Monday, October 31, 2016

Acts 4:8 – 12

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is

“‘the stone you builders rejected,
    which has become the cornerstone.’

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

NIV Listen

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Acts 4:8 – 12

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is

“‘the stone you builders rejected,
    which has become the cornerstone.’

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

NIV Listen

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Hebrews 11:1 (11-01-16)

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

“I believe, but help my unbelief!” That’s what the father of the boy with convulsions said to Jesus (Mark 9:24). This must sometimes be our prayer, too. As we look at the great heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, we know this must have been their prayer as well. Their faith wasn’t always perfect. Their trust wasn’t always mature. But, they stayed at it; they believed and acted with a relentless assurance that somehow, some way, God would act and deliver. Let’s stay at it with that kind of faith, too!

My Prayer…

Dear God, “I believe, but help my unbelief.” Please mature and empower my faith so that my life will be a steadfast and consistent testimony to your presence and grace. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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Trial by Fire

Note from Jesus

Dear Friends,

Years before Peter wrote his short letter known as 1 Peter to My disciples, he was repeatedly persecuted. He regularly encountered strong opposition from the Sanhedrin, the same Jewish ruling council in Jerusalem that had called for My death. On one of those occasions when the Sanhedrin had threatened Peter and My other apostles, they left rejoicing. Luke described it this way:

As they left the council, they weren’t discouraged at all. In fact, they were filled with joy over being considered worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of His [My] name. And constantly, whether in public, in the temple, or in their homes, they kept teaching and proclaiming Jesus as the Anointed One, the Liberating King.

(Acts 5:41-42)

Years later, Peter wrote to believers in Asia Minor as they faced the same kind of treatment he had endured. He reminded them to follow the example he set years earlier:

[I]f you should suffer for being a Christian, don’t think of it as a disgrace… Praise God that you’re permitted to carry this name.

In addition to rejoicing, Peter encouraged these believers facing their own “trial by fire” to do things that would help them in their time of persecution. He called on them to do the following:

  • Stay focused on what is eternally important.
  • Pray.
  • Love each other faithfully.
  • Share hospitality.
  • Use their gifts, whether they were speaking or serving gifts. These gifts enabled them to bless each other and honor the Father.
  • Consider themselves blessed as they rejoiced in suffering for My name, being fully assured that they would share in My coming glory with Me.
  • Remember the Holy Spirit rested upon and lived within them, so they were not alone even in times of suffering.
  • Make sure their suffering was for doing what was right and not what was wrong.
  • Praise God that they wore My name, Jesus, the Anointed One.
  • Be humble before the Father, knowing that He would lift them up at the right time.
  • Share their burdens and cares with the Father because He loved them, cared for them, and longed to help shoulder their hardships.
  • Be disciplined and on guard because the evil one was roaming like a hungry lion looking to devour people.
  • Don’t fear the devil, but resist him using their strong faith knowing that they were not alone in their suffering.
  • Remember that the same Father Who will share His eternal presence with them in glory will also restore, support, strengthen, and establish them in their lives as they await participating in that glorious presence.

This list is especially important for all who are facing suffering, trial, and persecution. Not only is it practical, but it is also encouraging. Peter wanted My disciples facing their own “trial by fire” to have a readily available set of strategies to remain faithful. Despite the obvious and painful difficulties they faced, he wanted these disciples to remember that victory and glory awaited them.

Near the beginning and the end of his letter, Peter rejoiced because of My victory over sin, death, and hell. He assured his readers that all who sincerely believe in Me will share in My glory. Near the beginning, he said:

Although you haven’t seen Jesus, you still love Him. Although you don’t yet see Him, you do believe in Him and celebrate with a joy that is glorious and beyond words. You are receiving the salvation of your souls as the result of your faith.

(1 Peter 1:8-9)

You can find his rejoicing near the end of his letter toward the end of the second set of verses below.

Verses to Live

The following two sets of verses come from chapter 4 and chapter 5 in 1 Peter. The first part of chapter 5 has two exhortations that are related to leadership but are not included here. In those verses, Peter first makes an impassioned call for elders to serve as shepherds of My flock: they are not bosses that lord it over those they lead but are to be loving shepherds (1 Peter 5:1-4). Second, he calls for the younger men to follow the elders’ leadership and to be humble (1 Peter 5:5).

Strong leadership is essential always but especially when My people are facing persecution. These words and guidelines today are extraordinarily valuable to help My people know what to do when faced with persecution. I want you to incorporate them into your life as My disciple.

We are coming to the end of all things, so be serious and keep your wits about you in order to pray more forcefully. Most of all, love each other steadily and unselfishly, because love makes up for many faults. Show hospitality to each other without complaint. Use whatever gift you’ve received for the good of one another so that you can show yourselves to be good stewards of God’s grace in all its varieties. If you’re called upon to talk, speak as though God put the words in your mouth; if you’re called upon to serve others, serve as though you had the strength of God behind you. In these ways, God may be glorified in all you do through Jesus the Anointed, to Whom belongs glory and power, now and forever. Amen.

