Bible Devotions

Suffering is Important

First Corinthians 1:4 says “Love suffers long” since God is love He suffered for us.  But in His sufferings many good things came into being.  Reading the book of Hebrews offers a glimpse of the manifold benefits of suffering.

Hebrews 2:10 “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”  By His sufferings we are granted salvation of our souls.  Our bondage to sin is broken.  We are captives set free by His sacrifice.

Hebrews 2:18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.”  Through the suffering Jesus endured, He is able to comfort us in our suffering.  He knows what it’s like, for He suffered terribly.  When we suffer, our minds go to His suffering, knowing we have not suffered nearly as dearly as He has.

Hebrews 5:8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”  Through His suffering He learned obedience.  This was the example for us to follow.  In our sufferings we, too, learn obedience to Him and we begin understand the God who saved us.

Hebrews 9:26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”  Our sin is dealt with once and for all.  No more sacrificial offerings are required.  Jesus’ sacrifice is enough.  Our debt is paid. 

So you see, good really can come from suffering.  Next time you are suffering, think about what Jesus suffered and ask God to show you what you are to learn through it. 

 Lord Jesus, thank you for your suffering.  You know what it is like to suffer.  Help us to see our suffering through your eyes of love.  In your name we pray. Amen. 

 

 

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God Hears

 

When God says something will happen we can rest assured it will come to pass.  King David wanted to build a house for God, but God said it would not be David, but his son Solomon who would do it (1 Chronicles 28:3). 

 

Fast forward to 2 Chronicles 7:11 NKJV “Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king’s house:  and Solomon successfully accomplished all that came into his heart to make in the house of the Lord and in his own house.”  See.  God said Solomon would build the house of the Lord and Solomon really did finish it.

 

When the Lord calls someone to do something for His kingdom, He equips.  One of Solomon’s purposes from God was to complete the Lord’s house.  With God’s help, he not only did it, but he “successfully accomplished all that came into his heart”.  Everything God plants in our heart to do, He makes happen. 

 

It is so encouraging to know God can be trusted to follow through on whatever He promises.  So when we read 2 Chronicles 7:14 we should have great joy: “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

 

God will hear, forgive and heal, if we choose to humble our self before Him.  As we agree with God about our sins, seek Him and turn from our old ways, He will hear and respond.  That was the case for me.  Once I humbled myself, confessed my sins, He answered me, forgave me and healed me.  All that’s left is for me to continue carrying out God’s purpose in my life, as He reveals it to me.  This I know: He is the One working it out through me.  My part is willing obedience to Him.

 

How about you?  Have you humbled yourself before the Lord?  Have you agreed with God about your sin?  Are you seeking His forgiveness?  Why wait?  He’s waiting.  He will answer when you turn to Him.

 Lord, thank you for hearing us when we humble our self before you.  Thank you for your forgiveness.  Thank you for being faithful to answer us.  Draw us near.  May we always hear you.  In Jesus’ name Amen.  
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Thoughts, Actions, Feelings – in that Order

 

My pastor taught about a reoccurring pattern he saw in the lives of those he ministered to.  What they thought about influenced what they did and as a result they had certain feelings.  This pattern is the same whether it is about good and healthy things or negative and unhealthy things. 

 

For example, if my thoughts are focused on how my needs are not being met, my actions are influenced to do something to get my needs met and my feelings tell me it’s not working.  Those feelings influence my thoughts and so the unhealthy cycle continues.  If, however, we choose to keep our thoughts on God, our actions are influenced by God and our feelings become healthy as we look at things from God’s perspective.  It’s the same reoccurring pattern or cycle; thoughts lead to action, action leads to feeling and feelings influence the thoughts.

 

That’s why Paul told us to be renewed in our minds.  Romans 12:2 NKJV says “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  When we forsake that which the world does and focus on God, our thoughts are renewed and we are able to know what is pleasing to God. 

 

Another example of this pattern is given by Jesus in John 3:18-21 NKJV: “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.  21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”  Can you see the pattern?

 

Unhealthy

Healthy

He who does not believe (verse 18, thoughts)

Their deeds were evil (verse 19, actions)

Hates the light (verse 20, feelings)

 

He who believes (verse 18, thoughts)

Does the truth (verse 21, actions)

Comes to light (verse 21, feelings)

 

If we find our self on the unhealthy side of this cycle, we can change by allowing God to change our thoughts and by taking godly actions whether we feel like it or not.  Our feelings will catch up as we do what God prefers.  From my own personal experience, God enabled me to love my husband when the feelings weren’t there.  Due to obedience to God’s Word, my thoughts were renewed, my actions were godly and the result was new feelings of love developed between us. 

