1 Peter and the HOPE we celebrated on Easter Sunday

 

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1 Peter and the Hope we Celebrated on Easter

 

As the baskets and candy are put away and I take a moment to let the emotions of Easter Sunday wash over me, I am filled with a renewed HOPE.  What a beautiful day to reflect upon the time spent in 1 Peter these past weeks.

The message to the early Christians in 1 Peter was one of HOPE.  Many refer to Peter as “the apostle of hope”. His encouragement and reminder to us is that we are promised a NEW LIFE, both now and into eternity.

“In His great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” 1 Peter 1:3-4

Before I was a Christian, I was DEAD in my sin. My sin separated me from God. The consequence for my sin was eternal separation from God. I was destined for Hell.

Sin is not something I like to look at. Yet it is imperative that I understand my depravity and imperfection to understand my NEED for a perfect and blameless Savior.

Julie shared about confession last week. Confession can be an area in MY spiritual walk that I struggle with, for several reasons. Here are just a few:

1)   If I think about my sin, I am reminded that it was ME (and my sin) that nailed my Savior to a cross.

2)   If I acknowledge my sin, I am tempted to feel guilt and shame.

3)   Pride can deceive me into believing I don’t have any sin to repent of.

4)   I want to continue in my sin.

5)   I wait until my daily quiet time to confess, when I could confess and repent as I connect with God throughout the day.

6)   Conviction of the Holy Spirit requires intimacy with the Father.

7)   I don’t always embrace the gift of healing and freedom in Christ.

Let me expound on each of the above and how they look in my life.

It was me and my sin that crucified my Lord

I sincerely love Jesus. I have ever since I was a little girl. He is the most beautiful and constant part of my life. I am deeply grieved when I think of His suffering on the cross. It is PAINFUL for me to envision His suffering, and even more painful to acknowledge that it is my sin that put Him there. So for me, choosing to avoid confession is also choosing to avoid PAIN. It doesn’t make me feel good to do it, therefore the root struggle here is avoidance of pain in pursuit of feeling good.

I am tempted to feel guilt and shame

Again, I WANT TO FEEL GOOD.  When I verbalize my sin, I feel bad. I don’t want to do the things that I do.

Some of the things I do are the things I have prayed NOT TO DO, over and over.  For example, being short with my children. I pray almost EVERY night for peace and joy and patience with my kids the following day. I pray again in the morning for the same. I pray for that almost CONSTANTLY throughout the day. And guess what: I am impatient with them at some point EVERY DAY. Something comes out of my mouth that is not filled with love and grace EVERY DAY. And I HATE IT. I feel terrible each and every time. And when I go to repent, I can sometimes struggle with guilt and shame. I struggle with letting one mistake define who I am.

Pride deceives me into believing I didn’t sin today

So as I was typing that one out I was thinking… “Is that pride?”… “It really looks like stupidity. Or a REALLY bad case of denial.  Of course I know I sinned today!” I’ve been a Christian for over 30 years. Cognitively I know I sin each and every day. Probably every hour.

It is tempting to look around at others and compare my life to their life. My sin to their sin. Many times, my sin can look much prettier than my neighbor’s sin, so I minimize mine.  But in reality, the hate in my heart or the cruelty in my words is no less sin than murder or adultery.

some sins final

I want to continue to sin

Quite frankly, I can convince myself that if I don’t say it out loud, that it isn’t a problem. It’s not really happening. This part is denial. When the healthy me kicks in and knows I can’t deny it, the sinful part of me can just be plain rebellious. My friends and I had a deep discussion last week about wanting to continue to sin. For the most part, sin makes me feel terrible. It separates me from God and others. I don’t want to sin because I love God and want to walk in obedience with Him.  When I hurt others, I don’t  want to continue in it. But Satan can be tricky. What about when I choose to sit in anger instead of forgiveness, to protect myself? Or I want to do things my own way despite hearing God’s voice clearly. When I choose comfort over obedience. When I want to gain power by speaking loudly and unkindly.

I wait to confess

At the end of the day I honestly can’t remember everything I should repent of. Why not cry out to God when I realize I have sinned? The perfectionist in me wants to have a little list ready for God at my planned-out prayer time or when the kids are quiet. This usually leads to procrastination and no action at all. It doesn’t have to be perfect, God just wants to hear from me.

Confession requires intimacy

Intimacy requires vulnerability and vulnerability can be scary.  Intimacy can lead to pain. And here again, I avoid pain. I want to feel good. Sometimes I don’t confess because I don’t want to connect with anyone. Even God. Sometimes, ESPECIALLY God. I want to go solo.

I don’t embrace healing and freedom

Confession leads to healing and freedom. And it’s easy for me to forget those gifts that God gives to me after a time of repentance. My flesh can choose to stay in bondage and live as an orphan, or I can embrace the freedom I have in Christ and surrender myself and my sin daily. Peter reminds me in Chapter 2, verse 24:

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness;

by His wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24

This is the message of HOPE. My sin was paid for on the cross. I can live in freedom because as a child of God, there is nothing I can do to UN-DO what Christ accomplished.

