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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3540 - 04/09/18 at 05:40:19
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Malachi 3:16 (KJV)
Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.


Leaving a Legacy

Some years ago our sons and I spent a week on an abandoned backcountry ranch on the Salmon River, Idaho’s “River of No Return.”

One day, exploring the ranch, I came across an ancient grave with a wooden marker. Whatever inscription the marker may have borne had long since been weathered away. Someone lived and died—now was forgotten. The gravesite seemed tragic to me. After we got home I spent several hours reading about the history of the old ranch and that area, but could find no information about the person buried there.

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They say that the best among us is remembered for 100 years or so. The rest of us are soon forgotten. The memory of past generations, like our markers, soon fades away. Yet our legacy has been passed on through the family of God. How we’ve loved God and others in our lifetime lives on. Malachi 3:16–17 tells us, “a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name. ‘They will be Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘on the day that I prepare My own possession’ ” (nasb).

Paul said of David that he “served God’s purpose in his own generation” and departed (Acts 13:36). Like him, may we love the Lord and serve Him in our generation and leave the remembering to Him. “They will be Mine,” says the Lord.

May I be faithful to You today, Lord, as I spend my time loving others with Your love. Help me to trust You with the legacy I’m leaving behind.

Living for the Lord leaves a lasting legacy.

INSIGHT
Throughout Scripture, we gather a picture of how to leave behind a godly legacy. Psalm 78:4 reminds us to “tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.” Deuteronomy 6:5–7 declares: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

When we wholeheartedly love the Lord and others, live an obedient life that is pleasing to Him, and tell our family and others about the many wonders God has done throughout history and in our lives, we leave behind a legacy that can impact the next generation and the next and the next.

What legacy will you leave?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3541 - 04/10/18 at 06:49:27
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Mark 9:23 (KJV)
Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.


Only by Prayer

My friend called me late one night during her cancer treatment. Grieved by her uncontrollable sobs, I soon added my own tears and a silent prayer. What am I supposed to do, Lord?

Her wails squeezed my heart. I couldn’t stop her pain, fix her situation, or find one intelligible word of encouragement. But I knew who could help. As I wept with my friend, stumbling through a prayer, I whispered repeatedly, “Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.”

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Her cries quieted to sniffs and whimpers, until her breathing slowed. Her husband’s voice startled me. “She’s asleep,” he said. “We’ll call tomorrow.”

I hung up, weeping prayers into my pillow.

The apostle Mark shares a story of another person who wanted to help his loved one. A desperate father brought his suffering son to Jesus (Mark 9:17). Doubt clung to his plea, as he reiterated the impossibility of their circumstances (vv. 20–22) and acknowledged his need for Jesus to empower his belief (v. 24). The father and son experienced freedom, hope, and peace when Jesus stepped in and took control (vv. 25–27).

When loved ones are hurting, it’s natural to want to do the right things and say the perfect words. But Christ is the only One who can truly help us. When we call on the name of Jesus, He can enable us to believe and rely on the power of His presence.

Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Oh, how we need You, Jesus.

  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3542 - 04/11/18 at 05:34:53
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Psalm 13:1 (KJV)
How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?


How Long?

In Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland, Alice asks, “How long is forever?” The White Rabbit responds, “Sometimes, just one second.”

That’s how time felt when my brother David suddenly died. The days leading to his memorial dragged on, intensifying the sense of loss and grief we felt. Every second seemed to last forever.

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Another David echoed this sentiment, singing, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” (Psalm 13:1­–2). Four times in just two verses he asks God, “How long?” Sometimes the pains of life seem as though they will never end.

Into this heartache steps the presence and care of our heavenly Father. Like King David, we can honestly go to Him with our pain and loss, knowing that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). The psalmist discovered this as well, allowing his lament to move from a mournful minor key to a triumphant declaration: “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation” (Psalm 13:5).

In our seemingly endless moments of struggle, His unfailing love will carry us. We can rejoice in His salvation.

