Category: <span>thoughts by Terry Stead</span>


The “listening heart” – I love the sound of these two words whether they are spoken or read.  They conjure up a quiet time, a space where you can listen to and hear what God is saying to you.  Times like these can be in the middle of storms with the thunder crashing around you or in the silence of a sunrise.  These are the times that are so very special and mean that we have taken the time to just “be” and simply nestle ourselves in the arms of God.

The listening heart, though, means so much more than that.  It requires that we need to listen to anguished hearts of others which are not heard just as we hear God’s voice in the thunder and also the sunrise.  We need to listen to the beating of another’s heart and also the silent cries of those who suffer, often in silence, and who mask their desperation from all around them.

No matter what we are doing or where we are we need to attune our “listening heart” to be aware for the need of God’s love, through us, to be shown to others.

Prayer:

Dear One, as we come to you, listening for your still, small voice, we ask that you help us also to listen for the silent voices of others so that we may bring your love and comfort to them.  May your Holy Spirit fill us with compassion so that we may develop a “listening heart”. Amen

By Terry Stead
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Further Reading

•  Prayer Series by Barbara Epp

•  In the Stillness

•  Salvation Explained

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My husband and I have just been through the stressful period of moving  after 40 years in the one house.  If anyone had asked me 3 months ago if I placed store on material possessions I would have said emphatically “no”!  I have always thought that I could live anywhere and with very little.  In fact, I used to laugh and say “I could live in a tent”.  That being so, I would gloss over the passage in Matthew which talked about giving up your possessions and following Christ.

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.Matthew 19:21

All that changed when we had to give away (by nearly a half) our furniture, craft materials, work tools, recipe books etc. etc. before we moved into a much smaller home.  My tears fell as I saw more and more of my treasures going to other homes.

In light of our move and my reaction to giving away things that I loved, I returned again to this passage in Matthew and it took on a whole new meaning for me.  I believe that it is not important how many or how valuable our possessions are, but how much value we place on them.  It is not wrong to have beautiful things around us, but we must not put them before or above God.  We must not value them to the detriment of our service, our love or our devotion to God.

Prayer:

Loving Lord, help me to see my possessions as merely that – possessions – not items that I value over my love for You.  Let me use the things around me to help others so that they may come to know You and love You.  Praise and thank You that You nudge us every now and again and open our eyes to what you wish us to see when we become complacent and rely on earthly things.  Amen.

By Terry Stead
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Further Reading

•   Divine Appointments
•  Come Alongside – what it looks like to come alongside of people while Jesus draws them closer.
•  Salvation Explained

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Lord, you are to be blessed and praised;
All good things come from you:
You are in our words and in our thoughts,
And in all that we do.   Amen
St Teresa of Avila

How often do we think like St Teresa?  Knowing absolutely that everything we are saying and doing comes from God?  I know, speaking for myself  that it is not easy to praise and feel blessed when things are not going well, especially when I find myself faced with the problems and trials of everyday living.  It is very easy to count blessings and see God in everything when things are going well and going the way we wish them to, but it is so hard to feel blessed and want to praise when they aren’t.

One of the things that I have learned to do when things seem the darkest is to look around me and see the many blessings that are right there beside me.  The blessing of sunshine, the rain falling on parched land, the excited voices of small children playing, the many colors of the flowers or trees that are so close to me,  or even the food that will sustain me throughout the days that are to come.  If I am lucky enough to be near the ocean all I have to do is look far out to the horizon and realize that God is to be blessed and praised and that just as He is in midst of the tides He is also in me.  There are so many blessings around us and all we have to do is recognize them.

Blessed One, sometimes it is hard for me to see the blessings that are all around me.  Enable my eyes to be opened to the beauty and the joys that surround me.  Help me to see the blessings in every situation and respond with thanks and praise, just as St Teresa did.  Amen

Receive the blessings and guidance that God is offering you and give thanks.  Even if you don’t feel like praising, or you feel God’s presence and his blessings are far away, simply sit and feel His presence which is one of the most beautiful blessings.  He will understand.

by Terry Stead
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Further Reading

•  How to be fill with the Holy Spirit
•  Stepping Into a Personal Revival
•  Salvation Explained

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LOVE, what a beautiful word it is.