It is finished.

I am healed.

I don’t have to listen to the voice of GUILT and SHAME because that is not the voice of God. While I am guilty of sin, God doesn’t condemn me, he convicts me. And out of this loving conviction, I can have a response of repentance which leads to healing.  I am then able to freely WORSHIP my Savior and experience transformation and life.

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So while it’ so important to acknowledge the problem of sin and be aware of our attitudes and actions, please don’t be tempted to get discouraged and paralyzed by it! God’s Word defines the PROBLEM, but it also gives the SOLUTION!

First Peter invites us to appreciate what the death and resurrection of Christ did for us!

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed for the empty way of life, handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 1:18-19

For you have been born again not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:23

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. A people belonging to God that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9 

 

Though you have not seen Him, you love him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  1 1 Peter 1:8-9

 

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, and the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.  Galations 4:6-7

As Christians, we receive restoration IN THIS LIFE as God restores us to who He created us to be. He imparts upon us the gifts of the Fruits of the Spirit and the power and beauty of Himself. We get to experience and relate to God now. We are heirs to His Kingdom and His righteousness. We can confess our sins and receive the blessings we have been promised.

While sin separates us, confession connects us.  

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together Christ- by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no man should boast.

Ephesians 2:4-9

In His Grace,

Lisa

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On confession and teeth brushing

confession

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about confession lately. Why is it important in the lives of believers? How do I keep it a vital part of the routines and rhythms of my spiritual life? How does it relate to my relationship with my Heavenly Father? I must confess that this is all new for me. I honestly have never thought much about confession before. Sure there have been moments of deep conviction in my life. There have been tears and prayers and bone crushing weeping over the magnitude of my sin. But I realized lately that something has happened in my heart. I don’t think of confession much anymore. I don’t go to a liturgical church that has a prayer of confession. But even if I did, is weekly confession sufficient or a unison prayer really personal? Our church has time for quiet reflection before communion. But is once every couple months sufficient time to deal with the junk that is festering inside my heart? By waiting so long, I often can’t think of anything to confess. I know that is because I’ve been disconnected from my heavenly Father in this way, NOT because I haven’t committed any sins in the past month! Because it’s not a regular practice in my walk, reflection before communion becomes awkward and God feels distant.

So I’ve been wondering lately….

Is confession something I should be doing as often as I brush my teeth?

David, the man after God’s own heart, has much to say on this topic. In Psalm 32, we see that David’s unconfessed sin was affecting his physical health.

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.- Psalm 32: 3-4

David also writes,

Test me, O Lord, and try me; examine my heart and mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth. – Psalm 26:2-3

Here we see David inviting God to examine his heart and mind because he is so focused on God’s love and desires to walk in truth, which requires a close relationship with God unhindered by unconfessed sin.

In 1 Peter 2:5, we learn that we are “ living stones being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” David talks about the sacrifice of a broken spirit and contrite heart…

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.- Psalm 51:16-17

Do I bring God the sacrifice of my broken and contrite heart or do I think I need to wait until I’m cleaned and polished up before I approach the throne of grace?

Do I trust so firmly in the grace and goodness of God that I am willing to be weak in front of God and others?

By not frequently coming before God in humble repentance, I’m putting a wall between myself and God. I’m closing off my true self in the foolish hopes that I’m somehow impressing God. I push away the pangs of my conscience out of shame and fear. This continual lack of dealing with my sin deafens my heart to the whispers of the Holy Spirit. Each unconfessed sin becomes a brick in the wall blocking my connection with God. Over time, my heart hardens to the shock of sin and it no longer grieves me. This wall causes me to have myopic vision where the weaknesses and failures of others are disproportionately bigger than the plank in my own eye. I become defensive to criticism, lack a humble, teachable spirit, and strive to preserve my own self-righteousness at all costs.

confessiontripp

 

Positionally, I stand before a Holy Judge redeemed from the power of sin and death because of the righteousness imputed to me through the death of Christ. My past, present and future sins have been atoned for.

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross- Colossians 2:13-14

Regular confession is needed to maintain a close, intimate relationship with my Heavenly Father. In vulnerability and daily confession, we need to break down the wall of sin that is being built between us and our Savior. We need to allow our flesh to be broken and God to mend the pieces more into the image of his Son. It is when I allow myself to be broken, to lay down the walls of pride, to allow God into the broken places of my heart through confession, that His healing powers can begin their restoration.

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. –Proverbs 28:13

I don’t HAVE to confess my sins daily. I GET to confess my sins daily. I GET to be lovingly embraced and washed clean by my Heavenly Father. I get to receive grace. It is grace that turns my heart from the siren cry of my flesh to see my need for forgiveness and desire holiness. It is grace that washes me clean with the blood of Jesus. It is grace that declares there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. It is grace that breaks down walls of sin and restores to me the joy of my salvation. It is an inexpressible and glorious grace!

How do we cultivate this habit of confession?

