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Tag: bless

What is God’s Favor?

God is with us—for our good and His glory.

Written by GodLife on 01/03/2016

Series: Weekly Devotional

Tags: BlessingsDifficultyFavorLifeLoveSufferingTrials


The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered…When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes…

Genesis 39:2-4

If your life includes some trouble and suffering, you are not alone. Think of Joseph’s story. (Genesis 37, 39-50) He was the favorite of his father's twelve sons. He became second-in-command to the Pharaoh of Egypt. He even saved the ancient world from famine. Surely this was a man in God's favor!

Did you notice what was left out of that story? Stay in only certain parts of Joseph's story and it is easy to see his favor with God. But who could forget his brothers’ betrayal? How he was sold into slavery? How his purity was tested in his master's house? How he was thrown into prison for something he did not do? There's no denying it. Joseph suffered. And his great suffering was a key part of God's plan.

Notice that:

  1. God's plan was bigger than Joseph. How could he have predicted the way God saved Egypt and Israel?
  2. Joseph's suffering was not the end of the story. Thirteen years of hardship is terrible. But Joseph himself said he forgot all about the trouble (Gen. 41:51) during the next 80 great years.
  3. Joseph’s hard experiences brought him great peace and insight about God's nature. (Gen. 45:7-8Gen. 50:20)
  4. Readers of his story are reminded, "the Lord was with him." (Genesis 39:323)

When I am going through hardship, I can’t read my own story and see the note, "the Lord was with him." In fact, it often feels like he is not. Was it different for Joseph? Did he feel out of God's favor when his brothers sold him into slavery? When he went to prison for something he didn't do? Whether or not he felt that way, he came to understand that his trouble did not reflect God’s displeasure with him. He said it himself — what others intended for his harm, God intended for good, to accomplish the saving of many lives. (Gen. 50:20) And not only saving those ancient lives.

His story reminds us that hard times don’t necessarily mean God is displeased with us. He has bigger plans for us to embrace! He’s still writing the story. Some comfort can only come through hardship — and for the sake of the larger story, we have to go through it and pass it on. Remember Joseph. And just think how much poorer we would be if we only knew the easy, comfortable parts of his story!


Pray this week:

Dear God, thank you for always being with me. Please help me to remember that hard times don’t always mean you are displeased with me. Help me to feel your love even when I’m in bad situations. I trust your plans for my life, even if I can’t see the bigger picture.


Do hard times mean God does not favor you? Talk with a caring Christian about it.

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

Receiving Blessings from God

The Receiving is the Blessing!

Written by Susan on 10/05/2016

Series: Weekly Devotional

Tags: BlessingsGodHoly Spirit


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.

Ephesians 1:3-4

God has already done it all!

If God has already provided all of His spiritual blessings for us, how do we get those blessings? Ephesians 1:3-4 and 2 Peter 1:3 say we have what we need already. “We have everything we need to live a life that pleases God. It was all given to us by God’s own power, when we learned that he had invited us to share in his wonderful goodness.” His provision is here — now. We need to understand and use the blessings He has provided. How do we do that?

How do we receive blessings from God?

You receive God’s blessings from His spirit. We must remember that spiritual blessings aren’t usually what we picture. The purpose of spiritual blessing are to make us “holy and blameless.” You have to know what pleases God before you can put His spiritual blessings into practice.

The “Fruit of the Spirit” is a great example of this: “God’s Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled…” (Galatians 5:22-23I Corinthians 13:4-8a tells us “Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” Do you want to love like that? You can! But it is not the fruit of your own heart. It is poured out by God’s Spirit. It is literally His fruit.

God’s Work, God’s Way

Think of it this way: if you own a business, paying all its expenses, you would not let your business sell a product people should not have. In the same way, God’s promised blessings are for living the life that pleases Him, not a life that opposes Him. Living by faith (1 John 5:4) means understanding what pleases God (Ephesians 5:10) and counting on Him to “hold back nothing good from those who walk in the way that is right.” (Psalm 84:11)


Pray this week:

Will you pray this week: Help me to begin to see Your provision of blessing in my area of greatest need. Make me able to see Your blessings in my life, and not lean on my perceptions.


Have you thanked God for His very specific presence in your life today? He is present, are you choosing Him over all else today?

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

What is God’s Blessing?

What does Jesus say about being blessed?

Written by Joy on 29/08/2015
Series: Weekly Devotional
Tags: Blessings, Favor, Jesus, Money, Wealth
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God…..” Matthew 5:3-12

To be blessed by God means having God’s favor and goodness. We often think of blessings as riches, high position, health, and happiness. However, Jesus’ famous words about blessings show us that God has a different definition of being blessed.

Who is Blessed?
Jesus’ list of blessed people in Matthew 5 include the needy, sad, meek, and persecuted. This might offend us since we value strength, confidence and independence. But Jesus says we must realize our need for God in order for us to receive His blessing. “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2b). Those who show mercy and bring peace, who desire righteousness and a pure heart, show they are true followers of God’s Word.

What are the Blessings?
Jesus never mentions wealth or position, health or happiness as blessings. Instead, he says the greatest blessing is to have a place in the kingdom of heaven and to be called a child of God. To be shown mercy by a Holy God, to know His grace and love in our lives, to know God in an intimate relationship — These are true blessings. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1a).