We use the word love in all kinds of contexts such as “I love chocolate”, “I love watching football”, “I love going to the beach”.  The love we have for our husbands, wives and families as well as our friends is another use of the word.  For many, exquisite antiques or the incredible architecture of a building brings lavish words of love.  All these things bring the word love to our lips.  But, do we ever stop and consider the true meaning of love – the unconditional love that God has for each one of us.  It is spoken about so often in the bible and yet, I think, so often we simply glance at these words and never stop to think about the true implications.

We know so well the incredible words in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13:4-8 which are often used in the celebration of marriage, but do we heed them at other times in our lives?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.

When someone wrongs us do we turn to Proverbs 10:12?  These words speak for themselves.  With so many terrible acts of violence in the world today, this is the word of love that we should be speaking.

Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.

There are so many passages speaking of love in the bible and these are just 2, but there is one more I would like to emphasize particularly as we approach the glorious resurrection morning and that is in the First Letter of John, Chapter 4:18-19:

WE LOVE BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED US.

Prayer: Loving and Compassionate Christ, help us to understand the true meaning of the word Love and so follow your teaching and your example throughout our lives.  Enable us to put your words into action every day, no matter what situation in which we find ourselves. Give us the courage to speak your words of love to all people.  Amen

By Terry Stead
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FURTHER READING

•  I Corinthians 13 ~ What is Love?
•  Our Love Has Stood The Test Of Time

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Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;   make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength;   seek his face always. …Praise the Lord!Psalm 105:1-4

Today’s thought is my personal testimony.  11 months ago I suffered a minor stroke and also Bell’s palsy at the same time which is quite rare. I went through barrages of tests and X-rays with the final upshot being that I had indeed had both at almost the same time.  When I looked in the mirror I couldn’t believe that it was me. I looked like a gargoyle.  The right side of my face was completely paralyzed, my eye would not close, I couldn’t eat properly and I was unable to speak. I love public speaking, especially preaching and also writing spiritual resources and devotions some of which are part of this wonderful web site.  When I came out of hospital I couldn’t do any of that and, in fact, 6 weeks after my stay in hospital I developed post-traumatic stress disorder which saw me having panic attacks, without the ability to speak to people, stammering and not being able to find the right words when I did speak.  As to writing, well, I couldn’t even think of words to write in birthday cards.

For me, the next months were long and ones without joy.  I could still pray and I never blamed God, but there was no exuberant praise, no feeling of absolute joy when I looked around at God’s creation. My world became a very dark place and I thought I would never again experience the overwhelming joy with which I always associated my life.  Throughout this difficult time I could not praise God and mean it – there was no burning desire in me to listen for His voice.  That had left me bereft.  Through God’s amazing grace and His infinite patience, after many months of hard work, I am now able to write and speak again. I still have a long way to go to be completely recovered but I now can see and enjoy the glory of the rainbow and remember God’s covenants to us and yes, I can thank and praise him with exuberance.

David reminds us in his Psalms that we are to give God thanks and praise always.

God is still right there with us, providing whatever gifts and help we need to get through our particular circumstances.

Loving and Compassionate God, it is through your infinite Grace that we are able to overcome the darkness which at times overwhelms us, especially when mental or physical pain threatens to destroy us.  Thank you that you hear our innermost groaning and our sighs and that you wait patiently for us to see through the blackness and come into your light once again.  Amen

by Terry Stead
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How often at the start of a new week do we wonder what this week will bring? 

We may have had a wonderful, relaxing weekend and yet when we wake and look at another week ahead of us, we worry that there will not be enough hours in the day to complete all the goals we have set for ourselves, and the days seem to stretch out endlessly.  It also seems to be that in today’s world it is all about goals and where we are headed.  The end result seems to be all we think about and we are always working towards that end and miss so many beautiful moments and blessings along the way.

God has given us the freedom to choose how we live our lives and it is up to us to ensure that we choose the path that God is showing us.  Do we take up too much time striving to meet deadlines or accomplish goals?  Are we too impatient trying to see the end results of our striving?  How often do we walk in the sunlight among the flowers or are we always walking in the shadows, stressed and withdrawn.

These days we are told to prioritize, but do we place more priority on our daily work rather than seek God’s guidance and place God as our priority before we attempt anything else?  Whatever we are doing we need to place God first and that means whether we are in paid work, tending to our families, volunteering, in fact, anything that fills the hours in our day.  Let it all be for God’s glory so that the light of Christ can shine through this world.

Colossians 3:23-24
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Loving and Compassionate Christ, help us to seek your direction in all that we do.  Enable us to embrace every moment of each day so that we can see the everyday miracles and share your unconditional love with all we meet.  Amen.

