31
Dec

Figuring Out Your Spiritual Gifting in 2017

Can you believe another year has come and gone? 2016 was rough for a lot of people and so, we gladly welcome 2017 in hopes that spirits will be lifted and positive life change will happen.

With the New Year comes dreams of making a difference and/or making a change. One way to have an impactful year is to figure out and understand your spiritual gifting. Ever wondered what your purpose is in life? …or in other words, what you spiritual gift is?

I recently entered into an agreement for mentorship –I am being mentored by someone who can help me get very specific in 2017 on where God would have me take Transforming Love Ministries. Part of that process is figuring out and refining the mission and goals of TLM –there has to be a game plan in order to accomplish anything! My mentor asked that I take a spiritual gifting assessment as the first building block in this process. It is very validating to clearly know your strengths and weaknesses.

The free, self-scoring online survey I took is a well researched and recognized testing tool developed by Dorena DellaVecchio, Ph.D. in 2005, and is based on the spiritual gifts listed in Romans 12:

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12:6-8 NIV

After completing the assessment, you can see your top 2-3 gifts by score. For example, here were my results:

The site goes on to give a detailed explanation of each gift and the characteristics of the person with the gift. Are you curious what it will say about you? I hope so! You can take the test here: http://www.gifttest.org

With this type of knowledge, we can charge into 2017 with a better understanding of how God wants to use us! Understanding our gifting coupled with seeking Him the way Jeremiah tells us to seek Him is a great way to ensure we make 2017 our BEST year ever!!

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 NIV

I will be praying that you have a blessed and successful 2017! Happy New Year!

PS: Have you heard about the TLM Sisterhood? If you live in any of the seven cities in Hampton Roads (Virginia) or live in Isle of Wight or Southampton County, you are welcome to join this secret Facebook group!!! We aren’t trying to leave anyone out, we are just building a strong foundation for TLM, so we can launch nationwide in 2017!! If you would like to join the group, you can go here to request access! Once you are approved, you can invite all your friends that live in the areas listed above!!!

 

It’s going to be a GREAT year!!! xoxo, Elaine


Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

https://www.gifttest.org/ © 2005, Dorena DellaVecchio, Ph.D.

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14
Dec

Silent Night ~ Holy Night

“Silent Night” is perhaps one of the best known Christmas carols to date. It is by far my favorite! I love that it brings us back to the real “reason for the season” –the birth of the Savior.

I relate to the scenery in the song that is specific to the skyline that night, mainly because I live in the country. And living in the country does have its advantages. One of them is the ability to look up into the night sky on a clear night and see millions of stars glimmering right back at you. Another is that deep into the evening, it gets quiet –deathly, but peacefully, quiet.

Having stood out recently on one of the chiller nights we have had, with stars laid out as far as the eye can see and silence all around, I closed my eyes and let my mind focus on that glorious night when Jesus made His entrance into the world as a tiny baby boy.

There in Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary would find themselves in a barn surrounded by animals, such as cows and donkeys. It wasn’t glamorous or royal by any means, but quite ordinary. They would be isolated from family and friends. Joseph would be there watching Mary careful and yet feeling quite helpless at the same time. And Mary, still a virgin, would endure every moment of childbirth naturally. And yet, in that place, under those circumstances, they would birth a King.

We have to take a moment to remember some details leading up to that night. Would you indulge me for a few minutes? Thanks!

  1. Jesus’ destiny was already arranged. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matt. 1:20-21
  2. Joseph was a righteous man who obeyed God. When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. Matt. 1:24
  3. Mary was chosen from among all women. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.” Luke 1:42
  4. Bethlehem was a prearranged birth place. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. Luke 2:6-7

Yes, Joseph and Mary were in the right place. A magnificent Lord would start off in humble beginnings, but He was not destined to stay there. Isaiah describes Him best:

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isa. 9:6

Yes, that 7-8 lb baby wrapped in strips of cloth would start out in lowly circumstances, but He became the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And even now, we are yet to see Him in all His glory! What a day that will be!