Jesus paints a picture of a person that is more interested in spiritual rewards than things of this world. “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” (Matthew 6:20). Jesus had no personal wealth, but he was still blessed. How? “It is more blessed to give than receive.” (Acts 20:35) Jesus gave his life for us. The blessing of giving is not material prosperity but an inner joy and peace that God gives us when we imitate His loving sacrifice for others.

How are We Blessed?
When Jesus tells us to hunger and thirst for righteousness, it reminds us of his words in John 6:35 — “I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Jesus is our ultimate blessing or gift from God. He is the only one who can cleanse us of sin and give us a pure heart so we can see God. (John 6:40) Through Him we become co-heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven, which is our greatest blessing.

Pray this week:
That God will reveal the amazing blessings He has given you through your faith in Christ.

Are you willing to give up the riches of this world for a great reward in Heaven? Talk to someone about the riches you might need to consider giving up.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

What Kind of Work Does God Want You In?

How do we know we are doing the job God has created us to do?

Written by Gary Schneider on 09/10/2018

Series: Weekly Devotional

Tags: CareerWorkVocation


For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

Given the fact that we belong to God and that life is all about stewarding or managing what God has given us, the question naturally arises in the heart of a Christ-follower: “How do I choose a career that honors God and brings me true fulfillment?”

Let’s look at a few key Scripture verses to get started:

Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Isaiah 43:6-7“Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

Psalm 139:13-16“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”   

These passages indicate that:

  1. God shaped you for a purpose,
  2. You are unique, and
  3. You are wonderfully complex.

About 20 years ago, a mentor of mine, Pastor Rick Warren, came up with a tool called SHAPE to talk about the five things that make you, you. SHAPE is the way God wired you for your life’s work. Understanding the SHAPE God uniquely gave you is the key to finding His will for your career.

SHAPE is: Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, Experiences

Spiritual gifts

The Bible teaches that God gives every believer certain spiritual gifts to be used in ministry and in your career (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 8, Ephesians 4). However, I believe spiritual gifts are only one part of the picture. Sometimes, spiritual gifts are emphasized to the point at which believers excuse themselves from service because they claim they are not 'gifted' in that area. But the absence of a spiritual gift is never an excuse to disobey a command such as the one to share the gospel. That's a responsibility we all share. Natural abilities that you were born with also came from God. So do your experiences and inborn personality traits. Your creator planned these factors as well.

Heart

The Bible uses the term “heart” to represent the center of your motivation, desires, interests, and inclinations. Your heart determines why you say the things you do (Matthew 12:34), why you feel the way you do (Psalm 34:7), and why you act the way you do (Proverbs 4:23).

Physiologically, each of us has a unique heartbeat. Each person has a slightly different pattern. Likewise, God has given each of us a unique emotional “heartbeat” that races when we encounter activities, subjects, or circumstances that interest us.

God had a purpose in giving you your inborn interests. Your emotional heartbeat reveals a very important key to understanding his intentions for your life. Don’t ignore your natural interests. People rarely excel at tasks they don’t enjoy doing. High achievers enjoy what they do.

Abilities

These are the natural talents that you were born with. Some people have a natural ability with words. They came out of the womb talking! Others are naturally good with numbers. They think mathematically and they can’t understand why you don’t understand calculus.

Exodus 31:3 gives an example of how God gives people “skill, ability, and knowledge in all kinds of crafts ….” in order to accomplish his purposes. In this case, it was artistic ability to be used in building the Tabernacle. 

Personality

It’s obvious that God has not used a cookie cutter to create people. He made introverts and extroverts. He made people who love routine and those who love variety. Some people work best when given an individual assignment while others work better with a team.

There is no “right” or “wrong” temperament. We need all kinds of personalities to balance the church and the workplace and give it flavor.

Your personality will affect how and where you use your spiritual gifts and abilities. For instance, two people may have the same gift of evangelism, but if one is introverted and the other is extroverted, that gift will be expressed in different ways.

When you minister or work in a manner that is consistent with the personality God gave you, you experience fulfillment, satisfaction, and fruitfulness. It feels good when you do exactly what God made you to do.

Experiences

God never wastes an experience. Romans 8:28 reminds us of this: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Consider five areas of experience that will influence the kind career you are best shaped for:

  • Educational experiences: What were your favorite subjects in school?
  • Vocational experiences: What jobs have you enjoyed and achieved results while doing?
  • Spiritual experiences: What have been the meaningful or decisive times with God in your life?
  • Ministry experiences: How have you served God in the past?
  • Painful experiences: What are the problems, hurts, and trials that you’ve learned from?

God sovereignly determined your shape for his purpose, so you shouldn’t resent it or reject it. “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” (Romans 9:20-21)

Instead of trying to reshape ourselves to be like someone else, we should celebrate the shape God has given to each of us.

Wise stewardship of your life begins by understanding your SHAPE. You will be the most effective and fulfilled in your life’s work when you use your spiritual gifts and abilities in the area of your heart’s desire and in a way that best expresses your personality and experiences.

What God made you to be determines what God intends for you to do.


Pray this week:

God, please show me how I can use the gifts you have given me in the way that best honors you and maximises the talents you’ve provided me. Thank you for your daily blessings in my life and walking through this with me. Amen.


What is one thing you have done in life that you have talent in and have found great joy in? How could this relate to a possible career choice?

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member