 

Though we are not ruled by our emotions because Christ alone is our Lord and King, feelings can be used as an alert system.  Feelings can tell us if we’re operating on the unhealthy or healthy side of this cycle.  Check your feelings, dig into God’s Word and let the mind of Christ lead you forward. 

 Lord, thank you for your saving grace and empowerment to do what please you.  Keep us on your godly pathway and help us remember our righteousness comes from you.  In Jesus’ name Amen.
© ThinkOnIt Bible Ministries Inc is a 501(c) (3) Public Charity helping you grow in God’s Word. Visit us at http://www.ThinkOnIt.org today.

 

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Overcome the World

What does this saying “overcome the world” mean?  Why should believers understand it?

First John 2:15-17 NKJV says “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.  And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”  If we love the world, the love of God is not in us.  The world is full of things not of God; therefore, we believers must overcome the world.

What does overcome mean?  From Dictionary.com here are a few definitions using “overcome” in the verb tense:

1. to get the better of in a struggle or conflict; conquer; defeat: to overcome the enemy.

 

2. to prevail over (opposition, a debility, temptations, etc.); surmount: to overcome one’s weaknesses.

 

3. to overpower or overwhelm in body or mind, as does liquor, a drug, exertion, or emotion: I was overcome with grief.

 

4. Archaic. to overspread or overrun.

–verb (used without object)

5. to gain the victory; win; conquer: a plan to overcome by any means possible.

It seems that overcome is to defeat our enemy or our weakness and conquer.  Who wouldn’t want to conquer their enemies and weaknesses?

Okay, so how do we overcome? 1 John 5:5 says “Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”   How simple it is!  Believe in Jesus the Son of God.  That’s it.  For Jesus even said “Be of good cheer I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).   When we believe in Jesus, His spirit takes of residence within us.  First John 4:4 says “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world”.

First John 3 is all about abiding in God.  When we abide in Him, He abides in us.  We demonstrate we abide in Him by practicing righteousness.  “Let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).  We overcome evil with good, by loving one another as Christ loved us.

The born again believer of Jesus Christ is delivered from sin and abides in Him and the wicked one can’t touch him (1 John 5:18).  Praise God!   Are you ready to overcome the world?  Believe and you receive was you ask for.

Lord, thank you for your victory.  We have overcome the world when we believe in You.  Thank you for your spirit to guide us in your truth and love.  In Jesus’ name Amen. 

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

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The Path before Us

Read Isaiah 55:1-3.

 

Who is God’s salvation for?

It is for everyone.  Does it say it is for the Jews only? No.  Does it say it is for the rule-keepers?  No.  Does it say it is for a certain people group?  No.  God’s salvation is for EVERYONE.

 

How do you know you need salvation?

Everyone thirsts.  God gave you a desire or longing to know Him because He made you after His own image.  Father, Son and Holy Spirit are together as One in community with each other.  There is something inside us that longs for the same community and compels us to satisfy the thirst.

 

Why doesn’t God just save us?

He extends His offer of salvation to us, but we must choose to come.  He is a loving Father who desires us to love Him in return.  Real love is not forced.  If He made us to love Him, we’d be nothing more than robots doing what we were programmed to do.  By allowing us to choose Him, it is a richer, lovelier response.  We have to decide to believe Him.  We have to decide to follow Him.   Without our willingness to love Him, it would be meaningless to Him.

 

How come God gives us more than we need?

He is a generous, loving Father who wants to pour out His love on us.  He doesn’t want to simply satisfy our thirst with water only.  No, He wants to satisfy and fulfill to over-flowing our soul with wine and milk. 

 

Is the offer of salvation really free?

Yes.  It costs us nothing.  We pay no money to enter.  We can’t earn it by being good or following a set of rules.  There is nothing we can do to get salvation through any kind of effort on our part.

 

Why do we work so hard to buy bread that doesn’t satisfy?

We are deceived.  We have chosen to believe working for something makes it better.  When we try to work or earn our salvation, we make our self to be a god saying “this is how to be saved”.  Do you think this is pleasing to God?  How prideful of us!  God made us. He is the One True God, not us.  How dare we think we know better than Him!  He has already given us the gift of salvation.  He told us where to look and who holds the key.  It’s up to us to listen.