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas season. I also hope you will take some time to ponder what a miraculous event occurred that night. I am right there with you, sometimes getting caught up in the tinsel, presents, and fun that occurs this time of year. Let’s not forget to be silent, even if just for a few minutes. Let’s quiet ourselves and experience that silent night, the holiest of nights and savor the moment!

Merry Christmas to you and yours!!!!!

Elaine


Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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29
Nov

Bibleverses.com – Aspiring to Serve Others

Are you like me, always trying to find that specific bible verse to fit the current circumstance you are in? Sometimes it is a good situation and other times not so much.

In today’s world, the internet is bringing information to us at record speeds. Fortunately, there are sites available that help put God’s Word at our fingertips, helping to counteract an overwhelming and never-ending stream of thoughts that seem to bombard us daily. With a few key strokes, we can find comfort, compassion, mercy, and grace.

Bibleverses.com is one such site.

In 2015, the site was restructured to not only accommodate those who see without issue, but to also be accessible by those who may suffer some type of visual impairment, such as low vision or color blindness. This is truly a unique aspect of the site.

Along with providing free access to the entire Bible online, subscribers can receive a verse of the day sent directly to their email. The site also offers a quick reference list of the top verses on specific topics, such as children, marriage, healing, and worry, just to name a few.

Another defining characteristic of the site is the associated blog. The posts contained within the blog are from both site administrators as well as Christian bloggers across the nation. I have had the pleasure of contributing to the site myself, and you can see those contributions here:

10 Scriptures to Model for Your Children

Six Comforting Scriptures on Death

In addition, you may search for specific scriptures using the website’s search engine. And don’t forget to follow them via your favorite social media outlet: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

As the site continues to grow, be on the look out for more resources, posts, and site extras!

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30
Oct

Leadership Building

Are you a leader?

Wait, before you say no – are you a parent? a teacher? or even a consistent volunteer in your church? You don’t have to be a CEO of a major company to be a leader! Chances are you are doing something which requires others to follow your lead, and therefore, you are a leader!

A few weeks ago I signed up to take part in the John Maxwell International Leadership Training & Certification program. I want to grow my leadership skills so that in a few years I can help others like me to grow as well. Right now, I am just a mom, a wife, a small group leader, co-leader of a missions team, a prayer warrior, a writer, and a speaker. And when I wear any of those caps, I am influencing someone (something I recently came to realize in a big way).

John Maxwell states leadership is influence: nothing more, nothing less.

Now, when you put it that way, it is easy to see how even someone in an ordinary, everyday position can be a leader!

But as a leader, there is one person we must be sure to follow and that is God!

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God [granted by His permission and sanction], and those which exist have been put in place by God. Romans 13:1 AMP

No matter our position, we must continuously remind ourselves on whose authority we are ultimately working under. In addition, we must be humble leaders and not proud, boastful people. How do we treat those we might see as our followers? If we are Christian leaders, we should be following the teachings of Jesus.

Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. Luke 6:31 AMP

 

But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant…” Matthew 20:25-26 NLT

Yep, if we want to be the leaders Jesus called us to be, we must be the ultimate friend and servant.

Today, take into account those you look up to as leaders. Do they possess these qualities? Do you? One thing is for certain, all of us are works in progress, so if you feel you fall short, keep working at it!

I am excited for the days ahead and for all that I will learn. Learning is growing forward! Will you join me?


Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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7
Oct

Jesus Loves Me (and You)

Wow! Time has really flown by! Weren’t we just remembering 9/11? And now, it is almost the 11th of October!

I promise, you have been on my mind the whole time!

So here’s the deal. Haven’t you had those periods in life when everything is up in the air and no matter how much you try; you can’t catch your breath? The last four weeks have been exactly that for me! Yet in those tiring and tense moments, God always has a way of reminding me to cool my jets, get quiet, and just listen to Him.

The past few weeks, a group of ladies and I from Believers Church were putting together the final details of the He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not women’s event. It was set for October 1st.

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And last Saturday, it all came together and went off without a hitch! But we were sweating it there for a few days. Not because God wouldn’t see us through, but because putting events together are just plain nerve wrecking!

