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Posts Tagged ‘loving others’

 

Women yearn to know, Do I make a difference_ Does my life really matter_ You matter in every area and during each season of every ordinary day. (1).png

Seventy-five pages populated the Amazon queue after I filled in the search box, “books about God and purpose.”

Women yearn to know, Do I make a difference? Does my life really matter? How can changing diapers, or shuttling children from one event to another, or moving out of active mothering and into an empty nest change lives?

Books line self-help sections of libraries and hit best-seller lists in the Christian market as eager buyers scramble to discover their purpose. But, the Father has scribed his purpose for us in his love letters and in the palms of his son’s hands

Remember Our Position

Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (MSG)

The verses above are a key component to the Christian’s calling. They almost serve as a checklist in my own life.

If God was looking for a “somebody”, he wouldn’t have chosen me. I was a premature baby born to teen parents following a shotgun wedding. After a few short years of marriage, they divorced and life swung from one chaotic, abusive event to the next under the hand of my stepfather. But, God? He wiped it all clean. Gave me a fresh start through the wounds that pierced his own son’s flesh. And, now, because of Him I remember my position and humbly bow at the foot of the cross shouting, “Amen! You have rescued me, Jesus.

When you called my name, I heard you. May I remember the beauty and joy of my humble position.” Can you relate to these verses, as well? How do you see yourself in them?

Remain Faithful

“My Child is an Honor Roll Student” stickers adorn bumpers, Christmas letters share the latest news about elaborate trips and accomplishments, and we splash reality as we’d like others to perceive it on social media. Pride can be difficult to defend against, but it is our enemy. Perhaps that is one reason we’re to remember our humble position. Not only that, but scripture exhorts us not to chase after more. More doing. More being. More proving.

Instead, 1 Corinthians 7:20-24 exhorts us to remain faithful.

“Yes, each of you should remain as you were when God called you. Are you a slave? Don’t let that worry you—but if you get a chance to be free, take it. And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ. God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world. Each of you, dear brothers and sisters, should remain as you were when God first called you.” (NLT)

Remain.

In today’s high-paced, look-out-for-number-one, keep-up-with-the-rat-race-society, not many of us do well with just, well, remaining. But, remaining doesn’t mean “not doing”. It means continuing to be faithful in all situations–no matter the task. Whether we’re cooking one more casserole or scrubbing another dirty dish. Whether we’re driving to work again in rush hour traffic with a fussy toddler in the car seat. Whether we’re leaning across the table at the retirement home wiping our father’s chin as he asks once more, “Now, who are you?”

Remaining faithful to the calling to love God and to love others is more difficult than it seems.

Receive Power Through Prayer

Paul, Silas, and Timothy passionately addressed the Thessalonians about the power of prayer and its impact on their lives. Consider these words, “So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

Calling is not solely about an avocation, although it may involve one’s job. But, it is about the acts of service we are prompted to do for others. It the quickening of our spirit in response to God’s; when we sense him moving our hearts to respond to a hurt, a need, a situation. When we’re burdened to pray, give, weep, love. Those are the moments we become and live more like Christ—glorifying Him. Only through the power of prayer can we accomplish his work and fulfill his calling.

While Amazon may list seventy-pages of books about God’s purpose for our lives, the Bible outlines his purpose for all people. He sent Christ that all might be saved! But, we already know him and are meant to love the world as Christ. We are the workers, scattering seeds of hope in every area and during each season of our ordinary lives.

God will use each of his beloved daughters if we hold to the three truths about God’s calling on our lives.

1) Remember our Position

2) Remain Faithful

3) Receive Power Through Prayer

Peace and grace,

Tammy

 

I often link up with the following wonderful bloggers:

Mondays  Sunday Thoughts / InstaEncouragementsAnita Ojeda Mandy and Michele

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode, InstaEncouragments

Wednesdays   Recharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/Porch Stories

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Counting My Blessings, Faith on Fire , Blogger Voices Network , Embracing the Unexpected, Fresh Market Fridays

 

Tammy Kennington is a writer, speaker, and woman who believes there is hope for healing from the most difficult situations.