Dear ones, don’t be surprised when you experience your trial by fire. It is not something strange and unusual, but it is something you should rejoice in. In it you share the Anointed’s sufferings, and you will be that much more joyful when His glory is revealed. If anyone condemns you for following Jesus as the Anointed One, consider yourself blessed. The glorious Spirit of God rests on you. But none of you should ever merit suffering like those who have murdered or stolen, meddled in the affairs of others or done evil things. But if you should suffer for being a Christian, don’t think of it as a disgrace, as it would be if you had done wrong. Praise God that you’re permitted to carry this name.

(1 Peter 4:7-16)

So bow down under God’s strong hand; then when the time comes, God will lift you up. Since God cares for you, let Him carry all your burdens and worries.

Most importantly, be disciplined and stay on guard. Your enemy the devil is prowling around outside like a roaring lion, just waiting and hoping for the chance to devour someone. Resist him and be strong in your faith, knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are fellow sufferers with you. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of grace Who has called you to His everlasting presence through Jesus the Anointed will restore you, support you, strengthen you, and ground you. For all power belongs to God, now and forever. Amen.

(1 Peter 5:6-11)

Response in Prayer

Father, two things tug at my heart today after reading these verses. First, I think of those who are facing incredible persecution today for the sake of Your name. Give them strength and faithfulness. Please intervene in our world and bring them relief and rescue. Second, dear Father, give me strength so that my faith can stand in the face of challenge, ridicule, oppression, and persecution. I want to be faithful no matter what happens. Thank You for someone like Peter, who faced multiple persecutions. His words mean all the more to me because I know he did not share them lightly. I know he wrote inspired by the Holy Spirit as well as having endured great personal hardships. Thank You for such a heritage of faith and such straightforward teaching. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.

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A Clean Life

Passage

Ephesians 5:6-7


Prayer

Dear Father,Don’t let me be deceived by the empty words of worldly people.It is because of these things that your wrath will come upon the sons of disobedience.Father, if I have to stand alone, so be it! Let me stand for you if the whole world stands against you!Don’t ever let me forget your commands or forsake you.In the name of Jesus I ask for the purity of mind and spirit that was in him. Amen.

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Psalm 40:4 (11-01-16)

Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.

Psalm 40:4 (NIV)

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Couldn’t You Watch with Me? – Mark 14:37

Key Passage

Then Jesus went back to his followers. He found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “Simon, why are you sleeping? You could not stay awake with me for one hour?”

— Mark 14:37 ERV (Read Full Text)


Key Thought

How this must have hurt the Lord. My heart breaks for Jesus as he endures this time in the Garden. He knows he is going to the Cross. He knows Judas will betray him. He knows his closest followers will abandon him. He knows that Peter will deny him. He knows the other ten will run away and leave him alone. He knows that he will be ridiculed and mocked. Now, he has to know all of those things and still not have anyone care for him enough to pray with him an hour. I’m so thankful that the Lord knows what it feels like to be forsaken and let down by those closest to you. I’m also so very sad for him. Let’s pray and work to never let him down like this ever again.


Prayer

O Father, I am so sorry! Please, dear Lord, make me stronger and more courageous. Don’t ever let me outlive my love for you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Related Scriptures

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The Lord is Near: Acorn

 Brittle tension gripped the room. Jesus’s actions had made everyone in the room uncomfortable. He had taken off his outer garment, had wrapped himself with a towel, and had begun to wash their feet. Each of his apostles appreciated the kindness he was showing them. But, Jesus was their Lord and teacher. They should be washing his feet instead of Jesus washing their feet. As usual, the impetuous Peter blurted out what many of them were thinking:

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” (John 13:10).

Something inside us makes accepting Jesus’ grace hard for us: “Surely there’s something I must do to deserve this?” Like Peter, we feel like we have to deserve his gifts or we shouldn’t receive them. Or, we think we can get even more of Jesus’ grace by being better, being more committed, or working harder: “What can I do to get more of what you are offering Jesus?”

When Paul promised the Philippians (and us) that “the Lord is near,”[NOTE] we can feel like we have to earn that presence. In our eagerness, we are willing to work harder, but we need to know the formula to make it happen:

What do I need to do?

What can I do to be assured this presence of God is with me?

What’s the secret to ensuring this presence is a part of my life, especially when I can’t seem to find evidence of his presence right now?

Is there something I can do to notice God’s presence and make it more recognizable so I can be sure it’s really mine?

My answer to these questions?

“The power of the oak is in the acorn.”

Huh?

We can’t make an oak tree. The power to make an oak tree is found in the acorn. We can provide a good environment for the acorn to grow, but a towering oak tree begins with an acorn. That acorn provides the DNA and all that goes into making that tree all that it can be. Sure, that acorn needs good soil, the right amount of moisture at the appropriate times, and the proper amount of sunlight. However, we can provide the right soil, the right moisture, and the proper amount of sunlight and never get an oak tree. If we don’t have the acorn, we’re not going to get an oak tree.

Our assurance that the Lord will be present with us isn’t tied to our ability to deserve God’s presence, to acquire his presence, or to achieve enough so that we are owed his presence. The power to experience the Lord’s promised presence resides in “The Promiser” not in what we can do to make the promise happen. God promised he would be present with us. God is faithful. God keeps his promises.

We can, however, help make sure God’s acorn of grace falls into good soil, finds appropriate moisture, and receives the proper amount of light. Paul provides several spiritual practices to help God’s promised presence to thrive in us (Philippians 4:4-9):

  • Rejoice in the Lord and what he has done for us.
  • Display gentleness to others.
  • Pray regularly, always including thanksgiving with our requests.
  • Think on good, wholesome, beautiful, and holy things.
  • Put into practice what Paul teaches.