Well, I’m still working on that one. But it made me think of teeth brushing. I brush my teeth everyday (well, actually several times a day). I don’t need a reminder on my phone. I don’t have to get my husband to keep me accountable. I just do it. I’ve done it everyday for 30+ years and it is a part of my daily routine. I know if I don’t, my mouth is gross and decay will set it. So much so that if I’m on vacation and forget my toothbrush, I will make a trip to the convenience store to purchase one. It is that essential!

I know that cultivating a habit of daily confession is essential to my emotional and spiritual health. I’m hoping that as I strive to make this a part of my daily routine, it will become easier to remember. Until then, maybe I’ll try to remember to pray and confess WHILE I brush my teeth!;)

How about you? Is confession an area of your spiritual walk that you struggle with? If you have a routine for confession, what has helped you in this area?

I would LOVE to hear from you!

If you are looking for some tools to aid in you in praying through scripture in adoration and confession, here are some printables to pray through 1 Peter.

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 Holy God, I know you see me more clearly and know me better than I know myself. I come before you with my sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart. Test my heart and mind for the times today that I have wandered off of your path of truth. I am a wandering sheep and frequently get lost following my own ways. I am truly lost without your grace. I ask your forgiveness for the sins I’ve committed today. Good Shepherd, help me to follow your voice alone! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Praying through 1 Peter

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Today I wanted to share a resource that I created to go along with our Lent study in 1 Peter. Hard to believe there are only 2 weeks left. God has taught me so much through these precious words from a zealous fisherman turned leader of the church. Such deep truths on suffering, the grace and goodness of the cross, and the life I am called to live as one redeemed from darkness into marvelous light. If you haven’t been able to do this study with us, you can still benefit from these printables. Take 5 days to go through 1 Peter on your own. If you are doing the study with us, you can do these pages this week or save them for later. Everyone should be on Chapter 5 next week so that we will all end the study on Easter. The goal of these printables is to deepen your relationship with God through prayer while going through 1 Peter. Each day you will read one chapter and then pray through the Word, focusing on adoration and confession.

“Our prayers should arise out of immersion in the Scripture.

(We) speak only to the degree we are spoken to….The wedding of the Bible and prayer anchors your life down in the real God.”

– Timothy Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God

How to pray through 1 Peter:

  •  You can do a chapter a day or do it all in one sitting, however the Holy Spirit leads as you prepare your heart for Holy Week.
  • Praying through each chapter will follow the same routine.

The Routine:

  1. Worship– My mind is always going a hundred miles per hour. I need to intentionally pause and turn my attention to God. For me that means singing or listening to a worship song. I’ve listed a song for each chapter in 1 Peter, but feel free to pick any song you like.
  2. Prayer of Illumination– Ask God to be with you as you read His word. I’ve included one if you would like to use it, but again pray as the Holy Spirit leads.
  3. Reading the Scripture
  4.  Adoration- What do you learn about God in these passages? What characteristics, actions, and divine attributes can you praise God for?
  5.  Confession- What did God bring to your mind through this passage that you need to repent of?
  6. Closing- End your time by thanking God for forgiveness through the blood of Jesus. Thank God for what He taught you in your time today. If you like, respond to this through journaling, art, or writing out a prayer.

“If we aren’t careful, we can read the Scriptures for information and inspiration while playing dodgeball with our calling to transformation. Having the Scriptures “read me” deepens my prayer life because it exposes my sin, reveals Jesus, and makes me hunger and thirst for more of the gospel….

Nothing has been of greater importance to my growth in grace than learning to pray the Scriptures while wearing the lens of the gospel, and nothing has proven to be more fruitful. A gospel-centered approach to praying through the Bible will yield a mind informed by the will of God, a heart enflamed with the love of God, and hands extended in the service of God.

All three of these are central to life in Christ, and all three flow out of our union and communion with Christ.”- Scotty Smith, Tabletalk Magazine

Here are the Praying through 1 Peter printables.

While you are doing this study, here is a playlist of all the songs listed (plus a few more) on Spotify.

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1 Peter 4

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Is Suffering the Will of God?

1 Peter 4

The subject of suffering can be a source of conflict among believers and non-believers alike. Within the Church there is a wide variety of passionate opinions on the topic, and a tendency to want to choose sides. I’ve experienced many teachings from various perspectives that leave me asking questions:

Is suffering caused by our own foolishness and decisions made in our flesh?

Is suffering caused by the broken, fallen nature of the world in which we live?

Is suffering caused by Satan and his demonic forces who wage war against us?

Do we suffer at the hand of a sovereign God who does with us what accomplishes His purposes in and through us?

To be honest, this is a subject that I personally wrestle with. I do not have all the answers to this, because, frankly, none of us can fully comprehend Almighty God. I propose that the answers are:

yes,

yes,

yes,

and

yes!

Let’s look together at what scripture says and then we can continue to pursue God for answers and clarity as we grow.

