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. 

 

 

© 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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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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Peace

We all want peace, don’t we?

What exactly is peace? 

From a worldly standpoint peace means absence of war or conflict.  However, spiritual peace, right standing with God, brings a peace not dependant on earthly circumstances.  Have you found yourself in a chaotic situation, yet you were calm and undisturbed?  It was not because you didn’t care about what was happening but on the contrary you were passionate about it and yet this peace exuded from you.     If you haven’t experienced that kind of peace yet, don’t worry your turn is coming.  I remember having a very “blessed” feeling amidst the baby crying, dog barking, phone ringing while trying to have a conversation over dinner one time.  It was such a wonderful moment it still moves me to worship God every time I think about it.  That’s the serenity of the peace we’re talking about today.

 

Where do we find it?

 

Jesus said “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).   After explaining to His disciples the Holy Spirit would come to bring to remembrance everything He taught them, Jesus said “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).  Peace and the Holy Spirit are inseparable.

 

How do we get it?

 

Unity with the Holy Spirit and obedience to God’s Word is a good place to start.  Listening to the Spirit’s prompting and quickly following through with whatever direction He gives will definitely be rewarded.  Paul taught our thoughts play a huge role in whether we obtain God’s peace or not in Philippians 4:8-9: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

 

Did you see the connection?  Meditate on these things and do them.  There it is – obedience to God brings God’s peace.  However, we also need to be careful to obey for the right reasons.  We obey out of love for Christ.  He is the vine, we are the branches.  In Him we bear much fruit but apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).

 

How’s your peace today?  If it’s running low, check back in with the Holy Spirit, ask God to help you back on the path, read God’s Word and then be quick to obey.

Lord Jesus, we are so amazed by your wonderful peace.  Thank you for all you do in us. May your Spirit continue to lead us on the path of righteousness as we seek you in obedience to your Word.  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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The Teachable Moment

Yesterday my son and I were out looking for a new backpack to prepare him for school.   We found a store with exactly the right one, so we went to the check out line.  As the clerk was ringing up our purchases, he could not find the price tag for the backpack.  Unfortunately, there was not another one like it to verify the price.  So the clerk asked me how much it was.  I replied “There were similar ones for $49.95”.  The clerk, not wanting to over charge me declared, “I’ll ring it up as $29.95.”  We left the store.

 

While walking to the next store, I unzipped the backpack to place inside the other bag of school supplies to make my load easier to carry.  That’s when I saw it — the price tag.   As I slowly withdrew the price tag, I said aloud “Wow, we got a great deal on this backpack”, showing my son the real price.  My son replied, “Now, you’re going to go back aren’t you?”

 

My answer surprised me a little, as we were in a hurry.  “Yes, I’m going back.  I could not possibly go on as if nothing happened, for that would be lying.  If I chose to keep the backpack, how would that be showing I live by the Word of God?  Would it be truthful? Would I be a doer of the Word?”  So we returned to the store where we bought the backpack.

 

As the clerk saw me draw near, he had a surprised look on his face.  Although he was helping another customer, he asked me why I had returned.  I told him, I found the price tag and couldn’t live with being under-charged for the item.  He was very grateful I returned.  The man the clerk was helping even commented “you did the right thing.”   I said, “Thank you, I know.  You see I have my 13 year old son with me, so it is good for him to seem me practice what I preach.”

 

After the transaction was over, my son and I discussed how important it was to be truthful at all times, even when it may not be convenient.  We will all be accountable to God one day on how we handled each situation.  We also talked about how that one situation was a good witness to several people; the clerk, the other customer, the store manager and my son, not to mention my husband when we shared the story with him too. Proverbs 12:22 says “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.”  I just love how the Lord uses the ordinary to help teach us the way to go.  It was a delight to do the right thing.  This situation reminded me of Proverbs 22:6 in action: “Train up a child in the way he should go.  And when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Lord Jesus, thank you for your Holy Spirit enabling us to make the right decisions by being truthful.  In your name we pray. 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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God Gave

 

Are you following the truth?  God gave us many things to help us discover the truth.  Let’s take a look at some of them. 

 

God gave us a brain.  He expects us to use it.  Isaiah 1:18 NKJV says “Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool”.  Psalm 34:8 NKJV tells us to taste and see the Lord is good.

 

God gave us His word.  Psalm 68:11 says “The Lord gave the word”.  He expects us to study it and discover His truth like the Bereans did in Acts 17:11 NKJV “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”  In addition, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV tells us “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

 

God gave His Son to die for us.  Psalm 53:3 NKJV says “Every one of them has turned aside; They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.”  Romans 6:23 NKJV says “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Through one man, Adam, sin entered mankind.  Another man, the Son of God, paid the price for our sin so we wouldn’t have to (Romans 5:12-17). John 14:6 NKJV says “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

 

God gave His Holy Spirit to those who believe in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for their sins.  First Corinthians 2:14 tell us the natural man thinks the things of God are foolishness and he can not know them for they are spiritually discerned. John 16:13 NKJV says “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.” The Spirit is given so we might know the things that have been given to us freely by God (1 Corinthians 2:12). 

