Category: <span>thoughts by Suzanne Benner</span>

They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised. Amen.” Romans 1:25

Human beings were created to worship. Unfortunately, we are easily misled into worshiping men who were created rather than our Creator, God Almighty. We must guard against worshiping men or allowing people to worship us.

The New Testament gives examples of our propensity to worship men in Acts 10:25, 26:

As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. ‘Stand up,’ he said, ‘I am only a man myself.’”

Even the apostle John was tempted to worship a created being:

And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, ‘Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!’” (Revelation 22:8, 9)

Why are we so prone to worship men? When are you tempted to allow others to worship you?

Holy God, You alone are worthy of our worship. May I never worship anyone but You, nor allow anyone to worship me. Amen.

Thought: Ask God to show you if there’s anything in your life that you are worshiping.

by Suzanne Benner
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No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.Romans 8:37

Are you facing trouble or hardship or persecution? Is conflict in your marriage, a loss of a job or illness weighing you down? Has your family disowned you or your friend deserted you? Are you experiencing a famine of food or a famine of hope? Is there danger or death looming on the horizon?

Then let me remind you that:

  • God chose you. (Romans 8:29-30)
  • God is your powerful ally. (Romans 8:31)
  • God gave up His Son for you, so He will look after you. (Romans 8:32)
  • Nothing can separate you from God’s love. (Romans 8:39)

We can be confident of these truths because, “Jesus Christ, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34)

Can death separate us from God’s love?
No, because through Jesus we have the promise of eternal life. (John 3:16)

Can life isolate us from God’s love?
No, because God has promised to be with us always. (Matthew 28:20)

Can angels or demons keep us from God’s love?
No. Though there are spiritual forces at work in our world, God is greater than them all. (Matthew 10:28)

Can present troubles or future fears cut us off from God’s love?
No, because God is the great “I AM”, the God who is and was and is to come. (Revelation 1:8)

Can any powers that man or Satan exert over us defeat God’s love?
No, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)

Thank you Holy God that because of Jesus, nothing can separate me from Your love. Amen!

by Suzanne Benner
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“Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.’ Revelation 4:8

The book of Revelation gives us a myriad of examples of how to worship God and outlines many reasons why He is worthy of our praise. Revelation chapter four portrays living creatures constantly glorifying God with the words, “Holy, holy, holy.” Elders fall prostrate before God and relinquish their glory, power, and wealth to Him.

As the self-existent One, God is worthy of our praise. Before the world began, He was; in this moment, He is; at any and every future time, He will be. He is holy and unique, unlike any other.

God sits enthroned above all heaven and earth. God reigns more powerful than any other ruler, physical or spiritual, seen or unseen. God created all things. By His word and by His will, all creatures exist. His power alone sustains every living thing.

God is worthy. We need no other reason to worship Him.

Holy God, You alone are worthy of my praise. I worship You because You are holy and because You created and sustain all things. Like the elders, I humble myself and acknowledge that any glory, power, or wealth I have comes from You. Amen.

By Suzanne Benner

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God has written a letter to you. The Bible isn’t just a storybook about God, the people of Israel, and a man named Jesus. It is a love letter from God to you.

When Jesus walked on earth He said, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now remain in my love.” (John 15:9) John wrote it that the crux of the gospel message is a love note.

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

I encourage you to open your Bible today and look for evidence of God’s all-consuming love for you, like these verses from Romans:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38, 39)

What are some of your favorite “love notes” from God? Do you live in a way that shows that you believe God loves you with an everlasting love?

Loving Heavenly Father, thank you that You have left me little notes to remind me of how much You love me. Help me to keep reading Your Word so that I will see them and remember.

Thought: Ask God to give you an opportunity to show His love to someone in your world today. When you feel God prompting you, act on it.

by Suzanne Benner
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In the pride of your heart you say, ‘I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas.’ But you are a mere mortal and not a god, though you think you are as wise as a god.” Ezekiel 28:2

By God’s Holy Spirit, the words of the Old Testament prophets reach across time and speak into our current experience. Often the prophetic oracles spoken by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, or others, held layers of meaning, with both a current and distant fulfillment. These messages from God hold truth — principles for living a holy life in the 21st century.

In Ezekiel’s prophecy against the ruler of Tyre (Ezekiel 28:1-19), we discover powerful words about the attitude that lead to pride: “By your great skill in trading you have increased your wealth, and because of your wealth your heart has grown proud” (Ezekiel 28:5). And also: “Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor” (Ezekiel 28:17).

Pride corrupts power, great skill, wealth, beauty, and wisdom. The insidious work of pride rises from a faulty belief. When we think our knowledge, our beauty, our influence, our abilities, or our belongings come from ourselves, we believe a lie.