Suffering because of the sinful flesh

1 Peter 4:15 exhorts us: “But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.” This leads us to understand that some suffering is caused by our own actions and decisions made in the sinful flesh. James chapter 1 lays it out pretty simply:

And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and He never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. (James 1:13-15 NLT)

Suffering as a result of the fallen state of our world

From the time that sin and death entered the world, all of creation has suffered. Although as believers in Christ we are redeemed to God and no longer subject to the curse of the fall, we will continue to deal with sickness, death, and persecution, to a name a few, because of the unredeemed nature of the world in which we live.

Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering (Romans 8:19-22 NLT).

I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation (John 16:33).

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12)

Suffering because of Satan

We have a very real adversary. And he is waging a very real war against us. Oftentimes our suffering is caused by a direct attack from a supernatural enemy.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world (1 Peter 5:8-10).

Suffering by the will of God

Whether we like it or not, and whether we can logically make sense of it or not, our God is sovereign over all. He accomplishes His purposes, even through suffering.

I create the light and make the darkness.

I send good times and bad times.

I, the LORD, am the one who does these things (Isaiah 45:7 NLT).

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God (1 Peter 4:1-2).

Suffering

A Faithful Creator. This is the only time is scripture that this name for God is used and interestingly within the context of suffering according to His will. The bottom line for me is, even though I don’t always understand suffering, and I may not ever have all the answers, I serve a God who created me.

He is a faithful Creator.

When He created this world, He did it for love. He said it was good. And I don’t believe that it was His heart for His creation to suffer. For now, we must choose to know Him and trust Him in the midst of a world where Satan prowls, where sin is ever-present, and where death is inevitable. But there is a coming a day when our Creator God will make all things new and restore it to its original perfection!

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Live Free. Live Loved.

~Kerri

 

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1 Peter 3 ~ Submission

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Let’s be honest. There’s an elephant in the room. A controversial topic that can be really difficult to talk about. One that has spurred great debate for decades.

SUBMISSION

Ladies, I’ll be honest. This is a hard subject for me. It’s one that I have spent several years studying and about which I have sought God’s heart because, frankly, I have felt very confused about it at times. In my almost 16 years of marriage, I’ve read many books with views on submission from one extreme to the other. So what does God’s Word, particularly this passage in 1 Peter, say about submission? And what does that mean for me?

Submission is defined as “the act of accepting or yielding to the will or authority of another person.” Throughout the Bible, we are commanded to submit to God, each other, and to our spouses.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).

Wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives” (1 Peter 3:1).

In my experience, particularly as it relates to spouses, people tend to take one of three positions on the subject of submission: pretend it doesn’t exist, approach it extremely, or very passively.

Perhaps we become extreme or passive about submission and the verses which address this topic is because it’s easier to either ignore it or choose one side or the other rather than sitting in the tension of not fully understanding it. To understand it, to live it out the way that God has called us to do so, requires that we be deeply connected to God and His Word.

Submission is a place of vulnerability where we are asking God, “How do I submit to my husband in such a way that is honoring and representative of You and Your Word?”

How do I model submission in the way that Jesus did when He humbled Himself, took on flesh, and became obedient to the point of death on a cross?

Here’s the tricky thing. Submission to my husband, boss, or friend may look different than submission to your husband, boss, or friend. Submission requires that we press hard into Jesus and ask Him what to do and how to be submissive in each particular situation. As we seek Him and His will, He will show us. And what He says to you or to me may not be written in some book. It may not look exactly like your friend’s marriage, because your marriage and  your walk with God is unique.

Walking in submission means walking intimately with God.

It means listening to the voice of your Shepherd. It means crying out to Him and asking Him for wisdom and guidance. And it may mean doing something that you don’t want to do.

When Jesus was in the garden right before His death on the cross, He cried out to God. He begged Him that if it was at all possible, He would not have to endure the horrible death that faced Him. And yet He said, “Not my will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).  Talk about intimacy! Perfect obedience. Beautiful submission. This is the example that Christ has set for us. Seeking God and being obedient to His will and His ways for our lives.

In my journey of learning how to submit, I am amazed to see that as I have surrendered to God’s leading in my life and in my relationships, letting go of control and following His will and His ways, He is doing great and amazing things. He has written my story and He is the only one who knows how I need to submit in each and every relationship in my life.

To be clear, GOD NEVER SPEAKS AGAINST HIS WORD!!! This is one of the reasons we so desperately need community! We need people in our lives to help point us back to the Word of God if we ever get off base in a direction that it seems we are being led. If you find yourself in this place where it seems that you have heard God tell you something that is directly against what His Word says, I highly encourage you to seek some strong, trusted, Biblical counsel before moving forward.

Just like the Law, I believe that submission was designed to point us to Christ. We are helpless to know how to be submissive on our own. Jesus is the perfect example of submission and shows us clearly how to have the attitude of Christ.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:3-8)

LET US THEN

 “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

Living a life of faith and trust is at the core of submission. And, ultimately, submission is about the attitude of our hearts.

Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:3-4).

