trusting-god-in-hard-times

 

Heavenly Father,

It is so fun living with You, learning from You and growing in You! Lately, I’ve been seeing how much fun it can be to trust You! Of course, I wouldn’t have always described trusting You as fun. At times, it has been a little like jumping out of an airplane for the first time (I’ve never done it but I have trusted You on some issues that were very similar!) There have been times I have known exactly what You wanted and my trust in Your goodness led me forward with confidence. There have been a few times, it seemed You asked me to do something and I wanted to say, “You’ve got to be kidding! You want me to what?!!”

My old human self was filled with fear. I was the furthest from an adventurous risk-taker there could be. I still like my feet on solid ground as opposed to deep water or icy slopes. Yet those years of trusting You have changed me. It all started long ago, with me truly trusting that You sent Jesus to save me and to give me eternal life. All my years since have been spent learning to trust You more and more in every situation- in little things and huge issues- with circumstances and with people. Some things have been easier to trust You on than others. I cannot count the times I held on with all my might before simply letting go and trusting You.

Yet, oh the joy that comes from trusting You. A sweet peace comes from trusting that You are in charge and have good plans despite what any situation looks like. What confidence to be able to go through a challenging situation, knowing You have the final say in the outcome…and Your love and goodness can be absolutely trusted! What joy that comes in waiting upon You, trusting You through whatever comes my way…and then getting to share in the amazing way in which You work. I love watching You work, Lord! I love getting to be a part of it even when it can look dark at times. I love trusting You through it and seeing the outcome! I get to share in Your joy! It’s the joy of loving You, trusting You, following You, living with You, sharing in Your goodness and in Your eternal work. Yet the joy is not my only reward. My true reward is You!

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“Come and share your Master’s happiness!”   Matthew 25:23b

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through Him.”  John 3:16-17

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”  Hebrews 11:6

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, show me how I can trust You more…

The word "TRUST" written in vintage wooden letterpress type

 

Heavenly Father,

Can we trust the candidates running for office right now? Can we trust our education will keep us in a steady high-paying job? Can we trust a daily regimen of exercise to guarantee good health at all times? Can we trust our children to always make right choices? Can we trust our spouses, parents or friends to never hurt us or let us down? Can we trust there’ll be no sorrow or pain or disaster in our lives? Can we trust our money to continue to grow so we are sure of a comfortable retirement? Can we trust that our armed forces can keep us out of war… or firemen, policemen or doctors will always be able to protect and save us? Can we trust what we hear on the news or on the internet? Is there anyone or anything truly worthy of our trust?

It is not a bad thing to trust in other things or people to a certain degree…but You alone, Lord, are the only One truly worthy of our complete trust. We can trust You because of Your immeasurable love for us that far exceeds anyone else’s love. You created us out of pure love. You designed us to live in complete love with You and others. Because of Your unfathomable love for us, we can trust Your motives in dealing with us. You have no hidden agenda or selfish plan. No one else can love us with the holiness and pureness that You have for us. You have plans to bless us. You, Lord, see the entire picture of our eternal lives. You know and will lead us in Your perfect will. We can only see a tiny moment in time and we think we know what’s best for our lives. You love us so much that You look past our childish demands and tantrums and hold out for what is absolutely the best for us. We can trust You, Father!

We can trust Your love that went so far as to sacrifice Your Son Jesus Christ for our sinful rebellious ways. You loved us when we were our most unlovable. We can trust You to never leave us alone in this world to face anything at all without You. We can trust Your word, Your promises. You are incapable of lying or even bending the truth. We can trust in Your care. There is no more secure place to be than in the shelter of Your presence- even in the midst of a world that cannot be trusted. We can trust that You will come and get us out of this world and bring us into Your eternal Home where we will be able to trust in everything because You reign in all Your glory and goodness. I trust You, Lord. Help me be more trustworthy to You and to share You glory here in this world.

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“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all you ways acknowledge Him, and He will make Your paths straight.”     Proverbs 3:5-6

“’Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”  John 14:1-7

“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’”  Revelation 21:5

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, show me who or what I put my trust in…

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Heavenly Father,

It started with prayer… and bags. Tomorrow is the day! For over 2 years, You put a vision for a Ladies’ conference on my heart- one that would reach out into the community and bring hope to those who feel alone and defeated in their daily life. It is turning our far better than I could have asked for or imagined! Over a year ago, I asked the ladies in our Wednesday night class to start praying with me about this. Then nearly 6 months ago, a sister-in-Christ stepped up alongside me and said, “Let’s do this!” I have planned many things in my life, but this particular event, I didn’t want to do even one thing without You leading it. So I just kept trusting in You to lead in every detail. After all that prayer, the actual first step was some bags on sale!