The Bible clearly teaches that every good thing we possess comes from God. Paul challenged the Corinthian church when they bragged that one person was better than another. “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).

We fall into the trap of pride when we trust in the gift — beauty, skill, wisdom — rather than the Giver, God Almighty. Let us heed Ezekiel’s warning by humbly acknowledging that our abilities and advantages come from God.

Holy God, You are the giver of all good gifts. Everything I have and everything I am comes from you. Forgive me for thinking that I produced or earned or deserved anything I have. Keep me from pride. Amen.

Consider this — Read Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6, and 1 Peter 5:5 How does God deal with proud people?

By Suzanne Benner
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The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Proverbs 1:7

Beyond the connection between fearing God and righteous living, the Bible presents a tight link between the fear of the Lord and wisdom.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding.” (Psalm 111:10)

The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28)

A wise man fears the LORD and shuns evil.” (Proverbs 14:16)

The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom.” (Proverbs 15:33)

Once we’ve accepted that we need to fear the Lord, we pursue the path of wisdom. At the same time, seeking wisdom helps us understand what it means to fear God.

My son, if you accept my [wisdom’s] words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2:1-5)

We will understand the fear of the Lord by:

• Accepting God’s words
• Storing up God’s commands
• Turning our ears to wisdom
• Applying our hearts to understanding
• Crying aloud for understanding
• Searching for wisdom as for hidden treasure

Seeking wisdom and fearing God requires a concerted effort. The two go hand in hand. Wisdom begins with fearing the Lord. We must acknowledge His authority to rule our lives and submit to His will. Then, as we listen to and accept God’s words, as we apply His commands to our hearts and ask Him to give us understanding, we start to make sense of the difficult concept of fearing God.

God, lead me on the path to wisdom. Teach me to fear You. Amen.

By Suzanne Benner
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So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.” Acts 10:33

Even more than Cornelius’ actions, it’s his attitude that inspires me. Cornelius served as a centurion in the regiment based in Caesarea. Although a Gentile, he feared the Jewish God as the one true God. Cornelius worshiped God, prayed regularly, and gave generously to the needy. So, when God sent an angel to Cornelius, he immediately obeyed the angel’s instructions to send for Peter. Cornelius expected God to speak through Peter. He gathered his family and friends in that spirit of expectation. They were ready to listen — ready to obey.

Every day, when I read God’s word, I want to come with that same spirit of expectation. God’s Holy Spirit teaches, corrects, encourages, comforts, and convicts us through His written Word, the Bible. Though recorded thousands of years ago, the Bible remains living and active (Hebrews 4:12) to all who seek truth.

Cornelius also understood that God was present in his home among the group of God-fearing, truth-seekers assembled. Whenever and wherever we seek God diligently and with open hearts, He is present.

God longs to speak to us. Let us come to Him, ready to listen and expecting Him to speak. Let us gladly submit ourselves to Him, ready to obey and eager to be molded into His likeness.

Holy God, I surrender myself to you. I believe you speak to those who seek you. Help me to seek you with my whole being. Make me a good listener. Amen.

By Suzanne Benner
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1 Peter 2:23 “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate;... Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”
1 Peter 2:23

Deep within us resides a longing for justice. We want evil punished and good rewarded. Yet, all around us we see evil celebrated and good penalized. When society blurs the lines between right and wrong, truth stumbles and justice fails (Isaiah 59:14).

When wrongly accused, Jesus didn’t fight back. He suffered the ultimate injustice. Although Jesus was completely innocent, He was put to death. As Jesus entrusted Himself to God, we should strive to do the same.

Peter tells believers how to handle injustice toward themselves, particularly when injustice comes as a result of their faith in Jesus. Peter repeats the idea of entrusting ourselves to God later in the same letter. “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” (1 Peter 4:19).

God is our faithful Creator. God is the One who judges justly. When we rely on God’s faithfulness, His goodness, and His justice, we can keep on doing good even though we are treated unjustly. We can keep on living for the truth and trust God to look after us.

Put yourself in God’s hands. Know that you can trust Him to care for you, regardless of what people say or do to you.

Heavenly Father, it is so hard to not demand my rights or defend myself when someone takes advantage of me. Demonstrate your power in my life by giving me the strength to act as Jesus did. I submit myself to you. Amen.

By Suzanne Benner

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Prayer praise

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” Hebrews 13:15

The phrase “sacrifice of praise” catches my attention. Praise and sacrifice don’t seem to go together in my mind. But the writer of Hebrews says the sacrifice of praise comes by people declaring their allegiance to Jesus.

Praise of God calls for sacrifice.

You see, just previous to the verse stated above, we read about the disgrace Jesus suffered when He died to make us holy (Hebrews 13:11-12). Then we hear the author’s urgent instruction to us: “Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore” (Hebrews 13:13). Acknowledging Jesus as our Lord requires us to bear the disgrace He bore.