The point here, I believe, is that submission is not about outward appearance. It’s not about certain behavior. It is not a checklist of doing certain things in an attempt to be submissive. It’s about trusting in God. Submitting to Him. Asking Him, “Search me O God and know my heart! Try me and now my thoughts. And see if there be any grievous way in me…” (Psalm 139:23-24). It’s about putting on love (Colossians 3:14) and pouring out this love on each other the same way that Christ has lavished His love and grace on us (Ephesians 1:8).

Some of you may be in relationships where that seems utterly impossible. I get it. And here’s what I know to be true. You cannot do it in your own strength. But God! He will mercifully and graciously empower you by His Spirit to submit and show love one to another.

“To sum up, all of you, be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit, not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:8-9).

This is the heart of it. God calls us to live in peace with one another as much as it depends on us (Romans 12:18), and to treat each other with kindness and respect and love, here’s the kicker, regardless of how they are treating us. SO THAT God is glorified. SO THAT when people look at our lives they see the power of Jesus Christ living in and through us. This is only possible when we set Jesus Christ apart in our hearts. When we know Him and are submitting to His will and His ways. Then, we “will be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks [us] to give an account for the hope that is in [us]…” (1 Peter 3:15).

Friend, I hope that by God’s power, you will see today that submission is not a scary, law-driven act. It is a beautiful invitation. Jesus is calling you to come to Him and seek His heart. To surrender to His will and His ways. And as you come to Him and He meets you there, you will find joy inexpressible, guidance, wisdom, mercy, and grace. I encourage you today not to get caught up in the do’s and don’ts of submission that may get stirred up in Scriptures like these. Press hard into Jesus and ask Him how He is calling you to be submissive in your relationships today.

Anchored in Christ,

Carrie

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1 Peter 2

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1 Peter, Chapter 2

As I’ve pored over this chapter for weeks now, the one thing I cannot shake, the one truth that occupies my waking hours is just how incredibly DIFFERENT we really are. Aliens, strangers, sojourners, exiles… I’ve been trying to wrap my mind and heart around what this means for us and how we live our lives. And I’m convinced that when we begin to grasp the reality that we were truly made for another world, nothing will ever be the same again.

The life-altering truth for the Christ follower is that we are not who we once were. Peter describes this radical transformation that’s taken place within us. The changes that turn our former world upside down and propel us forward to an entirely new life and destiny. While we were once in darkness, not a people, having not received mercy- now, having received His mercy, we are…

~a people living in His marvelous light

~a chosen race

~a royal priesthood

~a holy nation

~a people for His own possession

~precious and chosen

~a living stone being built up into a spiritual house

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And yet, ironically and tragically, so many of us still live as if our goal is to make our earthly dreams come true. Right here, right now in a world in which we don’t even belong. We’ve bought the bold-faced lie of the enemy that something or someone outside of our Creator will fulfill our deepest desires and longings. We often chase after success, approval, comfort, pleasures, riches, health, etc. trying establish and secure a place for ourselves here on earth. Seeking what we think we want in this world, rather than receiving what we really need from our Heavenly Father. In stark contrast, Peter gives us a clear reminder of who we are and how we’ve been called to live. 

 “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct honorable.” 1 Peter 2:11

These are no passive desires. They are not fleeting. They are not to be underestimated. Peter warns us that these passions of the flesh “WAGE WAR against your soul”.  1 John 2:16-17 further defines both the source and conclusion of these passions,

“For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

Instead of seeking to satisfy the passions of the flesh, we are called to:

~put away malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander

~keep our conduct honorable

~be subject to every human institution

~do good

~live as servants of God

~honor everyone

~love the brotherhood

~fear God

~honor leaders

~endure sorrows while suffering unjustly

For most of us, these things seem overwhelming even on our good days and completely impossible in the midst of our trials. Yet dear friends, here in verse 11 is the miracle and the mystery, in this one word

“Beloved” 

You see, we are His beloved. And as the beloved children of God, we are now being resourced by Him. We don’t fight alone, with our own weapons, in our own strength. Behind the beloved is the resourcing and power of the Father. He has saved us, redeemed us, and will be faithful to complete the work He began in us. In the battle against our flesh, in the various trials we are assured will come, and in the unjust suffering we are called to endure, He is faithful. Peter implores us to follow in the steps of our Savior by suffering well and I don’t think it’s coincidental that he concludes His appeal with these words:

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:24-25 

We don’t endure hardship, walk in righteousness and keep our conduct holy to EARN God’s favor. We are called to suffer well and live as servants of God because WE ALREADY HAVE IT in Christ!

“Because Jesus came to secure for us what we could never secure for ourselves, life doesn’t have to be a tireless effort to establish ourselves, justify ourselves, validate ourselves.” Tullian Tchividjian

As beloved children of the King of Kings, we have nothing to prove. We have nothing to earn before God or man. We are forgiven. We are loved. And we belong to a kingdom that is not of this world. 