 

Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me.  Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you (Isaiah 55:2-3 NKJV).

 Lord, thank you for your gift of salvation.  May we come and buy with no money the bread that satisfies.  May we reject our desires to earn our way and simply come as you have called. In Jesus’ name Amen.

 

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

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Heritage of Lord’s Servants

 

Read Isaiah 54.

 

If you find yourself needing some encouragement, Isaiah 54 is a wonderful place to look.  This section of scripture is so packed with promises of God for his people; I can hardly contain my excitement as I think about how God will accomplish these in our lives.

 

Extended Family

One of the outcries of many women is the desire for family.  Whether it is small or large family, made up of naturally birthed babes or adopted ones doesn’t manner.  It is the community of family in which we long for connectedness.   In verses one through three, Isaiah writes about having a large spiritual family and having to enlarge our tents as we expand from right to left.  Our descendants will inherit nations and make desolate cities inhabited.  When you think of family, do you remember to include your spiritual family?

 

Redeemed

We do not fear for we will not be ashamed or disgraced or put to shame.  We can believe with confidence God will carry out what He said He would.  We will forget the shame of our past.  Knowing the past is forgiven gives us great joy.  Our reproach of widowhood is remembered no more, for the Lord our Maker is our husband.  We are the bride of Christ, He is our Holy husband.   We are redeemed by the Holy One of Israel who is called the God of the whole earth.  If anyone can erase past mistakes, it is the God of the whole earth.  It is this all-powerful God who has called you to redemption. 

 

Everlasting Kindness

Though we have to experience the pain caused by rebelling against our wonderful Maker, it will not last long.  “With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; but with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,” says the Lord, your Redeemer (verse 8).   He will not be angry or rebuke us, “but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed says the Lord who has mercy on us” (verse 9-10).   He has said it, therefore, this promise of everlasting kindness and covenant of peace will not be broken.

 

Great Peace

A heavenly dwelling place awaits us, believer, more beautiful than our minds can imagine.  In this place, our children will be taught by the Lord Himself and great shall be the peace of your children (verse 13).

 

Established in Righteousness

Our righteousness comes from God (verse 17).  We are shall be established in righteousness by His hand, so there’s nothing for us to boast about except the Lord’s work in us.  We can not earn righteousness through doing good works.  But once we are righteous we will see good works appear in our life.  It all comes from Him and is not of our making.

 

Victory

In the remaining verses 14 through 17, we are told oppression will be far from us and terror will not come near us.  Whoever assembles against us shall fall for our sake.  Even though the Lord created the spoiler to destroy, no weapon formed against us shall prosper.  Every word spoken against us in judgment will be condemned.  God is in complete control.  He has promised us victory in our life as we seek Him and rest in His righteousness. 

 

Oh believer, may these verses bring comfort and renew your determination of pursuing God.  He is good, He is just and He will not let us be ashamed.  This is our heritage as God describes.  Let’s rejoice in Him.

 Lord God who made the heavens and the earth, thank you for your words of encouragement spoken to us this today.  May we seek you with all our heart, mind, body and strength. Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.  In Jesus’ name Amen.  

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

 

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A Comparison Part 2

 We are continuing our comparison between Jesus and humans. 

 

Jesus Human

Forgiving

Struggle to forgive, choosing to hang on to the hurt longer than we should

 

Did Jesus wait until people had there act together before He forgave them of their sin?  No He didn’t.  In some cases, He forgave them when they weren’t expecting it (Matthew 9:2, John 18:11, John 5:14). Jesus knows what we need, even when we don’t.  Forgiveness of sins sets us free to become who God intended us to be.  Jesus seemed to forgive quite easily.  Imagine hanging on a cross, nails driven into your flesh and calling out to God “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).  How about us?  How easily do we forgive?  We are never asked to forgive more than we our self have been forgiven (Luke 6:37). 

 

Jesus Human

Unconditional Love

Love when it goes our way (I’ll love you if you do this or that)

 

God so loved the world He willingly sacrificed His Son to pay for our sins (John 3:16).  He did it, while we could care less about Him.  Now that’s unconditional love: doing for another with no expectation of getting anything in return.  Oh how hard it is for us to love like that.  We tend to think along the lines of “I’ll love you as long as you met my needs.”