Don’t fall for the lie that says, “Jesus suffered so I wouldn’t have to.” Knowing Jesus and becoming like Him includes experiencing the shame and rejection that He experienced. Consider the apostles’ reaction when the religious rulers of their day whipped and threatened them: “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (Acts 5:41).

The apostles didn’t complain about their suffering. They didn’t seek compensation or retribution for their humiliation. Instead, the apostles rejoiced because their disgrace came from being aligned with Jesus.

God calls us to openly acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Messiah. When we admit our status as needy sinners, dependent on Jesus for salvation, scorn and abuse may come. Yet, we don’t despair. Rather, we give thanks to God for the privilege of being treated the way Jesus was treated. That’s a sacrifice of praise.

Heavenly Father, I acknowledge Jesus as my Lord. May my life — my actions and my words — declare this truth regardless of the consequences. Amen.

By Suzanne Benner
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Wisdom, two kinds. A devotional

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincereJames 3:17

James describes two kinds of wisdom ? the kind from heaven and the one from earth (James 3:13-18). The wisdom of this world focuses on self. Selfish ambition and bitter envy naturally dwell in human hearts. People generally look out for their own interests.

On the other hand, “wisdom from above” or “God’s kind of wisdom” (NLT) flows from God’s character. In the passage above, James states that after the foundation of purity, being peace-loving appears as the second most important aspect of heavenly wisdom.

Loving peace requires all the elements of God’s wisdom ? purity, the consideration of others, and humble submission to God and His way. In order to truly live out God’s call to peace, we need God’s mercy, as found in His righteous character, and His unbiased and genuine love.

Peace-lovers desire unity and harmony more than being right. They consider listening to others as more important than airing their own opinions. Peace-lovers value people more than tasks.

Yet, loving peace doesn’t mean peace at any cost. Rather, peace-lovers willingly pay the cost of peace by denying themselves. In the journey toward wisdom, loving peace marks a significant milestone, because loving peace highlights the difference between worldly wisdom (self-promotion) and heavenly wisdom (submission to God).

Holy Spirit, make me a peace-lover. I want to live my life with heavenly wisdom, not the wisdom of this world. Amen.

Suzanne Benner
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devotional easter

Jesus is the Lamb who was slain. He died because of our sin. With His blood, shed on the cross, Jesus purchased us for God.

Scripture speaks of the universality of sin:

•    No one is righteous (Psalm 14:3; Romans 3:10).
•    Everyone turns away from God (Psalm 53:3; Romans 3:12).
•    All people sin (Romans 3:23).

Our own experience confirms this truth. Loved ones betray us. Coworkers steal our ideas or envy our success. Selfishness, anger, and pride linger in our hearts and minds, resisting our efforts to squelch them. Even little children lie — almost as soon as they can speak.

And sin skews our understanding. With this distorted view, we worship people, things, and accomplishments instead of worshiping God alone. Only one person, in all of history, lived a sinless life. Only one person died in order to buy back human beings who were estranged from their Creator. Jesus, the Messiah, gave His life in exchange for ours.

No one else did what Jesus did. Therefore no one else is worthy of our worship. Only Jesus, together with God the Father — the Savior and Creator of the world — is worthy to receive power, wealth, strength, wisdom, glory, honor, thanks, and praise.

Lamb of God, You alone are worthy of my worship. Amen.

By Suzanne Benner

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Called to Holiness

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.2 Timothy 1:9

You have a calling. A purpose. A role to play in God’s great story.

This calling is to a way of life regardless of your profession. God calls every person who has received His salvation to live a holy life.

In fact, New Testament writers had the habit of referring to believers as “saints” or “God’s holy people.” In every thought, every word, and in every deed, God calls His followers to walk in the way of righteousness.

In his first letter to believers scattered around the world, Peter explains much about our call to holiness (1 Peter 1:1-2).

•    We live holy lives, not to try to earn salvation — that’s impossible — but because God is holy and we want to be like Him. “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1 Peter 1:15).

•    Holiness is not a life of legalism or rule following. It’s a life of freedom from sin and of surrendering to God’s way. “Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves” (1 Peter 2:16).

•    Jesus’ death and resurrection gives us the power to live holy lives. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

•    Holy living brings glory to God as we show others by our words and actions how God has changed us. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).

God calls us to be holy, because He is holy, so that our lives will draw others to Him. This high calling lifts our eyes to Jesus, the One who saves us freely and the One who makes us holy with our cooperation.

Heavenly Father, thank You for calling me Your own and giving me a purpose. Make me holy as You are holy. Amen.

By Suzanne Benner

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