So what do we do when worldly passions reign in our lives? When we really don’t look that different than the world around us? When we’re drowning in a sea of suffering? When, in anger, we seek revenge against those who harm us? Our human inclination is to try harder. Do better. But rather than pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps and pushing through by our own efforts, we learn instead to ABIDE in Him. The One who ransomed us with His precious blood. The One who is making us new.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” John 15:4

The fruit, the holy conduct, any righteousness in our lives is only and always a product of our connection to the Vine. To Jesus Himself who bore our sins that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. The more we rest in what Christ has already done FOR us, the more His life flows FROM us. Till He returns or calls us home. 

In Him,

Leslie

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1 Peter 1:13-25

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For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ~Ephesians 2:8-10

We know that the gospel is all about grace – receiving something we could never deserve because of the eternal love of our Creator God and the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. That grace is the foundation for a divine tension between God’s initiation and our responsibility. I believe with my whole heart that God is the initiator and the pursuer of His children. I believe that even the faith we have to believe and cry out to Him for salvation comes from Him. I also believe that He has created us for good works – things that require action on our part. Therein lies a massively beautiful relationship.

Studying through 1 Peter we see some of the ways in which we are exhorted to live. In the first chapter alone we are commanded to:

-prepare your mind for action (1:13)

-be sober minded [sober in spirit] (1:13)

-set your hope fully on grace (1:13)

-conduct yourselves with fear (1:17)

-love one another earnestly (1:22)

As the book goes on, the commands only get harder and more invasive! I encourage you to take the time to go through 1 Peter and write down every imperative given. Trust me, it’s overwhelming! How can any of us really live this way?

The truth is, there are no formulas. Our God works in transcendent ways that we cannot predict or presume to dictate. His process for preparing each person for good works and then moving them into the works He has prepared is beautifully unique. But what is our part to play? How do I live a holy life, my conduct pleasing to the Lord, without simply following rules?  Is holiness about more than doing certain things and not doing other things?

as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

1 Peter 1:15-16

True, lasting, holy conduct can only become a reality when we have had a true encounter with our holy God. The holiness of God is a divine quality of “other-ness”, the weight of which I don’t think we will be fully be able grasp until we stand before His throne.

But His call to be holy because He is holy stands as an invitation to know Him.

We will be holy, because He is holy. Our holiness must begin with His holiness. And so our primary desire in walking in holy conduct must be to encounter God in His holiness.

Let’s look at Isaiah’s vision of the throne room of God, from Isaiah chapter 6.

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2Above Him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;

the whole earth is full of His glory!”

4And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

When Isaiah saw the Lord, he immediately responded. And I don’t think it was a matter of protocol for him! When Isaiah cried out “Woe is me!” I can only imagine that his knees hit the ground! His posture became one of humility, and his heart was broken for his own sin and the sin of the world around him.

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” 8And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

At the moment of Isaiah’s awe-inspiring encounter with God, and the removal of his guilt (which happens to us now at salvation), Isaiah’s commission was a “no-brainer”. He had seen the holiness of God. He knew he belonged to this God! Giving of his life to God’s purpose was not merely a “good work” but a passionate privilege.

When we gaze upon the holiness of God we will respond with worship. And worship is not just singing songs together on Sunday morning, it is all of life surrendered in adoration of God because of who He is and what He has done.

be holyWhen we live this way there are no more lists of dos and don’ts. There is only a life lived in a posture of humility and surrendered to the will and leading of our holy God! Then, in times of suffering in this world, we will not be tempted to abandon our faith or run away. Instead, we can steady our feet on the rock of the eternal word of God and bear up under the weight of adversity with joy. We have seen our holy God! We have set our hope fully on His grace! We have an imperishable inheritance that will not fade away! We are His and nothing can snatch us out of His hand!

Isis killing the 21

This month we have seen 21 examples of living a holy life. These men were not perfect. They were broken vessels just like you and me. And yet, the evidence of their holy surrender flows red in the Mediterranean Sea. As they partake now of the Heavenly inheritance prepared for them, may God grant each of us the same image of Himself, that will compel us in His name, even unto death.

And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who is seated on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”

~Revelation 4:8-11

Live Free. Live Loved.

~Kerri

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1 Peter 1:1-12 Part 2


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Faith in Christ, our Living Hope, will Produce Joy

1 Peter 1: 1-12

Part 2

In the midst of trials and suffering, as we lean into Him, Christ gives us:

The Blessing of Joy

“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  1 Peter 1:8-9

During the trial, we can possess an inexpressible joy! How can we have joy while we are suffering?

The definition of a biblical joy has always perplexed me. I have been deeply saddened by some of my earthly circumstances, and have felt void of joy. In general, my life isn’t characterized by happy-go-lucky, rainbows and sunshine feelings. I feel a deep grief in my heart that persists despite my efforts to focus on more positive things. This aching and sadness has taught me the difference between joy and happiness.

I can feel joy and NOT BE HAPPY because:

Happiness is dependent upon circumstances.

Joy is independent of my circumstances.

Joy has a source of delight or pleasure.

That source is a resurrected Christ and the Holy Spirit living within us!

