Heavenly Father,

               Like so many others this morning, I looked out my window and saw the largest snowflakes I had ever seen falling softly and quietly to the ground. I felt like I was in a silent snow globe with Your glory falling all around me. The snow almost immediately blanketed the yard, roof, bushes and that dirty pile of leaves that has been sitting untouched on my yard. Everything is covered with a pure white blanket. Even the ugliest eyesores have turned into scenes of beautiful sparkling pure white.

               There is nothing I can do to cause it to snow. There is nothing meteorologists can do to make the clouds pour out their flakes. No one can stop it no matter what sophisticated up-to-date technology lies at their disposal. It is poured out freely and generously in Your perfect timing. There are some who wanted it to snow and others who didn’t. You alone, Lord, know when to let the snow fall.  It is whiter than any white we can make. In fact, when the sun shines on it, we can barely look at it with our unprotected human eyes.

               Thank You for the way Jesus’ blood falls softly and quietly on me- completely covering my sin. When You look at me, You no longer see my ugly evil sin, but only the pure and holy covering of Jesus which causes me to shine with His glory. My holiness may not be visible to the human eye (including my own eyes) but the very moment I surrendered and asked Jesus to save me from my sins, I am covered. I am free of the ugly filth of guilt, shame, fear, rebellion, hate…all my sin is washed pure in the holy blood of Jesus Christ. I could never wash away my own sin—no matter how hard I try. You sent Your Holy Son Jesus, the only One worthy and able to do what we cannot- make us whiter than snow in Your precious eyes.

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“’Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’    Isaiah 1:18

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”   Isaiah 55:10-11

“The hair on His head was white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and coming out of His mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead. Then He placed His right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.’”      Revelation 1:14-18

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Prayer Prompt-

Holy Father, do I believe Jesus is Your holy Son and have I accepted His precious blood to cover my sin and make me like snow?

Glorious Heavenly Father,

Forgive me when I slip into my human nature and think my life is all about me. I’m so glad it’s not! It would be a sad state of affairs if everything in life was to satisfy my every whim. It would be utter chaos if everyone lived for themselves all the time. No one would get married, have children, teach, or serve anyone else in any way. There would be constant wars, arguments, greed, and violence as we each demanded our own way. Babies are born with a self-centered nature to help them survive. They demand food, sleep, and clean diapers. It’s a good thing You made babies so adorably cute, Lord! Caring about others is learned through the unselfish sacrifices of parents and other compassionate people around babies. They learn to smile and interact with love by watching us smile, play with and patiently care for their needs—even when it means bouts of screaming because the bottle is not there right when they want it.

It seems to take a whole lifetime of putting away our sinful human selfishness and taking on the servant nature of Jesus Christ. I would be horrified if I saw a record of all my selfish demanding outbursts in my lifetime. Many of my selfish tendencies might not have been seen by others, but You saw them in my thoughts and You knew I wouldn’t always be like that. I’m so glad my record has been wiped clean by the pure and holy blood of Jesus Christ. My life is so short and insignificant in the scheme of eternity. Yet, even in my selfish thinking, You still loved me so much that You sent Your Son to serve my needs by dying for me so I could live forever with You.

Father, You made everything and sustain all that there is. Your glory and majesty cannot even be described or comprehended by us. Thank You for creating us in Your image with the capacity to choose to love deeply and serve sacrificially. Life is not very meaningful when it is lived exclusively for our own selfish desires. All the money, houses, fame, power or anything else we devote our lives to is meaningless. We were created to love and serve. We find fulfillment and meaning in loving and serving You and others as new creations in Jesus Christ.

*****

 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”  2 Corinthians 5:17

 

“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator- who is forever praised.” Romans 1:25

Jesus said in Matthew 16:24-26 “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?”

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, search my heart…what am I living for?

Heavenly Father,

One of my relatives has been visiting his brother who is in a halfway house after serving 9 years in prison. It was not his first time to spend years behind bars. He is getting a real taste of freedom. He has a paying job. He can walk to the store to spend his money. He can take a bath immersed in water for the first time in 9 years. He is going through a little culture shock because the world has changed so much in those nine years. He is more than intimidated by cell phones and technology. He seems to not only enjoy his freedom, but so far he realizes he needs to guard it. I’m certain he will face temptation to go back to his old life—even though he knows it leads to that hellish life of imprisonment. I pray with all my heart that he finds true freedom in Christ which cannot be taken away as we keep our eyes on Him.