 

So are you ready?  Are you ready to use your brain, receive His Word, accept His sacrifice for your sins and receive His Holy Spirit? 

 

Step into God’s glorious truth today.  Today is the day of Salvation.  If you haven’t received Jesus as your Savior, pray something like this:

 Jesus, I believe the Word of God.  I now understand I am not saved by my own goodness.  Please come into my life and make my sins as white as wool. Give me your Holy Spirit to lead me in all truth.  In your name I pray. Amen.  © Elizabeth Marks, author of ThinkOnIt Devotions and has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.  For more devotions, bible studies and a recommended book store, visit http://www.ThinkOnItDevotions.com today.

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Family what is it?

 

Merriam Webster’s Dictionary says family is a group of individuals living together under one head, coming from the same clan or race, and a people united by certain convictions as in a fellowship.

 

I want to call your attention to a few words in the above definition. 

 

Individuals are unique.  Each has its own personality, style, preferences, and beliefs.  God made us this way.  He loves variety.  Therefore, we are called to live at peace with everyone, as much as it depends on you (Romans 12:18).

 

One Head represents the One Authority we live under – God.  In God’s economy He planned for the husband to be head of the household, just as Jesus Christ is head of the church (Ephesians 5:25).  We are to live in submission to God, whether we are married or single. 

 

Same Clan – We are all part of the same human race.  We all have the same sinful nature.  Realizing we’re all in this life together will help us be more forgiving.  We are sinners by nature (Romans 3:23).  Even after we are born again in Christ, we may still make mistakes.  Let’s cut each other some slack by forgiving and being tender hearted towards one another.  After all God has forgiven you, how then can you withhold forgiveness to someone else?

 

United – We are united together in Christ Jesus.  Family is so important to God that He died for us to adopt us into His family (Ephesians 1:5). Jesus is the unifying entity that seals us together as a permanent family. 

 

With the above definition in mind, I’d like to say families are:

  • A place where we are loved for who we are not what we do.  We are accepted and belong.
  • A place of encouragement.  It may seem like the world is against us, but we know our family is for us.
  • A place to share our troubles without being blamed for them.

 

Sadly, this ideal isn’t the case a lot of the time.  Whether your family meets your expectations or not when you are a believer in Jesus Christ you are automatically adopted into the ideal family.  What we have today with out physical family will one day be gone.  But our spiritual family will remain together in heaven.

 

Rather than wasting precious time complaining about the dysfunction we see in our earthly family, let’s try to find common ground and practice loving one another as the Lord loves us. 

 

What are you doing to promote a godly family?  Is your love without hypocrisy?  Are you kind and affectionate, giving preference to one another? (Romans 12:9-10).

 

Remember God has a plan and purpose for you being part of your family.  He is working in you to grow you to be more Christ-like.  In the family setting, conflicts and all, He is developing godly character in us. 

 Lord, thank you for placing us in earthly families.  Help us to grow Christ-like character until you welcome us in heaven.  In Jesus’ name Amen.  

© Elizabeth Marks, author of ThinkOnIt Devotions and has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.  For more devotions, bible studies and a recommended book store, visit http://www.ThinkOnItDevotions.com today.

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Now I know for Certain

 And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.” Acts 12:11 NKJV 

God knows exactly what each of us needs to truly believe.  In Peter’s case, he was able to walk with Jesus Christ for 3 years and was given the power to heal people (Acts 9:33-35) and raise them from the dead (Acts 9:36-41).  He also received a vision regarding the definition of clean food to relieve his fears of associating with Gentiles and he was miraculously delivered from prison (Acts 12).  All these things lead Peter to conclude: “Now I know for certain”. 

 

It was the same for me.  The Lord forgave me of great sin, removed my bitter/resentful/angry heart and replaced it with a tender heart of love.  He answered even my smallest prayers.   He renewed my marriage and blessed us with a second son.  He has blessed me with many godly encouragers in my life and this writing ministry.  He speaks to me through His Word, by impressions and through repeated confirmations.  All these things have led me to say, like Peter, “Now I know for certain” the Lord is true, just and right and all He allows is used for His glory, even the bad things. 

 

What do you need in order to believe in Jesus? 

 

God already knows and is working on revealing it to you in His perfect timing.  If you struggle with some unanswered questions, ask God to help you trust Him.  The answer will come at just the right time.  Then you will be able to say “Now I know for certain”.