For more insight, download the Discovery Series booklet Out of the Ashes: God’s Presence in Job’s Pain at discoveryseries.org/q0735.

In times of pain and loss, the timeless God is our greatest comfort.

INSIGHT
Scholars disagree on the circumstances that prompted David to write Psalm 13. Some say that David’s enemy was Saul, who continually pursued David, seeking to kill him (v. 2). Others see the enemy as David’s son Absalom who conspired to drive David from the throne and take over as king (2 Samuel 15). Either way, the heartache David feels is real—driving him to God for help. David’s first response to these pressures is to complain about God’s seeming lack of response on his behalf, found in the repeated question “How long?” in Psalm 13:1–2. As David reflects on God’s past expressions of faithful love (v. 5), he finds reason to trust God even in his confusion and doubt. The closing note of praise (v. 6) expresses that trust—and anticipates God’s rescue.

When overwhelmed with the circumstances of life, do you find yourself wondering where God is? As you reflect on God’s faithfulness to you in the past it can remind you that He is worthy of your trust—even when you suffer and don’t know why.
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3543 - 04/12/18 at 07:40:11
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1 Thessalonians (KJV)
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;


Faith, Love, and Hope

For ten years, my Aunt Kathy cared for her father (my grandfather) in her home. She cooked and cleaned for him when he was independent, and then took on the role of nurse when his health declined.

Her service is one modern example of the words of Paul who wrote to the Thessalonians that he thanked God for “your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

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My aunt served in faith and love. Her daily, consistent care was the result of her belief that God called her to this important work. Her labor was borne out of love for God and her father.

She also endured in hope. My grandfather was a very kind man, but it was difficult to watch him decline. She gave up time with family and friends, and limited travel to care for him. She was able to endure because of the hope that God would strengthen her each day, along with the hope of heaven that awaited my grandfather.

Whether it is caring for a relative, helping a neighbor, or volunteering your time, be encouraged as you do the work God has called you to do. Your labor can be a powerful testimony of faith, hope, and love.

Lord, may I this day have eyes to see others’ needs, direction from You on any ways I might help, and the Spirit’s power to obey. May I live out the faith, love, and hope You’ve given to me.

The glory of life is to love, not to be loved; to give, not to get; to serve, not to be served.

INSIGHT
The Thessalonian church was a “model” church known for her “faith in God” (1 Thessalonians 1:7–8). The church was commended for her “faithful work, [her] loving deeds, and . . . enduring hope” (v. 3). This trilogy of faith, love, and hope is a mark of spiritual growth and maturity. The work God has called us to do is characterized by our love for God and our neighbor (Luke 10:27). To love is hard work, for it is something we have to learn to do. And we “have been taught by God to love each other” (1 Thessalonians 4:9). Paul aptly calls it a “labor of love” (1:3), emphasis added). Highlighting Christ’s second coming at the end of each chapter (1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23), Paul speaks of our “endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:3). Speaking of this trilogy of “faith, love, and hope” elsewhere, Paul says, “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Is your life characterized by faithful work, loving deeds, and enduring hope?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3544 - 04/13/18 at 05:37:24
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1 Corinthians 12:26 (KJV)
And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.


When One Hurts, All Hurt

When a coworker called in sick due to extreme pain, everyone at the office was concerned. After a trip to the hospital and a day of bed rest, he returned to work and showed us the source of that pain—a kidney stone. He’d asked his doctor to give him the stone as a souvenir. Looking at that stone, I winced in sympathy, remembering the gallstone I had passed years ago. The pain had been excruciating.

Isn’t it interesting that something so small can cause a whole body so much agony? But in a way, that’s what the apostle Paul alludes to in 1 Corinthians 12:26: “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.” Throughout chapter 12, Paul used the metaphor of a body to describe Christians around the world. When Paul said, “God has put the body together” (v. 24), he was referring to the entire body of Christ—all Christians. We all have different gifts and roles. But since we’re all part of the same body, if one person hurts, we all hurt. When a fellow Christian faces persecution, grief, or trials, we hurt as if we’re experiencing that pain.