Familiar with the impact of trauma, mental illness, and parenting in the hard places, Tammy hopes to lead women toward a deeper understanding of themselves and their relationship with the God who loves them. Her work has been featured by MOPS, Thriving Family, The Upper Room, Light from the Word, and several other publications. You can meet regularly with Tammy online at her blog

tammykennington.wordpress.com or get a free copy of her e-book Moving From Pain to Peace: A Journey Toward Hope When the Past Holds You Captive

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She is the elderly woman in the polyester suit sitting alone in the church pew week after week or the frazzled young mother in the grocery aisle juggling a wailing infant and impatient toddler. She might be the middle-aged divorcee’ who envies every couple in a restaurant with their heads bent close in intimate conversation. She could be the friend who looks as if her world is perfect. The one who hides the reality of her pain behind a ready smile or encouraging word—wishing someone would reach out, speak up, welcome in.

These are the unseen ones. The women who live in loneliness, believing they are unworthy of being loved. That no one cares. That they are friendless. Forgotten. Forsaken.

Are you, too, chained to loneliness? Are you convinced you are unnoticed and unseen? I understand. I lived in loneliness for years hoping my husband or attainment or education might relieve the cry of my heart.

See me. Choose me. Love me.

But, neither nuptials nor knowledge are meant to satisfy the longings of our soul. That role belongs to El Roi, the one who sees the need of his beloved daughters. To the Shepherd, the one who never leaves us nor forsakes us. To the Helper, who guides us into truth.

Loneliness thrives when we nurture it with lies. But, God scripted His truth for us that we might receive it. Click To Tweet

Loneliness thrives when we nurture it with lies. But, God scripted His truth for us that we might receive it. Learn it. Live it. Friend, when we soak our hope-hungry hearts in His word we’re reminded of our position and His forever-faithfulness.

Today’s Challenge

If loneliness is your unwelcome side-kick, take action. Invite Jesus into your isolation. Pray. Listen. Combat the lies you’ve believed with the words of the One in whose power you’ve been raised. Then, allow your struggle in the now to motivate you toward investing in someone’s tomorrow? Just take one simple step–invite a neighbor for coffee, ring up an old friend, plan a date night with your husband. Ask the Helper to replace your false identity as the Unseen with a new capacity to see the needs of others.

Lie-I am unseen.

Truth-God sees and knows you.

Scripture-Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7

With peace and love,

Tammy

(This post was first published at Faithfully Following Ministries, faithfullyfollowing.com)

 

 

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Having a God-sized dream isn_t about me living big. It_s about God living big in me

 

I wish I knew my God-sized dreams. I have no idea what they would be and it’s not because I am already living them. I feel useless for God and His kingdom and like I don’t have an impact on other lives.

My heart dropped as I read her words. How many of us have wondered about our purpose? Struggled to discover meaning in our lives? Asked God to give us a God-sized dream and felt disappointed when our prayers seemed to disappear on the wind?

Years ago, when my children were small, I felt much the same way. I allowed ill-conceived thoughts to embed themselves in my spirit. You aren’t accomplishing anything. You should be doing something bigger…something more for God.

 I began entertaining lies as truth and discovered discontentment grew where joy used to live.

Like this dear one, I misunderstood. Having a God-sized dream isn’t about me living big. It’s about God living big in me—whatever that looks like at the time. Each of us was designed intentionally with unique gifts, talents, and abilities that we might participate in God’s mission—that those who are lost might be found. (Luke 19:10).

That’s the beauty of the Church. Each one who follows Christ has opportunity to participate in fulfilling God’s mission for others by living and loving right where we are—regardless of age, stage, or occupation.

In loving others, we live for Him. In loving others, we make a difference. In loving others, we discover our God-sized dreams.

Blessings,

Tammy

Questions to Guide You Discovering Your God-sized Dream

  • In what area(s) has God given you a passion?
  • Do your friends and family consistently take note of your abilities in certain areas?
  • If doubt and fear weren’t issues, what would you pursue?

 

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Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. -Romans 12:15

 

We must be willing to feel the heart beat of other's in our chest. This is what love does. (1)

 

One wedding and two suicides. From celebration to lamentation. From dancing in the sunset to mourning alongside two of my dearest childhood friends as they grieve the senseless loss of their young men living—and then dying—on the edge of manhood.

I long to ease the ache in the hearts of these dear ones; to smooth the hard edges of the emptiness that once was filled by the laughter of young men. Soul soothing words fail to trip off my tongue and I stumble in my awkward attempts to offer comfort and hope.

