The Mark Of A True Believer

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I was super excited when I found out that we were going to be studying 1 & 2 Peter together because my hubby just finished preaching through 1 Peter. Since I have a poor memory I am hopeful that this  study will cement into my brain the things I have learned. So let’s dig in, shall we?

What is the the outward sign of a changed heart? What is the true mark of a Christian? Is it passion? A wealth of knowledge? Social action or political involvement? Is it generosity?  While all of these things are good things, they are not the defining marks of a true believer.

Peter teaches us what this mark really is.

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;
1 Peter 1:22-23

Love! This is the mark of a true believer.

Love - Augustine

Peter knows this is the proof of a changed heart because he heard Jesus say this very thing.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 (emphasis added)

So what does it mean to love someone? I think to best understand this we need to first look at the opposite of love which is hate.

Now most of us would say that we are not hateful people. Hate is such a strong word I don’t even like my children using it.  On the surface hate is not something that I feel that I struggle with.  But the painful truth is, I am wrong – and you may be too.

Here are a few characteristics of hate:

  • speaking ill of someone (slander and gossip)
  • not seeking their good
  • wishing harm or misfortune on someone
  • finding secret pleasure when things don’t go well for another
  • unjust anger
  • refusing to forgive
  • ignoring someone
  • indifference toward another’s circumstance

Are any of these found in your life? Ugh, some of these are alive and well in my own heart. And these are not just the rumblings of frustration in a fallen world. They are manifestations of hatred.

“Hate is often more subtle than wrath, and quieter than rage.” – Joe Thorn

Love

Love should be what governs everything we do and say. It is what pushes us to know and obey God’s word and it is the driving force behind us doing good to the people around us. I could give you a succinct definition of love, but that is too easy. I find it even more helpful to answer the question, “What is love?” by looking at 1Cor. 13.

Love is:

  • Patient with others
  • Kind to all
  • It does not want what it doesn’t have
  • It doesn’t brag or think itself superior to others
  • It is not rude
  • It is not irritable
  • It isn’t resentful
  • It does not rejoice at other’s misfortunes or wrongs done to them

Love:

  • Rejoices and pursues truth
  • Bears all things (or puts up with anything)
  • Always believes the best
  • Endures all things
  • Believes God

Peter tells us that these are the virtues that ooze out of loving hearts and into the lives of others. But I get overwhelmed looking at those lists. I am overwhelmed, and sometimes discouraged, because of the hateful ways I see in myself. I don’t love the way I should. I want to, but I fail.

Don’t be discouraged, because this is where the good news of the Gospel speaks words of encouragement and hope to us. Christ not only loves us, but he loved perfectly for us and died for our selfishness and less than perfect love towards others. And through his love we have been gifted with power to change, to love more deeply and to put ourselves last.

We must continue to work at loving others and killing selfishness, not to gain favor with God, but to work out our salvation and to show others that we are new creatures in Christ. But such work is the work of faith, and is ever-dependent on Jesus.

What are some things that we can actually do to practice love?

Here are a few thoughts.

  • Become a good listener; otherwise you won’t know what someone needs, how to pray for, or care for them.
  • Ask forgiveness without explanation or excuses
  • Be generous
  • Include others into your circle of friends, small groups, and Bible studies
  • Put people before your own interests
  • Be willing to sacrifice for others
  • Tell the truth with kindness and wisdom
  • Encourage with the gospel
  • Pray for them

Loving others is not easy. As a matter a fact it is one of the hardest things to do. Sure, loving our friends doesn’t seem to be too hard, but what about the person who is always annoying? The one who knows how to push our buttons? The one who doesn’t care? The one who is malicious? The one who takes us for granted? The family members who are difficult? The strangers who inconvenience us? Or even our fellow Christians who believe differently?

In order to love well we need to keep our eyes on Jesus, the perfector of our love and the example of how to love well.

Looking to Jesus,
jen-sig

 

 

Chime in:

What is the hardest part about loving others? And who in your life has shown you the greatest example of love?

 

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Preparing our minds to suffer well…

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She came to visit me over Christmas – her sweet voice as gentle and patient as always. What a joy it was to catch up late into the night as we took turns snuggling her newest baby girl.

I smile at how our now twenty year-old friendship began: I was a college student, and she was part of a posse of seventh grade girls I was privileged to mentor through their early youth group years. She tells me the story now about how her mom dragged her to youth group crying because she didn’t want to go, and we laugh hard because to know this girl now? She’s one of the most even-keeled, committed Jesus followers I know. Heh. God matured us both during those critical growing years, and formed a bond between us that would last through time, distance, and all kinds of life changes.

Sarah L

{The early years: Sarah’s the one in yellow, and I’m at her right shoulder..}

Now all these years later the roles are reversed, and Sarah has been teaching me about what it means to suffer well.

When you’re young and full of life, no one expects to hear the words “brain tumor.” But after an out-of-the-blue seizure and a whirlwind of specialist visits, this was my friend’s diagnosis a few weeks ago. Brain surgery quickly followed. Critical brain surgery for this precious friend, daughter, wife, and momma to four young girls.  I thought of my own children – and her tiny newborn that I had just snuggled at Christmas – and I could barely say the words out loud.

But from the beginning, this girl was determined to focus on truth.

Love God Greatly- Peter Study

I remember her telling me that she didn’t want to waste this.

Would the journey be easy? Far from it.

Have there been moments of uncertainty? Absolutely.

But in Sarah’s words, “Knowing that God could somehow use it to bring himself glory suddenly gave purpose to this trial.” 

My friend has not wasted her suffering. Instead, she has confidently allowed Jesus to shine brighter through her in the midst of it. 

Over and over, I have watched Sarah meditate on Scripture, intentionally filling her mind with truth as the waves crashed in harder. How beautiful that as followers of Christ, we’re now able to view our suffering through a different lens than the rest of the world…

No matter what the outcome, my future is secure in Christ (1 Peter 1:4).

This trial will serve a purpose that is greater than my comfort (1 Peter 1:7).