My sis-in-this has a special gift for shopping! It seems like You lead her to just the right items all the time. She called me up and said she found some bags she thought would work for the conference but she didn’t know if we wanted the saying on them for the theme. You put on my heart to say yes. The bags read, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 Little did I realize how much I would be encouraged to truly trust in You in every single detail!

Our main part has been to pray non-stop about this …and then be ready and willing to follow Your lead. Not one person was asked to do anything without lifting it before You. Not one decision has been made without Your quiet nudging to go forward. We have truly trusted You all along the way. Last night as we did a prayer walk through our building preparing for this weekend, probably 10 women came up to tell  me individual stories of how You have led them to trust You more through this! Lord, we are ready. We have been praying, trusting , watching, listening, and obeying. We absolutely know that every single woman and teen who comes to the WEEKEND OF ENCOURAGEMENT will grow in their trust in You, just as we have! The more we practice trusting You, the more encouraged we are to trust You more! We love and trust You because we know You love us.

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Jesus said in John 14:1: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in Me.”

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…” Psalm 37:4-7a

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13

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Prayer Promt-

Heavenly Father, help me trust you more by…

spiritual warfare

Heavenly Father,

I woke up this morning fighting…but not the way most people think. It wasn’t against my thoughtful husband, my amazing adult children, any of my wonderful friends or co-workers. The fight isn’t against an opposing political party, another skin color or culture, the government or any group of worldly authorities. It’s not against someone who gets mad at me, hurts my feelings or attacks my family. It’s not even against an illness, an issue or a cause. It’s the fight of my life…and for my life…and for other’s lives. It is the most beautiful and calm fight. It is the fight to stay connected to You, Lord!

There are so many things that need to be accomplished; so many people who need to be helped; so many bills that need to be paid; so many “important things” that pop up on my agenda. Therein lies the real fight! Every single day I have to battle against my agenda or even other people’s well-meaning plans for my life. The most vital part of my whole life is my life hidden with You. Nothing else matters. I can’t truly accomplish anything unless I stay connected with You through Jesus Christ. Yet when I win the battle to live in Your presence, I find the most glorious love, peace and joy as I rest in the security of who You are and Your guidance in my life.

The news of horrible things happening all around cannot keep me away from You. The epidemic of fear cannot harm me when I stay close to You. When I am in the shadow of Your holiness, I know that You are at work, calmly fighting the battle for me…as well as others. In fact, You have already won…and so have I. The longer I live in You, Lord, the more clearly I see the victory. Help me be on guard and not let down my defenses. Let me live in Your strong tower and go out only when You send me out. Then let me go out carrying the Light of Jesus Christ with peace and confidence. Yet I don’t ever want to go without You. It is the enemy who tries to separate me from You any way he can. It is my fight to stay conscious of You at all times…every single day… for You are always with me. You sent Jesus to fight and die for me. Now I fight to live with You in this world and yet not of this world. I love You, Lord!

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“How priceless is Your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of Your wings. They feast on the abundance of Your house; You give them drink from Your river of delights. For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light, we see light.”   Psalm 36:7-9

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

“This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours but God’s.”  2 Chronicles20:15b

“But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith , love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontus Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blemish until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in His own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To Him be honor and might forever. Amen.”   1 Timothy 6:11-16

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me battle to stay in Your presence by…

know-your-enemy3

Heavenly Father,

Even my most loved relationships can turn into an enemy in a second if I’m not careful. It can happen from a simple misunderstanding, a disagreement, or simply when I’m caught off guard in a weak moment. I know it doesn’t just happen to me…but to every single one of us. It helps so much to remember who my real enemy is. It is not my spouse, child, friend, or even the person we’ve never met. Father, help me always be aware who the true enemy is!

Our true adversary is always scheming- trying to pit us against one another. He tries to turn different races, groups, political parties, churches and families against one another. He even tried it on Jesus. One of Jesus’ closest earthly friends tried to sway Him from going to Jerusalem to meet His death on a cross (the very thing He was born for). Jesus told the enemy “Get behind Me, Satan!” Jesus realized Peter didn’t know he was being used by the enemy to trip Him up. We shouldn’t be surprised that Satan works behind the scenes to divide and conquer, to stir up bitterness and hatred, to pit us against one another. The enemy works his wiles to cause us to turn on one another instead of to You, Lord. It is a ploy- a military trick that I do not want to fall for.