By Terry Stead
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For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.Jeremiah 29: 11-13 (NIV)

The word hope today is used in so many different ways such as  ‘I hope this exam is not too hard’, ‘I hope that my football team wins on Saturday’, ‘I hope I don’t embarrass myself tonight at the dinner part’, ‘I hope my Mum doesn’t find out it was me that spilled the tomato sauce on the carpet.’  Yes, most of us use the essence of the word hope in these sentences at least once a day and never think anything about it, but that is not the hope that God speaks about.

To people who have no place to sleep each night or are hungry and cold, those in countries torn apart by war, the many lonely people marginalized because of illness or situations not of their making, to so many, this world must appear to be a world without hope.

What do we, as Christians, have to offer them in the way of hope?  We need to read again and again the verses of scripture that we have been given, in order to keep seeking this Awesome God who gives us the inner strength and the words and deeds to offer to those who are without hope.  If we truly believe that God is in every situation and works alongside us, then we focus our hope on God and we can help those who are in need of a glimmer of light.

Verses like these:  1 Peter 1:3Praise 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“.

2 Thessalonians 2:16May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word“.

Giver of life, focus our eyes on the promises which you give us so that we may bring hope to those who despair. Amen.

by Terry Stead

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Love your neighbor as yourself”  Matthew 22:39

There is a beautiful young singer/songwriter, Georgia Germein, who lives in my home state of South Australia and she has helped with development projects in Ethiopia and the Kalahari and one of the songs that she wrote when she returned from one of her journeys was “They Matter”:

They Matter

…No matter who, they matter
No matter when, they matter
No matter where, they matter
They matter, they do

No matter how, they matter
No matter why, they matter
No matter what, they matter
They matter, they do.

When I first hear these words they had a profound effect on me.   I have always tried to be compassionate, loving and giving just as Christ has taught us, but when I see images on television of starving children in other parts of the world and read newspapers which detail civilians caught in the crossfire of war etc., I sometimes feel detached from the horror and block out these images.

Two simple words “they matter” and how much difference these words would make to so many people in a world where often there is little hope?  How much more did we matter to God that He gave his only beloved son to die on the cross just for us?  Our lives are forever changed because of this incredible act of His.  It is up to us to show everyone that they matter and in doing so we change people’s lives by showing them God’s love and making sure that they know how much more they matter to the One who loves, gives us strength and sustains us through all our trials and persecution.

When you next see an image or read a newspaper report on the plight of people around you and in other parts of the world remember “They Matter”.

By Terry Stead
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The word ‘tiredness’, even when spoken out loud the word sounds and makes us feel tired.  In contrast, have you ever stopped to think how, when certain words are spoken out loud, they make the difference in how we feel.  Like “joyous”, “excited” or even “roses” can bring a smile to our face while others such as “devastated”, “heartache” or “grief” will change our outlook?  I would like to just talk about “tiredness”.  It doesn’t seem to matter if we are young, middle aged or elderly, there are times when we all get tired and function slower than we normally would.

For some, the tiredness comes from looking after a family and running them to school, sports, friends’ homes etc., and that doesn’t include all the looking after a growing family needs – the cooking, cleaning, and simply bringing them up in a world that is changing and demanding.  For others it is the long hours spent at work and the stress of driving in traffic and then there is the tiredness that comes from the task of living each day with aged or diseased bodies.  No matter what the cause, tiredness saps our strength and so we do not live up to the potential which God has given to us all.

As always though, we have been given the assurance that we can be renewed and reinvigorated and so overcome our worldly tiredness.  Take heart in these beautiful words that you probably would have realized by now, I quote often.

Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:30-31

Prayer:
Loving God, sometimes I become so tired that I can’t see the path you have chosen for me and so become disheartened.  Give me the strength to soar once again and become all you would have me be. Amen.

By Terry Stead
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Mountains, how exquisite they are whether they are snow-capped, bare, covered in vegetation or just rising to touch the sky.

No matter how they look, they are magnificent and bear significance for us.  There are so many instances in the Bible where mountains were the focus and the voice of God was heard.  It was high up when Moses had wonderful moments with God, and Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John on a mountain.  As well as those incredible times, Jesus would often go to the mountain side to pray so they were very special to him, also.  We are so blessed if we have a mountaintop experience and some people are lucky enough to have more than one.  It is coming down from the mountain that is hard, back to the reality of our everyday lives, but that does not need to be so.