Even in uncertainty there is inexpressible joy (1 Peter 1:8).

Yes, there’s even this “unexplainable” joy, and the world is noticing.

It’s one thing to look back, see God’s hand and recognize the good that comes from suffering after it’s over and resolution has come. It’s quite another to find joy smack in the middle of the hardest days when we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. The question is not if suffering will come, but rather how we will respond when we’re in the midst of it.

 “Jesus lost all his glory so that we could be clothed in it. He was shut out so we could get access. He was bound, nailed, so that we could be free. He was cast out so we could approach. And Jesus took away the only kind of suffering that can really destroy you: that is being cast away from God. He took so that now all suffering that comes into your life will only make you great. A lump of coal under pressure becomes a diamond. And the suffering of a person in Christ only turns you into somebody gorgeous.” ~ Tim Keller

And since our sufferings can’t really destroy us, let’s view them as an opportunity to shine Jesus to the world…

 

 “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while,
if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 
so that the tested genuineness of your faith 
—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—
may be found to result in praise and glory and honor
at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
~ 1 Peter 1:6-7
 
At his feet,
 
*Let’s Talk: What are some of your favorite passages of scripture you cling to in suffering? Let’s share and encourage those who might need to embrace those truths today… 
 
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1 & 2 Peter: Week 1-Monday- Our Inheritance

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I remember my grandma – Nana, as I loved to call her – talking to my mom about the importance of leaving an inheritance to her children and grandchildren one late evening when I was in high school.

As a teenager, I remember thinking how silly that sounded. Why should she leave money behind for us to enjoy when she could enjoy the money now? I know she had dreams of traveling the world and building that addition on her home, like she had always talked about. And we were not a family of means, though my grandpa worked hard all of his life in the automobile factories where my family lives in Indiana. We knew the sacrifice it cost her to put money away in the bank each month. But my Nana was a generous woman. She loved to give and bless those in her family. It brought her joy to be able to help provide for her loved ones.

And so as she would talk about this inheritance that we would have one day, we would smile, kiss her on her forehead and thank her for her giving heart… never wanting or expecting a penny.

As the years went by my sweet grandpa passed away, and a few years later my Nana eventually went into an assisted living facility. Ohhh we tried to talk her into moving to Texas and living with us, but not that Indiana born and raised woman. Though she loved her family in Texas, she couldn’t bear the thought of not being in the same area she had lived her whole life. We learned that you can take Nana out of Indiana but you can’t take Indiana out of Nana. Indiana was in her blood and in her heart. She just couldn’t grow roots out here in Texas, so she went back to Indiana to live near our family there.

Yet make no mistake, every time we would go to visit her she would remind us of the inheritance she had sacrificed for us; the inheritance that was waiting for us. And visit after visit we would smile, kiss her on her forehead and thank her.


As the years went on, her sweet sacrificial inheritance dwindled down as the cost of the home increased. Eventually the inheritance she had spent years investing into was gone….and she was heartbroken. My Nana cried when she told us. All those years of saving, sacrificing: gone in her eyes, but not in ours. Like always, we would smile, lean down and kiss her on the forehead, and this time told her that she had already given us the best inheritance a Nana could give…loving memories of a woman who loved her family with every part of her heart.

My sweet Nana is now in heaven, and she is experiencing the reality of the amazing inheritance Peter talks about in Chapter One. An inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. An unlimited bank account that can never be emptied by too many withdraws.


This is the reality for those who are found in Christ. Here Peter writes a letter of hope to a people, then and now, who are suffering, hurting… who are needing to be reminded that there is this amazing inheritance waiting for them when they get to heaven. An inheritance beyond anything they can ever imagine. A place with no more pain, sadness or heartbreak. A place were we are finally complete, whole… and without sin.

The place our hearts and minds have been aching for since we drew our first breath. Home. Our real home. 


As we dive into 1 Peter this week, let me end with this encouragement…

Like Peter states at the very beginning of Chapter One, we are strangers in the world.
This is not our home. So let’s start living with this truth in mind.

Let’s stop trying to make heaven here on earth.

Let’s stop trying to “save” for the future, and instead pour our lives into NOW.

Jesus is coming back you all, and with the passing of each day His arrival is getting closer and closer. Let’s spend our days wisely, investing in what will last for eternity…

Let’s Talk:
How does focusing on the fact that those who are saved have an amazing inheritance waiting for them in heaven change your outlook of life?

 

Love God Greatly!

Angela- Love God Greatly

 

 

 

 

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An Introduction to 1 & 2 Peter

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I am really looking forward to this new study through 1 & 2 Peter, and am excited that you have decided to join us!

Here is a little background on Peter and the amazing transformation God did in his life.

Originally Peter’s name was Simon, but Jesus changed it to “Cephas” which translated means Peter (Rock) (Jn 1:42).  He was from the city of Bethsaida (Jn. 1:44) and a fisherman by trade (Matt. 4:18).

Peter The Fisherman

Certain jobs attract certain personalities, and this seemed to be true of the fishermen in the 1st century. These guys were manly men, a bit gruff, often unkempt, and known for their use of vulgar language. Being a fisherman was not for the weak or the faint of heart. This job was very physically demanding and could be dangerous and scary if a storm caught you off guard. Fishermen were known for their loud personalities and maybe this is why Peter’s business partners (Lk. 5:10), James and John, were referred to as the Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17).

But Jesus is powerful. When he called Peter, Peter was willing to walk away from all of it.

Peter’s Family

We read in Matthew that Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law (Matt. 8:14). This tells us he was a married man.  What I find to be so neat is that his wife accompanied him on some of his missionary journeys (1 Cor. 9:5). We don’t know her name or anything else about her, but I’m looking forward to chatting with her when we meet in heaven.