While I’ve experienced the pain of death separating me from another, I haven’t lost a child to the nightmarish reality of suicide. This grief? It’s consuming—like a fire threatening to devour everyone in its path.

And in our pull-yourself-up from the bootstraps culture where grief is an inconvenience and lament is looked on with suspicion, I’m suggesting something radical.

Let’s step into lament. Let’s join those we know who are hurting. Let’s choose to walk willingly into the fiery furnace just as Christ did when three of his children were tossed like kindling into a human-sized oven.

People are lamenting everywhere around us. The woman just up the street whose husband has left her with three children and a cancer diagnosis. The forty-seven-year old mother of teenagers fearing the worst as her husband struggles to survive the aftermath of a stroke. The young couple aching to hold a baby in empty arms after yet another miscarriage.

Grief is uncomfortable. Stepping into another’s pain is painful. Yet, if we are to love like Jesus we must be willing to feel the heartbeat of others in our chest. We are meant to join others as they walk through the fire. That’s what love does.

Who are you going to love today?

 

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My heart is pounding in my chest. It’s a thrumming, I guess. The rhythm that tells me something is wrong. Something (or someone) is anxious. The thin film of moisture coats the sides of my eyes, but I blink and blink, not letting it loose.

I don’t wanna. A two year old lives inside me, and she does not want to do the next thing. The next thing is hard and painful. She’d rather grab her favorite toy and play in the closet among her mom’s shoes, hiding from the world.

I try to talk the two year old down. You can do this. It’s only this one time. Or It will be over before you know it. Or even, you can have a treat when it’s all done!

See? Two. I told you.

But those pep talks don’t always work. Sometimes, on the lighter things, they do. But when it’s heavy and hard and nothing like what I expected, I’d much rather just…not. I wonder if I can tell God politely that I’d rather not do this next thing. And maybe if my voice is extra sweet and my demeanor uber-gracious, he’ll grant me this wish like a fairy godmother waving her wand. Only God’s staff is so much more powerful and wonderful than that.

I had a college professor who often talked about the phrase, “I prefer not”. He would tell us it was okay to use this phrase in life, and I want to cash it in right now. I prefer not. I change the words a little, thinking God’s ear will lean in my direction.

But there’s still no relief. The prefer nots and I don’t wannas and rather nots aren’t working. God is silent. Or perhaps no answer is the real answer. Because I already know what to do. What he wants me to do. I’m just avoiding it.

There’s no out. The next thing is the next thing I need to do. I’ll tell you a secret that I doubt will surprise you: I still don’t wanna.

But I hafta. And then I finally think to ask God. God, can you quiet this upset within my spirit? This fear and trepidation over the next thing? Help me to want to. Or at least give me grace while I don’t want to and I do it anyway. Because you’re asking. And I’m yours. Which means you are mine too. All of your goodness and your grace and your patience and your power—they’re here to equip me to do the next thing.

And then I remember that I won’t do the next thing alone. I always do that—jump ahead and imagine it without God in it. But then I remember he’s here now and he’ll be there then. That looming feeling of being alone and tired and just unable to do it is a lie. Because he’s there with me in that future of the next thing. And he has power and strength that I can’t even comprehend. And comfort. I’ll take some of that too.

Okay, God, let’s do the next thing together.

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Jill Lynn Buteyn is a co-author of Just Show Upwith Kara Tippetts, and the author of the inspirational romance novel, Falling for Texas (as Jill Lynn). A recipient of the ACFW Genesis award for her fiction work, she has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Bethel University. Jill lives near the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her husband and two children. Connect with her on social media or at Jill-Lynn.com.
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Jill Lynn Buteyn. Author of Falling for Texas and Just Show Up with Kara Tippetts. Organizationally challenged. Thrifty mama. Bookworm.
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Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.The words slipped from her lips–tender and free of accusation.  “In a group this size, I’m sure there are women who have experienced the pain of abortion. Lord, let those women know you love them.”

Sobbing erupted near the front of the auditorium and I scanned the rows of chairs until my eyes lit upon a woman with long, dark hair in the first row. Her shoulders shaking, she beckoned to the speaker. Grabbing hold of the microphone, the weeping woman stunned us with her confession. “When I was a young girl, my dad did things to me and I got pregnant.” Her body wracked by sobs, she continued. “I’ve never told anyone, but he aborted the baby.”