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My coworker’s pain drove him to get the help his body needed. In the body of Christ, someone’s pain ignites our compassion and moves us toward action. We might pray, offer a word of encouragement, or do whatever it takes to aid the healing process. That’s how the body works together.

Lord, please give peace to those who are persecuted or in pain. Your family is my family too.

We’re in this together.

INSIGHT
Paul often uses the metaphor of the body to represent the church (see Romans 12:3–5; Ephesians 1:22–23; 4:12–13; Colossians 1:18; 2:19). In today’s passage he makes the observation that we’re not only to share each other’s pain but also to rejoice in the blessings other believers receive. Surprisingly we may find that more difficult.

Do you find it easier to share in others’ pain or in their joy?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3545 - 04/14/18 at 05:40:19
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Mark 4:39 (KJV)
And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.


Into Our Storms

Wind howled, lightning flashed, waves crashed. I thought I was going to die. My grandparents and I were fishing on a lake, but we’d stayed out too long. As the sun set, a fast-moving squall swept over our small boat. My grandfather instructed me to sit in front to keep it from capsizing. Terror flooded my heart. But then, somehow, I began to pray. I was fourteen.

I asked God for His reassurance and protection. The storm didn’t weaken, but we made it to shore. To this day, I don’t know if I’ve experienced a deeper certainty of God’s presence than that night in the storm.

What storm do you face today? Turn to Him knowing who He is and what His power can do.

Jesus is no stranger to storms. In Mark 4:35–41, He told His disciples to head across a lake that would soon turn windy and wild. The storm that night tested and bested these rugged fishermen. They too thought they were going to die. But Jesus calmed the water and then led His disciples to deeper faith.

Likewise, Jesus invites us to trust Him in our storms. Sometimes He miraculously stills the winds and the waves. Sometimes He does something equally miraculous: He steadies our hearts and helps us to trust Him. He asks us to rest in the belief that He has the power to say to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”

Lord, the storms of our lives sometimes seem like they will swamp us. Help us trust that You are the Master of the storm, to place our faith in You when life’s winds blow fiercely.

No danger can come so near that God is not nearer still.

INSIGHT
The end of Mark 4 poses an interesting question that each of us must answer: Who is this man? The disciples asked this question after Christ spoke to the wind and the waves and they obeyed Him. Though we may think this was merely a response of astonishment at what Jesus had just accomplished, Mark wants us to take the question seriously because he wants to present the answer.

Immediately following the disciples’ question, Mark recounts three stories that are meant to fill in the answer. After the miracle of calming the storm, Jesus casts demons out of a possessed man (5:1–20), heals a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years (vv. 21–34), and raises a girl from the dead (vv. 35–43).

Who is Jesus? He is God in the flesh, the one with power over nature, the spirit world, our bodies, and power over death itself. There is nothing we face that is beyond His ability to command.

What storm do you face today? Turn to Him knowing who He is and what His power can do.
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3546 - 04/15/18 at 06:34:34
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Psalm 98:1 (KJV)
O sing unto the Lord a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.


Reason to Sing

When I was thirteen, my school required students to take four exploratory courses, including home economics, art, choir, and woodworking. On my first day in choir, the instructor called each student to the piano individually to hear their voices and place them in the room according to their vocal range. During my turn at the piano, I sang the notes she played multiple times, but wasn’t directed to a section in the room. Instead, after repeated tries, she sent me to the counseling office to find a different class to take. From that moment on, I felt I shouldn’t sing at all, that my voice shouldn’t be heard in song.

I carried that thought with me for more than a decade until I read Psalm 98 as a young adult. The writer opens with an invitation to “sing to the Lord” (Psalm 98:1). The reason offered has nothing to do with the quality of our voices; He delights in all His children’s songs of thanksgiving and praise. Instead, we are invited to sing because God “has done marvelous things” (v. 1).

