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Bible Study

We can come to our father and say I don't have it all together Lord but I know that you can help me. You can still heal me. You can still use me. You can add to what little I have.

The father instantly cried out, "I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief" (Mark 9:24, NLT). 

In this passage a father comes to the disciples of Jesus asking for healing for his demon-possessed son. The disciples could not heal the boy. Why? They had done it before in 6:13. They cast out demons on their mission trip to the villages.  

Maybe the authority was just for that trip. Maybe their faith was faltering.  

Mark's story shows us that the battle with the enemy of our souls is an ongoing struggle. Our power can become depleted when we do not allow the Lord to fill us back up again.  

After the disciples efforts to heal the demon-possessed child failed the man took the boy to Jesus. The New Living Translation records the father saying to Jesus, "have mercy on us and help us if you can" (vs 22b). I love the way Jesus asks, "What do you mean if I can? Anything is possible if a person believes." 

The fathers reply has baffled me for many years. He cried out, "I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief." 

How is it that the child's father believed but needed help with unbelief? 

The father had been previously disappointed by the disciples attempt to heal his son so much that he even questioned if the Lord could do it.  

Haven't you been there? I have. The circumstances that have surrounded situations that I have found myself in have snatched much of my faith and hope. I have struggled with my faith because of the size of the battle or how close I was to it like if it involved one of my babies.  

I've been left sometimes with barely a mustard seed worth of faith. Just enough maybe to believe one more time.  

But this father gives us the right idea. He confessed to God that he was having trouble believing the way he should. Then he asked the Lord to help him with that unbelief.  

That is so beautiful and powerful.  

I believe the Lord was touched by the father's honesty and vulnerability.  

We can do this same thing you know. We can come to our father and say I don't have it all together Lord but I know that you can help me. You can still heal me. You can still use me. You can add to what little I have.  

Jesus is the ultimate helper and He can help you if you struggle with unbelief.  

Prayer 

Father, we struggle sometimes with our faith. Sometimes we have just been through so much that it can be hard to believe one more time. But now through your Word we know that You are not mad at us if when our faith is weak but more than anything you want us to come to you. Give us the mind and heart to come to you honest and vulnerably asking, "help my unbelief".  

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Bible Study

Last week in our featured book, Live Your Calling, the authors Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck defined Personal Mission Statements. Your personal mission statements, priority goals and action plans build a bridge between the vision of your calling in the future and your reality today.

Last week in our featured book, Live Your Calling, the authors Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck defined Personal Mission Statements.  

Personal Mission Statements 

Mission statements include word pictures,or descriptions of your God-sized visions in your life.  

Mission statements help you get what you really want in life. They are designed to help you think through what you are aiming for in each of your callings.  

Mission statements help you focus your energy.  

Priority Goals  

Identifying your priority goals is the next key step for incorporating your mission  statements into your day-to-day life.  

A goal is a clear, specific objective. Goals personalize and particularize your mission statements. Setting goals is the catalyst for bringing your God-inspired visions to life.  

Action Plans 

Your action plan is a tool for translating your mission statement into priority goals and action steps. 

 

Action Strategies for Living Your Calling 

         1.Develop Personal Mission Statements 

  -Mission Statement for your primary calling. 

  -Mission Statement for your secondary calling.  

         2.Set priority goals. 

         3.Create your action plan. 

 

Your personal mission statements, priority goals and action plans build a bridge between the vision of your calling in the future and your reality today.

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Bible Study

This certainly was not the first time that Abigail had to think fast to cover her husband's bad behavior. Nabal was a fool. Even his name meant "fool." But whatever he was, he was her husband.

"David replied to Abigail, "Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you to meet me today! Thank God for your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and from carrying out vengeance with my own hands" (1 Samuel 25:32, 33, NLT).

If someone that were close to you were interviewed how would they say you handle heated or rough situations? Are you wise and level headed or are you the one that get things started?

Adverse situations can often tell a lot about where we are in our Christian walk. We all fall short sometimes according to the situation. But what does our Christian behavior say about us to the world the majority of the time?

