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11/29/15 10:05 A

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God Works for Our Good

Scripture Reading — Romans 8:28-30
We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. — Romans 8:28
With these words, Paul keeps building on the positive results of belonging to God in Christ. He has been brutally honest about sin and why we need Jesus. Now Paul builds further on what it means to have God as our Father. In a nutshell, it means that in all things God works for our good.
It’s easy to misunderstand this statement. It does not say that all things are good. Nor does it say that all things will turn to good. In line with what he wrote earlier, Paul affirms that becoming children of God does not mean that automatically all that we do is only good. Sin and evil—and even our own selves—still get in the way.
But this passage wonderfully clarifies God’s involvement in our lives. In fact, God is involved in all matters in our lives. God doesn’t just observe what I do, or judge or challenge or encourage. God himself “gets his hands dirty” by getting involved in my life.
That’s partnership. And it means that what is going on in my life is never the end of the story. No matter how difficult or challenging or depressing my daily life might become, God is still doing something to work for good.
I’m not the only one working on God’s goal for my life. God is right there with me all the way. How awesome is that?!
Prayer
Heavenly Father, sometimes I resent your hand in my life. But in the end, I know that’s what I need. Thank you that in all things you work for the good of those who love you—including me. In Jesus, Amen.

Cari Jane
Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.



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11/28/15 9:48 A

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Suffering Versus Glory
Scripture Reading — Romans 8:18-27
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth com-paring with the glory that will be revealed in us. — Romans 8:18
Claiming what this verse says is easier for some than for others. It depends on what kind of suffering you have experienced or are currently enduring.
Paul is being realistic. Whether it’s trying to make sense of ourselves, fighting off sin, struggling in relationship, bearing wounds of brokenness, being limited by health, enduring the pain of depression or a host of other situations, suffering is real for Christians as well as non-Christians.
Paul wants us to gain perspective, so he invites us to compare our suffering to the glory that will be revealed in us. But Paul does not define that glory as life without adversity, as if we won’t have health issues or financial needs or marital struggles or the like. Our goal is not so much to beat suffering as it is to live fully and completely as children of God.
God reminds us that we have his Spirit—always. And the Spirit will help us in all situations, interceding for us even if we struggle to pray. Even in the worst of times, we are not alone. I find great comfort in that.
When I suffer, I need that reminder. I may want an easier life, but what I need most is to know that God is continually with me and at work in me.
Prayer
Heavenly Father, in times of struggle and suffering, assure me of your strengthening presence in my life and remind me of what that means for the future. Through Jesus Christ, Amen.

Cari Jane
Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.



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11/22/15 10:19 A

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Can You Really Count on God?
BY RICK WARREN — NOVEMBER 22, 2015

“Trust the Lord with all your heart, and don’t depend on your own understanding. Remember the Lord in all you do, and he will give you success.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NCV)

For most of us, the reason we don’t trust God fully with our lives is because we really don’t know him. We usually don’t trust people we don’t know.

The same is true with God. That’s why God wants you to know the real him — not a fake version you’ve learned from popular culture. There are many popular myths about who God is that simply aren’t true.

For example, some believe he’s like:

A cosmic cop: He’s the big, bad policeman in the sky looking to catch us doing something wrong.

The celestial Santa Clause: He’s just there to give gifts. He smiles, nods, and never really pays attention to the naughty list.

The grand, old man: He’s the old, old god who isn’t much different from you. He has his own failures and faults. He doesn’t have any of the answers, either.

The Force: Like in the popular science-fiction series “Star Wars,” God is an impersonal force that we can bend to our own will.

If I thought God was like any of those popular misconceptions, I wouldn’t trust him either. But he’s not. The Bible paints an entirely different picture of the character of God.

The truth is, God is infinitely worthy of your trust because no being in the universe is as capable to influence the world around you as he is. The Bible says, “Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me” (Psalm 54:4 NIV).