Peter’s New Life

Peter’s life with Christ became radically different. While Jesus loved all of his disciples, he had a special connection with the three rough fishermen: Peter, James, and John.  They were the only three who saw Jesus raise the daughter of Jairus from the dead (Mark 5:37), and they were the only three who saw the shekinah glory at the transfiguration (Matt. 17). Peter and John were the ones tasked with preparing the last meal Jesus would have with his disciples (Lk. 22:8), and it was Peter who experienced walking on water (Matt. 14:28-29).

On the outside Peter may have seemed like this awesome Christian. He was passionate, zealous, and bold. He was the first to recognize Jesus for who he really was, namely, the Son of God (Matt 16:16-17). He was called the “Rock,” after all.

But if you could have seen what he was like on the inside you who have seen a man who struggled with fear, doubt, and other weaknesses. We catch glimpses of this throughout the gospels. Peter’s fear caused him to deny Jesus three times (Matt. 26:33, 70-74), and his weakness resulted in him falling asleep multiples times when Jesus asked him to pray.

Peter went through a lot before he became this pillar of a Christian (Gal. 2:9) that we think of when we hear his name.

He struggled, was remolded by Jesus, and filled with grace.

Peter is one of the easiest Apostles for us to connect with because he did not have it all together. He knew what it felt like to fail, to be down and to have questions. He messed up, stuck his foot in his mouth (Matt. 16:22,23), and acted rashly (Jn 18:10). Peter experienced persecution, imprisonment, and torture. But he also knew how to rejoice in the midst of these trying and difficult circumstances (Acts 5:41).

Peter’s Writings

In 1 and 2 Peter he writes to encourages us in our faith during the hard times we face. He specifically wrote to Christians who were experiencing persecution and alienation, even in their own hometowns, because of their faith.  He talks to us about faith, obedience, and patience when life is hard. He shows us that through Christ we can stand up under anything.

Through his love and power Christ transformed this once prideful and boisterous man into an obedient, faith filled, humble servant of the church. Jesus predicted that Peter would be crucified for his faith (Jn. 21:18-19). Tradition says that when the time came Peter asked to be crucified upside down because he did not feel worthy to be crucified like his Lord and Savior, but there is no scriptural or historical proof of this.

While transformation is never easy, it is possible. It is possible through the power of Christ at work in us, just as Christ worked amazingly in the life of Peter. Through Peter we see that Christ can forgive unfaithfulness and overcome any weaknesses.  We, too, can become Christians anchored in Christ, strong in our suffering, and passionate in our faith.

The letters of Peter will encourage us in this quest.

Looking forward to starting our new study with you TOMORROW!

 

Looking to Jesus,
jen-sig

 

 

 

 

Join us…TOMORROW!!!
Peter

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TEN {1 & 2 Peter} Translations… NOW AVAILABLE!!!

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Celebrate with us… our {1 & 2 Peter} Translations are available TODAY!!!!

The internet is an amazing thing, amen?! Not a day goes by that we don’t thank God for the incredible opportunity He’s given us to inspire, encourage and equip women all over the world to get into God’s Word with the click of a mouse. That’s a privilege we don’t dare take lightly. But you guys, it gets even better…

There are these precious, precious women. 

Women who are gifted in languages, and my goodness do they have heart.

And willpower.

And determination.

And a whole lot of selfless love.

They work hard at their jobs, at school, and in their homes by day, and then translate our LoveGodGreatly studies by night. What.in.the.world. When no one is looking, they make words come alive, and in doing so, they put tools in the hands of women who might never otherwise have access to Bible study materials in their own languages! This is kingdom work, my friends… overwhelming, beautiful behind-the-scenes kingdom work, and I wholeheartedly believe that one day heaven will look a little different because of how God used these faithful women.

Soooo… without further ado, we are delighted to announce our TEN {1 & 2 Peter} translations!!

Afrikaans.

Chinese.

Dutch.

French.

German.

Hungarian.

Italian.

Malagasy.

Russian.

Spanish.

A huge THANK YOU to the incredible women who have made these translations possible. We love you, we are inspired by you, and we thank God for you… over and over and over again!!

Can you – or someone you know – benefit from {FREE} resources for our {1 & 2 Peter} study in one of the languages listed above? Simply click on the link below to access the {1 & 2 Peter} Study Materials for the TEN translations offered this session:

http://www.lovegodgreatly.com/1st-2nd-peter-translations/

 “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;

let your glory be over all the earth.”

~Psalm 108:5

At His feet,

THERE’S STILL TIME to join us for our Spring Online Bible Study, but don’t wait long – our study starts on MONDAY! {Looking for our 1 & 2 Peter study materials in English? Find out more here.}

How, as followers of Christ, can we stand strong in a world filled with persecution, hardships, suffering, division and false-teaching? God’s Word has the answers! The books of 1 & 2 Peter address these very issues – not only identifying them as real and present dangers – but also practically empowering and equipping weary believers to rise up, suffer well, and press on because of the hope that lives within us!

Are you feeling the weight of the world? Have you endured suffering at length with no end in sight? Do you feel more and more like an alien in a foreign land? Then find HOPE with us as we dive into {1 & 2 Peter}, our brand NEW ‪#‎LoveGodGreatly‬ 8-week online Bible study!

“As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones are being built up…” ~ 1 Peter 2:4-5

Don’t miss this opportunity to grow and be encouraged in your faith as we study God’s Word TOGETHER! Grab some friends and join us starting March 23rd… it wouldn’t be the same without YOU!

#LoveGodGreatly #1&2Peter

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1st & 2nd Peter Bible Study Materials Now Available!

Love God Greatly- Materials Available

Oh friends,

We are less than a week away from starting our 1st & 2nd Peter study with you! Today I’m excited to share the reading plan and study guide for our upcoming study! All our materials are FREE and we have two simple ways for you to download them!

* You can either download the reading plan and study guide directly from this blog post.

or

* As a subscriber to our blog, they are listed at the very bottom of every email we send out!

Materials for our study can be found here AND in your LGG email!

1st & 2nd Peter Study Guide

1st & 2nd Peter Reading Plan

 

To make sure you get our full study, please subscribe to our blog so you will receive our Monday-Wednesday-Friday blog posts that go along with this study!