Are we different? Do we inspire people to want to know more about Christ so they can learn how to handle life better? Let's look at Abigail.

David and his army of two hundred men marched toward Abigail. They were probably filthy and hungry from being in the desert. They were probably also pretty angry.  Abigail was very courageous to come out to meet them and beg David for forgiveness. Nabal, her husband, was the cause of a terrifying threat of revenge against her entire household.

This certainly was not the first time that Abigail had to think fast to cover her husband's bad behavior. Nabal was a fool. Even his name meant "fool." But whatever he was, he was her husband.

Some men don't deserve their wives. Abigail was probably the best woman Nabal could afford and he got more than he bargained for when he arranged to marry her. She was beautiful and more suited than he was to manage his wealth. But Nabal took his wife for granted.

In spite of his shortcomings, Nabal's household did what they could to keep him out of trouble. This loyalty must have been inspired by Abigail. Although her culture and her husband placed a low value on her, she made the most of her skills and opportunities. David was impressed with her abilities, and when Nabal died, he married her.

Abigail was an effective counselor to both of the men in her life, working hard to prevent them from making rash moves. By her swift action and skillful negotiation, she kept David from taking revenge upon Nabal. She saw the big picture and left plenty of room for God to get involved.

Whether in favorable circumstances or in harsh ones, the challenge is the same: to use our wisdom and abilities in the service of the will of God.

Do you, like Abigail, look beyond the present crisis to the big picture? Do you use your skills to promote peace? Are you loyal without being blind? What challenge or responsibility do you face today that needs a person under God's control?

Abigail's strengths and accomplishments

  • Sensible and capable

  • A persuasive speaker, able to see beyond herself

Lessons from her life

  • Life's tough situations can bring out the best in people

  • One does not need a prestigious title to play a significant role


 

(Partially adapted from Women of Faith Study Bible, NIV and Life Application Study Bible, NLT)

Prayer

Father please help us to be the kind of people that use our gifts and influence for good. No matter what situations we face in life help us to bring out the best in people and direct people to You by our behavior and the way we live our lives.

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Bible Study

This past week we discussed making decisions within the will of God. But how do we know exactly what God wants us to do?

Last week we discussed making decisions within the will of God. But how do we know exactly what God wants us to do. The answer is sometimes He will not be specific.  

The authors, Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck explained that the Bible does not always give us definitive instructions about our secondary calling to work. It does not give us specific answers about which career path we should choose or volunteer opportunities we should undertake.  

Instead, the Bible gives us principles for making decisions within God's will.  

This was a great conformation to me because I was one of those Christians that thought I should be hearing from God or seeing some sign that told me specifically what I should do. I was always running into fellow Christians that seemed to be constantly hearing from God in an audible voice. It's not that I do not believe that God speaks to people; I just believe that God guides and does not speak audibly on every matter.  

The Brennflecks further stated that in the absence of direct supernatural guidance, we need to assume that God wants us to decide prayerfully and thoughtfully which work or volunteer alternative is the best choice. According to Bruce Walke, It is possible to pray, read God's Word, seek counsel, and still not feel led by God. That's the time to rely on sound judgment.  

What will make your judgment sound? Reading the word of God.  

Toolbox of Strategies for Making Life Calling Decisions 

  1. Comparing options with your design-This strategy allows you to compare each of your career or volunteer ministry/service possibilities with your core work values, transferable skills and compelling interests (See Options Comparison 8.1 Grid in your book) 

 

  1. Assessing pros and cons: Writing down pros and cons for a particular decision enables us to identify what our most important criteria really are so that we can rationally evaluate them (See the pros and cons grid Table 8.3) 

 

  1. Evaluating Career Options in light of Biblical principles-the third strategy give you the opportunity to apply the life calling compass principles (keeping your primary calling primary, using your gifts to meet needs in the world, and being a proactive steward of your gifts) to career and volunteer options you are considering (See Evaluating options in light of Biblical principles, Table 8.5). 