We had been planning this one-day women’s event over the last 8 months, and a lot of love went into the details of it. But we couldn’t have done it without Jesus, so we also did a lot of praying!

Saturday turned out to be better than we could have ever hoped for! We had close to 85 ladies there! From the decorations to the catering to the time spent speaking, they got the “wow” experience we had been hoping for! We were there to show them Jesus loves them – and they received the message loud and clear!!

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During the day, we watched women come together and sing songs of worship, take time to pray some really earnest prayers to God, and then leave whatever it was that was burdening them at the cross. But at the end of the day, this is what meant the most – 6 salvations! 6 salvations during a women’s event on a Saturday in October!

Friends, God is never limited in where He can show up and touch lives.

Today, I want to share just a portion of my speech from Saturday. It involves a passage of scripture from Ephesians, and it is written by the Apostle Paul.

 

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I love the Apostle Paul’s expression of his understanding of Christ’s love and the transforming power of it.

Paul, formerly known as Saul, came to Christ after meeting Him on the road to Damascus. You can read about it in the Book of Acts. I think I like Paul because, much like me, Jesus had to stop him dead in his tracks to get his attention. Paul, a Jewish leader, sought out Christians and had them severely punished, jailed, or even killed prior to his conversion to Christianity. (And you thought what you’ve done is bad) But after his acceptance of Christ as Savior, he did a total 360. He became the most Jesus-loving, crazy man you ever saw. Instead of inhlmhlmn-3flicting pain, he received the pain; instead of imprisoning people, he became the one imprisoned. Paul is, for all intents and purposes, an outlier in Christianity. He truly gave it his ALL. Why the sudden transformation? Paul finally understood Jesus’ love for Him. Paul didn’t have a transaction with Christ, he experienced a transformation. Christ came in and took root in Paul’s heart and that is the source from which Paul drew strength.

Let’s look at a small section of scripture – Ephesians 3:14-18. Here Paul is writing to the Church in Ephesus, and as he is writing, which I am imagining was feverishly, he was describing the awe he held for God and His plan of salvation for both the Jew and the Gentiles…of this great love God has for humanity as a whole.

And then he speaks these words to them:

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and earth. (verses 14-15)

I love that. There is something so sincere about it. Paul is so overcome by Christ’s love for him and all of humanity. Even though Paul use to fight against the Church initially, he is now overwhelmed…and it brings him to his knees…every…single…time. Has the love of Christ brought you to your knees yet?

Let’s go a little further…

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. (verse 16)

Paul is simply praying for these Christians, still new to the faith, to be strengthened by the Lord, knowing that they like us must tap into the resources only the Lord possesses.

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. (verse 17)

Paul has prayed for them to be strengthened and now he is describing the transformation that occurs in a Christian’s heart when Christ is given rule over their heart, which is that we become more trusting of God and we become stronger in our faith because we are growing roots!

And this is the one verse I want you to remember after today.

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. (verse 18)

Let those words sink in – how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. Paul is giving us the best description he knows how to explain how limitless and how huge God’s love is for us. But notice we have to be rooted first to grow in this understanding.

Take a few minutes and just evaluate all that you have been feeling lately.

Do you believe Jesus loves you?

Do you believe Jesus can love you?

Those are two very different questions. The first doesn’t require an in depth look at yourself, it is really an evaluation of Jesus. The second question means we have to look at ourselves and find what is lovable. Too many times, we are hung up on what does Jesus love about me. Case in point, how many of you wives have asked your husbands at some point in the relationship, what do you love about me? Right? We want to know why?

With Jesus that answer is very simple – because he just does. Jesus loves everyone, no matter who you are, no matter what your status is, no matter who you know – He just loves people.

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Friend, today, I simply want you to know this – Jesus Loves You! Receive it and embrace it!!!

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11
Sep

Remembering 9/11

Today, take a moment and remember those who lost their lives on 9/11.

Be back soon with fresh new posts. May God bless the USA.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

 2 Cor. 1:3-4 NLT

 

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21
Aug

Nicaraguan Adventures – For His Glory!

