Category: <span>thoughts by Marilyn Ehle</span>

Jesus, I’m so grateful that you gently lead and insistently love me in the midst of both faith and fear.


They were on their way to Jerusalem with Jesus leading the way, those who followed were afraid.”
Mark 10:32

They had heard Jesus teach on the green hillsides, they had eaten the bread and fish He miraculously supplied, they had watched boys, girls, men and women touched by His heavenly healing. They believed Him to be the Savior. They followed Him. And now they were afraid. His words now contained the not-so-good news that following meant far more than food and healing and good feelings. Following this Jesus meant walking with Him all the way to the cross in Jerusalem.

We read in the Bible that at the cross only a few women stayed near their bruised and battered Lord, but scripture and history confirm that the fearful followers eventually returned. Their fear turned into the deep faith that would move mountains of hate, replacing them with love and joy and promise. They would bravely tell the world that following Jesus brings both earthly peace and eternal life. He transforms fear into faith.

Jesus, I’m often afraid on this path of following you, but I’m so grateful that you gently lead and insistently love me in the midst of both faith and fear. I want to be a faith-full follower. Help my faith to grow.

By Marilyn Ehle
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Further Reading

•   We Plan – God Directs

•  Stepping Into a Personal Revival

•  Salvation Explained


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Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.”  Luke 23:56

Only Luke, a New Testament author known to include minute details, offers a glimpse into life on the day after Jesus’ crucifixion and the day before His resurrection. I have often thought that the weather on the Saturday before Easter should always be gray and gloomy, atmospheric conditions matching what must have been the emotions of Jesus’ friends and family. In addition to grief, they obviously were bewildered because Luke also records a conversation two had as they walked away from Jerusalem, away from the scene of broken hearts: “…we had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel…”

I, too, have known the heavy weight of grief, a weight that causes the body to slump into mindless sleep only to awaken in the dark hours, in those first moments, denying the reality of death, then almost immediately becoming aware of all that has happened. But I also have discovered the comfort of “obedience to the commandment”… By faith in the One who loves me, I laid my anxiety at His feet, I thanked Him for His sovereignty and presence, I prayed for myself and the weeping others, and then…

The peace of God, which transcends all understanding…”

put a guard on my heart and mind so that I could go about the dailyness of life. The women prepared spices and perfumes; I prepared meals and made beds. In a few short hours those women would experience the joy of the resurrection. One day I, too, will fully experience that joy.

It’s not always easy to go about the daily rituals when the heart is heavy, Lord, but I thank you for the balm those rituals bring to sorrowing souls. Thank you for being a God of the daily. I love you.

by Marilyn Ehle
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Further Reading

•  The Easter Story – the story of Christ’s death and resurrection

•  Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Fiction?  Resurrection evidences made clear and simple.

•  Who’s Got the Body?   A short, documented examination of evidences for Jesus’ resurrection.  By Rusty Wright


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As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it.Luke 19:41


Jesus knows that He is about to face the most horrible, humiliating experience ever encountered: betrayal by dear friends, loss of all human companionship, excruciating physical torture, separation from God and an ignominious death. But He takes one last look at the glorious city He loves and He weeps. His words rend the heart:

If you had only known what would bring you peace!
you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.

Jesus worked so hard and spoke so plainly about God’s love for the people of this city yet only a few were willing to believe His words and follow Him. Does He still weep today because so few recognize Him as the only One who can bridge the gap between sinful men and women and God? His invitation is clear: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them and they with me .”  Revelation 3:20.

Dear Father, forgive me for so often causing you grief over my reluctance to trust you. Help me understand and respond to you every day.

By Marilyn Ehle
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Further Reading

 In Prison sentenced to Death – by Mike Woodard

•  Lost Relationships & Learning about the fellowship of Jesus’ suffering

•  Salvation Explained


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I lock my doors sometimes too. Emotional doors because I fear hurt or rejection.


When it was evening on that same day, the first day of the week…the disciples were meeting behind barred doors for fear of the Jews… Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” After He said this, He showed them His hands and His side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with great joy.”  John 20:19-20 (Amplified Version)

They had moved from the pinnacle of joy to the crushing depths of tragedy within the span of a few days. Exultant “hosannas” were buried beneath horrifying screams of “crucify him.” The healing hands of Jesus were mutilated by spikes. His words of love and freedom were silenced by mockery and whips.