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To me, joy is:

  • A deep comfort in knowing that my Savior lives and has appointed me a place in Heaven with Him/A place that is secure and waiting for me
  • Knowing that my life is held in perfect balance by an all-knowing, righteous, mighty, loving God
  • Acknowledging that He is healing me and making me whole
  • Understanding the privilege Christ gives me to share in His sufferings
  • Experiencing His presence
  • Focusing on His promises
  • Receiving His grace, through faith, and choosing to praise Him
  • A blessing given by the Holy Spirit

AND

  • We can possess joy AND deep sadness at the SAME TIME. They can be simultaneous and run parallel to each other.
  • We can be angry and still experience joy/We can choose joy AND wrestle with fear or anxiety

In some of my darkest moments, I have not immediately felt joy. I have had to fight for it. Satan has tried to convince me that I am not worthy of God’s love and that my faith isn’t genuine. The enemy would want me to believe that my sorrow is sinful, and I should be ashamed. I could be tempted to believe that because I sometimes experience anxiety or fear in greater measure than I feel joy, that I am not a believer at all.

 But those are all LIES.

In those moments of deepest despair, I often weep uncontrollably. For those of you who have an appreciation for personality profiles, I am a FEELER. My personality type is ISFJ, with a strong score on the feeling side. I FEEL deep sadness and grief, way down in my soul. It can be so painful, it is sometimes manifested in physical pain. My heart will constrict. My chest will feel heavy. My breathing will become labored. I feel emotional pain in a very physical way. That is the way I am wired. God created me this way.

Broken relationships and betrayals have brought about deep suffering in my life. There have been times when I have fallen on my face in tears. Sobbing. Screaming. FIGHTING FOR JOY.

What do I do God? I am in pain. I feel NO JOY. Just PAIN.

BUT GOD SITS WITH ME IN MY DISTRESS. HE IS SHAPING ME AND WORKING WITH ME. WHETHER I FEEL IT OR NOT, HE NEVER TAKES HIS EYES OFF ME. I AM HIS PRECIOUS WORK IN PROGRESS.

Gently He directs me to His Word. His promises. I am promised many blessings. He blessed me, and all believers, with ALL the fruits of the Spirit. He provides love, joy, peace… as I continue to abide in Him. “Come to Me”, He calls. He wants a relationship with me. HE is the prize. I don’t have to wait for it in eternity. I possess it NOW.

In verse 9, Peter says “you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

Not only are we joint heirs with Christ and have an eternal inheritance that will never perish, but we are given blessings in the here and NOW. As believers who possess the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we possess a supernatural joy and peace that surpasses all understanding.

joy quote revised

If you’ve never experienced His love or chosen His blessings, He delights in you and wants you to call upon Him. You don’t have to get fixed up and cleaned up to come before him. I’m a mess. Let me just tell you: I’m an absolute MESS. There have been times when I’ve felt so rejected by my family that I’ve refused to pray. Simply refused to pray and have God say no to me again. Sometimes God’s “No” or “Not Now” feels like rejection.

Emotional suffering is real and painful. Betrayal and lost relationships are something to grieve. Physical pain is suffering. Loss of loved ones, loss of a job, or loss a dream… they are all difficult.  Do not minimize your pain. But how do you suffer? Do you suffer well? Do you choose to praise God in the storm and show love and respect to those who mistreat you?

I want to suffer well.  I want those who know me see a life of joy.

When the trials of life overwhelm me and I can’t see past my own circumstances, I am reminded of the process of refining gold. I must focus on my refiner, and not on the fire. When I choose to keep my eyes on Jesus, my circumstances are put in perspective, and I experience joy.

Lillias Trotter was a wealthy artist who chose to give up her affluent lifestyle to follow Christ’s calling into the mission field. She subsequently served as a missionary to the Muslims of Algeria for 38 years. She penned these words:

“It is easy to find out whether our lives are focused, and if so, where the focus lies. Where do our thoughts settle when consciousness comes back in the morning? Where do they swing back when the pressure is off during the day? Dare to have it out with God, and ask Him to show you whether or not all is focused on Christ and His Glory. Turn your soul’s vision to Jesus, and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him.” 

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus  (composed by Lillias Trotter)

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face.

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim.

In the light of His glory and grace.

 

O soul are you weary and troubled?

No light in the darkness you see?

There’s a light for a look at the Savior

And life more abundant and free

 

Through death into life everlasting

He passed and we follow Him there

Over us sun no more hath dominion

For more than conquerers we are!

 

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus”  Hebrews 12:2

 

In His Grace,

Lisa

 

 

 

 

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1 Peter 1:1-12 Part 1


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Faith in Christ, our Living Hope, will Produce Joy

1 Peter 1: 1-12

Part 1

We have the privilege of delving into the first 12 amazing verses of 1 Peter together. Christ as our Living Hope. Inexpressible Joy in Him. We get to explore WHY He is our living hope and HOW we can have joy despite hardship. And let me just say it out loud, THIS IS HARD STUFF. And it is GOOD STUFF. This is the WHY and the HOW we keep on going! Oh how I need this message right now!

These verses are so rich in teaching that what you are reading today is Part 1 of 2.