 

  1. Defending your decision- in this exercise, you will develop a defense for each of your career or volunteer options. In this mental role play you create a defense for each, seeking to persuade someone who is not convinced it is a wise choice. This strategy helps you in critically examining your possible alternatives.  

 

As we use sound decision-making strategies and seek God's guidance through His Word, prayer, the Holy Spirit, and wise counsel, we position ourselves to partner effectively with Him in discerning and living our callings.

So what do you think? Is it okay to use Biblical principles to make decisions or should we wait to hear from God specifically?

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Ann Gant • Bible Study

In His longest recorded sermon, Jesus began by describing the traits He was looking for in His followers. He said that God blesses those who live out these traits.

3 "God blesses those who realize their need for him, a for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.  

4 God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5 God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them.

6 God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice, for they will receive it in full.

7 God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.

9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.

10 God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. "

11 "God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers.

12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted, too."

                                                                                                  Matthew 5: 3-12, NLT

In His longest recorded sermon, Jesus began by describing the traits He was looking for in His followers. He said that God blesses those who live out these traits.

Each beatitude is an almost direct contradiction of society's typical way of life.  In the last beatitude, Jesus even points out that a serious effort to develop these traits is bound to create opposition. The best example of each of these if found in Jesus Christ Himself.

Being "blessed" by God means the experience of hope and joy, independent of outward circumstances. To find hope and joy, the deepest form of happiness, follow Jesus no matter what the cost.

If our goal is to become like Him, applying the Beatitudes will challenge the way we live each day.

                    (Adapted from Life Application Study Bible, New Living Translation, 1996)

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Ann Gant • Bible Study

In our reading last week the authors discussed Vision. Vision, as the term is referred in the text is the God-given ability to picture things in our minds that are not yet reality.

In our reading last week the authors discussed Vision. Vision, as the term is referred to in the text is the God-given ability to picture things in our minds that are not yet reality. 

Chapter 4 

A vision of what God is calling you to do may start as an interest, a tiny idea or a fleeting thought. It can be inspired by the following catalyst: 

  1. Need-driven, an individual sees a need that he or she wants to help meet.  

  1. Design driven, a person begins picturing possibilities or looking for opportunities to use particular puzzle pieces of his or her design.

  1. Experience driven- a person has had a particular life experience and wants to help others who are going through the same thing.  

Chapter 5 

Strategies for stretching your vision: 

  1. Envisioning your God-Empowerment life-How can you use your God-given gifts to meet needs in the word? 

 

  1. Envision possibilities through brainstorming-Brainstorm about work and volunteer ministry/service options. 

 

  1. Look for volunteer opportunities in your church and community. 

 

  1. Use career resources to envision career possibilities (for example use The Occupational Information Network database, (O*Net) 

Chapter 6 

Strategies for Reality Testing your Options: 

  1. Use career-specific resources to gather information-local libraries and bookstores can help you with information about different career fields. Also career books and resources for people that want to become entrepreneurs like www.Entrepreneur.com or www.sba.gov. 

 

  1. Use professional organizations to gather information. 

 

  1. Interviewing and shadowing-talk to people who are doing the kind of work that you want to do. Shadowing-spend time in a  particular work environment watching one or more people do the job that you are considering.  

 

  1. Volunteer-try out a number of volunteer activities at a church or other non-profit organization to explore your gifts and interests, develop new skills and meet new people.

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Ann Gant • Bible Study

For our Bible Study/Book Review last week we took assessments which the authors stated was designed to help give us a map of our God-given design which identifies the gifts we have to invest in the world.

(Taken from our review of Live Your Calling by Kevin & Kay Marie Brennfleck, Chapter 3, Spiritual Gifts) 

For our Bible Study/Book Review last week we took assessments which the authors stated was designed to help give us a map of our God-given design which identifies the gifts we have to invest in the world.  

This section included six assessments which included transferable skills, core work values, preferred roles, personality type, compelling interests, and spiritual gifts. We also used the assessment information to fill out our life calling map.  