Father, I was talking to someone else last night who never went to prison but was just as much a prisoner of darkness. She was held down, humiliated, abused, fearful for her life and the lives of others, was made to feel absolutely hopeless. She was drug down into a pit of darkness where there seemed no way out of. And yet she is finally free! She absolutely knows she was freed by Jesus. She is living in the light of Jesus Christ instead of the dark deadly pit of sin. She also needs to guard that freedom. There are constant temptations trying to pull her down. As long as she keeps her eyes and soul focused on You, that darkness has no power over her. When the temptation comes to go back towards her old dark hopeless life, all she has to do is call the name of Jesus—the name at which all powers must fall.

Lord, as we celebrate America’s freedom once again, I think of the cost of that freedom. It was bought with the blood of men and women willing to die for our freedom. But even America’s freedom is fragile. We must guard it—not only with people who are still willing to give their lives to defend it—but with our personal responsibility to use that freedom wisely; to live our lives in the light of Jesus; to shine out with Your love and holiness that comes only from the high cost of Jesus’ holy blood given for us so we could be free. Father, when I am tempted by the world to go back to my old life, let me guard my precious eternal freedom by looking to You! Because of Jesus, I am free indeed!

 

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Jesus read this scripture from the Old Testament as recorded in Luke 4:18-21:   “ ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of our Lord’s favor.’ Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on Him, and He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’”  

 

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

 

“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”  Galatians 5:13

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, am I living in prison or in freedom?

Heavenly Father,

My yard is full of stories. The Live Oak tree in my back yard was a dinky six-foot tall tree with two small trunks about 1 ½ inches in diameter twenty years ago when half of a massive elm tree fell on top of it during a major storm. It was bent clear to the ground under the weight of half of a full grown tree. I thought for certain it was gone. It even had a big crack in the base of the trunk. When my husband cut the weight off of it, that small tree sprung back upright straight as an arrow pointing to the sky. I watched it over time, thinking the damage probably destroyed the main part of the trunk, but it continued to grow stronger than ever. Today, it shades our whole patio we built below it. We enjoy its shade as we sip coffee, read, and entertain family and friends under it.

A few days ago, my husband cut down a big branch of another tree I asked him to remove. (He likes his chainsaw!) A twelve-foot branch fell, standing up on its end right on top of a beautiful tender Hosta Lily. That same Hosta froze all the way to the ground in a late freeze earlier this spring. Even under all the harsh conditions, it is coming out lovelier than ever. Every single plant has a story. Not only is my small yard full of broken stories that are flourishing with life…but the whole world is!

Lord, I see people all around who are either broken, going through a storm, or under tremendous pressure. Some of the brokenness is a result of personal choices; other times it is simply part of this life. It might seem like the end of the world to them, but I know You are at work. You are allowing their circumstances to cause them to grow stronger, to develop deeper compassion, to help their trust in You to flourish though they cannot see the outcome, to bring about eternal life through Jesus Christ under what appears to be death…Whether it is in my life, my family members’ lives, those I love and those I barely know, I trust You are bringing new life out of the brokenness. May we all stand up with our scars of brokenness, offering our own personal story of brokenness to flourishing with the glory of Jesus’ eternal life growing in us.

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“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all…” Psalm 34:18-19

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  Psalm 147:3

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me surrender to You my brokenness of_________

 

Heavenly Father,

I usually go out in my yard at least once a day this time of the year just so I can see the changes and growth from the day before. There is so much joy in watching for each new sprout and flower. I may have planted them, but I surely do not have the power to make them come to life and flourish. I simply give them a little water and fertilize occasionally but these plants are a lot of fun to watch grow from tiny plants to lush bushes producing miraculous fruit and flowers.

It may be the most rewarding to rescue plants about to be discarded. I can see their potential so I prune, transplant in the right place and nurture them along until they are thriving. Before you know it, they are blessing everyone around including me. My yard is full of plants carried over through the winter. Most people would have thrown them away because they looked so damaged or dead…but I have witnessed how You work, Lord! You specialize in reviving and bringing life to worthless looking things and people! All it takes is Jesus Christ! He makes all things new!

As much as I love watching for new growth in plants, what I am blessed with in a far greater way is watching new growth in the people around me. What a joy to see someone that the world would discard as useless begin to show new signs of growth from the live-saving spirit of Jesus who came to rescue them. You love to take the broken, winter damaged, almost dead, worthless-looking people and infuse them with the glorious new life of Jesus. What beauty and fruit emerges! Not because of anything we could do except believe and accept the new life You give us through Your Son’s death for our sins and resurrection for our new life. I know…because You are always transforming me! Jesus’ life flows through my veins. But I also love watching the new growth You are bringing out in those around me! Glory to Jesus who makes all things new!