God has the power (and the desire) to sustain and help you through whatever you’re going through. He wants to give you his best for your life — and he is uniquely able to help you get there. He is the creator of the universe. He literally has all the resources in the universe that he can mobilize on your behalf as you seek to follow him.

But the key is, you must trust him.

The Bible says, “Trust the Lord with all your heart, and don’t depend on your own understanding. Remember the Lord in all you do, and he will give you success” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NCV). You can trust God with everything you are because he is able to help you succeed if you do. That doesn’t mean that God will give you all the money, fame, or power you want. But if you trust him, God will help you succeed in what he has called you to do and be.

Talk It Over

Which of the misconceptions about God do you think is the most common among your friends and family? How about society?
How would someone’s life change if there was a proper understanding of what God is like?
What is one area of your life where you need to begin to fully trust God?

Cari Jane
Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.



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11/15/15 10:23 A

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Hoping in God

Scripture Reading — Romans 4:18-25
[Abraham] did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God . . . being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. — Romans 4:20-21
In hope, Abraham believed “against all hope.” That’s quite a tribute. In fact, it almost sounds as if Abraham’s hope “without weakening in his faith” earned him the righteousness he got. I admire that; I appreciate that Abraham is a part of the “cloud of witnesses” we can read about in Hebrews 11. He inspires me to want to strengthen my hope and faith.
But if determination to have stronger hope and faith is all I get from this passage, I wouldn’t be hearing what God is saying. The strength of our hope and faith does not start with us; it starts with what we hope for and what we have faith in. That’s what Paul is explaining here.
God made a promise, and God keeps his promises. This is the God who raised Jesus, our Lord, from the dead. Having delivered Jesus to death for our sins, God raised Jesus to life for our justification. My faith and my hope didn’t make that happen; God did. My faith and hope simply embrace what God promised and did.
Even Abraham didn’t always understand. His wife hadn’t borne a child, so he tried helping God to fulfill his promise by having a child with his wife’s servant (Genesis 16). But God didn’t need Abraham’s help, and God doesn’t need our help. He is God, and our hope is in him, not in the power of our hope.
Prayer
Father, help us to put our hope in your power and love. Strengthen our faith to embrace your promises. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Cari Jane
Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.



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11/14/15 10:31 A

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How to Remain Faithful When Suffering
BY RICK WARREN — NOVEMBER 11, 2015

“Those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” (1 Peter 4:19 NIV)

There are people out there who say God wants everybody to be a millionaire. God never wants anybody to have cancer. God never wants any problems in your life.

But the Bible says sometimes suffering is God’s will for your life. Why? Because it makes you more like Jesus. It deepens your faith. It brings you rewards in Heaven. It builds your character. It teaches you to worship instead of worry.

There are three kinds of suffering in the world. Common suffering is suffering that’s common to everybody. It doesn’t matter if you’re Baptist or Buddhist or Muslim or atheist or whatever. Everybody suffers certain things. When a hurricane comes into town, it doesn’t just pick on Christians. There is suffering in the world that we all share in common.

The second kind of suffering is carnal suffering. That’s suffering you bring on yourself from

your own sin. If I go out and live a very loose immoral life and get a sexually transmitted disease, that’s my fault. It’s not God’s fault. It’s not anybody else’s fault. It’s my fault. If I spend more money than I make and now I’m in debt and going bankrupt, that’s not anyone’s fault but mine. That’s suffering because of my sin and bad decisions.

Not all suffering is from sin. The Bible says sometimes suffering is according to the will of God, because God is more interested in your character than your comfort.

The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:19, “Those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” (NIV).

No matter what arrows are thrown at you, no matter what you suffer in this life because of your faith, God wants you to remain faithful to him and keep on doing good to others. Is that easy to do? Not always. Does it take faith? Definitely. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

Talk It Over

How might doing good to others in the midst of your suffering help you change your focus?
In what situations in your life do you need to stand up for Christ even in the face of opposition?
What does it mean to commit yourself to God?

Cari Jane
Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.