For this week's chapter review I would like to go over spiritual gifts and their meanings along with the Biblical references. The Brennflecks explained that the purpose of the Spiritual Gifts Inventory is to help expedite the process of discovering and confirming spiritual gifts. Understanding these gifts can enable us to discern our callings more readily and fully.  

Spiritual gifts develop through training and use. If you think you have a particular gift look for some low-risk opportunities to try out using it. No inventory can give you absolute answers about your spiritual gifts because discovering your gifts is a process.  

***Important Note: The authors state that they realize that different denominations and churches differ in their views on spiritual gifts. Those marked with an asterisk are ones in particular about which churches may disagree. Please complete this assessment in accordance with your own beliefs about spiritual gifts.  

Spiritual Gifts  

Administration-the ability to understand the goals of a small or large group, and organize information, people, and other resources to accomplish them ( I Corinthians 12:28). 

Discernment-Ability of know whether a message or behavior that is alleged to be of God is truly of divine origin ( I Corinthians 12:8-10). 

Evangelism-Ability to bring others to faith in Jesus Christ; passionate about presenting the gospel effectively to others (Ephesians 4:11). 

Exhortation/Encouragement-Ability to help others by listening attentively and providing comfort, encouragement, and wise counsel (Romans 12:6,8). 

Faith-Ability to discern what God wants done; trusts in God to overcome apparent impossibilities; exhibits a faith that is contagious to others (I Corinthians 12:8-9) 

Giving-Ability to give money or material possessions to God's work with great delight; may be rich or poor; tends to prefer giving anonymously (Romans 12:6,8). 

Helps/Service-Ability to accomplish practical and often relatively unseen tasks that support the ministries of others; tends to prefer immediate tasks more than longer-term responsibilites ( I Corinthians 12:28).   

Hospitality-Ability to demonstrate God's embracing love in tangible ways by offering food, lodging, and as sense of belonging to others (I Peter 4:9-10). 

Intercession-Ability to pray for sustained periods of time; sees many answers to prayer (there is no specific biblical text about the gift of intercession, but there is much evidence within the Body of Christ that the gift exists). 

Knowledge-Ability to understand and use information to benefit the body of Christ ( I Corinthians 12:8). 

Leadership-Ability to set goals for the future, and to influence and direct others to accomplish God's work (Romans 12:6,8). 

Mercy-Ability to understand and minister compassionately to those who suffer from physical, mental, or emotional problems (Romans 12:6,8). 

Shepherd/Pastor-Ability to nurture and direct the spiritual growth of a group of believers (Ephesians 4:11). 

Teaching-Ability to comprehend and communicate biblical truths, enabling listeners to learn and apply God's word. 

Wisdom-Ability to apply spiritual knowledge and insight to specific problems and needs; consistently provides good counsel ( I Corinthians 12:8). 

*Apostleship-Ability to start new churches or ministries; may work in either one's own culture or a foreign country; possesses spiritual authority that is recognized by Christian leaders (Ephesians 4:11; see also I Corinthians 12:28). 

*Healing-Ability to be used by God to bring supernatural healing of physical, emotional, or spiritual problems ( I Corinthians 12:8-9, 28). 

*Miracles-Ability to pray for, and be used by God to bring about supernatural acts that glorify him ( I Corinthians 12:8-10, 28). 

*Prophecy-Ability to declare God's truth and to proclaim how God wills things to change; wants people to align themselves with God's will (Ephesians 4:11; I Corinthians 12:8-10, 28). 

*Tongues and/or Interpretation of Tongues-ability to receive and speak a message from God in public worship and/or pray privately in a language one has never learned. Interpretation-ability to explain what someone else says while speaking in tongues ( I Corinthians 12:8-10).

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Ann Gant • Devotional

I don't know about you but God has to constantly remind me of my worth to Him, His love for me and that I have a purpose. One of the reasons that I love Him so much is because He never gets tired of me needing Him.

By Ann Gant

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. Psalm 42:1 (NIV) 

I don't know about you but God has to constantly remind me of my worth to Him, His love for me and that I have a purpose. One of the reasons that I love Him so much is because He never gets tired of me needing Him.