Hi all!

Our missions team got back from our Nicaraguan adventures last Sunday, after an extra day of unscheduled travel (i.e., flight cancellation in Miami). But all is well that ends well, right?

This year’s team was exceptional. They were so open and willing to have God use them that we accomplished much in His name (in just a few short days)! So this week, I just want to share some snippets from the trip! If you follow me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/LoveEchoedBack), I was posting pictures from Nicaragua in real time! If you haven’t seen them yet, feel free to check out those photos as well!

The first stop on our trip was a stay over in Managua. Sometimes we have to stay over in Managua for one night before getting to Puerto Cabezas. However, we were well taken care of by Henry and Elizabeth. They built this beautiful home for the express purpose to house traveling missionaries coming to Nicaragua!

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Then we got to Puerto Cabezas and got down to business!

First up, we went to an extension of the Verbo church in a nearby community and took part in a good, old fashion baptism in the river!

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Then we helped to build a section of the wall surrounding the complex that houses Pastor Earl’s house, the living quarters for visitors, the orphanage, and the church. No small task! It has been worked on for the last 15 months and is nearing completion. We were blessed to work along side the work crew on this very important safety need!

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During the orphanage staff meeting, Pastor Doug and I had the privilege of speaking about caring for self – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.13907080_10210778005714081_2783050050475216337_n 13892260_10210778007274120_4095720760209696609_n

 

 

 

 

 

We spent time at the feeding center and with the kids at the orphanage. So much love, so little time!!!

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Feeding Center – feeds over 600 kids a day!

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Orphanage kids! -just over 100 kids cared for daily by Verbo Church.

 

 

And at night, we would have porch time. The team had some great insights and stories to share.

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One night at porch time, we had the privilege of hearing Ricardo’s story. This 17-year-old is answering the call on his life to be a pastor! He is being mentored by Pastor Earl and others.

 

 

Of course, we took some time to go to the beach with all the kids at the orphanage! Who could pass that up?

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And then, as quick as the week started, it was over! It was my honor to co-leader this great team of people.

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We learn as much from these trips as we teach during them! We see God’s fingerprints everywhere. We are honored and humbled by the people we serve there. And we continue the mission in Jesus’ name!!!

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt. 28:19-20 NIV

Until next year’s trip, we pray for Verbo Church and the community of Puerto Cabezas!!!

PS: It is never too late to start planning to go with us next year!!! If interested, let me know!

 

 

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31
Jul

Standing without Stopping

Are you standing in the will of God?

That simple question for many is extremely complex. What is God asking you to do, and are you willing to step out?

Over the years, I have battled that question myself. But this week, a dear friend text me these words: “You are positioned for God’s purpose. You are prepared for God’s plan. Stopping is NOT an option.”

How the last part of that statement rang out – stopping is NOT an option!

There are many Bible characters that come to mind when I think on this topic, but none more than Joshua. Joshua was Moses’ second in command, assisting him to lead the people of Israel to the Promise Land.

He had witnessed the many miracles performed by God, which brought them to the edge of this bountiful land. And he had seen firsthand the lack of faith throughout the people. But Joshua knew his God was faithful and that His power was great. After all, God had answered Joshua’s request to make the sun stand still in the heat of battle (Joshua 10:12).

Now, he stood alone with instructions by the Lord to take the people into the land promised them:

After Moses, the servant of the Lord, had died, the Lord spoke to Nun’s son Joshua, announcing to him, “My servant Moses is dead. Now get ready to cross the Jordan River—you and all the people—to the land that I’m giving the Israelis. I’m giving you every place where the sole of your foot falls, just as I promised Moses. Your territorial border will extend from the wilderness to the Lebanon Mountains, to the river—that great River Euphrates—all the land of the Hittites—as far as the Mediterranean Sea where the sun sets. No one will be victorious against you for the rest of your life. I’ll be with you just like I was with Moses—I’ll neither fail you nor abandon you. Joshua 1:1-5

I can only imagine the thoughts that went through Joshua’s mind, if even for a split second. “Are you sure I am the person for the job God? Will the people obey? Once we are there, what next?” But then I imagine this thought pushed its way to the forefront of Joshua’s mind as he took his first step forward–stopping is NOT an option.