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11/8/15 11:13 A

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Bearing Fruit Matters
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Scripture Reading — Romans 2:12-16
It is not those who hear the law . . . but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. — Romans 2:13
“Merely hearing God’s law is a waste of your time if you don’t do what he commands. Doing, not hearing, is what makes the difference with God” (The Message).
Trying to be righteous in what I do is not the same as trying to earn salvation by aiming to be righteous. We are saved only by God’s grace. But once we realize we are saved and declared righteous through Christ, we want to live in gratitude by trying to be righteous. Both the Old and New Testaments teach that the way I live says something about who I am and how I really understand the faith journey. Jesus taught that you can tell something about a tree by the fruit it bears (Matthew 7:16-20).
Though I may do good things, that’s not really Paul’s point here. The question is whether or not the good things I do come from a heart that belongs to Jesus. Do all the things I do reflect that my heart belongs to him?
I also do bad things, because I am still a sinner. But God wants me to have integrity; God wants my faith connected with all I think, do, and say. And God’s Spirit helps me to live that way.
God wants to shape me from the inside out. When I belong to him, that’s what I want God to do too.
Prayer
Lord, for the ways in which my life shows you at work in me, thank you. For the ways in which I need reshaping to better reflect you, please guide me. In your name, Amen.

Cari Jane
Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.



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11/7/15 6:16 P

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Sometimes we will still suffer as a Christian from others who call themselves Christian, but indeed are wolves in sheep's clothing. We must be vigilant in our fight to have the right to spread the word of God. Choose carefully who we invite into our lives. Satan is constantly looking for a crack and will use the wolves in sheep's clothing to slither in.
Yes, Christianity is for the weak, the tired and those that have lost hope. Jesus came here to save them and not the righteous. We all must humble ourselves before the Christ and ask for forgiveness. Once accepted we are still no better than the next sinner. For we all have fallen short of the Glory of God. God never promised us that the road to Heaven would be easy. It is the Christian that continues with the faith and hope in Christ Jesus that will prevail like Job.

Edited by: SURVIVOR61 at: 11/7/2015 (18:28)
Jill "survivor61"
Team Leader: Keep Walking With Jesus
Team Leader: Motivational Members
Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me." John 14:1


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11/7/15 9:55 A

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You Can Worry, or You Can Worship
BY RICK WARREN — NOVEMBER 7, 2015

“If you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” (1 Peter 3:14-15 NLT, second edition)

Christianity is not for weaklings, wimps, or the faint of heart. It takes courageous men and women to follow Jesus.

People all over the world are suffering like we will never suffer as Americans. But what is it costing you to follow Christ? It’s unlikely you’ll ever have to deal with violent oppression. But you deal with silent repression every single day as our culture becomes more and more secularized and anti-Christian.

When you are faced with opposition because of your faith, it’s natural to feel afraid. So how do you get rid of the fear of opposition? How do you get rid of the fear of disapproval? How do you get rid of the fear of being rejected?

You need to be filled with God’s love. The Bible says there’s no fear in love and perfect love casts out all fear. When you face opposition, you focus on God’s love for you. People who rest in the assurance of God’s love aren’t afraid of rejection. They aren’t afraid of disapproval.

The Bible says in 1 Peter 3:14-15, “If you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it” (NLT, second edition).

There are two alternatives when you feel pressured to be quiet about your faith in Christ: You can worry, or you can worship. That means you either panic or you pray. You either focus on the problem and the pressure and the persecution, or you can focus on God.

You have to turn your attention away from the pressure you feel and turn it toward God. That’s what worship is — focusing on God. When you face opposition, worship instead of worry.

Talk It Over

Where do you need to look for assurance of God’s love?
How do you think God rewards you for suffering for doing what is right?
What kind of opposition have you faced because of your faith?

Cari Jane
Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.