Early in my marriage as a young wife I was very needy. I wanted my husband to constantly validate my worth. I hated for us to apart or disagree because I was in constant fear that he would stop loving me or even worse leave. I was smothering him.

This frame of mind didn't leave room for open discussions of things he possibly didn't agree with without a flood of tears from me. I was a hot mess.

I put my all into him expecting that His love for me would heal my feelings of loneliness, abandonment, insecurity and low self-worth that I brought into our relationship from my past. After all, wasn't he suppose to complete me?

The answer is no. He couldn't, being only human just like me.

Over time I was drawn to Christ, His word and especially His love. It's been like nothing else I have  ever experienced in this life. Gradually I started putting my great need on to Christ. Now I need Him every day, and every minute of every hour.

Its beautiful! I can love Him all I want! 

I can need Him all I want! He doesn't get tired. He can handle it.

Plus, He is teaching me how to love my husband and others better everyday .

Christ can do the same for you my friend. You can love people but only be Needy with God.

Prayer

Thank you Father that we can let our guard down. We can be vulnerable with you. Your love never fails us. Help us to only be needy with YOU. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Bible Study

This past week we started our book discussion with the Introduction and Chapters 1 and 2. We have learned a lot already. We learned how we should see our calling in respect to our relationship with Christ. We are called to be ourselves. We are uniquely designed to fulfill our Father's purpose. Within ourselves He has placed a desire to search for our calling which should always lead us to Him.

This past week we started our book discussion with the Introduction and Chapters 1 and 2.We have learned a lot already. We learned what we can expect from the coming chapters.We also learned how we should see our calling in respect to our relationship with Christ. We are called to be ourselves.We are uniquely designed to fulfill our Father's purpose. Within ourselves He has placed a desire to search for our calling which should always lead us to Him. 

The Introduction

The Introduction discusses how to use this book as a guide to taking the right actions to create a life of purpose and passion. It explains how the book offers a toolbox of principles, assessment exercises, strategies, and other resources. 

There are six inventories with key dimensions to your unique design that include: you most-enjoyed skills, core values, preferred roles, personality traits, compelling interests, and spiritual gifts. 

The Introduction also states that the book includes the following tools and topics:

 Enlarging your vision on what you can do. 

A Life Calling Map 

Learning how to make good decisions within God's will for your life.

Consider emotional, physiological, spiritual, and lifestyle issues that can get you stuck.

Motivate yourself to take action. 

Learn how to use your calling successfully.

It was a suggestion that we obtain a journal to record the events of our journey and that we find a couple of friends to join us. 

We can use our journals to address the personal application questions at the back of each chapter. The authors also suggested that we write a prayer that expresses our thoughts, hopes and needs. 

Chapter 1-In Search of a Calling

In Chapter One, the authors talk about how all of us have asked the question," What is my purpose in life?" I certainly have asked that question several times over the course of my own life. 

We are looking for our place. Nora Watson in her interview for Stud's Terkel's classic book, "Working" stated that,"Most of us are looking for a calling and not a job." "Most of us have jobs that are too small for our spirit. 

There is a secular view of calling in which American culture encourages us to look to our work in our sense of purpose and calling. 

We are called to know the caller which is Jesus Christ and our primary calling is to be in a personal relationship with Him. Everything else is considered secondary callings. 

In searching for our individual calling the Bible tells us that we are brought into this world with specific purposes in God's eternal plan. Ephesians 2:10 says that we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 

God is a God of Possibilities. When He allows us to glimpse our potential, we are often tempted to retreat behind the wall of our perceived limitations. I have been there and done that, telling God all about the reason that I cannot do something that he has asked me to do as though he does not know all about me. 

We are reminded that no matter where you are in life it is never to late to do something of significance with your life. God can use everything in our lives. 

We are invited to experience Grace. Jesus tells us the parable about workers in a vineyard. Workers start at different times but are paid the same wage at the end of the day. The author state that Dallas Willard describes grace as " the action of God bringing to pass in our lives good things which we neither deserve nor can accomplish on our own. 