How about us? How do we get to the point that we know that we know we are standing in God’s will? I believe there are two things that must happen:

  1. We must believe with all of our heart, God can do what He says He can do!

Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” John 11:40

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1

  1. We must be willing to do whatever He asks!

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. James 2:17

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

What is God asking you to do? Have you determined that stopping is NOT an option when it comes to both seeking and standing in the will of God?

One of the areas that God has placed on my heart is missions. During the year, I go out with the church to do Servant Evangelism projects. But once a year I also go to Nicaragua. This year is no exception! Our team is leaving THIS Saturday, August 6th, to travel down to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. Will you pray for our team? And will you pray for the hearts and minds that we will touch during our time there?

We know great things will happen if we stand in the will of God during this trip! We have seen them happen trip after trip! BTW, I will be posting photos to my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/LoveEchoedBack/, if you want to follow along!

But back to our overall discussion!

What is that thing that God has asked you to do? Does it line up with the scriptures? Will it bring Him glory? Chances are if you answered “yes” to the last two questions, you are indeed standing in God’s will.

Remember, stopping is NOT an option! Step forward into God’s will and know that I will be praying for you!

While I am away, drop me a line here! Tell me what you feel God is asking you to do and how you feel about it. “Talk” to you in two weeks!


Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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24
Jul

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

As young girls, our feelings of infatuation for specific boys would rise and fall as fast as ocean waves crashing on the shore. Does he like me? Could he possibly love me? Remember grade school, when we would use the check box method to figure out the answer to this life-altering issue. You know, that little note with the check boxes for yes or no. You would pass that note to the person you liked and wait anxiously for its return! As we grew older, our methods changed and became way more scientific. That’s right, we turned to daisies. Yep, one petal at a time we considered the possible outcome – he loves me, he loves me not. And if the last petal pulled off the flower stem represented he loves me not, we were devastated. Well, at least until we found another daisy and started the process over again!

As Christians, we struggle to understand how such a loving and amazing God could love us. In our spirit, if we are being completely honest, we struggle almost daily with the notion: He loves me, He loves me not. A Chinese proverb states: I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

I hear and I forget. We have heard over and over that we are loved by God. We can recite John 3:16 on demand. However, in our humanity, we so easily forget the depth of the Savior’s love. And when we fail Him, we immediately question whether we are truly loveable.

I see and I remember. The cross is so integral to our faith because at the site of the cross we remember what Jesus did for us. Standing in the presence of the cross, we are reminded what lengths He went to save us and how great His love is for us.

I do and I understand. What really drives home the reality of Jesus’ love for us is when we can share that love with someone else. When we are doers of the word, we start to understand Christ just a little more. In those moments, we are changing and transforming into the person He has created us to be.

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

Today, let’s stop struggling with that question. Let’s resolve ourselves that we are loved -every.single.day. Be encouraged by Paul’s words, a man who stood firmly on the conviction that his Savior loved him:

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. … And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. Ephesians 3:16, 18 NLT

Ladies, we welcome you to a one-day event October 1st – He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not. Come rest at His feet. Hear stories of His great love. Worship with us, and strengthen your belief in the Savior’s love for YOU.  http://believerschurch.org/home/whats-happening

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10
Jul

Seven Verses for Your Week!

Let’s take a few minutes to start our week off right. This post has seven scriptures – one for each day! Let these verses speak to you and create a sense of peace and hope within you that you may not have experienced last week.

Sunday – The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

Monday – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Tuesday – For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5

Wednesday – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Thursday – Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Friday – So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

Saturday – Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:35

I believe God never wastes a word. When we read scripture, we sometimes think that we have happened upon them. But I believe they are put before us for a reason. When we slow down and allow God to work on our hearts through the words we read, something changes on the inside of us. Each change brings us closer and closer to Him. And that is just where I want to be! How about you? 


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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