These are all good, life-giving, spiritual practices. We do them because they are attributes of a true follower of Jesus. We do them because they are good to do. We don’t do them to force God to honor his promises or to manipulate the LORD into owing us his promised presence. God is sovereign. What we do can’t manipulate God into anything. However, when we do these spiritual practices, our hearts are more open to recognizing God’s work in our lives. They help us become conduits of his grace — the grace he wants to share with us and share through us.

God promised us his presence because he loves us and longs to be in relationship with us. This longing to be in relationship with us is a key theme throughout the story of the Bible. It begins in the Bible’s earliest chapters as God “walked with” his human children “in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:6). He shares his presence with us out of his love and grace for us. It is a gift God longs to give us. It is rooted in his desire to know us and be known by us. The power of the promise is in “The Promiser”!

So… let’s trust in the Almighty’s love and grace knowing that the Lord’s presence is near! As a response to that love and grace, let’s also provide the right soil for his acorn of grace to grow. When we do, we will discover the blessing that our Lord is near and his presence will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5)!


NOTE This is the fifth of six articles on the promises that Paul makes to the Philippians as they face their challenges to rejoice in the face of difficult and trying times (Philippians 4:4-9):

  • The Lord is near.
  • And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  • And the God of peace will be with you.

You can find all six titles on the LORD’s abiding presence listed and posted articles linked below:



© Phil Ware. All rights reserved.




Phil Ware works with churches in transition with Interim Ministry Partners and for the past 18 years, he has been editor and president of HEARTLIGHT Magazine, author of VerseoftheDay.com and aYearwithJesus.com.


Website: Phil Ware’s Website

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NIV Devotions for Men – Week of Nov. 1

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Fearless Confidence (Nov 1st)

Verse

While they were praying, the place where they were meeting trembled and shook. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak God’s Word with fearless confidence.

Acts 4:31 msg


Thought

I love the phrase “fearless confidence”! In the face of threatened persecution from the very same people who put Jesus to death and made them cower in fear just weeks earlier, this rag tag band of Jesus followers is filled with fearless confidence. How is this possible? Three new realities and all are available to us: The resurrection of Jesus; The power of faithful prayer shared in genuine community; and the work of the Holy Spirit filling and empowering each follower of Jesus. So let’s encourage each other to stay focused on these three incredible realities that are ours in Jesus. With them comes fearless confidence!


Prayer

Almighty God, thank you for the power you have unleashed in my life and in the life of your people through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, the gift of prayer, and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In Jesus’ name I thank you. Amen.

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Going to Bed


Today’s category: Wives

Going to Bed

      Mom and Dad were watching TV when Mom said, "I’m tired, and it’s getting late. I think I’ll go to bed."

      She went to the kitchen to make sandwiches for the next day’s lunches, rinsed out the popcorn bowls, took meat out of the freezer for supper the following evening, checked the cereal box levels, filled the sugar container, put spoons and bowls on the table and started the coffee pot for brewing the next morning.

      She then put some wet clothes into the dryer, put a load of clothes into the wash, ironed a shirt and secured a loose button. She picked up the newspapers strewn on the floor, picked up the game pieces left on the table and put the telephone book back into the drawer. She watered the plants, emptied a wastebasket and hung up a towel to dry.

      She yawned and stretched and headed for the bedroom. She stopped by the desk and wrote a note to the teacher, counted out some cash for the field trip, and pulled a textbook out from hiding under the chair. She signed a birthday card for a friend, addressed and stamped the envelope and wrote a quick note for the grocery store. She put both near her purse.

      Mom then washed her face, put on moisturizer, brushed and flossed her teeth and trimmed her nails. Hubby called, "I thought you were going to bed."

      "I’m on my way," she said.

      She put some water into the dog’s dish and put the cat outside, then made sure the doors were locked. She looked in on each of the kids and turned out a bedside lamp, hung up a shirt, threw some dirty socks in the hamper, and had a brief conversation with the one up still doing homework.

      In the bedroom, she set the alarm, laid out clothing for the next day, straightened up the shoe rack. She added three things to her list of things to do for tomorrow.

      About that time, hubby turned off the TV and announced to no one in particular "I’m going to bed," and he did.


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John 8:12 NLT

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Jeremiah 3:12-14

Go, proclaim this message toward the north:

“‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord,
    ‘I will frown on you no longer,
for I am faithful,’ declares the Lord,
    ‘I will not be angry forever.
Only acknowledge your guilt—
    you have rebelled against the Lord your God,
you have scattered your favors to foreign gods
    under every spreading tree,
    and have not obeyed me,’”
declares the Lord.

“Return, faithless people,” declares the Lord, “for I am your husband. I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion.

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James 1:17 (10-31-16)

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17 (NIV)

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What You Should Say (Oct 31st)

Verse

[Jesus said,] “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. … When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

Luke 12:8-12 tniv


Thought

Jesus gives us two incredible promises. First, he assures us that if we publicly confess our allegiance to Him, then he will claim us as his own before the Father and the angels in heaven. Then, he goes one step beyond the first promise: he tells us that we aren’t to even worry about what to say in difficult situations because the Holy Spirit will give us the words to say! No wonder the Holy Spirit is described as God’s seal of ownership and our guarantee of salvation (Eph. 1:13-14).