Rumors of his resurrection floated in the heavy air of disappointment, disillusionment and despair. His friends huddled together to be for each other what they could not be alone. They locked the doors because they knew what had happened to Jesus could easily happen to them. Then…

Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.”

I lock my doors sometimes too. Emotional doors because I fear hurt or rejection. Intellectual doors because I’m unsure what deep study will uncover. Spiritual doors because I wonder if giving my all will truly mean giving my all.

I need Jesus to come. I need to hear his voice and see his scarred hands and wounded side. I need to believe that it’s really him. Such hearing and seeing and believing doesn’t come easy. It requires time away from the realities of daily life which so often give birth to hurt, rejection and fear.

When Jesus came to his friends, he somehow miraculously just appeared. I don’t need that miracle today because he is as near as the Word of God (the Bible) and his Spirit who lives within me. To the pressing crowds Jesus once said, “Seek and you will find.” Crowds in my life—whether people or circumstances—so easily block out those words, words I need to hear and believe. It is through such seeking and believing that doors are unlocked so I can see Jesus. And experience his peace.

By Marilyn Ehle
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Further Reading

•  Pressing the RESET button on our lives 

•   Keeping Yourself in God’s Love – even during painful times in your life

•  Salvation Explained


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My cry is often, “Stop the storm, Lord!” but frequently Jesus simply asks that I take his hand as we together walk through the battering winds


Jesus didn’t stand safely on the peaceful, sandy beach as his friends were buffeted by the winds and drenched by the waves. Instead he walked on the roiling water toward his quaking friends in the rocking boat. His garments, like their own, whipped in the wind and were soon soaked. Peter hears the “come” of Jesus and dares to answer, but shortly he succumbs to his fears and the elements until Jesus grasps his hand in the midst of the still-raging storm. It is only when the two scramble into the boat that peace prevails: When they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.

My cry is often, “Stop the storm, Lord!” but frequently Jesus simply asks that I take his hand as we together walk through the battering winds of discouragement, loss, and—yes—even fear. Eventually we will climb into a boat of safety but it may take awhile for my heartbeat to settle, my perspective to change to where I, like the disciples, will say, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Lord, help me understand that you are in the storm with me, that your desire is for my own good and your glory. Thank you for always reaching out your hand of rescue.

Matthew 14:23-33
 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.
 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.
 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”
 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”
 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”

By Marilyn Ehle
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Further Reading

•  God is Bigger than all my Problems

  HE IS!  A great poem

•  Salvation Explained


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“.. in quietness and trust shall be your strength …the Lord longs to be gracious to you.. Blessed are all who wait for Him.” Isaiah 30:15, 18


We all want strength to face both the small and greater issues facing us daily. Whether it is stretching diminishing resources, dealing with the newly independent two-year-old, facing (and loving!) a tempestuous teenager or ironing out relational difficulties in the workplace, we find ourselves in need of physical, emotional and spiritual strength. The problem is that we too often look for the strength in places that simply do not have the sufficiency to supply.

Four young men were taken captive by a powerful enemy king. They resolved to remain faithful to their God in spite of living in a culture totally foreign to their deepest beliefs. The king saw their commitment as defiance and a danger to his authority so he ordered they be ‘bound and thrown into the blazing furnace.’

As we read with imagination about the testing of Daniel and his friends in the blazing furnace, we shudder to think of the searing heat and licking flames. We read nothing of resistance or screams, only the absolute amazement of the king when he sees them ‘unbound and unharmed‘. He shouts for them to come out and ultimately acknowledges that the God of these young men has power far beyond anything he imagined.

Isaiah the prophet reminds us that strength is found in quietness and trust. In his book The Way of the Heart, Henri Nouwen writes, ‘Solitude is the furnace of transformation.’ Daniel and his friends walked in quietness and trust long before they faced the furnace. No doubt they experienced solitude when taken far from their own family and culture and from that solitude learned to trust in the one true God.

While no one wants a furnace experience, we would do well to prepare daily ‘in solitude‘ for whatever challenges may lie ahead.

Father, for many reasons it is easier to be busy than to be quiet. Help me learn to be quiet with you. Feed my soul in solitude and waiting so I can be blessed and be a blessing.

