how the elephant looked like. 

It’s the same when we interpret the Bible. When we quote Bible verses without considering what the rest of the Bible says, we are just as foolish as those blind men. If we don’t consider verses in their context — at least the surrounding paragraph or chapter, we risk coming to completely wrong conclusions about what God’s word says. 

1. Be careful of taking the Bible out of context

That’s why Paul warns Timothy — and all who believe in Jesus and study His word — to “rightly handle the word of truth.”

Here are a couple verses that are often taken misused.

“By his wounds, you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24

Some people believe that Christians can claim physical healing because of this verse. But, if you read 1 Peter 2:24 in full, it reads, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds, you have been healed.” 

The first part of this verse tells us that it is our sins, our spiritual wounds, that have been healed by Jesus Christ. The verse refers to Isaiah 53:5:

“But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds, we are healed.”

This verse refers to our “transgressions” and “iniquities” — in other words, our sins. There are seven other references in Isaiah 53 to sin, guilt, or transgression, but physical healing is never mentioned in the chapter. 

So the next time you read, “By his wounds you have been healed,” thank the Lord that your most deadly wound — your sin and resulting separation from God — HAS been healed, for all eternity. But don’t use it to claim physical healing for yourself or others.

2. Meditate on the Word and apply it to your life 

Now, let’s look at Matthew 7:1, where it says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”

Even people who don’t believe in Jesus love to quote this verse! They, and sadly many Christians, think it means we should leave others alone and let them do whatever sinful act they want.

But if you continue reading, you find out that the problem is not with pointing out the faults of others. It is looking at their faults without acknowledging our own sin. 

Verse two says, “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” and it continues to verse three by saying, “ Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:2-3

Sadly, we tend to see the sins of others as huge, and our own as tiny (or not to see them at all). Jesus is saying, in effect, “Look in the mirror — look into your own heart and deal with the wickedness there, before you stand in judgment of someone else!”

Several Bible passages instruct us, to help our Christian brothers and sisters by gently pointing out where they are going wrong, especially in matters of serious sin. Take these verses as an example:

“But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13)

“My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20)

In conclusion, don’t just look at fragments of God’s holy Word. Look at ALL of it. Commit yourself to read the Bible, one book at a time. Don’t build your whole Christian walk around one or two isolated verses. Strive to find the meaning of every verse in the context of the paragraph or chapter around it. If you do this in the power and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, you’ll be well on the way to becoming “. . . a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2: 15


Pray this week:

Lord, I ask you to give me understanding and wisdom as I study your Word so that I follow your instruction and not mine. Amen. 


Is there anything in the Bible you have a difficult time understanding? Talk to a caring Christian friend! 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Sharing Jesus with Everyone

How can I show everyone God's love?

Written by Hope on 29/09/2013
Series: Weekly Devotional
Tags: Evangelism, Jesus, Salvation
“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6

I had the opportunity to make friends with several non-Christians and atheists when I attended university. Since graduating, I mostly keep in touch with them through social media. Many of these friends don’t want to hear a single word about God. They think most Christians are self-righteous and ignorant. They don’t understand how one supernatural Being could actually be responsible for ALL Creation. Why do I remain friends with these people, and how can I show them God's love?

God Loves Everyone
God "wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). He loves the whole world and "does not want anyone to be destroyed" (2 Peter 3:9). I want to love my friends with God's love. I care about them and pray that they will choose to develop a relationship with the Lord. We should not allow our non-Christian friends to influence us for evil, but if I never communicate with them, I would lose the chance to influence them for good — and for God.

Love with God's Love
So I pray for my friends, because "my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved" (Romans 10:1). How can I communicate God's love to them, "showing [myself] to be [His] disciple" (John 15:8), when they do not want to hear about the Lord? On social media, I write about God and His Salvation. I think of these friends when I write posts that could appeal to them, that acknowledge their worldview. I pray that what they read will make them realize that God could be real and that they will want to learn more about the One Who loves them more than anyone.

Live with God's Love
As Christians, we want to share God's love, especially with people we care about. We should "live such good lives among the [non-Believers] that… they may see your good deeds and glorify God" (1 Peter 2:12). We pray to be guided by the Holy Spirit when we approach our unsaved friends, so we can "be very careful how [we] live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity" (Ephesians 5:15-16).

Prayer, Care, and Share Jesus
On average, 96% of believers never share Jesus Christ's message of hope and salvation (evangelize) with a non-believer. That means 4% do share their faith (or evangelize).

You may be someone who doesn’t usually share about Jesus with people. But, if you’ve been following the steps in this guide, then you really are sharing Jesus with people by praying and caring for them. You’re an evangelist. That includes praying blessings on people, building relationships and helping the needy.

Hopefully these steps will help you be wise and make the most of every opportunity when ministering to people who don’t know Jesus. Your conversations should be full of grace, allowing you to be ready with an answer to people asking about the faith (Colossians 4:5-6).

As you live out these biblical principles and asking God to bless and save the lost, you’re drawing people to Jesus.

Remember, it’s not your actions or prayer that make the difference. It’s what God does through your prayer and action that changes lives. Jesus pointed out to the 72 disciples in Luke 10:1-24 that they should not be prideful of what happened through their work, but instead to rejoice that their names are written in heaven. And so should we.

Pray this week:
You will live wisely and graciously as a godly example to non-Believers

Do you ask people if you could pray for them? How can we pray for you?

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member