Prayer

O Father, fill me and guide me through your Holy Spirit to say the things I need to say to honor Jesus with courage, conviction, and effectiveness. Holy Spirit, I thank you for your presence and help, in Jesus’ name I offer my thanks. Amen.

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Unjust Suffering

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

Life sometimes is not fair. If you have any doubts about that, just remember what you celebrate when you take part in Communion. My body was pierced and abused. My blood was shed because I was condemned based on the lies, jealousy, and politics of evil men. I was sinless, yet crucified as a heinous criminal. When you face unjust suffering, persecution, harassment, or abuse because you wear My name, remember that I also faced unfair and unjust treatment.

If you suffer for doing what is wrong, you are only getting what you deserve. However, if you suffer unjustly and unfairly, people will usually notice. People of faith will be empowered and emboldened. Unbelievers will recognize your holy behavior. Except for the most hardened hearts under hell’s influence, your godly behavior in the face of injustice and unfairness appeals to the hearts of those looking for truth. Don’t be discouraged. Your suffering will neither be wasted nor be forgotten by the Father.

In the face of ridicule, harassment, and abuse, your righteous character and gracious compassion will win the hearts of those who witness your life. Some will even want to know what your reason is for having hope in Me. So be ready to give an explanation of your hope in Me. But remember, do this “humbly and respectfully” in a manner consistent with your way of life as My disciple. Your goal is not just to win your case, protect your freedom, and safeguard your rights. Your goal is also to win the hearts of the unbelievers by using the character and compassion of your life.

Verses to Live

I selected your verses today from 1 Peter chapters 2 and 3. They are connected by the theme of righteous and compassionate behavior while facing unjust suffering. The principles Peter shares in these verses show his maturity and mellowing.

I transformed Peter from the arrogant and impetuous apostle who sometimes overstated things into the loving shepherd who faced tough times and wanted to equip others for their tough times. Whether you face persecution, ostracism, injustice, unfairness, or passive-aggressive hostility from those around you, Peter’s words in today’s verses need to grab your heart. I want Peter’s teaching to mold your behavior so that you can be an effective witness for Me.

For the Lord’s sake, accept the decrees and laws of all the various human institutions, whether they come from the highest human ruler or agents he sends to punish those who do wrong and to reward those who do well. You see, it is God’s will that by doing what is right and good you should hush the gabbing ignorance of the foolish. Live as those who are free and not as those who use their freedom as a pretext for evil, but live as God’s servants. Respect everyone. Love the community of believers. Reverence God. Honor your ruler.

If you are a slave, submit yourself to the master who has authority over you, whether he is kind and gentle or harsh as he deals with you. For grace is clearly at work when a person accepts undeserved pain and suffering and does so because he is mindful of God. For what credit is there in enduring punishment you deserve? But if you do what is right and yet are punished and endure it patiently, God will be pleased with you. For you were called to this kind of life, as Isaiah said,

He did no wrong deed,

and no evil word came from His mouth.

The Anointed One suffered for us and left us His example so that we could follow in His steps. When He was verbally abused, He didn’t return the abuse; when He suffered, He didn’t make threats to cause suffering in return; instead, He trusted that all would be put right by the One Who is just when He judges.

(1 Peter 2:13-23)

Finally, all of you, be like-minded and show sympathy, love, compassion, and humility to and for each other — not paying back evil with evil or insult with insult, but repaying the bad with a blessing. It was this you were called to do, so that you might inherit a blessing.

Why would anyone harm you if you eagerly do good? Even if you should suffer for doing what is right, you will receive a blessing. Don’t let them frighten you. Don’t be intimidated, but exalt Him as Lord in your heart. Always be ready to offer a defense, humbly and respectfully, when someone asks why you live in hope. Keep your conscience clear so that those who ridicule your good conduct in the Anointed and say bad things about you will be put to shame.

For if it is the will of God that you suffer, then it is better to suffer for doing what is right than for doing what is wrong. The Anointed One suffered for sins once for all time — the righteous suffering for the unrighteous — so that He might bring us to God.

(1 Peter 3:8-9; 1 Peter 3:13-18)

Response in Prayer

Holy and compassionate Father, please give me the strength to be gracious as well as faithful in the face of injustice, unfairness, ostracism, and intolerance. I want to demonstrate Your righteous character and Your gracious compassion. I ask You to fill and empower me with the Holy Spirit. I offer myself to You as Your willing servant and witness. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.

© 1998-2016, Heartlight, Inc. ‘A Year with Jesus‘ is part of the Heartlight Network.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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1 Corinthians 10:31 (10-31-16)

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

As humans, we are often quick to quibble over things we feel are important to us when others don’t share our enthusiasm — especially food, holidays, and special events. This problem is often more a sign of insecurity than it is a mark of sincerity. We are to do what we do based on our commitment to honor the Lord, not because others do it or approve of it. At the same time, we want to be careful about judging others for what they do or do not celebrate, eat, or drink. The bottom line when judging such things: Can we do it to honor the Lord?