What ‘furnaces experiences‘ have you had? How did you find strength within them? How does solitude prepare you for daily life?

By Marilyn Ehle
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Further Reading

•  Poem In the Stillness

•   How to have a “Quiet Time”

•  Salvation Explained


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Loving Father, is it because of pride that I carry my own burdens? Do I think that you might fail me? 


Words of an old hymn immediately catch one’s attention: “Oh, what peace we often forfeit; oh, what needless pain we bear.”

Why is it we seem so willing to bear our own burdens, live outside the borders of peace, and shoulder unnecessary pain when God stands with arms outstretched to relieve us of all?  The word “cast” has within it the meaning of throwing with deliberation or intention. We can trust God to accept all that we give to him because, in his very nature, he is love. And he cares for us. He stands ready to strengthen and ease and comfort when we take the step of giving all our pain to him. We can be relieved of needless pain. The hymn writer says it best: we can “carry” everything to God in prayer.

Loving Father, is it because of pride that I carry my own burdens? Do I think that you might fail me? Do I wonder if you truly love me enough to care for me? Help me place my trust in you by accepting you at your word, by casting all my anxiety on you.

By Marilyn Ehle
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Further Reading

He Lets Me Rest

Jesus is Always There!

•  Salvation Explained


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God is in the business of life renovation.


His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness;  For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith.”  2 Peter 1:3 and 5

A popular television program in the United States centers around a family being awarded a new house. The choice of the family for this coveted prize is often determined by their sacrificial contribution to the needs of others while foregoing personal comfort, or perhaps because a debilitating physical handicap of one of its members has caused extreme hardship.

After the joy of selection and hearing of their coming good fortune, the family is whisked away for a much deserved holiday at a resort or similar vacation spot. They are told that upon their return, a new and wonderful home will be ready.

But if you have survived a house renovation, you most likely did not go away on vacation during the process. You lived in the midst of the mess. Plastic sheeting was hung to prevent the spread of plaster dust, but amazing amounts of the white film still landed on floors and tabletops. A kitchen re-make often finds us cooking meals on the gas or charcoal grill and washing dishes in the bathtub because promised appliances have not been delivered on schedule.

God is in the business of life renovation. Although our position with Him is complete because of the sacrificial work of Christ on the cross, He continues the re-making process on a daily basis. Often we “and those observing us” would describe the process as messy. But the God who first created order out of chaos in the formation of our world has the same goal in mind for us.

Lord, I admit to preferring ultimate order without the mess. Help me be patient as you work your good work in my life.

By Marilyn Ehle
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Further Reading

•   Whatever you do…

•  Your Life is the Only Bible Some People Read

•  Salvation Explained


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How do we move on when our spirits have been wounded, or our families disrupted?


“…I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)

Theater critic, Brooks Atkinson, once said, “Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past. Let it go, for it was imperfect.” Drop, let go, forget – that’s easier said than done. People, events, and circumstances of this past year—perhaps past years—continue to nag at us. Disappointments, betrayals, and losses creep into our minds to disturb the peace that God promises.

How do we move on when our spirits have been wounded, or our families disrupted?

Several words used by the apostle Paul give us clues about the process so necessary for forward movement. First there is the word “focus,” meaning to concentrate on. Instead of allowing our thoughts to meander into the morass of the past, we choose to deliberately think of the future. This in no way means denial, but rather a purposeful action involving looking ahead to what God may have in store.

What about “forget”? This word has within it the idea of neglect, e.g., giving less weight to what has happened in the past, refusing to dwell on those things that disturb our peace and threaten the future God has planned for us.

And then there is “press on.” Here I imagine a runner, surrounded by competitors, just about to cross the finish line. The race has been long, the runner is almost exhausted and she finally sees the ribbon extended across her path. Determined to win the race and knowing that any part of her body must cross that ribbon in order for victory to be declared, she stretches out her arms—she presses on.

This is not a once-a-year process, but rather a daily examination of the hours just past and the glorious future of the day ahead. The heavenly prize is definitely within reach. Let go. Press on.

Question: How has God helped you move beyond hurt and into forgiveness and freedom?