 

Jesus Human

Secure with who He was and where He came from

Insecure, doubting and fearful

 

Jesus was secure with Himself. He was confident in who He was.  There was no doubt about what He came to do (John 13:3).  Insecurity in us is caused by our refusal to follow God’s perfect plan.  When we rebel against God we open our self up to the tricks of our enemy.  Satan’s main weapon is doubt and fear.  Our slowness to accept what God has for us causes us to doubt our purpose, our identity and our meaning which robs God’s glory.  

 

Jesus Human

Compassion for others

Occasionally care for others when it’s convenient

 

How many times does the Bible say Jesus looked on them with compassion?  Matthew 9:36, Mark 1:41, Luke 10:33 are just a few examples. He had compassion many more times as well.  The point is no matter how busy or tired Jesus was He always had compassion for others.  He focused on the bigger picture—saving souls.  How often are we compassionate towards others?  We occasionally care for others, when it is convenient to our schedules.  True compassion reaches out always.

   

Jesus Human

He is truth

Struggle to be truthful, tell “little white lies” or fail to speak the truth in love

 

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). He is truth, therefore He can not lie (Titus 1:2).  The James 1:21 teaches “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  If don’t practice the truth in our lives are deceiving our self.  What is it to deceive but to lie to our self?  We lie to our self when we don’t do what God calls us to.  We lie to others when we choose not to speak the truth in love. 

 

So why do this comparison?  If was not to injury us, but to encourage us.  These things cannot do be done without God’s grace and power.  If we attempt to do all these things in our own strength we will fail.  But Jesus hasn’t abandoned us; instead He fills us with His Spirit.  It is His Essence in us with all power and might which carries out God’s desire through us.  Jesus says follow Me.  Are you willing?

 Lord Jesus thank you for all you have done for us.  Enable us to recognize your hand in our life.  Teach us to depend on your might rather than our own efforts.  Lead us in your way.  In Jesus’ name Amen. 

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

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A Comparison Part 1

Study the life of Jesus Christ as shown in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).   Create for a picture of God’s character and then consider the character of man.

 

Jesus Human

Sinless, perfect, pure, spotless

Sinful

 

This comparison helps us recognize our need for a Savior.  Romans 3:23 says we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.  John declares the good news: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 NKJV).  Jesus is the perfect lamb, pure and spotless given as a sacrifice to pay the price for the sinful world.  Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ.

 

Jesus Human

Aligned with the Father’s will

Manipulate to get our will done

 

Jesus knew His purpose and did not waver one bit.  He was all about doing His Father’s work.  He did only what His Father wanted done in complete and perfect submission and obedience to God’s will.  Ours is a self-centered nature that clashes with God’s will.  We want our way and usually manipulate and scheme to get it.

 

Jesus Human

Consistent with prayer

Occasionally pray (especially with the ‘big” stuff)

 

Jesus was always praying.  He made time for prayer.  He never made decisions without praying first.  He stayed connected to the Father through prayer.  As a result He was strengthened and enabled to carry out God’s purposes.  We, on the other hand, pray sometimes.  The Bible teaches us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  However, we forget to bring all things before the Lord in prayer.  Somehow we think God is too busy to hear even our smallest concerns.  We tend to call out to God when there’s a crisis or in a stressful situation.  But God longs for us to turn to Him in all situations.  Do we come to Him when we need to make a decision?  Do we ask for wisdom and guidance?  We do not come to Him as much as we should.  Therefore, Jesus is a good example of bringing everything to God in prayer.

 

May the comparisons we’ve drawn today encourage you to seek Him in all you do.  Know you are saved by His death and resurrection.  May Jesus’ example of following God’s will be our desire in our life.  May we bring everything before Him in prayer to stay connected with God and His will. 

 

Lord, Jesus thank you for your example to follow.  Thank you for leading us on the path of righteousness.  We ask for your guidance day by day.  Give us the desire for God’s will in our life. Help us turn to you so often in prayer not one area of our life is unexposed to your light.  In Jesus’ name Amen.

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

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Identifying Your Spiritual Gifts

The best place to start in understanding spiritual gifts is the Bible.  Find out what it says about spiritual gifts.  Here are few verses to read and consider:

Romans 12:3 – 8

1 Corinthians 12:1 -11, 27 – 31

Ephesians 4:11 – 12

1 Peter 4:9 – 11

Read the above verses, prayerfully.  Ask the Lord which of these gifts He has given you.