My Prayer…

Holy and Righteous Father, forgive my foolishness and silliness. I find myself getting so worked up over meaningless things and forgetting to keep my focus on the matters and people that are important to you. May all I do today, and every day, be done as a conscious decision to honor you and bring you respect. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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Your Will, Not Mine! – Mark 14:36

Key Passage

Jesus prayed, “Abba, Father! You can do all things. Let me not have this cup {of suffering}. But do what you want, not what I want.”

— Mark 14:36 ERV (Read Full Text)


Key Thought

Jesus recognizes two crucial realities. First, God can do anything he wants to do; he is God, the Sovereign ruler of all things. Second, Jesus knows that his life must be governed by God’s will and not his own. The whole of human salvation history hinges on one heart-felt phrase from Jesus’ lips: “I want your will, not mine.” In a parallel way, our future is also determined by our following our Savior’s example and saying, “Father, I want your will, not mine.”


Prayer

Father in heaven, I want so much to mean the following words. “Not my will, but your will, dear Father, be done.” In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Related Scriptures

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A Clean Mind

Passage

Ephesians 5:5


Prayer

Dear Father, Holy God,You have warned me that I can be sure of this: that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is covetous (idolatrous!) has any inheritance in the kingdom that belongs to you and Christ.Furthermore, keep me from enjoying as entertainment the depiction of such things in books or magazines, or on the stage or on television.Help me to understand that most of what comes through these media is from the minds and imaginations of unregenerate people, whose gods are self, money, power, and sensual indulgence.In the name of Jesus I ask for the purity of mind and spirit that was in him. Amen.

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You Shouldn’t Skip Church


Today’s category: Prayer

You Shouldn’t Skip Church

      A country preacher decided to skip services one Sunday and head to the hills to do some bear hunting. As he rounded the corner on a perilous twist in the trail, he and a bear collided, sending him and his rifle tumbling down the mountainside.

      Before he knew it, his rifle went one way and he went the other, landing on a rock and breaking both legs. That was the good news. The bad news was the ferocious bear charging at him from a distance, and he couldn’t move.

      "Oh Lord," the preacher prayed, "I’m so sorry for skipping services today to come out here and hunt. Please forgive me and grant me just one wish…. please make a Christian out of that bear that’s coming at me. Please, Lord!"

      That very instant, the bear skidded to a halt, fell to its knees, clasped its paws together and began to pray aloud right at the preacher’s feet.

      "Dear Lord, bless this food I am about to receive… in Jesus’ name… Amen."


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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Matthew 10:24-28

“The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!

“So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

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If Possible? – Mark 14:35

Key Passage

Jesus walked a little more away from them. Then Jesus fell to the ground and prayed. Jesus prayed that, if possible, he would not have this time of suffering.

— Mark 14:35 ERV (Read Full Text)


Key Thought

Jesus was honest in his prayers to the Father. He demonstrated his need both verbally and physically. Jesus shows us in this story what genuine prayer is all about. In these verses he shares his agony with the Father in humility and honesty. In the verses that follow, he offers himself to do whatever the Father wills and not just what is easiest. As we pray, we need to follow our Lord’s example of genuine prayer—honesty, humility, and submission. Not only did Jesus teach us to pray in his teaching on earth, he also demonstrated how to pray in his own personal walk with the Father.


Prayer

Dear Father, I come before you recognizing your majesty and my need. You are the glorious God of all creation, the Father of all peoples, and the Sovereign LORD of all nations. I come on my knees, dear Father, offering myself to you. Please use me in the ways that bring you glory and ensure that I am drawn ever closer to you in character and compassion. Please heal me of my infirmities—both the physical ones and the spiritual ones. Bring yourself glory through my life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Related Scriptures

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Hear! God’s Promised Victory (Oct 30th)

Verse

“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Revelation 3:6 tniv


Thought

The Holy Spirit wants us to know the Lord’s will. The Spirit wants us to know and live the Lord’s truth. But for the Spirit’s message to make a difference in our lives, we have to open our ears and our heart. More than merely understanding the words spoken, the Holy Spirit wants us to listen for the heart of God in his commands and understand the will of God who spoke them. Our job is to listen and truly hear what the Spirit has said to us. And we have the assurance that the Spirit will help us understand those things so that we can see God’s will come to life in us (2 Corinthians 2). And with the Spirit’s help, we will receive God’s promised victory, the primary promise of Jesus in the message to the church in Revelation 3:5.


Prayer

Lord God, help me hear with my heart as I desperately long to know and to live your will in my life each day and as I look forward to Jesus acknowledging me in your presence. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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Matthew 5:5 (10-30-16)

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Matthew 5:5 (NIV)

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Be Holy!

Note from Jesus

Dear Holy One,

You are a saint! The term means “holy one.” That is what you are because of your redemption purchased with My blood. I have made you a “priest” and part of “a royal order of priests who offer up spiritual sacrifices.” Like “living stones” you are being “assembled” into the holy dwelling place for Us — Father, Son, and Spirit. Being a saint means that you have dedicated and set apart your life to live for the Father’s purpose in your world.

I know a common saying in your world is, “I’m no saint!” However, if you have been reborn into My family, if you are truly My disciple, then you are not only a child of the Father, you are also a saint! You are a person living for God’s purposes and seeking to reflect God’s righteous character and gracious compassion in your life. You are part of My holy people who are a “royal order of priests, a holy nation… so that you may proclaim the wondrous acts of the One Who called you out of inky darkness into shimmering light.” Don’t downplay what I have made of you. Don’t shortchange the role I have asked you to fulfill in a world of darkness and decay.