By Marilyn Ehle
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Further Reading

•   A New Year Perspective

•   A Time to Dream

•  Salvation Explained


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“Be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:19-20

It was a fitting song for a New Year’s Eve service: “God of our life, through all the circling years, we trust in you.  In all the past, your hand we view.  God of the past, our times are in your hand.”*

We sang with a sense of gratitude and faith. In the beautiful sanctuary, surrounded by friends and in anticipation of the bread and wine we would soon share, the words slipped easily from our lips. We have seen his hand and we have trusted; we basked in his presence.

But then we came to the first line of the final stanza. ”God of the coming years, through paths unknown we follow you. The past is past, we cannot change any of its triumphs or losses. We now face the future and its sure challenges, its unknown paths.”

We dare not merely mouth the words; God hears every whisper of every song. Will we follow him as we promise in music? His part is to never leave or forsake us; our part is to follow through all the stanzas of our lives.

(*God of Our Life – by Hugh T Kerr)

Good Shepherd, it is so easy to sing the words and even to mean them to some degree. Help me carry the song into every moment of every day, singing to you.

By Marilyn Ehle
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More:  New Year Articles

Further Reading

•  Year End Reflections

•  On Whom Will You Rely in the Coming Year?

•  Is it Time for a Maintenance Check-up? – Spiritual maintenance

•  Salvation Explained

 


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“For me, to live is Christ…” Philippians 1:21


If you listened closely—and if you ever heard Billy Graham speak—you recognized the familiar and slightly southern accent that rang out over the auditorium:

“You can have all this world, Just give me Jesus…”

Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham, has lead an incredible ministry of worldwide evangelism and discipleship. Her love for and devotion to Jesus Christ has been evident to the multitudes who have known her through the years, heard her speak, learned from her Bible studies.

While Anne was quoting a familiar song,* more importantly she was affirming her personal belief in her Savior. When I heard those words, however, I was struck to the core. Could I honestly say, “Just give me Jesus”? What about my Christian community? Family? Books? Familiar worship? My culture? Career?

While most reading this devotional will never have to experience life with “just Jesus,” thousands throughout history have experienced “just-give-me-Jesus” lives. Many today are in similar circumstances. Some sit in solitary confinement because of political oppression. Others are physically unable to move from their beds. Some go through long dark nights of the soul. Has Jesus been “just enough” for them?

The Apostle Paul knew what it was like to discard everything that had given him worth in the world’s eyes, to misunderstand—and be misunderstood by—others, to have his ministry plans thwarted and altered. But while imprisoned in Rome with the end of his life in sight, he said with confidence, “For me, to live is Christ…and to die is gain.” Were Paul with us today, he would say, “Just give me Jesus.”

By Marilyn Ehle
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Further Reading

How to Fall in Love with Jesus by Sylvia Gunter

Your Father’s Heart Longs for You by Sylvia Gunter

•  Salvation Explained


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Where do you most often think of God “residing”?


Shepherds in the field abiding,

Watching o’er your flocks by night


God with us is now residing . .
.
(James Montgomery)

Where do you most often think of God “residing? Quick answers might include “he’s in my heart“, or “I feel his presence in the church sanctuary” or perhaps even “I feel him near when surrounded by the beauty of nature“.

How interesting that God chose shepherds as recipients of the “birth announcement” of the Savior.  Shepherds weren’t men who worshipped in sanctuaries with stained glass windows.  They lived most of the year outside, usually clothed in rough sheepskin pelts.  No shower stalls in the desert.  Sheep’s wool is dirty and oily, so those who handle them are the same.  The fact that they couldn’t bathe properly and were constantly dealing with blood of the birthing of lambs kept them ritually unclean.  There despised by the nicer folk.

When I hear this description, I think of the homeless people who walk the streets of our town . . .right past our church doors.  Their hair is straggly, their body odour is pungent, their clothing —–while not made of pelts—is equally as strange.  And it is to these blessed individuals the announcement is made:

Unto YOU a Savior is born . . .