Father, remind me when I get hurt, angry or irritated who the real enemy is. Help me to love and pray for the one who appears in the flesh to be my enemy. Let me answer Satan’s attack with love and not be fooled by his destructive plan. Let me love You and love the one who is being manipulated to appear to be my enemy. Let my battles be fought in the spiritual realm with Your heavenly host on my side to knock down the enemy’s attempt. Don’t let me fall for the evil scheme that pits us one against the other. Remind me that my enemy is not flesh and blood (no matter what color the skin is; no matter what language is spoken; or no matter if they live in my house or on the other side of the earth) The real enemy is in the spiritual world and has already been defeated…I just need to remember that and call on You in the battle. Jesus has given me the authority to tell my real enemy to get behind me and Him! We each have to do it in Jesus’ name!

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“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers , against the authorities , against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  Ephesians 6:10-12

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”   John 10:10

 

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”   1 Peter 5:8-9

“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”  Luke 10:19-20

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me love and pray for those in the flesh who I think of as my enemies and overcome the real enemy. This is who I need to love and pray for…

hand-vashou

Heavenly Father,

What a special day it is!! It’s not a holiday, but it is a holy day. There’s not any spectacular reason to celebrate today, and yet there is. This day will never happen again. I only get one chance to savor this moment. I don’t want to let it go by without enjoying it. Any moment can be extraordinary when you share it with someone you love. Sitting in the shade, going for a walk, watching the sun set, grocery shopping, even working…if it is savored with someone you love, even the most mundane chores turn into some of the sweetest times.

I don’t want to wait for another time to enjoy life. How much of life is wasted waiting for the perfect spouse, the baby to start walking, the kids to grow up, or retirement. I want to savor right now! Today – even this moment will never happen again. I will never get another chance to grab this moment again. I will not have another chance to share this particular moment with those around me again or to see the things You placed before me today.

Father, let me slip my hand in Yours and enjoy right now. Help me slow down and savor the beauty of Your company in this day. Open my eyes to show me the sights You want me to see. Help me be still in Your presence and just relish Your love. Lord, also help me enjoy every moment with whomever You place in my path. Hold my hand and help me love them with Your eternal love that lasts far beyond today. What makes today so special? Because You are with me!

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“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”   Psalm 118:24

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”    Matthew 28:20b

“Be still and know that I am God.”  Psalm 47:10

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me enjoy this day by…

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Heavenly Father,

When I first held my babies, I didn’t think it was possible to love anyone any more than on that first day. On my wedding day, I couldn’t imagine loving my husband more than I did as we exchanged vows. I recall meeting one of my best friends the first time. Little did I know, she would become such a huge part of my life. No matter what relationship I look at, it can always grow deeper. It takes time, sharing life together, going through joys and trials together, being committed to one another…laughing, crying, praying, forgiving, working, playing and just being together. All of these help our relationships grow deeper. Yet the most vital part of deepening any relationship starts with our relationship to You, Lord!

I don’t just want to know You by name. I want more than an occasional conversation or visit at Your house. I want more of You! I want my relationship with You to be the most treasured, the most high, top of my list of relationships. You’re the One I wish to share my innermost thoughts, dreams, fears, joys, days, moments and forever with. I want to trust You more, enjoy You more, grow in You more, and walk with You more. Though I hunger and thirst for more of You, I am also completely satisfied and at peace when I am with You. For You are all I need. There is no doubt that You will never ever leave me. We have all eternity ahead of us. I will never stop growing more in love with You for there is always more to love!

However, You have always loved me with Your full measure.  Even when I ignored You and tried to live without You, You loved me the same. You were patient in Your pursuit of me. You loved me so much that You sacrificed Your very own Son Jesus when I was a sinner so I could live with You forever. There is no greater love! No matter how much deeper I long to grow with You, You are deeper still. The strange thing is the more in love I grow with You, the more love I have for everyone else. There’s no end to Your love. The deeper I grow in my relationship with You, the deeper all my other relationships grow.

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“Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37-39

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement, because in this world we are like Him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us.”  1 John 4:16b-19

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”  Revelation 22:17

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Prayer Prompt-

Heavenly Father, I want more of You…

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Heavenly Father,

My double brother and sister are leaving this week to go as missionaries to Trinidad/Tabago. They are our double siblings because they are both brother and sister by marriage and through Christ! My husband and I had the honor of going to their commissioning Sunday evening. Their relatively small church sends out missionaries around the world. In fact, the long hallway is filled with photos and information about each missionary and where they are serving. One of the main goals of this small church is to send out missionaries around the world and support them through prayer and finances.  A few faithful people in this church are making an eternal impact for God’s kingdom around the world. That includes through  my husband’s brother and his wife!