Burying her face in her hands, the weeping woman’s anguish spilled from her raw and vulnerable–shoulders shaking as violently as the ground during an earthquake.

Within seconds, men and women poured from the corners of the auditorium to comfort this dear one whose life had been spent silently bearing the weight of a secret too burdensome for one woman to carry alone.

Surrounding God’s daughter and with heads bent in prayer, we cried and mourned for this brave woman. And, we cared for her the way Christians are meant to do–sharing mercy…offering hope…living out Jesus’ love.

Images of the weeping woman continue to intrude in my thoughts and I wonder how many of us are holding to hurts that grow heavier day by day…year by year. My albatross? Your millstone? They may not be as burdensome as that of the weeping woman, but whatever we’re carrying it’s time to release those joy-stealers to the God who can heal all of the aching places in our hearts.

Give that wound…that memory…that hurt to Truth, friend. Jesus is the healing balm for all heartache and He promises to set us free. (John 8:32)

Leave a comment or message me on Facebook at Tammy L Kennington if you’d like someone to join you in your journey to freedom.

Blessings, Tammy

Linking up this week at:

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Love each otherLife seemed to take a wrong turn when her younger brother was diagnosed with cancer. Together, they relocated to Manhattan where some of the best treatments were available–far from the slower-paced, small town in Colorado. Physically distanced from family and friends and immersed in a world of sterile hospital rooms and uncompromising statistics, loneliness became an cloying companion.

Unwilling to foster an ongoing relationship with isolation, a determined                   twenty-something dialed the suicide hotline. She told the soothing voice on the other end of the line about her desperation. She spoke of a sense of worthlessness. Then, she explained the reason for the call.

Ready to break the chains of loneliness, Daniel Hernandez offered to step away from her own pain by embracing the stories belonging to others. For two years, Daniel volunteered as a voice of comfort and encouragement to the desperate and disillusioned, the hurting and the hopeless.

Is it possible loneliness is your unsolicited sidekick, as well? Does isolation invade the space of healthy relationship in your life ? Are you, perhaps, even coddling loneliness because of its familiarity? Or, when you look at others with the eyes of Christ do you notice the lonely ones? They are everywhere–hoping someone will take a moment to smile…engage…love like Jesus.

Today, I’m issuing a challenge. Friend, whether you are lonely or not–will you allow your struggle in the now to motivate you toward investing in someone’s tomorrow? You don’t need to be the voice on one end of a hotline to make a difference. Just take one simple step–invite a neighbor for coffee, ring up an old friend, plan a date night with your husband.

Let’s break the chains of loneliness.

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From crowded rooms to solitary hide-a-ways, loneliness exists outside the boundaries of place or circumstance. It invades the space of married couples…singles…young and old. And, loneliness? It has the power to drive us toward relationship or introduce lies into the vulnerable places of our hearts.

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If we aren’t intentional our in loneliness, we can be taken captive–seduced into believing that we are utterly alone. Have you been there, Friend? Has this lie lodged itself into the corners of your heart?

Perhaps it was birthed in the ruins of a fractured relationship or marriage. Maybe the pain of untruth took root when your prayers seemed to go unanswered. Is it possible you even feel you deserve loneliness—that your internal ache for something more stems from just being you?

Daughter of Christ, if you are hard-worn by loneliness right now, remember–there is Someone who is always with you. He knew you from your beginning. He knows the day of your last breath. And, He walks with you each step between now and forever.

This is the truth in which we can intentionally rest.

And, for those who know the lonely one? We can pray…love…and–with intentionality–remind her of Christ’s steadfast commitment to His children.

Won’t you join me today by reaching out to someone burdened by loneliness? Share your story with us.

Scripture for Reflection

I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you! I will not leave you orphaned. (John 14:16-18 MSG)

 

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Remember: A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving. 2 Cor. 9:7 (MSG)

 

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Against all odds, thousands of nut-colored seeds unfolded beneath ground and thrust their heads bravely through the hard crust of the last Montana snow. Each tiny sprig of green represented survival—a seasons-long battle spent dormant tucked below the inhospitable prairie soil.

They also represented the Farmer’s hard work.