A mountain top is a wonderful place to be away from everyone, from the rushing of everyday life, the cacophony of sounds that are constantly surrounding us and the daily routines.  I have not hiked and stood at the top of a mountain and so do not have the physical experience of labouring with heart thudding and legs shaking, standing to view the entire panorama beneath me and seeing exactly what is behind me and ahead of me.  The exhilaration that must be felt and the sense that you are capable of attempting anything in life must be a small part of what we feel when we have a God centred mountaintop experience.

If we bring them to mind we can relive again and again the rapture of these times and so bring our experiences to others in the form of unconditional love, care and compassion.

In the words of Amy Grant:

But I’ve got to come down
From the mountain top
To the people in the valley below;
They’ll never know
That they can go
To the mountain of the Lord.

Prayer: Thank you, Loving One, for your generosity in all things.  Thank you that you allow us these wonderful moments where we can catch a glimpse of your beauty and your radiance.  Sometimes they may just be small glimpses through a haze, other times they transport us from where we are, to the heights of rapture. Help us to bring these experiences into the lives of others.  Amen.

by Terry Stead
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I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” Genesis 9:13 (NIV)

How alive and uplifted we feel when we take time to see a rainbow or suddenly catch a glimpse of shimmering water, or hear the wind whistling through pine trees.

What happens, though, when circumstances beyond our control stop us from hearing and seeing the beauty around us?  Sometimes we fail to see the everyday miracles around us, do not see the blessings that are heaped on us each day and the colors of God’s creation are not as bright.

The word Covenant in our world today conjures up words like pledge, promise, contract – all of which are binding and true.  We need to see God’s Covenants as promises made to each one of us and which He will keep no matter what we do.

Whatever situations we are in, we need to be joyfully open to His rainbows so we may see the fulfilling of His Covenant in every part of creation.

Gracious Creator, as we look around and see the incredible things surrounding us, show us that we always have time to enjoy and bask in this beauty.  You have promised us so much and all we have to do is believe and have faith.  Touch our eyes and open our hearts so that we can joyfully give thanks and praise to You.  Our hearts are full, Lord, and we cannot always find the words to express the thoughts that come bubbling up when we think of Your promises.  Enable us to see the wonder in all Your creation and so find strength and courage as we contemplate and rest on Your Covenant.

We give you praise and thanks for all that you have given us. Amen

by Terry Stead
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We often hear the expression “willing heart” when people are talking about following Jesus.  I wonder what a “willing heart” actually means.  If you look up the word in a Thesaurus you will find that it will bring up lots of words to describe ‘willing’ – eager, keen, enthusiastic, ready, prepared, agreeable, game, helpful, cooperative, happy and many more.  When ‘willing’ is placed with ‘heart’ and applied to our journey with Christ it appears to describe in detail what God is looking for in each of us at various times in our lives.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could apply these words to our faith?  I would like to pose a few questions that we need to ask ourselves so that we can state that we have a “willing heart”.

Some of these words we may have often experienced as new Christians but they tend to be put on the back burner as the years pass.  They are:  ‘eager’, ‘keen’, ‘enthusiastic’ and also ‘game’.

Are we still eager to share our faith story with others?  Are we keen to read the bible every day and are we enthusiastic in our praise and in the ministries that we have been given?  And if we are then would we dare to be game and take on whatever God is showing us to do?

Next is the word ‘prepared’.   Luke states in Chapter 12:34-36 (NIV)

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also“.

Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.

Are we prepared each day to do our Lord’s bidding?  Are we eager to answer His call at a moment’s notice?

Finally, we come to the words that should encompass all that we do when looking after God’s flock.  ‘Helpful’, ‘cooperative’, and ‘happy’.  These are gentle words and I loved it when ‘happy’ appeared and so I made it the final word because that is what we become when we help others and cooperate with those who make a difference in this world in God’s name.

Do we help those who unable to help themselves and do we work alongside others to bring about justice in God’s name?

Prayer:
Loving and Compassionate God, we can only be truly happy when we have a willing heart.  Help us to open up our hearts so that we may let your light shine through to all that we meet. May we always be willing to listen and obey your call.  We ask this knowing that you wish us to have life in abundance.  Amen.