What is my response?

by Marilyn Ehle
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Image Credit: Shepherds Abiding in the Fields is a piece of digital artwork by Mario Carini which was uploaded on September 22nd, 2018


Further Reading

•   Come Worship the King – One way to celebrate Christ’s birth as a family
•   A Mysterious Christmas Gift – a Man’s Reflection
•  Salvation Explained


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Faith would be foolish if what we hope for does not have basis in reality, but God offers us all the reality we need


Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  Hebrews 11:1

What an unbelievable statement! Who in this modern world of rational thinking would dare to stand in any public forum and spout such childish nonsense. Isn’t it only a child who actually believes that a parent will fulfill an impracticable but hoped-for Christmas or birthday wish? Only children, after all, believe that a wonderful, imagined gift will become reality? Who else would trust an adult, even a wise and loving adult, to this extent?

Maybe that’s one reason why Jesus said, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Faith would be foolish if what we hope for does not have basis in reality, but God offers us all the reality we need, all the truth necessary to make an intelligent decision to follow Him. The very character of God cries out for such trust and, in addition, He sent His Son Jesus to display that character in the flesh and to provide the way to God.

Millions of people through the ages have risked all to believe that God is love and can be trusted. The Bible says, “This is what the ancients were commended for.” It does take faith to believe God and His Word, but we have the promise of Jesus, “whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

Question: Are you willing to step out in faith and take God at His Word?

By Marilyn Ehle
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Further Reading

Forgiveness – Yourself and  Others
•  Fully Surrender to the Lord
•  Salvation Explained


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“When I am most afraid, I put my trust in you… “ Psalm 56:3


With the sun setting beyond a placid lake and the sky softly glowing, we see the silhouette of a tall young man walking hand in hand with his small daughter. It is a painting that some would say perfectly captures the essence of trust: the child is quietly confident in the presence of her protective parent.

Yet the psalmist would tell us that this scene pictures only the early stages of trust. Walking together with loving parent, friend, spouse (or God) in peaceful times is important and necessary for the process of developing the relationship. But the tough test of trust comes “when we are most afraid.” In his book Ruthless Trust, Brennan Manning writes that the Old Testament patriarch Abraham “models the essence of trust…convinced (emphasis mine) of the reliability of God.” Further he writes, “without exception trust must be purified in the crucible of trial.

When we have walked hand in hand with the Savior in peaceful times, His presence will then be sure and constant when we are most afraid.

Thank You, loving Father, for those times when we have peacefully walked hand in hand. Thank You for those moments when I have learned to love You. Now, Lord, when times are tough, I want to step up to the next level of trust.

Question: Have you ever been “deeply afraid” – and  how did God help you in that situation?

By Marilyn Ehle
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Further Reading

•   Up from Depression Story – Barbara Epp shares her journey with depression and the misconception that Christians shouldn’t get depressed.
•   Hope for the Hopeless
•  Salvation Explained


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What would it mean to “do good” to those whose religion or political views are so opposite my own that an uncross-able gulf exists?  Jesus was no mere theorist. While He didn’t always give a clear how-to regarding the ways to express His love


Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…bless.. pray… give generously.” Luke 6:27-30

Do to others as you would have them do to you” is supposedly the credo for Christians, but how often Jesus’ words are rapidly read and just as rapidly set aside as mere theory. Or perhaps an ideal to be put into effect at some imagined future “Kingdom time.

What would it mean to “do good” to those whose religion or political views are so opposite my own that an uncrossable gulf exists? When derisive remarks about my faith sting like a physical slap, do I retreat to a safe silence or continue a social relationship where more slaps are inevitable? Does my giving of time and money have strings attached? How do I balance the call to wise stewardship with joyful generosity?

Jesus was no mere theorist. While He didn’t always give a clear how-to regarding the ways to express His love, we have enough stories that prick the soul with their drama. A young man insults his father and his culture, wastes his inheritance and defies his religion. With no strings attached, the father welcomes him home with riotous celebration. A seriously injured man needs help – religion and rights are set aside by a person despised by the “good” people as he sets the example of love and mercy while caring generously for the man in need.

Theory costs little. Practice costs my very life. Am I willing to pay the price?

Lord Jesus, you are my example for putting into practice what I say I believe. Help me not only look upon your life, but learn from the way you spent quiet time with your Father for daily strength and defeated the Enemy with the Word of God.

By Marilyn Ehle
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Further Reading

Your Life is the Only Bible Some People Read

Come Alongside – what it looks like to come alongside of people while Jesus draws them closer.

•  Salvation Explained


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