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“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything. But only God, who makes things grow.”  1 Corinthians 3:6-7

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in My name. This is My command: Love each other.”  Jesus in John 15:16-17

“It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.” 2 John 1:4

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me see eternal life through Jesus Christ growing in myself and others…

Heavenly Father,

Today is the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing which forever changed all of us in Oklahoma City. There was so much shock, horror and devastation that happened in an instant that beautiful spring morning. One of the most heart-wrenching things was watching as little babies, toddlers and preschoolers were carried out of the wrangled mess—some miraculously alive, some critically injured and most were dead.  These little ones were in the first center to provide care right in the parent’s federal workplace. What a lovely idea to let children be near their parents all day. At that time, who would have imagined such a thought of destruction would even enter anyone’s mind? These children were the ages of those we care for at my work. It was an act of hatred and a deliberately planned scheme to kill and destroy both adults and children. Even that horrible act that was meant for evil turned into something good through the power of our Lord.

Responders gave everything to search for and save lives. Survivors helped one another find ways out of what was left of the buildings. Everyone realized how precious each person was- even those co-workers that once got on their nerves. Almost every person in Oklahoma was somehow involved in dropping off supplies like work gloves, shovels, boots, food, drinks, water at drop-off places everywhere. People showed up to cook and serve the rescue teams, to pray with them and counsel them. Prayer was going on everywhere—in homes, churches, and businesses—individually and in groups; not only in Oklahoma but around the world. In the aftermath, stories of heroes, miracles and life-saving “coincidences” came out. The church next door which had its huge stained glass window blown out and shattered into pieces became headquarters for responders and investigators. Spiritual and physical needs were being met in the midst of the battle. Calm Waters, a group that was started to help the children, survivors and responders who suffered any kind of loss from that evil event still ministers to people today through all kinds of loss.

Recently we attended a memorial service at that church across from the Murrah Building, which is now the OKC Memorial. In a peaceful chapel, is a beautiful rosette stained glass window with a depiction of Jesus’ head that was undamaged from the blast, surrounded by other salvaged pieces that form a beautiful message: “The Lord takes broken pieces and by His love makes us whole.” It is so true that Jesus makes all things new.

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“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray also that  the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparable great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.”  Ephesians 1:17-23

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Prayer Prompt-

Lord, no matter what evil I see in the world, help me see Your holy power and authority…

Heavenly Father,

I almost made a big mistake AGAIN! I know better. My horticulture parents have taught me well. I just got carried away cleaning out my flower beds, preparing for spring flowers. I was cleaning out dead growth from last year’s annuals…when I pulled up a dead looking stick. I had already pulled it up when I noticed a tiny sprout of new green growth. As quick as I could, I planted it back into the soft soil and watered it in. I think it might still make it. It was a perennial which dies down almost to the root and is always a little late sprouting out.

It reminded me how precious life is to You. Jesus told us to be careful pulling weeds…it’s hard to tell when they are still dead-looking or tiny sprouts exactly what they are. He told us to wait to see what that life might produce. That poor dead-looking plant I pulled without thinking will make a beautiful carpet of purple Verbena blooms all summer long. Lord, help me be even more patient with people and not just discard them without hope. The very ones who might appear dead and worthless could turn out to produce an abundant crop of flowers and fruit that will glorify You! All they need is some more time and newness of life that comes when they ask Jesus to live in them.

Lord, I think back to before Your life was born in me through Jesus Christ. I was just as dead-looking but new life springs up wherever Jesus lives. And He lives in me and with me! Thank You for not pulling me up and throwing me away. I am so grateful for Your eternal love and patience. Most of all, I am eternally grateful for Jesus’ life that runs through me and causes new growth to burst out of the fullness of my spirit. I cannot make it happen. Jesus is the life!

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“Jesus told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.  The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time, I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’” Matthew 13:24-30

“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  2 Peter 3:9

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me be patient and pray for the “weedy” people in my life with the hope they will have new life…

Heavenly Father,

I’ve had the honor of witnessing a lot of “first few steps” since I’m a mom and grandmother to many…and a teacher in early childhood education. Some little ones wait a lot longer than others to attempt to stand and walk. They seem to be quite comfortable where they are being held, coddled, fed and “ooed and awed” over. They may even have to have a lot of coaxing. Some walk holding on to something forever before they let go to step out on their own. Other little ones can’t wait to start charging through life so they get up to take those steps earlier than most. Yet, it’s inevitable to have a lot of cheers when the first step happens.

There are also a lot of cheers in heaven when each and every soul takes that first step of fait towards You—when they believe in their heart and confess with their mouth that You sent Your Son Jesus to die for our sins so we can have eternal holy life with You. As glorious as that is, how sad it is when people take that first step and decided that’s all they want to do. They are content to stay babies in their spiritual life with You. Lord, You have so much more in mind for us all. You didn’t give us eternal life to simply stay in the same place and not grow.