Peter’s point in the verses below is clear: Be holy! Live up to who you are!

“Be holy in all you do” because of Who your Father is: He is holy, so you must reflect that holiness in all that you do.

Be holy because you know a great “price was paid to redeem you” from your old life that led to destruction. Your redemption price was paid by My “precious blood” when I offered Myself as the “perfect and unblemished sacrificial lamb.”

Be holy because you have been reborn through the living and enduring “word of God.”

Be holy because “you have tasted and found the Lord to be good.

Be holy because you are part of “a holy order of priests who offer up spiritual sacrifices.” You are being “assembled into a spiritual” temple where We live.

Be holy because you are “chosen” and “royal” and because you are designated to be “holy”! As Peter says it, you are “God’s own”!

Be holy because “you don’t belong in this world. You are resident aliens living in exile” among people who don’t understand you or appreciate you. However, as they get to know you, as they see your honorable behavior, as they witness your holy life, and as you live obediently to My will, you will be light to their darkness and salt to their decay (Matthew 5:13-16). Your influence upon the world around you will matter.

Be holy. Live up to who you are. Be who the Father has made you to be based on your faith and rebirth into Our family. Even if you suffer for your faith, be holy in the face of suffering knowing that your example and sacrifice will influence others to know Me and be ready for My return.

Verses to Live

The following collection of verses comes from 1 Peter chapters 1 and 2. Peter wrote to folks facing trials and persecutions. He knew their suffering, especially suffering for doing what was right, was unfair. His first answer about how they should deal with their situation, the answer that I shared in My note yesterday, focused on praise. The disciples needed to rejoice in their living hope they had in Me. Today’s verses are Peter’s reminder to them of their new and exalted identity as My people who were purchased by My sacrifice and called to a clear purpose — “so that you may proclaim the wondrous acts of the One Who called you out of inky darkness into shimmering light.” Tomorrow’s verses will emphasize that if they were going to suffer, they needed to make sure they suffered for doing what was right and not for doing what was wrong.

So get yourselves ready, prepare your minds to act, control yourselves, and look forward in hope as you focus on the grace that comes when Jesus the Anointed returns and is completely revealed to you. Be like obedient children as you put aside the desires you used to pursue when you didn’t know better. Since the One Who called you is holy, be holy in all you do. For the Scripture says, “You are to be holy, for I am holy.” If you call on the Father Who judges everyone without partiality according to their actions, then you should live in reverence and awe while you live out the days of your exile.

You know that a price was paid to redeem you from following the empty ways handed on to you by your ancestors; it was not paid with things that perish (like silver and gold), but with the precious blood of the Anointed, Who was like a perfect and unblemished sacrificial lamb. God determined to send Him before the world began, but He came into the world in these last days for your sake. Through Him, you’ve been brought to trust in God, Who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him for the very reason that your faith and hope are in Him.

Now that you have taken care to purify your souls through your submission to the truth, you can experience real love for each other. So love each other deeply from a pure heart. You have been reborn — not from seed that eventually dies but from seed that is eternal — through the word of God that lives and endures forever

(1 Peter 1:13-23)

So get rid of hatefulness and deception, of insincerity and jealousy and slander. Be like newborn babies, crying out for spiritual milk that will help you grow into salvation if you have tasted and found the Lord to be good.

Come to Him — the living stone — Who was rejected by people but accepted by God as chosen and precious. Like living stones, let yourselves be assembled into a spiritual house, a holy order of priests who offer up spiritual sacrifices that will be acceptable to God through Jesus the Anointed.

(1 Peter 2:1-5)

But you are a chosen people, set aside to be a royal order of priests, a holy nation, God’s own; so that you may proclaim the wondrous acts of the One Who called you out of inky darkness into shimmering light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received it.

Beloved, remember you don’t belong in this world. You are resident aliens living in exile, so resist those desires of the flesh that battle against the soul. Live honorably among the outsiders so that, even when some may be inclined to call you criminals, when they see your good works, they might give glory to God when He returns in judgment.

(1 Peter 2:9-12)

Response in Prayer

O Father, forgive me for not valuing who I am in Jesus. Forgive me for not living up to what You have made me and declared me to be. Too often I get caught up in the day-to-day messes of my world. I so easily forget that You have put me where I am to be a witness to Your grace, mercy, and redemption. I need strength to be bold. I yearn for holy wisdom. I long to boldly proclaim Your wondrous grace that has delivered me from my darkness into Your “shimmering light” of salvation and purpose. I ask for this strength and courage in Jesus’ name. Amen.

‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.

© 1998-2016, Heartlight, Inc. ‘A Year with Jesus‘ is part of the Heartlight Network.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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A Clean Mouth

Passage

Ephesians 5:3-4


Prayer

Dear Father,Keep me from talking about or thinking about illicit sex and pornography and covetousness, since you require that your holy people avoid referring to these things.Keep me from filthy stories, silly or flippant talk, and any other kind of conversation not fitting for one who follows you.Instead, let my mouth be filled with – thanksgiving!In the name of Jesus I ask for the purity of mind and spirit that was in him. And I give you thanks. Amen.

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Proverbs 10:30 (10-30-16)

The righteous will never be uprooted, but the wicked will not remain in the land.