On Friday we will be sharing our amazing 1st & 2nd Peter translations so stay tuned! We believe it’s important for women around the world to have the same opportunity to dig into God’s Word as we have so our translated studies are FREE as well!

And for those who are wondering, our YouVersion plan should be available on Friday also….just remember to not start it until MONDAY!!! Hehehe….I know you’re super excited!:) So are we!!!

 

Love God Greatly!
Angela- Love God Greatly

 

 

 

Invite some friends and join us on Monday!
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Special Announcement: Jen Wilkin joins Love God Greatly!

Sweet friends,

We are one week away from starting our 1 & 2 Peter study! If you haven’t done so already, let me encourage you to reach out to a few friends and invite them to join you for these next eight weeks. It’s going to be an amazing study….and besides, it’s always more fun to dig into God’s Word with your friends!

Today I have a special announcement for you and I can’t wait to share it!

God is really growing Love God Greatly and today I am SUPER excited to announce that Jen Wilkin, author of Women of the Word,  is joining our Love God Greatly team! She will be adding content to our Bible Resources area of our blog that we are currently working on! Jen is a gifted writer and will be a wonderful addition to our team! I simply can’t wait for you to meet her!

Jen Wilkin head shotJen Wilkin is a speaker, writer, and Bible teacher. She has a background in women’s ministry, and has organized and led studies for women in home, church, and parachurch contexts. Jen is a mom to four teenagers and has been married to Jeff for 22 years. She and her family are members of the Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas where she currently serves as the managing editor of The Village Blog. She is the author of Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds and The Sermon on the Mount.

Jen grew up in Texas, and came to saving faith in elementary school. Her childhood was marked by time spent in seven different denominations – a range of experience that left her with the conviction that knowing the Word was the only sure means of discerning truth from error. Her passion is to see women become articulate and committed followers of Christ, with a clear understanding of why they believe what they believe, grounded in the Word of God. You can find her at jenwilkin.net.

Please join me in giving Jen a warm welcome to Love God Greatly!

Angela- Love God Greatly

 

 

 

Starting NEXT Monday!

Love God Greatly-Peter Study

 

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The beauty of community…

LoveGodGreatly

Thank you for joining us for the study Made for Community! Love God Greatly is a community with a deep love for God and a lasting desire to inspire, encourage, and equip each other and women from all over the world.

As was mentioned in Wednesday’s blog post, for the last eight weeks, we have read, soaped, and discussed Made for Community. Through technology, we connect in the comments of the Love God Greatly blog posts three days a week, or daily on the Love God Greatly Facebook page.  The women that have chosen to participate in groups connect via email, Facebook, WordPress, Blogger, Yahoo Text Message, and local groups. We are forming relationships with women from all over the world! Today, we would like to share a few stories and testimonies from members of the Love God Greatly community.

“I was intrigued by the idea of an online study, and thought it would be good to have a regular study to do while I was away from home for two months. It has exceeded my expectations. There has been an openness and vulnerability; there has been a wonderful sense of support; there is a sense of community even though we have never met. Beyond that, I have been challenged to live out the Biblical expression of community in my own life. I look forward to future studies, even when I am back in Illinois. I appreciate our facilitator’s faithful posting and the personal questions you periodically ask us. I want to let you know how special this group has been to me.” ~ Maureen

“This year, I moved back to the states after living the last 10 years in South Korea. Being in a new town, I have struggled so much to find my place and I was really hurting for community, missing the one I had been apart of for the last 10 years. My friend sent me an invitation to this study and I eagerly agreed to join. It has been great. I know most of the women in the group and am encouraged by their honesty and openness. It is helping me to settle down into my new place, so that I can become part of community here.” ~ Kristen M.

“Love God Greatly is having me dig deeper and see God’s Word in an amazing new light!! Thank you so much for all the hard work you ladies have put into this for us!” ~ Deanna A.

“Going through the Community study has opened my eyes to so many opportunities. Our group shares deep from within their hearts. It has been such a blessing. I especially appreciate our leader Amy. She truly inspires, makes thought provoking comments, and shares her love and prayers with us.” ~ Sheri S.

“I have been involved with Love God Greatly for almost 2 years now. The reason I began was because I needed the accountability for my Bible reading and prayer life. Love God Greatly has made my Bible time and Prayer time a priority. I also now have a group of women who I consider my friends and I can share anything with. I am growing in my Christian life as we share our SOAPs together. We share our prayer requests and daily events with each other, and each new study brings new growth in my life as “Iron sharpens Iron”. Thank you so very much for developing this kind of group.” ~ Shirley B.

“My daughter Sheri died on Nov. 5, 2012 of cancer. She was 35 yrs old and left two children, Reese and Eli, my grandkids. I watched my daughter’s life change; she met Christ. I watched my daughter die and look up to heaven. I was devastated. I miss her so much. My husband and I went through grief counseling together. I just wanted to die. I came across this group, Love God Greatly, on Facebook and was led by God to check it out. I have learned so much about God through the Bible studies. My life has changed. I feel closer to God than ever before. I accepted Jesus into my heart when I was 16 years old. Since then He has been in my life, but I realize now that my daughter Sheri died so that I would be closer to my Savior. Grief has been a tough thing to work through for me, but God has truly taken care of me. I love that His arms are around me, just like they were around Sheri! Praise God for such a wonderful group of women! I would be lost without Love God Greatly!” ~ Julie W.

Some seasons spent on the receiving end, and others on the giving. Individually weak and imperfect, but when unified, so much stronger together. ~ Whitney

“Through Love God Greatly I have been able to connect with others and become more open in my journey with Jesus. I have invited family members, my mom and sister, and I can share my faith with them. I looked and looked for a Bible study I could interact with, and God led me here. I am very thankful for daily Word and accountability. Thank You, Father, for this amazing group and the love they share daily. In Jesus Name Amen.” ~ Krista D.