To help you document your gifts, most churches have an assessment sheet.  Saddleback Church as a one called S.H.A.P.E.  It stands for Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experience.  Assessing each area prayerfully, while writing down what you know about each area can help you understand what gifts you have. 

 Spiritual Gifts

Think about what other people have said you are good at.  Write those things down.

 Heart

What motivates you or really gets your passions flowing?  What do you love doing? Write it down.

 Abilities

List your current abilities.  Are you creative?  Are you organized?  Can you balance a checkbook?  Name everything you can think of.

 Personality

What kind of personality do you have?  Are you introverted or extroverted? Do you like routine or variety? Are you self-controlled or self-expressive? Are you cooperative or competitive?

 

Experience

What have you lived though?  What trials or obstacles have you overcome?  Don’t forget your work and educational experience too. 

 

With all these items written before you, prayerfully consider how God might want you to use these gifts to build His kingdom and equip the believers for ministry.  God will bless you as you live your life exercising your spiritual gifts for God’s glory.  Life will be exciting.  You will be energized.  As you refresher others, you in turn will be refreshed.  It’s God’s way. 

 

How about it?  Have you discovered your spiritual gifts?  Are you using them for God?  If not, why? 

 Lord, thank you for your variety of spiritual gifts and the knowledge you provide exactly the right gifts for each believer to prepare them for your call in their life.  Thank you for your equipping.  Enable each of us to be a doer of the word, seeking first your kingdom that you may have all the glory.  In Jesus’ name Amen. 

 

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

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Proclaim the Good News

Sing to the LORD, bless His name; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Psalm 96:2 NKJV 

What is the Good News?

God loves you and wants you to be with Him forever in heaven.  But because we have a sinful nature our relationship with God has been broken.  God loved us so much, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to mend our relationship with God.  Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty for our sin (John 3:16).  We are no longer under judgment for our sins.  We are pardoned.  We are forgiven.  We are set free from bondage of sin.  We call this Salvation (Romans 6:23).  That’s only part of the good news.  There’s more! Jesus’ resurrection from the dead gives those who believe in Him a new life.  It’s a second chance to do life right.  He came to give us life and that more abundantly (John 10:10). 

 

How do we proclaim it?

We start by reading God’s Word to obtain a firm understanding of what God’s done for us.  The more God’s Word is allowed in our heart, the more we become like Him.  Our life, the choices we make, and the things we think about and the words we say become godly.  Morphing into the person God created us to be, we become lights to other around us.  Obeying God’s Word and living it out means we’ll use our gifts, talents, and abilities for God’s glory.  We’ll begin serving God by what we do and the attitudes behind why we do it.  The result is serving others as we learn to walk by the spirit rather than satisfying our own selfish desires (Romans 8:4).   We do these things moment by moment and day by day.

 

Who do we proclaim it to?

We proclaim the good news to anyone who asks about the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15).  As we go about our business we have an eye on the look out for anyone downtrodden, hopeless and hurting.  We take special care for the widows and orphans and poor among us (James 1:27).  We come along side them, serving and helping where we can, waiting for an opportunity to share God’s love and salvation story. 

 

 Where do we proclaim it?

Anywhere we are we proclaim the good news.  We share at work as we conduct business, or at home while having dinner with our family.  It could be at school in between classes or on the soccer field while we’re playing.  We can proclaim the good news any time and any where.  Remember we live in a free country.  We are not persecuted for our faith, as in some countries.  So what’s holding us back?  People are dying for good news.  We have it, so let’s start sharing it.

 

Why do we proclaim it?

God does not want a single one to perish but all to come to Him for salvation (2 Peter 3:9).  He wants people to come to faith and trust in Jesus Christ so they will be saved.  We share the good news out of love for God and love of others.  We share out of respect for God and obedience to His commands.  Jesus said in Matthew 28:19 “Go make disciples of all the nations”.   We proclaim the good news to praise God for all He’s done.  In doing so we strengthen our own convictions and help other’s faith and trust grow in God’s plan. 

 

In summary the good news is forgiveness of sin, eternal life in Christ, and a new life now.  We share the good news through obedience to God’s Word and coming along side the hurting, serving and helping them.  We proclaim the good news where ever we may be all for the glory of God. 

 Lord Jesus, thank you for saving us.  Thank you for your Word to us.  Give us the wisdom, discernment and courage to share your good news with the world around us.  May we be obedient to your Word shining your love on those around us all for your glory.  In Jesus’ name Amen.  

 

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


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