Proverbs 10:30 (NIV)

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

This promise is even truer for those of us who live on this side of Calvary and the empty tomb! As Paul said it, “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21 NIV). The righteous will never be uprooted from their true homeland for no one and no power can steal it, corrupt it, destroy it, or take it away!

My Prayer…

Father, thank you for declaring me righteous by the atoning death of Jesus. Please transform me more and more each day to be righteous in all I say, think, and do. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

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Questions For God


Today’s category: Men vs. Women

Questions For God

      A man dies and goes to Heaven. He gets to meet GOD and asks GOD if he can ask him a few questions.

      "Sure," GOD says, "Go right ahead".

      "OK," the man says. "Why did you make women so pretty?"

      GOD says, "So you would like them."

      "OK," the guy says. "But how come you made them so beautiful?"

      "So you would LOVE them", GOD replies.

      The man ponders a moment and then asks, "But why did you make them such airheads?"

      GOD says, "So they would love you!"


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Hebrews 6:10 NLT

For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Matthew 10:17-23

Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

NIV Listen

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Hebrews 10:29 (10-29-16)

How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

Hebrews 10:29 (NIV)

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

We often look at the swift and dramatic discipline and punishment God used with his people in the Old Testament and are struck by its severity. The Holy Spirit reminds us that while this is true, to spurn grace and ridicule the sacrificial death of Jesus are actions all the more worthy of God’s punishment. Grace is incredible. It is marvelous. But to reject it, to reject Jesus and all that he did to bring it, is to court disaster and reject any source of true grace.

My Prayer…

Holy and righteous Father, thank you so much for your painful and costly gift of grace. Please empower me to be a carrier of that grace to others. Give me the ability to share it in all its loveliness so others can know your salvation and not face your justice after having rejected your gracious gift of Jesus in whose name I pray. Amen.

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A Living Hope

Note from Jesus

Dear Faithful One,

Life is full of challenges when you are bound to the realities of mortality. I know, not just because I AM God, but also because I faced these realities in My physical body. I also know that many of My disciples have endured persecution and even faced martyrdom.

As Peter addresses disciples facing imminent persecution and possible martyrdom, he doesn’t begin with kind words of encouragement. Rather, he starts his letter with an outburst of praise to the Father. He is overwhelmed with joy because of “a living hope” and “an eternal inheritance… that will never fade or fail.”

Like the early disciples to whom Peter was writing, you did not witness My earthly life and ministry. As I promised Thomas, those who have not seen Me and yet still believe are blessed (John 20:29)! As Peter said, you are blessed because “you do believe in Him [Me] and celebrate with a joy that is glorious and beyond words. You are receiving the salvation of your souls as the result of your faith.”

While you look back in faith on what I did, know that angels — the “heavenly messengers” — stood on tiptoe in anticipation of My coming (1 Peter 1:12). They knew their waiting and wondering about Me were to serve you and your fellow disciples, the very people on whom the end of ages has come.

In times of trial and persecution, genuine encouragement always begins with Me and involves praise for what the Father has done through Me. Hope is built on faith in Me and on praise of My resurrection and glorification and the glory that you will share with Me! Platitudes and slogans will not sustain people through the storms of persecution and martyrdom; praise rooted in the things I have done for you and promised to you will sustain you!

Verses to Live

As you read these words of praise immediately following the opening salutation in the letter you call 1 Peter, I encourage you to read these words several times. Instead of being intimidated by your times, your enemies, or the threats against you, focus on the assurance of your hope — I have conquered what you face, and I will share My “praise, honor, and glory” when I AM “revealed at last”!

Blessed is God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One! Because He has raised Jesus the Anointed from death, through His great mercy we have been reborn into a living hope — reborn for an eternal inheritance, held in reserve in heaven, that will never fade or fail. Through faith, God’s power is standing watch, protecting you for a salvation that you will see completely at the end of things. You should greatly rejoice in what is waiting for you, even if now for a little while you have to suffer various trials. Suffering tests your faith which is more valuable than gold (remember that gold, although it is perishable, is tested by fire) so that if it is found genuine, you can receive praise, honor, and glory when Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, is revealed at last.

Although you haven’t seen Jesus, you still love Him. Although you don’t yet see Him, you do believe in Him and celebrate with a joy that is glorious and beyond words. You are receiving the salvation of your souls as the result of your faith.

The prophets who spoke of this outpouring of grace upon you diligently searched and inquired of the Lord about this salvation: to whom and to what time was the indwelling Spirit of the Anointed referring when He told them about the suffering of the Anointed and the honor that would follow it? The Spirit revealed to them they were not serving themselves but you. And you have learned from those who told you the good news by the Spirit that was sent down from heaven. Even the heavenly messengers would like to explore this news.

(1 Peter 1:3-12)

Response in Prayer

O Father, thank You for my living hope, Jesus Christ, the Anointed One. Thank You for His victory over sin, death, and hell. Thank You for the character and compassion that He demonstrated while on earth. Thank You for the assurance of my victory over sin, death, and hell because I am united with Him. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.

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Stay With Me! – Mark 14:34

Key Passage

Jesus said to Peter, James, and John, “My soul is full of sorrow. My heart is breaking with sadness. Wait here and stay awake.”