 Lord, bless those who are struggling today with answers to their prayers.  Continue your good work in them.  Draw them to a deeper understanding of you, so they may say “Now I know for certain”.  In Jesus’ name Amen.   

© Elizabeth Marks, author of ThinkOnIt Devotions and has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.  For more devotions, bible studies and a recommended book store, visit http://www.ThinkOnItDevotions.com today.

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Devoted to What?

 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. Acts 10:1-2 NKJV 

Merriam Webster defines devout as (1) devoted to religion or to religious duties or exercises, (2) expressing devotion or piety (attitude), (3) devoted to a pursuit, belief, or mode or behavior, serious, earnest. 

 

Based on outward appearances this Cornelius would have looked like he knew God.  However, God knew the true condition of this man’s heart.  God knew he was missing something so He sent Cornelius a message and at the same time He prepared Peter to deliver the message. 

 

Reading Acts 10 reminds me of other verses:

  • Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
  • Proverbs 8:17 NKJV “I love those who love me, And those who seek me diligently will find me.”
  • Jeremiah 29:13 NKJV “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

 

This man was earnestly, sincerely seeking God.  He was rewarded for his obedience and brought to a fuller, more complete knowledge of God when Peter shared Christ with him.  God is awesome.  He does hear and answer our prayers.  When we seek Him, He is found.

 

What’s our take-away?  Don’t let outward appearances keep us from sharing Christ.  Just because someone looks religious by their actions, doesn’t necessarily mean they know the Lord Jesus our Savior. Speak to them about Christ when you are lead by the Spirit to do so.  You’ll never be sorry, when someone believes in Christ through your faithfulness to share.

 Lord, thank you for your word that proves to us you are as you say you are and you do as you say you will do.  Thank you that we can trust you are a God of your Word.  Help us to be sensitive to your leading and share Christ with everyone around us at your prompting.  In Jesus name Amen.  

© Elizabeth Marks, author of ThinkOnIt Devotions and has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.  For more devotions, bible studies and a recommended book store, visit http://www.ThinkOnItDevotions.com today.

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Getting our Attention

 

Read Acts 9.

 

God has ways of getting our attention.  With Saul of Tarsus, God literally knocked Saul off his horse and blinded him. Sometimes God allows sickness or other physical ailments to get us to slow down.  Maybe we have been doing too much and need a reminder to do only what the Lord wills. Other times God might use a loss of a job to get our attention. 

 

The question is are we paying attention?  Are we reading the signs God’s placed in our lives? 

 

The Lord doesn’t just get our attention and leave us wondering.  He is specific with us.  Look at how He interacts with Saul in Acts 9:6 “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”  I find that very comforting.  Imagine you were just struck blind.  I’m sure our mind would be racing thinking all sorts of things: how will I provide for my family, how can I care for myself, who will help me, how do I get things done, etc.   Though we may not be afflicted in same way as Saul, the Lord still wants us to listen for what we must do and be confident He will lead us. 

 

During the days Saul had no sight, I’m sure he spent plenty of time praying.  He was probably reassessing his life wondering what he did wrong to deserve this affliction. Isn’t that just like us?  When something goes “wrong” we think we must have done something to cause it.  I’m sure that’s the case sometimes like when we have to reap the consequences for our sin.  There are plenty of other situations that are not caused by us but rather used for God to develop His image in us.  Maybe we need to learn patience or perseverance or faith.  Circumstances can help us develop godly character traits.

 

In Acts 9:9 it says Saul went without food or drink for the entire three days.  The Bible doesn’t tell us why.  We could speculate many reasons.  Perhaps he meant his denial of food as a fast to help increase he chances of his prayers being heard.  Maybe he was so consumed with his predicament he just couldn’t eat.  Here’s a stretch, maybe he was fearful that someone who try to poison him in his weakened state.  After all he was persecuting the Christians in that day.  We don’t know why he didn’t eat or drink in all that time.  But we do know God was using those days to radically change Saul’s life. 

 

Is God trying to get your attention?  Listen.  He will tell you what you must do.  Isaiah 26:3 says of God: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Also in Isaiah 30:15 “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” It’s time for us to follow the advice of Psalm 46:10:  “Be still and know I am God.”   Lastly, we’ll end with Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

 

Lord thank you that all things work together for good for those who love you and are called according to your purposes.  Help us recognize when you are trying to get our attention.  Enable us to listen for your clear direction.  Give us the courage to obey.  In Jesus’ name Amen.

  

© Elizabeth Marks, author of ThinkOnIt Devotions and has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.  For more devotions, bible studies and a recommended book store, visit http://www.ThinkOnItDevotions.com today.

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