Having been involved in the sending- out of missions the last several years, I’ve had the honor of making forever friendships with many serving on mission in foreign lands. We get to hear of their day-to-day struggles and triumphs. I have felt for them as their children grow up on foreign soil, then leave them to come back to the states. I‘ve helped pray through the struggles as these children caught between two worlds have to adjust to a new culture. I feel for my friends who are countries apart from their grandchildren while I enjoy the nearness of mine. I watch as young parents raise their kids in a land without all the conveniences and comforts of America. We’ve prayed through malaria, arrests due to beliefs, scary ordeals, VISA issues and corruption in the governments they live under. These missionaries don’t always have someone they can share their conflicts and joys with. They can feel isolated and under stress. Yet they continue! My double brother and sister could have easily lived on his military retirement, but instead they felt the call of God to be sent out. They answered. We’ll be praying and encouraging them along with their home church.

It was a little strange to hear them being commissioned and sent out by their local church. I felt the call on my own heart to be sent out; perhaps not to a foreign field but in the mission field right where I am. It all starts with You, Father! You sent Jesus from heaven to us. Jesus sends us to be the light of the world and salt of the earth. Father, I accept my calling, too. Let us all go out into the world with the saving grace of Jesus Christ. After all, we’ve been commissioned by Your Son!

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“Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’” John 20:21

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Don 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.”        Matthew 28:19-20

“When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.’”    Matthew 9:36-38

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, where do you want to send me?

 

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Heavenly Father,

Today I am writing the next-to-the -last chapter of a book  I thought was ready to be written 20 years ago…but Your timing is always so much better than mine! You might have given me the vision twenty years ago, but there’s much more You planned to happen before the words could be written. Although I’m writing it, I feel like You are the true author, Lord. You just write in lives instead of on pages. If I would have tried to write this book earlier, it would have been me trying to push my words through. Now, it flows out and I’m surprised at what is written down. I know how Mother Theresa felt when she once said, “I am but a little pencil in the hand of God.”

The title of this book will be MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU. If it was written too soon, I would have concentrated on the story my first husband and I went through as he endured a traumatic terminal illness and all the incredible things that happened as we faced life and death together.  It would have been a memory book of our intertwined lives and the way You worked in them. Then I began a 20 year journey of helping others through grief as they faced the death of their loved ones.  I realized our story was not the only lives You work through. If I had written this book even then, it would have been too soon. I would have added helpful information that has helped so many others through the deepest part of their grief. However, You knew it wasn’t ready yet.

Through the years, You have placed a deep compassion in my spirit for those who are heart-broken at the death of a loved one. How I longed to help them. I can share my experiences and all the proven ways that help grievers through that dark valley of the shadow of death, but I know the only One who can truly help them is You. They each need to express their story, memories, loss, and cries. In this book, they will read parts of my story and will find practical ideas that will really help; but this book will also be written by the griever. What started out as a memory book of my first husband, along with helpful ideas, will also be written by the griever as they share memories of their loved one. As they tell their own story of the deep void from the relationship they are grieving, they will discover (as I have) You are with them and will never ever leave them. The true story is still being authored. It is the never-ending love story You have for us that transcends death and brings eternal life. It goes far beyond what any book can contain.

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“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down. I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” John 21:25

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

“We write this to make our joy complete.” 1 John1:4

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Prayer Prompt-

Heavenly Father, show me how to live out Your word in my life so I may be in the Book of Life…

cut flowers

Heavenly Father,

I do not want to be cut from the vine! As much as I love having fresh cut flowers straight from my garden on my table, I realize their beauty won’t last long. They’ve been cut from their life source. I can keep the water fresh in the vase to make them last a little longer. I can add a little packet of food, sugar or bleach to the water to try to extend their beauty, but since they’ve been cut off the plant, they are destined to wither up.

This spring I‘ve done a lot of pruning. Once a branch is cut off from the main tree, shrub or plant, it cannot continue to thrive or live. The cut branch certainly cannot produce any blooms or fruit. It might as well end up in the trash or compost pile. As long as the main plant is supplying the life, it will send out new branches- but those branches cannot make new leaves or flowers once they are cut off. Only the main plant can supply the life.

Father, I never want to try to do anything apart from You. It will not last. No matter how spectacular something I do on my own might appear, it will wither up. That’s why I come to You again this morning. I need to stay connected to Jesus who is my vine. Only with the Holy Spirit flowing from You through Jesus and then through me can my tiny branch live and thrive. If I am not rooted in Jesus, I can produce nothing eternal. Yet with Your life flowing through me, You can take this insignificant little twig and make it produce exactly what You designed it to do. Some little branches might produce a radiant flower to brighten someone’s life; other little branches might produce juicy fruit to feed hungry souls; some branches may provide shelter and shade to weary souls. Yet none of the branches can cause any of this eternal life on their own. That’s why I want to live in You and You live in me. Lord, flow through my little branch today and produce something eternal that I could never ever produce on my own…like love!

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“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.

                I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.”   John 15:1-8

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, this is how I can remain in You…