— Mark 14:34 ERV (Read Full Text)


Key Thought

We desperately need the presence of friends who love and support us in our times of struggle and distress. Jesus needed these closest three followers—Peter, James, and John—to be there with him and help him bear his burdens. So often, we don’t ask for help when we need it. In addition, we often forget to “stand with” those in need of support. Jesus’ honesty in his moment of anguish is a powerful reminder that we need to do both!


Prayer

O Father, help me “stand with” those around me who are facing hardships. Use me to help them bear their burdens and to pray with them. In addition, dear Father, give me the honesty to share my burdens with those who can “stand with” me in my times of distress. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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Imitating God

Passage

Ephesians 4:29-5:2


Prayer

Dear Father, worthy of my love and obedience,Let nothing evil come out of my mouth – only what is good for building others up. Let whatever I say fit the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.Don’t let me do anything that would grieve your Holy Spirit within me, by which I have been sealed for the day of redemption. Help me get rid of all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander, and especially anything malicious. Help me to be kind to others, tenderhearted, and forgiving, even as you have forgiven me in Christ.Father, I want to imitate you, as a loving child would imitate a father.And may I walk in love, even as Christ loved me and gave himself up for me, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to you.In the name of Jesus who sacrificed himself for my sake. Amen.

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Revelation 1:3 (10-29-16)

Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

Revelation 1:3 (NIV)

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Reposted by: To Live Like Jesus Clothing Ministry on October 29, 2016

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Don’t Fix Stupid with Stupid!


There is a way that seems right,
but its end is the way to death
(Proverbs 14:12).

One may give into temptation with this set of thoughts: “No one will know. I won’t get caught. I’m only human…”

Don’t make matters worse by doing something you’ll regret!

Years ago, a friend gave me this counsel: “Make a list of all the lives you would impact through your sexual immorality.” I did. Every so often I re-read it.

  • Denalyn.
  • My three daughters.
  • My son-in-law.
  • My yet-to-be-born grandchildren.
  • Every person who’s ever read one of my books or heard my sermons.
  • My publishing team.
  • Our church staff.

The list reminds me: one act of carnality is a poor exchange for a lifetime of lost legacy.

You don’t fix a struggling marriage with an affair or a drug problem with more drugs. You don’t fix stupid with stupid. Do what pleases God.

Turbulent times will tempt you to forget Him. Shortcuts will lure you. Don’t be foolish and don’t be na├»ve. Do what pleases God. Nothing more, nothing less!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
 and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
 and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
 fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
 and refreshment to your bones (Proverbs 3:5-8).


From Max’s book:
You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Turbulent Times.

© Max Lucado, all rights reserved.

Used by permission.

Special Note:
This message was written several years ago and Max’s family has grown along with his influence, but the principle he makes about reviewing the list of those his choices impact is now even more valid.



© Max Lucado.




Max is the best selling author of many many Christian books, a sought out speaker, and loving husband, father, and grandfather. Max is in real life what you see in his book — someone who loves Jesus and loves the same kind of people that Jesus loves!


Website: Max Lucado

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Reposted by: To Live Like Jesus Clothing Ministry on October 28, 2016 at 10:00PM

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I Know What You Are Thinking (Oct 29th)

Verse

Then the Spirit of the LORD came on me, and he told me to say: “This is what the LORD says: That is what you are saying, house of Israel, but I know what is going through your mind.”

Ezekiel 11:5 tniv


Thought

The Spirit of the Lord brings us the message of God. The Spirit inspired God’s messengers to convince us and convicts us with God’s truth. In this instance, God’s Spirit speaks through Ezekiel and reminds God’s people that he knows what they are thinking — God knows their thoughts and plans and desires — and the Spirit inspired him to speak God’s message to them. God knows that what the people are saying is not really what they think, believe, and do. Ezekiel is reminding them (and us) that when God speaks through the Spirit, he speaks relevant truth. It is relevant because God knows our situation and he knows our hearts. We can’t play tricks or manipulate God. We can’t play games or put on a religious show and expect God to be pleased. He knows when our religious words are hollow and false. The words of God’s Spirit-inspired prophets speak past our facades and into our hearts because the LORD knows what is going through our hearts and minds!


Prayer

O Father who searches hearts and minds, purify my heart. Lead me to your truth and empower me to live it. Convict me and empower me by the gracious presence of your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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Reposted by: To Live Like Jesus Clothing Ministry on October 28, 2016 at 10:00PM

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Bible Confusion


Today’s category: Bible

Bible Confusion

      The little girl was sitting with her grandmother, who had presented her with her first little children’s Bible, in an easy-to-read translation, when she was very young.

      Now, a decade or so later, the elderly lady was ready to spend a few sweet moments handing down the big old family Bible, in the time-honored King James Version, to her only grandchild.

      Understandably excited, the youngster was asking a number of questions, both about the family members whose births and deaths were recorded therein, and about various aspects of the Scriptures themselves.

      Her grandmother was endeavoring to answer all the child’s questions in terms she could understand, but the one that stopped her cold was this sincere inquiry:

      "Which Virgin was the mother of Jesus? Was it the Virgin Mary, or the King James virgin?"


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Reposted by: To Live Like Jesus Clothing Ministry on October 28, 2016 at 09:00PM

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1 John 1:7 NLT

But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

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Reposted by: To Live Like Jesus Clothing Ministry on October 28, 2016

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