Jesus calls us each to “Follow me!” He promises to be with us as we take the next step and the next. There is so much to learn, see and do as we follow Him. We are not saved to just keep on living life any way we see fit. We are saved to live with You and for You—to build Your kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. We are always learning to love more, feast on Your word, practice Your instructions, and follow You into unknown places where we can’t always tell what’s up ahead. One thing, we do know—is after we’ve taken that first step to give our lives to You after You have given Your life to us—is that You are in the lead. You are the way. You will take us through any trials, hard places in the path and You will always be showing us greater things as we constantly learn to walk with You. Guide my next step, Lord.

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Jesus said in John 10:27-30: “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to ME, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

 

“Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?”  1 Corinthians 3:1-3

 

“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature…Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:16-17, 24-25

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me take up my cross every day to crucify my sinful nature and learn to walk with You in the Spirit…

Heavenly Father,

Last night I woke up several times during the night. It was like You were knocking at my door wanting to be invited in. Please come in! I want to spend this time with You and You with me! You promised that if we seek You, we will find You. I started out this holy season seeking more of You. At the start of each Easter season (or Resurrection season) I always ask You to show me more of what You gave us when You gave us Jesus Christ. You always do! It seems if I ask You that for all eternity, You will still be showing me more—because there is no end to Your love.

This year, it seems You stand knocking at my door. I’m sorry to say I don’t always let You in. Sometimes I’m too busy to answer, or too preoccupied with things of this world, or too wrapped up in the latest challenge. Yet You still stand there knocking. You don’t barge in to dine with me. You don’t come where You are not invited, although You have all power and authority to do so. You wait for me to hear Your voice, to answer You and let You in. I think I am pursuing You, but You are always pursuing me first.

To get in the door to see an earthly king or president, I would have to go through all kinds of hoops just to get an invitation for a very short specific time (and I probably would never get that!) But You are God! You have all power and authority over all there is, yet You humble Yourself to send Jesus to knock on my door to ask to come in. You asked Jesus to take my punishment for my sin with horrendous beatings and to die on the cross so I could be free and holy. You sent Jesus to die for me so I can live with You forever! And yet, how often do I choose to live life apart from You? I settle for earthly pleasures when I can choose to have eternal company with You. Yes, Lord, today I open the door. Please come in and dine with me… and I with You.

 

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“I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”   Revelation 3:20

“This is love: not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  1 John 4:10

“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

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Prayer Prompt-

Lord, let me be still enough to hear Your knocking…

My Lord and my God,

This season of the year is like a special get-away I love to take with You—like my husband and I sometimes need. We get so busy with all our daily responsibilities and activities that we live together and know one another better than anyone else; yet sometimes we need to purposely take some time alone together to purposely reconnect to fan the flames of our love. There are times my husband and I come back from a “get away date” and we realize once again just how glad we are that we share life together. Our love has been refreshed and renewed because we took time to put away distractions and simply enjoy what we have in one another.

 

Lord, obviously You do not need to fan the flames of Your love—but I sure do! I’m sad to say that I far too often take Your amazing immeasurable love for granted. Your love is unshakable, faithful, never-waning or lacking in any way. Your love is pure and unchanging. I know You are always here with me. I know You will never ever leave me or forsake me. There is no doubt that You are always involved in my life in ways far beyond my comprehension. On the other hand, my love gets side-tracked and distracted far too easily by things that sometimes seem important but when I stop to truly think about it—are so silly and fleeting. That’s why I need to fully take time to honor and appreciate the love You have given me—especially when You gave Jesus Christ to be a sacrifice for my unfaithfulness; when You sent Jesus to die for my sin and then raised Him victorious to give me eternal life with You that can never be shaken or taken away.

 

I want to purposely honor and cherish the eternal commitment You have given to me during this holy season leading up to Jesus’ suffering, death, burial, resurrection and ascension. Yes, Lord, I have received and accepted Your love sent to me through Jesus Christ and I have been given more than I could possibly imagine or hope for. That’s why I want to spend extra time with You to renew my love for You, to recall why I am more alive than ever because of my eternal life with You, to surrender and recommit my love for You because of Your great love for me. During this holy week from Palm Sunday to Good Friday to (Easter) Resurrection Day, help me cut out some distractions, set aside more alone time with You, read (in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) of Your greatest gift of love of Jesus’ life poured out for us, and sing of Your love that came to seek and save me!  Let me honor the anniversary of Your great love poured out by pouring some love back to You! Hosanna to my first love! Halleluiah to the One who loves me enough to die so I can live forever with You! I love You, Lord.

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“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in His shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

 

*The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

 

“”I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”  Revelation 3:20

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Prayer Prompt-

Lord God, here are some ways I want to honor You during this special time…