“God has used Love God Greatly to refresh my quiet times. I have fallen in love with the SOAP method and with my facilitator, Amy A. Her insights and encouragement (and accountability) have been exactly what I’ve been missing. I started off doing Love God Greatly on my own – but it wasn’t until I joined a small group that I really benefited from this group because then I really knew I wasn’t alone.” ~ Liz

“God has worked through my older sister to invite me to do this study. I have be a Christian for a long while, but since I’ve moved to my new home area it’s been difficult for me to feel plugged into a good Bible study. I’m off work right now, due to having another back surgery, so God has used this time to draw me closer to Himself. This study as shown me that I am truly a part of the body of Christ and I do have gifts that I can share with others to bring peace and glory to God. I normally work in the medical field with neurology patients. I’ve seen and walked through certain situations where I’ve seen the hand of God at work and just by loving people and sharing our hope in heaven. It can bring a scared and troubled soul hope and expectancy of God doing something great in their lives, too. This study has been very insightful for me as sometimes I wonder if I am really a part of that body of Christ, but through this study I am learning that God’s gifts come in all shapes and sizes, and we don’t all have to be evangelists but willing participants as God can and will use us all where we are needed. He loves us all greatly!” ~ Sue J.

“This study has transformed my thinking when it comes to community, what true community means, and how active I am truly serving God in my own communities of family, friends, church and the world… And this study has also created in me a commitment and focus for studying God’s word that I had lost for while. Thank you, Love God Greatly community, for blessing me and so many others, and my group of ladies who encourage and uplift each other from all parts of the country.” ~ Vicki S.

“I had a major “mental breakdown” in 2011 and was hospitalized. My mind was not right; I had lost all hope and was angry at God! After my hospitalization, it took about a year and a half to get to the place where I could face God again. The Love God Greatly study came into my life right about that time. The study was “You Are Loved”. That really was the turning point for me, where everything came together. The truth was able to penetrate my heart and I began to develop a different kind of relationship with the Lord. Every Love God Greatly study since then has continued to strengthen my faith, strengthen my identity in Christ, and has healed my relationship with Him and those around me. I am so grateful for this study and for the group of women who put their heart and souls into creating these studies!” ~ Mistie M.

“Prior to the start of “Made for Community” Bible study and my email group, I was just going through my walk with Christ and serving him with a very mundane attitude and outlook. This study and my email group have stirred in me the excitement of serving my God, and it has reminded me of my responsibilities of being a part of God’s local church, his family, and community. Thank you for your obedience in writing this study. It has truly blessed me.” ~ Cindy A.

“I have shared the material with friends and felt hope and love throughout our study. I’m currently without work due to a car accident, which has imposed limitations upon me physically. This has caused financial distress, using up all of my savings. However, no matter what, I have made it each and every month. I’ve had the help of my church, fellowship, and friends. I’m a very grateful woman. I know its God’s favor and protection. This group has kept me in the Word, fills my heart with hope, and helps me keep everything in perspective! Each day I journal about our lesson and write to Jesus thanking him for the many blessings, this study group, and the lessons I’m learning and applying to my life. Thank you, sisters!” ~ Tammy T.

“No matter what kind of person you are, introvert or extravert, you were created for community.” ~ Jen

“I have watched as God has used this online study to reach women in our church that we have unable to draw into our fellowship in any other way. After 30 years in women’s ministry, I have to admit I was surprised at how effective communicating online really is!”~ Julie W.

“I discovered the Love God Greatly Bible Studies at a time when faced with multiple life changes; we had moved, we lost a close friend, family had moved far away… I determined to use this opportunity to spend time in God’s word and wait on Him. God has used these studies to encourage and to strengthen my faith as well as to challenge me. I am so thankful for these studies and for the faithfulness of those who give of themselves and their time to prepare them. They are a blessing to me in this season of my life.” ~ Carla B.

“My daughter and I have always had a rocky relationship. She would press my buttons and a fight would erupt. She has even sent me letters telling me what a terrible, unthoughtful mom I am. Since studying the Bible with my Love God Greatly group, my relationship is better. It is better because I have learned to let her hurtful words wash over me; I don’t take her words to my heart and let them stay. I have let go of the past hurts and have truly forgiven her. Our relationship may grow closer in time, but if not, I’m okay with that. It is truly in his hands.” ~ Bunny P.

“Love God Greatly devotionals have formed my morning worship time for about year now, and I find myself always looking forward to the next one. As a returning Christian (a former pagan for over 20 years), this ministry has been a driving force in growing my faith.” ~ Kat R.

“My sisters and I have been doing this study together even though we live in different states and time zones. We study the lessons individually and then once a week (usually Saturday evening) we do a conference call and discuss the lesson. This has been a wonderful way to connect with each other and grow closer to Jesus. Thank you for these studies.” ~ Rachel F.

“I am so glad that God allowed me to stumble onto this site and that I decided to participate in these studies. With this being my 2nd study, I have grown so much as far as getting closer to God and learning how to dig into his Word. These studies are starting to shape the way I see myself and how I interact with others around me. I love being joined to a group, just the experience of learning and growing, and the supporting that it allows women to do is awesome. I love to see how God works differently through us with the breaking down of his Word. I have truly grown for the better and I am getting closer to God because of the structure and support of this study.” ~ Shaquanna H.

“I know that each time I read Love God Greatly I will learn something or hear from the Lord. I just read about using our gifts that God has given us to His glory. I wanted to share that the Lord has given me the gift of hospitality. He orchestrated my husband and I to lead a monthly luncheon at our church to connect the body. It is an honor and a blessing. Thank you for your faithfulness to use social media as part of glorifying Him and lifting up the church. :)” ~ Tami L.

“The past two years was in a way horrible, from my nervous breakdown to my grandma dying. I was in need of making sure that my life is focused on God more and I should not worry or fear anything. When I joined the Love God Greatly group that I am with currently, I felt that I was listening to God and he ended up flipping the light switch in my mind. Now I feel complete and more on God’s Word. Continue to pray for me, that God would use my life to inspire others so they would not be in the same boat that I was in.” ~ Jasmine H.