Take a moment to joyfully praise the Lord for all He has done.

The psalmist points out two wonderful reasons to joyfully praise God in song and in attitude: His saving work in our lives and His ongoing faithfulness toward us. In God’s choir, we each have a place to sing of the marvelous things He has done.

Lord, You have done great things in my life. Even if my voice isn’t one that would be heard on stage, I want to join the choir in thanking You for the amazing things You’ve done.

God loves to hear the voices of His children.

INSIGHT
Hallel is the Hebrew word for “praise” and aptly describes many of the psalms, including Psalm 98. Within the Hebrew psalter, however, there is a subset of hymns called the Hallel Psalms (Psalms 113–118). These psalms were normally sung or recited during high feast times, including Passover—Psalms 113–114 before the meal and Psalms 115–118 after it. The Jewish day begins at dusk, so when Jesus shared a final Passover with His men, crucifixion day had already begun. In the context of the cross, the impact of singing Psalm 118:24 takes on new meaning: “This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it”. And knowing these words would have been on the Savior’s lips as He moved toward Calvary provides vivid commentary on Hebrews 12:2: “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Why not take a moment to joyfully praise the Lord for all He has done?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3547 - 04/16/18 at 05:38:55
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Psalm 39:4 (KJV)
Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am.


Just a Second

Scientists are pretty fussy about time. At the end of 2016, the folks at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland added an extra second to the year. So if you felt that year dragged on a bit longer than normal, you were right.

Why did they do that? Because the rotation of the earth slows down over time, the years get just a tiny bit longer. When scientists track manmade objects launched into space, they must have accuracy down to the millisecond. This is “to make sure our collision avoidance programs are accurate,” according to one scientist.

Lord, help us to use our time wisely for Your honor and glory.

For most of us, a second gained or lost doesn’t make much difference. Yet according to Scripture, our time and how we use it is important. For instance, Paul reminded us in 1 Corinthians 7:29 that “time is short.” The time we have to do God’s work is limited, so we must use it wisely. He urged us to “[make] the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16 esv).

This doesn’t mean we have to count each second as do the scientists, but when we consider the fleeting nature of life (Psalm 39:4), we can be reminded of the importance of using our time wisely.

Lord, thank You for each moment You give us. May we strive to honor You with this gift by using our time wisely for Your honor and glory.

Don’t just spend time—invest it.

INSIGHT
Can you think of a time in your life that served as a wake-up call? David wrote Psalm 39 recalling such a moment. Although he doesn’t describe the circumstances that roused him from a sleeplike existence, his song tells us how he came to sense the importance of the moments given to us.

At first, he’s troubled by those who seem to have no moral conscience. Sensing foolishness and danger in their presence, he decides not to speak—maybe so he won’t be like them or so that his words cannot be used against him (39:1–2).

But in self-imposed silence, David has a more troubling thought. He too has been living without wisdom. Time is getting away from him. He’s lost the joy and wonder of life. Realizing his own inclination to think life is found in the material things we accumulate, he calls out for help (vv. 3–6).

Recalling what he has already learned about the Source of joy and hope, he sees how reliant he is on the eternal God to help him see more than the momentary distraction of passing wealth (vv. 7–13).

Could this be a good time to see ourselves in David’s song?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3548 - 04/17/18 at 07:58:08
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John 6:20 (KJV)
But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.


Learning to Know God

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mother. I dreamed about getting married, getting pregnant, and holding my baby in my arms for the first time. When I finally got married, my husband and I never even considered waiting to expand our family. But with each negative pregnancy test, we realized we were struggling with infertility. Months of doctors’ visits, tests, and tears followed. We were in the middle of a storm. Infertility was a bitter pill to swallow and left me wondering about God’s goodness and faithfulness.