When the resurrected Jesus appears to Peter in John 21, Peter’s hope comes back to life and his faith is strengthened as never before. His life is changed forever as he begins to grasp a deeper understanding of Christ’s purpose. And in his renewed faith, Peter begins his letter to the saints with the excitement and encouragement of these words…

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade— kept in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3-4

Because Christ is alive, our hope is living. Our certainty in Christ is rooted in the fact that He was crucified, buried, and raised to life! He is alive and thus our hope is real and secure. 

However, having hope does not mean that all things will work out like we think they will, or even think they should. We have hope in our security and heaven, and we also have hope because of the blessings God promises us IN THIS LIFE. The promised blessings are not material blessings, but spiritual blessings! The blessings of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

We will all suffer hardship in this fallen and sinful world. As Christians, we should not be surprised by grief and pain. We should expect it. And when it comes, we must remember to lean into Christ. How we respond to trials and the choices we make during trials will, in large part, determine the blessings.

It is beautiful that in this book, Peter spends much of his time not delving into the CAUSE of hardship, but speaking to the PURPOSES of suffering.  One of the purposes in suffering is to make us more beautiful!

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I love the symbolic nature of how Peter describes our faith of greater worth than gold. Gold will perish even though refined by fire, but WE WILL NOT PERISH. Instead, we will be refined and become more beautiful!

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:6-7

Did you know that gold starts out as impure gold ore? From the outside, it doesn’t look like anything spectacular.  In order to make the ore beautiful, the process requires intense heat. The goldsmith carefully chooses when to put the ore into the fire and, just as carefully, decides when it should be removed. The smith pays close attention to the ore, removes it to shape it and work with it, then returns it to the fire to continue to refine it.  It is a process.

Just like the gold, we face fiery trials.  And like the ore, we are refined by the heat. God never takes His eye off of us and He never leaves us. He is in the fire with us! He is carefully molding us into His image. In the end, He wants us to shine brightly. When looking into a piece of gold at the end of the refining process, the smith should see his reflection in it. God is doing the same with us, His children. He wants to see His reflection in us.  By surrendering our will to His, we remain in the fire as He wills, and we seek to glorify God with our thoughts, words, actions, and choices.

When I am faced with a trial,  I have the choice to turn toward or away from God. I have a choice to listen to Him and meditate on His Word or rebel against it. In my flesh, I want to run away. I want to deny my God.

As children of God, we pray fervently for the Holy Spirit to give help us persevere through the trial. We ask for strength and patience. Even if we don’t FEEL like being in the Word, we can still turn to it. HIS WORD DOES NOT RETURN VOID. It is ALIVE. The Holy Spirit lives within us. He provides everything that we cannot.

There was a time in which I was too tired to persevere. Too tired to pick up my Bible. My community, my sweet sisters in Christ, prayed for me daily. They sent me scripture verses to hang on my wall and put by my bedside. I made a choice to read each one.

 

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At night, I made a choice to listen to worship music and just cry out to God for help. Only God could discern the prayer of my heart. In my weakness and imperfect desire to connect with God, I received peace and joy. And He drew near to me.

When we are weak, He is strong. We can call upon Him. Ask for help. And He draws near…. (continued in Part 2).

In His Grace,

Lisa

 

 

 

 

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1 Peter Introduction

calledforsuchatime.com“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a LIVING HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3-4

We are thrilled to be spending the next 7 weeks alongside our sisters in Christ as we read, study, meditate and discuss this LIVING HOPE that is ours through Jesus! Here is the link to our free workbook that can be printed out as a guide through the book of 1 Peter. There are 6 weeks of material, so no worries if you’re just now joining us, we’ve built in extra days to catch up. We will also provide additional resources and materials throughout the study for those who would like to go a little deeper. Our 1 Peter study will conclude with powerful Good Friday and Easter exercises.

1 Peter is essentially a letter of encouragement written by a man who knows what it means to persevere through trials. Most scholars believe it was likely written from Rome around 62-67 AD to the believers in the Roman Provinces of Asia Minor, including both Gentiles and new Jewish converts. These Christians were beginning to experience persecution as they lived out their faith in Christ. The writer of the letter claims to be Peter, apostle of Jesus. It is traditionally accepted that Peter is indeed the writer of this epistle. 

Peter penned these words of life and strength and hope to encourage believers to stand firm in God’s grace. Peter reminds us that WHO we are and WHAT we’ve been given informs HOW we behave. As chosen people who have been given an eternal inheritance, both now in God’s grace and peace, and in the future, our heavenly home; we have hope! Hope that produces JOY.  Peter gives a very important perspective on suffering; he writes about sharing in the sufferings of Christ, the purpose of suffering in the life of a believer, and the radical idea of suffering well as a witness to the world. Finally, we are reminded that our great God both resources and empowers us by His Spirit to be holy as He is holy.

We would love for you to set aside 15 minutes to view our introduction video:

If you are doing this study, but not a part of our Facebook group; please leave a comment so we can add your name to our prayer list!

Held by Him,

Leslie

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