We are not made to do life alone. ~ Angela

“Because of scheduling conflicts, I am unable to attend small group Bible study at my church. This online/email format fills my need to study, learn, and connect with other like-minded women on my own time and pace. Our group shares thoughts, interpretations, links, and ideas as well as prays for each other on a daily basis. I thank God for this great group of women (that I would not have otherwise “met”) because they keep me encouraged and focused on Christ all throughout the week!” ~ Rena V.

“Since we moved 3 years ago, we have not been able to find a local church that feels right for our family. About a year ago, I found Love God Greatly’s online Bible studies. Being able to connect with Christian women via Facebook and participate in a guided study has helped to fill the void of being church-less. The daily readings keep me in the Word like never before, and the blog posts that come 3x a week are like mini-sermons.” ~ Beth R.

“I am unable to join a church because of fear. I have found a safe harbor in being inside my home. But I long for community. I want to belong to a congregation again in the worst way. Just by guiding me to this site, God has shown me that I don’t have to be alone. Every time I read a new post, that post applies to something I needed help with in my life. This lesson in community is helping me to understand why I must get over my fears, and find my church. And why I have felt such a hole in my life because I have no church. But your site has allowed me to re-enter a community of lovers of His works in the safety of my home, for now. He knew I had to come back gently, so He sent me to you.” ~ Debbie G.

“Today, after reading Whitney’s blog post, I got thinking about how many people I meet every day who could use a word of encouragement. Thank you, Whitney for sharing about the Pretzel Lady. I’m hoping to be more ready to give a word of encouragement more frequently. God bless you all and keep shouting His praises!!” ~ Sharon L.

“As someone who has always been hesitant and fearful about community and forming bonds with others, taking part in this study has changed my outlook and given me a very real longing and desire to be in community. I knew this was something I needed to study and pray about, but I wouldn’t have guessed that this study would change my heart in such a way. I’m so grateful for having been led to it and for all of you who work so hard to put it together. THANK YOU! Also, I am so happy to have landed in a really awesome group for this study. Our group leader has been so encouraging!” ~ Amy C.

“Love God Greatly has helped me to actually study the Bible daily. On my own, I wasn’t very successful, but since I started this, I look forward to my study and reading what the people in our group post daily. Not only that, but we pray for and with one another about things going on in our lives. This for me is definitely a community of believers I love dearly!” ~ Jeannie H.

We hope you enjoyed reading about some of our members and what they wanted to share. Don’t miss this opportunity to grow and be encouraged in your faith as we study God’s Word TOGETHER! Please join us for our next eight week study in 1 & 2 Peter, starting March 23rd. Although we will not be officially adding members to groups for this study, feel free to grab some friends, form your own group, and join us. If you are studying alone, you are welcome to join our community of women on our Facebook page as we post the ‘Daily Read/Soap’ graphic. Or maybe you prefer to join in the conversation through the comments on our Love God Greatly website every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It wouldn’t be the same without YOU! See you there…

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Community in Action…Personal LGG Stories

LoveGodGreatly

For the last eight weeks, we have read, soaped, and discussed ‘Made for Community.’ Now we’d like to share about our Love God Greatly community of women! We connect with our Lord and each other by using our phones and computers.

The majority of the team behind Love God Greatly have never met in person. We communicate with each other via Skype, phone, email, text messages and private messages. Each one of us use the gifts God gave us to work as a team to bring Love God Greatly Bible Studies to women in 70+ countries. Our community consists of women tithing their time and gifts, so graciously. We have seen each other through tremendous joys and heartbreaking hardships. We’ve formed a unique bond by logging online to connect with each other!

“We need friends who will come along side us and hold up are arms as we grow weary…

We were not made to do battle alone.

We were made for community…

We were made to work together…

We were made to be the Body of Christ…

We each have an important role to play. No one’s role is more important than any one else’s.

We are a team and we need each other!” ~ Angela Perritt

Today, we would like to share a few stories and testimonies from our Facilitators…

“God is using Love God Greatly by allowing me to do what I feel God is calling me to do and that is minister to and lead other women to a closer relationship with God, and also building and growing my relationship with God.” Jennifer L.

“It has truly been one of the best studies. It has given me renewed enthusiasm for some of the things I used to do for outreach into the community and shown me how to share God’s love in so many additional ways. As our group shares I add things daily that would be so worthwhile as a way of showing the Love of God to our community.” Ellen B.

“Loving God Greatly in the Scottish Highlands! We are a group of 10 ladies from various church congregations in our area. We were brought together by our desire for more of God and at just the right time for each of us. We have laughed, cried, shared meals, prayed and supported each other. We have been greatly blessed by the studies, challenged by the daily messages and by the accountability of the group. This is our first study together, but are looking forward to the next one! Many thanks and love to you all out there who are our sisters in Christ.” Fiona T.

Fiona’s Group
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“I have grown so much in my walk with the Lord during the LGG studies. The encouragement and accountability in my group is such a blessing to me. I am thankful for the leaders of LGG who are real and genuine, sharing their struggles along with us. I also now have a great friend and accountability partner I met through one of LGG’s leadership mentoring program sessions. We have been co-leading a group together for over a year and I am so thankful for her!” Jennifer T.

 

This isn’t so much a story but a beautiful picture of the international community a study like this provides. The 18 women in our group span 4 continents, 7 countries of residence (USA, Japan, Korea, China, Kenya, Indonesia, and Austria), and 9 time zones (hence, no group picture!) Many of us are serving in international Christian education, and for several of us LGG provides our only option for participation in group Bible study. We are able to share with and pray for one another confidentially and freely. On a personal note, I have lived in local Christian community with each of the ladies in our group at some point over the past 15 years, but only 2 of the members live in the same country as I do currently. Our group provides a way for many of us to reconnect on a deeply personal, spiritual level, while welcoming new friends in the Body of Christ. One of my group members posted this today. She (along with her husband and two girls) made 3 international moves (missions-related) over the past 4 years. ‘I want to praise God again for this entire study and all of you. I have felt my desire to more willingly and intentionally engage in my new community here in Indonesia increase over the last couple of weeks. Some would say that is just because I am getting used to things. I would say not! I would say God placed me in this LGG group to remind me, reteach me, and teach me new things about His desire for his children to be in community. He is so good. Thanks to each of you for your insights and encouragement…I love how members of my previous day to day communities (and their friends!) continue to be part of God’s plan and provision for my spiritual good now.’” Jeanelle F.