When I reflect on our journey, I think about the story of the disciples caught in the storm on the sea in John 6. As they struggled against the waves in the dark of the storm, Jesus unexpectedly came to them walking on the stormy waves. He calmed them with His presence, saying, “It is I; don’t be afraid” (v. 20).

What fears do you need to place in the all-powerful hands of Jesus?

Like the disciples, my husband and I had no idea what was coming in our storm; but we found comfort as we learned to know God more deeply as the One who is always faithful and true. Although we would not have the child we had dreamed of, we learned that in all our struggles we can experience the power of His calming presence. Because He is there powerfully working in our lives, we need not be anxious.

Dear Lord, thank You that I do not have to face the storms in this life without You. Thank You for Your calming presence and power carrying me through whatever I face.

We can experience God’s powerful presence even in the storms of our lives.

INSIGHT
The story of Jesus meeting His disciples on the sea paints a vivid picture of how Jesus fulfilled God’s promises. In Bible times, the sea was seen as a terrifying force of chaos. Only God could walk on the sea (Job 9:8; Psalm 77:19). And in Israel’s central redemption story—their deliverance from slavery—it was God’s power that brought Israel through the sea, leaving Egypt behind (Exodus 14:21).

So when John describes Jesus walking on the waves, we can understand the disciples’ terror (John 6:19)—they were seeing God. Jesus’s response, “It is I” (literally “I am”), confirmed His unity with God, the “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14; John 8:58). By bringing the boat “immediately” to shore (John 6:21, 25), Jesus not only delivered the disciples but also likely pointed to the good news of another exodus from the “sea.” His death and resurrection would bring His people out of bondage into freedom (Galatians 5:1).

In this lifetime, we don’t always experience the full restoration we long for (2 Corinthians 5:4), but we do experience the power that will one day transform all things (4:16–17). Because of Jesus, we don’t need to be afraid (John 6:20).

What fears do you need to place in the all-powerful hands of Jesus?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3549 - 04/18/18 at 05:31:46
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Judges 11:29 (KJV)
Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah,


Judging Origins

“Where are you from?” We often use that question to get to know someone better. But for many of us, the answer is complicated. Sometimes we don’t want to share all the details.

In the book of Judges, Jephthah might not have wanted to answer that question at all. His half-brothers had chased him out of his hometown of Gilead for his “questionable” origins. “You are the son of another woman,” they declared (Judges 11:2). The text says starkly, “His mother was a prostitute” (v. 1).

God uses those who listen to His calling and respond in faith. How might He use you?

But Jephthah was a natural leader, and when a hostile tribe picked a fight with Gilead, the people who had sent him packing suddenly wanted him back. “Be our commander,” they said (v. 6). Jephthah asked, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me from my father’s house?” (v. 7). After getting assurances that things would be different, he agreed to lead them. The Scripture tells us, “Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah” (v. 29). Through faith, he led them to a great victory. The New Testament mentions him in its list of heroes of the faith (Hebrews 11:32).

God so often seems to choose the unlikeliest people to do His work, doesn’t He? It doesn’t matter where we’re from, how we got here, or what we’ve done. What matters is that we respond in faith to His love.

Lord, we take great comfort knowing that You don’t show favoritism based on where we’re from. Our heritage is found in You. Thank You for adopting us into Your family.

Many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. Matthew 19:30

INSIGHT
The details of the story of Jephthah are unique, but the idea of an unlikely person being the hero of the story—well that’s the subtle plotline of the entire Bible. In fact, many times the person we might expect to be the hero—for example, the tall and broad-shouldered Saul—isn’t the hero at all. Disobedience to God led to Saul’s downfall, but it’s David, a young shepherd, whom God calls “a man after [my] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).

What set apart those God used to do His work? Whether a prostitute (Rahab), a dreamer (Joseph), a young shepherd (David), a young virgin (Mary), or a former Pharisee (Paul), the common factor is how they responded to God. God uses those who listen to His calling and respond in faith. How might He use you?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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