By Terry Stead

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We are all familiar with the Bags of Gold Parable in Matthew’s Gospel in which Jesus tells us of the master going on a journey but gave each of his three servants a different number of bags of gold.   On their return he said to two of them who returned an increased value of gold, “Well done, you good and faithful servant.”  How wonderful it would be if at the end of our lives we could have that said about us.  Being faithful is not always easy, sometimes it is not convenient, at other times we face criticism and ridicule, threats and attacks, but God has promised never to leave us alone, that just as strength will be given to us in any situation, so shall we also gain by sharing in God’s happiness.

“…Truly if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Matthew 17:20

One website defines faith in a way that I love.  “Faith is always received from God, and never generated by us.”  That definition has actually changed the way I use the word faith as well as adding and giving me a whole new meaning to the word.  I now rethink my words when I start to tell someone that I have faith that my football team will win this weekend.  I stop and ask myself if what I am putting my faith in is actually given by God?

Now I know that not everyone will agree with me.  In today’s world a great deal of store is put into having faith in yourself and having faith that you can do your job correctly etc., but to me that still comes from God.  God gives you the faith to believe in yourself and, in fact, asks you “to love your neighbor as you love yourself”.  Note – “love yourself”.

Let me finish with a quote from the 1913 Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore.

Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings to greet the dawn while it is still dark.”  That faith is God given.

Lord, I ask for your gift of faith, and the will to remain firm in the face of opposition.  Allow me to see that the real problem is not what happens to me, but rather how I react to an occurrence that makes the difference.  I need your help so that these situations will not disturb my inner peace and joy in you so that at the end of each day you will say of me “well done, you good and faithful servant”.   Amen.

By Terry Stead
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How often does our preoccupation with living make us forget that we are always in the presence of God? We try and cram more and more into each of our days and often become so stressed and anxious that we don’t have enough time to fit everything in.  Sometimes it is the things that we put off doing until another day that tire us the most.  Yet it is in our everyday living that we should place God first as we continue with our work and our play.  How often do we become so caught up in the ‘everyday’ that we find we do not have enough time for God?

Our moods so often depend on how much time we have.  If we work all day and come home tired and stressed because we didn’t have time to finish all that was on our desk, or there was not enough time to finish the ironing or the gardening, or do the shopping; all these things affect the way we react to those around us.  We are often not happy in whatever we are doing.

I believe that happiness is not something for which we can search.  It is like a butterfly that is so elusive when we try to catch it, and yet when we don’t try, one may come to rest on our shoulder.  We can come to know true happiness only by living the life that the Lord would have us lead – by serving and showing unconditional love to others.  It is taking the time to slow down and listen to the still, small voice that gives us the patience and the courage to take each moment and know that we are surrounded by God’s grace.

Jesus tells us that

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

Is our life full in the way that this passage reveals?

I think of time as the thief, and so if we make time for God, the rest of our lives will come into perspective.

Prayer:
Lord, slow us down so that we may hear your Holy Spirit speak to us and discover our heart’s true longings and therefore recover our energy and our purpose for living.  Amen.

by Terry Stead
Used by Permission

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Thoughts by All thoughts by Terry Stead Thoughts by Women

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” John 15:12

I have always loved walking along the beach, or through a paddock, or searching through disused quarries. Why?  Well, I love stones and pebbles.  Each one is different whether it is their size, their color, their texture or their shape and I marvel at the different strata’s that make beautiful patterns in them.  Even broken rocks have their inner beauty and it is often only when they are broken that you can see the magnificence within.  Some are smooth and easy to handle, beautiful colors and rare gems of beauty, while others are rough and hard, and have pieces which scratch and hurt me when I hold them in my hand.

That started me thinking about how stones and pebbles are like the people who we meet each day.  Some are easy to love and fit into our lives as if we have known them forever, but others have a prickly side and we are hurt by what they do and say.  Some may have been broken by situations, mental anguish, disease or disability.

Each of us are made up of many layers, just like the strata’s in the rocks that I love, and how often do we take the time to get to know the true person who is the combination of all these layers?  Sometimes we can only see the dirt and grime which hides the beauty within us, just like stones, every person has a beauty of their own.

Next time you meet someone think of the beauty of the layers that are inside, even if they are deeply hidden.

Prayer: I need your help, Gracious Lord, in the way I perceive those with whom I come in contact each day.  Don’t let me make snap judgments simply on the way they look or what they say. Allow me to look deeper and see their inner beauty and so appreciate them.  Amen.

by Terry Stead
Used by Permission

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Thoughts by All thoughts by Terry Stead Thoughts by Women