 

“We were a group of strangers. We all have special needs children. I am the redhead on the left. My current group secretary/unofficial co-facilitator is Stephanie, on the right. This pic (with my son photo-bombing) was taken in NC where I had stopped on a vacation trip, for the purpose of meeting her. This once stranger is now one of my dearest friends.” Karen A.

Karen and Stephanie

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“One of my email groups has been together for over a year now. They are at different stages in their lives, ranging from newlyweds and young mothers, to grandmothers. For the first few months, they did really well as posting their SOAP each day and encouraging one another. Then during a “break” study, I started asking for prayer requests on Monday and challenging them to type out prayers for the needs of the group. Wow! what a difference! We have connected in amazing ways as issues like weight struggles, prodigal children, raising grandchildren, and being Godly wives started being shared. Now they share birthdays, adoption days, baptisms, inspections, and tax headaches like true “Sisters of the SOAP” (their nickname for the group). This week they have set a time to pray for the group’s husbands, children, and other needs at 6:45. That’s local time for the member and each chooses am or pm – because really, 6:45am in North Carolina is 3:45am in Washington state and 12:45am the next day in New Zealand.

“Here are some of the members thoughts about the group:
‘We each have different posts each day which highlights something God wants us to learn – some things hit us more than others – it sharpens us, encourages us, gets us off our backsides, keeps us in his Word.’
‘This is God at work. He knew we would lift each other up, He trusted us to let go of what we thought others might think of us in this group. He gave us the courage to share with people we didn’t even know. We are a community and we love each other and we look out for each other. We pray for each other. He knew that we needed to connect with others that share the same concerns. This is all God!!!! There is no way this just happened. There is no way this is a coincidence. This is God!!!’” Amy A.

 

“’Woman of Faith – Builders of Community’ was the name our group selected for this study. Our group of ladies has been together since last Easter – at least 5 of us. Then about 10 more joined us last fall. We have formed great bonds of love and trust amongst ourselves. We’ve seen illnesses, job stress/loss, personal battles, and even miracles over our year together. In our prayer requests, we all grew to know this was a powerful God-filled place to ask to be remembered. If you asked, you knew that you would be prayed for until something happened. The government paperwork that had been stymied for months came through. The job that was in such discord became a place of peace and accomplishment. The illnesses were given a reprieve and hearts were mended from pain and doubt. Not once, not twice, but multiple times did we see God’s hand at work in our lives. We all knew, with no doubt, that we gathered in His name, thousands of miles apart, but as close as a whisper in prayer.

 

“This study brought a financial issue that touched our hearts – the need for extensive oral surgery for the teen daughter of a member. We read a mother’s hurting heart plea for comfort for her child. For wisdom to know what to do next when it appeared all options had been taken. But, out of faith, we just decided we had to do something. And so, we asked for $5.00 if possible and along with the request, another to share the email about Abbye’s need for the oral surgery to our own personal friends outside our study group. We prayed about it, we shared God’s love and our request, and we waited… expectantly. In less than 10 days, the full amount of $2400.00 had been received, and God even supplied more, as He always does! By now, Abbye has had her surgery and is doing much better. Her mother’s faith never wavered and neither did ours. God tells us to bring our concerns to him in prayer and faith. To wait patiently and to be expecting his response. He certainly brought to each of hearts and minds His living power to still work miracles in 2015! And through the studies, we have become the hands and feet of Christ. What a joy! The mailman may have brought the envelopes, but God himself moved the hearts and hands of each person who read our messages and responded. We shared with family, friends and then they in turn shared. Checks were from people known only to God. In summary, ours is but one of the many wonderful communities with LGG that God has blessed. Just had to share this awesome handiwork of God! All praise and glory to Him!” Sheila M.

Sheila’s Group –Paid Bill
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“The Love God Greatly Bible study for women has helped me and encouraged me to study God’s Word in such a way that is easy, and amazing. I have been with them for a year, sprouting from a group member to facilitator. It has and still is an awesome way for women from around the world to learn about God and His word that is freely given to us. The free online materials, and easy study groups have helped me to have a daily accountability to study God’s word, and change habits, thoughts and actions. Through this ministry I have been able to grow into God’s love, His forgiveness, and seek His help on a daily basis. My faith has sprouted through answered prayers, His promises, and encouragement from others. In addition, through Love God Greatly, I have become a better wife, a better mom, and a better sister in Christ. Anything is possible through Jesus Christ, it’s an indescribable joy, peace, and patience in my life. Because now I know God’s got this!” Stephany C.

 

“This study has been such an inspiration! The ladies seem so excited about what they are learning, being real with how they have been in the past, and their need for real community in their lives. I believe this study has been God’s perfect timing to kick off the year and get everyone’s focus on what is truly His heart… people. This world screams “everyone for themselves,” which has put people in “survival mode,” but this study has slowed us down, and made us see the Father’s heart for us – it was never one against the other but together, in unity, one body – loving one another as He has also loved us. This study is truly empowering us all to take what we learn and go out and reach people, connect, build relationship and see a community develop. Life isn’t about what we can get but what we can give… Jesus came for people and this life is about community. Thank you LGG for this eye opening study! God bless you all!” Sheila M.