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11/3/15 7:16 P

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God’s Words for Me

Scripture Reading — Romans 1:13-15

I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. — Romans 1:14

If you ask, “For whom is God’s Word written?” someone will usually reply, “For everyone.” But when you ask a few more questions and dig deeper, you begin to see the answer is not so simple. Is the Bible written for people who couldn’t care less? Is it written for people who can’t read Hebrew or Greek? Is it written for atheists?

For example, if I took all the letters I wrote to my wife while we were dating, and made them into a book, and then asked for whom it was written, what would the answer be? Paul’s letter is for Greeks and non-Greeks, wise and foolish. But somewhere in that mix I too am included. God’s “letter” is for me too—not based on my nationality or amount of wisdom. It is for me because God loves me and calls me to belong to him in Jesus.

Here’s what this means: If I lean toward the foolish end, God’s Word is for me. If I am already wise and seasoned, God’s Word is for me. Why? Because God is not interested in simply teaching me theology. God wants me to know him and hear him and love him. That’s the whole point of the gospel. And that is why God’s letter through Paul to the Romans is for you. God’s desire, as with any letter, is that you open it and read it—and more than just a few times.

Prayer

Father God, sometimes my own sense of wisdom, or the lack of it, can hinder me from hearing your Word. Help me see that however and wherever I am, you desire me. In Christ, Amen.

Cari Jane
Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.



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11/2/15 2:47 P

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Letters From God
Scripture Reading — Romans 1:7-13
To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people . . . .
— Romans 1:7
The New Testament includes a lot of letters from
spiritual leaders to churches and to church leaders. We might ask, “Of
all the ways to write about faith and how it works, why use a bunch of
letters?”It would be a bit bold to suggest I have the answer, but
it strikes me that in the letters of the New Testament, Paul and others
are writing to people. In fact, we could say that God, speaking through
Paul and others, is giving his Word to people in the form of a letter because letters are written for readers. Letters are personal. They are not just about information but about connection and relationship. Letters need readers.So
after identifying who he is in relation to Jesus, Paul clarifies that
he is writing to people. People are the point. Theology is for people
because God is for people. Christianity is not about a religious system
that puzzlers are trying to piece together. It’s about us—real, everyday
people—who belong to Jesus. God loves us and calls us to be holy people
(saints). God wants to extend his grace and peace to us.I think
God is making a point by using letters in the New Testament. God wants
me to know that he doesn’t just want me to hear truth; he wants me to
hear him because I matter to him personally.Prayer Heavenly
Father, for the gift of your letters to us, we thank you. For your
desire that we hear you, affirming our value to you, we give thanks in
Christ. Amen.

Cari Jane
Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.



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11/1/15 11:09 A

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“A Devoted Slave of Jesus”
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Scripture Reading — Romans 1:1-6
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus . . . — Romans 1:1
I can become too familiar with some phrases in the Bible, like this one: “a servant of Christ.” When that happens, it’s easy not to pay much attention. Eugene Petersen, in The Message, his contemporary language version of the Bible, treats those words this way: “I, Paul, am a devoted slave of Jesus Christ on assignment. . . .” That catches my ­attention.
Calling himself a servant says something about Paul. He knew better than we do what servants were and how they fit into the culture of his time. But hearing Paul introduce himself as “a devoted slave on assignment” gives me pause. Paul wasn’t just a member in some new movement. He wasn’t just a theologian trying to make sense of new ideas he had come across. He wasn’t just a preacher looking for an audience. Paul was a devoted slave of Someone who was not just anyone but the Lord of heaven and earth.
For a Roman citizen—which Paul was—to begin a letter to people in Rome that way demands our attention. Paul is unabashedly connected to Jesus— even enslaved. His opening iden­tification highlights his relationship with Christ as Lord.
That makes me ask, “How do I identify with Jesus?”—because that’s what the Christian faith is all about, first and foremost.
Prayer
Lord Jesus, the attractions and distractions of my life can lure me from being devoted to you. Help me to grow in seeing your presence and work everywhere, and in connecting with who you are. In your name, Amen.

Cari Jane
Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.



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