Chapter 2-Called to Be You 

Discovering your design and your vocational calling can be challenging. Our vocational calling emerges out of our relationship with God. The way that he has designed us includes a special combination of gifts. There has never been anyone like you in human history, and there never will be another you again.

The authors include what they explain as compass principles for finding your vocational calling. 

Life Calling Compass Principles

 One: God calls us to keep our primary calling primary.

Two: God calls us to use our gifts to meet needs in the world. 

-Become needs focused

-All Work can be Sacred

Three: God calls us to proactive stewardship of our gifts.

-Read Jesus' story about the stewardship of our gifts in Matthews 25:14-30.

-Assess your Vocational Fit

     Level One-a person sees his or her work as just a job

     Level Two-Ok work that is of some interest.

     Level Three-people find themselves in enjoyable work that may be satisfying for many years. 

     Level Four-Meaningful-people feel they are contributing to a significant purpose or giving something back. 

     Level Five-vocational integration, a person's work is an expression of who he or she is.

In doing God's work any job, regardless of how well it fits, gives us an opportunity to live our primary calling by being representatives in the workplace. 

In the journey of living your calling, you will discover the trust in this equation: You + God's Power= Enough. 

 

This Week 

Keep recording your answers to the Personal Application Questions in your journal. 

Read Part Two: Creating Your Life Calling Map. This only includes Chapter 3-Mapping Your Design (Assessments).

We  would love to hear what you thought about or what resonated with you from this past weeks reading. Share in comments, Facebook or Twitter. 

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General

It's Risky but don't Freak Out!
Instead of parting Red Seas and making water come from rocks the Lord did something just as amazing. He did something for us that we needed even more.

 

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you (Deuteronomy 31:6).

I have always been one of those people that love a solid plan. I like things step by step, a-b-c, 1-2-3. But life is not always like that is it? Sometimes you don't know what is around the next corner. You do not know what is going to become of a decision that you have to make.

The Israelites were at this place. They were finally at the edge of the land of milk and honey. The place the Lord had promised them was within their reach. But when they sent out scouts to check out their new home the report that came back was not favorable to them.

 In this land they would have to deal with some unknowns, some risk. They would have to face giants that they could not see themselves defeating. The present inhabitants of the land were greater in number than they were and the lists goes on.

I have been here a countless number of times. Have you? Before the Israelites sought the Lord for deliverance from fear or before they asked for His action plan they began freaking out about what the circumstances looked like.

They allowed their minds to be filled with a thousand reasons why they should not proceed into their destiny. They listened to the 8 scouts that gave a bad report instead of the 2 that said they could do it.

Don't you know that when people give advice it comes mostly from their own fears or experiences? The predictions they gave was as they saw the situation not as God saw it. They projected their own fears onto the people.

That is why we have to seek Godly advice so we do not freak out every time we face anything that looks a little risky.

I hate to say that when I first read about the Israelites I wondered how they could be so afraid after all the miracles that they saw with their own eyes. I mean they saw the Lord part the Red Sea. We don't see those sort of miracles in our time so I wanted to use this as an excuse for not living up to my own potential I guess. But I cannot. We cannot.

Have you forgotten? Like the Israelites, hasn't God done great things in your life as He has in mine? Hasn't he protected you and fought for you? The enemy of your soul tried to destroy you but you are still here. I'm still here.

Life is risky I know. But get out there and follow the path the Lord has set before you.

Instead of parting Red Seas and making water come from rocks the Lord did something just as amazing. He did something for us that we needed even more.

He made us into miracles.  I am a miracle.

And you are a miracle.

So we do not have to panic or be afraid. We serve a God that goes before us and makes sure that although things may not work out as we think they should, He has promised that He will make whatever we do work out for our good.

Prayer

Father, help us to remember not to let fear or panic be a constant in our lives. We want to trust and believe that you go before us in every situation to make sure things work out for our good. Use our lives for your glory. In Jesus Name. Amen.

 

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