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Before the sun cast its morning glow across the cliffs and beyond the creek, the Farmer sat astride the John Deere tractor with his favorite hat—the one my grandma hated—perched on his head. Nearly every day of every season; year after year, the Farmer worked the land.

In the summer, burnished stalks of wheat swayed in the wind until the heads bent low and heavy from the weight of their burden. By the time the prairie grasses stood bronzed by the sun, crops had been stripped and were left bare but for the craggy stubble alternating with the brown of the earth. Just before the cold held the land firmly in its grasp, the Farmer tilled the soil—turning and breaking the sandstone that ruptured the surface with a hatchet—and then carefully poured seed into neatly made furrows. If the seed was healthy and conditions were right then the Farmer and his wife—the one who taught me to make my first pie—might have something to show for their hard work.

What would have happened, though, if the Farmer failed to buy good seed? Or, if he had only planted every other field? Would the results have been abundant if the Farmer was unmotivated or shrugged his shoulders? God has a plan—I don’t really need to do anything.

The scenario seems foolish, I know. But, don’t we sometimes take the “hands-off” approach to sharing ourselves with others? I do—more often than I’d like to confess. Honestly, it is just hard to share Christ with others! I’ve mentioned before that I am a people pleaser—maybe we all are to an extent. But, I REALLY want others to like me. To respect me. And honestly?   I even want a few people to think I am special. Can anyone out there relate?

But this week, I read Hebrews 13:15-16.

“So let’s go outside, where Jesus is, where the action is—not trying to be privileged insiders, but taking our share in the abuse of Jesus. This “insider world” is not our home. We have our eyes peeled for the City about to come. Let’s take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring out the sacrificial blood of animals but pouring out sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus’ name. Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others.” MSG

I have a problem—a problem with holing up in my spiritual tower like an old, miserly Scrooge hiding away in his chamber and unwilling to share with others. Instead of coins, though, I have received the abundant and eternal treasure of the one and only Savior! If I fail to share the truth of Christ with a world struggling to survive the seasons and trials of life then I am not doing my work. I will be like a Farmer failing to plant the seed and work the ground.

Friend, my heart aches to take as many people as I can to heaven with me—by God’s grace and the work of the Spirit. Today, then, my prayer is that I would set aside the burden of self for the burden of people who need to hear about Jesus and the hope that He offers. Lord, give me a heart to join you outside—despite the conditions of rejection, derision, or animosity. Teach me to cast off my grudging, reluctant participation for an active,   hands-in-the-dirt approach to sharing holy love and true Life with others. Amen.

 

 

 

 

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It was a simple gesture, but my heart found comfort in the encouraging words written across the face of the paper. With my husband deployed on the other side of the world, two tiny boys needing mothering and fathering, and a rogue mouse loose somewhere in the 1,900 square feet that encapsulated our home I was often overwhelmed, under-socialized, and in need of an uninterrupted bathroom break.

 

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One sunny Virginia morning, I unlocked the community mailbox and discovered a treasure—reassuring words of encouragement from an anonymous “sister in Christ”. This dear woman promised she had been praying for me and, because of her kindness, I was a little less alone in the challenges common to military wives.

The cards and notes continued—one for each week of a six-month deployment. Now, years later, I remember the kind way an unknown friend made such an impact in my life—with ink, paper, and prayer. Thank you, dear lady, for seeing my need!

They are everywhere–behind false smiles and polite responses.  I’m fine. They are stay-at-home mothers and working mothers.  Single women and married women.  Christian women and women who haven’t met Jesus yet.  There are women who ache to be seen, who need to know someone cares, who pray God will send them just one person to come alongside. And, friends, I am convinced Christ calls us to serve these dear ones!

Scripture tells us that we “are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” and exhorts, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.” (Ephesians 2:10, Romans 12:9-13)

Did you notice the implications?  God created us–each a unique display of his creative design–for doing good works!  We are given the privilege of joining Christ in serving others and fulfilling our individual job assignments.  Assignments that build up other women and point them to the Servant-King!

Would you join me?  Will you look for her–that woman in need?  Invite the Holy Spirit to guide you in how you can come alongside the one He impresses on your heart–whether for the moment or over a longer period of time. Like little children, lets imitate our Father and love others large today.

Scripture for Reflection

1 Peter 4:10 (MSG) Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything.

Romans 12:1  (MSG) So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.

Hebrews 6:10 (NIV) God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

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