Sheila and Keri
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“The LGG study has made a huge impact on my life, helped me stay focused on God during hard times, and helped push me out of my comfort zone. We were homeless in November 2013 and the LGG study sure kept me focused when we were going through the hardest time we have ever faced. I logged in regularly and still kept up with the study amidst our tough time; I even included my family in the study. Also, the LGG study helped push me out of my comfort zone and I am now leading a group of teens through these studies, including my kids as well. I absolutely love these studies, and am so grateful for them! I have also been able to interact with other women through these studies and that is awesome because I lost a lot of friends when I quit drinking, etc, and became a Christian. Thanks again for all you do, and God bless you all!” Jaime M.

 

“This is a picture of me (and my daughter) running with a group member, Ruth. Last year, I introduced her to the Intentionally Focused study. When she went to register she asked about joining a group, and that’s how our group started. Six studies later, and more than a dozen ladies are getting into His word daily!” Brandi C.

Brandi and Ruth
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“We scheduled a Girl’s Day Out, getting tickets for a matinee theater production in the city (an hour away). Two of us work and are full time caregivers for our moms with dementia. During the performance received a call that her mom had taken the car keys and driven off. Although her daughter was orchestrating things at home, we all walked out, two minutes before the curtain call, and headed back. Thankfully, God brought her back home safely. We laughed on the way home that it really does take a village, whether you’re raising kids or your parents! We are also planning what we’re calling Homemade Community. A gathering to invite friends, to share their talents and make homemade items and gifts.” Barbara HS

 

“Thank you for your awesome Bible Studies and the online tool! I am a pastor’s wife, home school mom, women’s ministry leader and caretaker of my mom (who lives with us while battling pancreatic cancer.) Love God Greatly has been a great blessing to the women in our church to help us stay connected during this season in our church when we are not meeting face to face in Women’s Bible Study. The group has allowed us to stay connected in the Word and also in sharing our lives and encouraging one another! Thank you! I feel like I know each one of you, you are precious! Thank you for taking the time to pour into the lives of women, it is greatly making a difference! I also pray for your families!” Heather R.

“Some of my real-life LGG girls! We gathered for brunch at my house last Saturday. Oh, how I love these girls and the accountability and pure joy they bring to my life!” Whitney Daugherty

Whitney’s Group
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This is my personal LGG group! We’ve been together since our oldest were babies! I have been so blessed to have these sweet friends in my life! We have weathered many storms of life together from the loss of parents, cancer and divorce. I love doing life with them and am so thankful for the community God has given to me! We are not meant to do life alone….and I’m forever thankful!

Angela’s Group
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{Week 8} We Need Others…Putting God’s Word Into Action

LoveGodGreatly

This week here at LoveGodGreatly, we are having a special time of sharing how God has been working through our study in our LGG community groups! It’s going to be a fun filled week of celebration and we can’t wait to share all our stories with you!

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We need others.

We need others. We do. Sometimes we think we are better by ourselves, but in these past seven weeks God’s Word has been showing us that He made us to live in community with others, to share life with other people.

I love the way women at LGG Spanish have displayed our need for others during this study. Here there a few pictures and testimonies:

Group “A los pies del Maestro” in Dominican Republic.
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Group from Venta Grande, Mexico
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I could tell you beautiful stories of women being encouraged by other women, of women praying for women, of women helping women…

But today I want to share with you the story of Juan.

Juan is a part of a whatsapp group in Barcelona Spain. Now, how can this be possible if our studies are made for women? This wonderful group was made of only women until one of them passed away in October 2014. She was Juan´s wife. Juan knew how important her LGG group had been for his wife during the months she was sick, how they prayed for her, how they supported her…how they loved her in every way they could.

And Juan asked to join the group instead of his wife. These women have been supporting him since then. They have helped him to go on. Some days ago the group gathered together to share dinner and celebrate their fellowship.
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1 John 3:18 encourages us to love “in deed and in truth”. We are made to demonstrate our love in actions, not no merely talk about love.

We are made for deeds, not intentions; for facts, not ideas; We are made to display practical love.
1John 3:17 – But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

I know that God has spoken to your heart during this study. Maybe He has spoken to you in regards of your relationship with your family, with your church, with the unsaved. Maybe He has shown you new ways of stepping out of your comfort zone and reach others. Maybe He has asked you to welcome others in your life.

Whatever the way He has spoken to your heart, take action. Open your heart. Share. Live in true fellowship with others.
We can love because God loved us first. He demonstrated His love by sending Jesus Christ to die for us and to give us eternal life. How are you going to love others “in deed and in truth”?

Content in His service,
Edurne
AmaaDiosGrandemente.com
Necesitamos a otros

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Necesitamos a otros. De verdad. A veces pensamos que estaríamos mejor solas, pero en estas semanas la Palabra de Dios nos ha mostrado que Él nos creó para vivir en comunidad con otros, para compartir nuestra vida con otras personas.

Me encanta la manera en la que las mujeres de ADG han mostrado nuestra necesidad de otros en este estudio. Aquí te dejo algunas fotos y testimonios:

Grupo “A los pies del Maestro” en República Dominicana
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Grupo en Venta Grande, México
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Podría contarte historias hermosas de mujeres siendo animadas por otras, de mujeres orando por otras, de mujeres ayudando a otras.

Pero hoy quiero compartir contigo la historia de Juan.

Juan es parte de uno de nuestros grupos de whatsapp en Barcelona, España. Seguro que te preguntas ¿Cómo es esto posible si nuestros grupos son para mujeres? Este hermoso grupo estaba formado solo por mujeres hasta que una de ellas falleció en octubre de 2014. Era la esposa de Juan. Juan sabía lo importante que el grupo de ADG había sido para su mujer, cómo oraban por ella, cómo la apoyaban…como la amaban de todas las formas posibles.

Y Juan pidió unirse al grupo y tomar el lugar de su esposa. Estas mujeres lo han acogido en su grupo desde entonces y lo han ayudado a seguir adelante. Hace unos días, se reunieron para compartir una cena y celebrar su hermosa relación.
LoveGodGreatly

1 Juan 3:18 nos anima a amar “de hecho y en verdad”. Hemos sido creadas para demostrar nuestro amor con nuestras acciones, no solo con nuestras palabras.

Hemos sido creadas para acciones, no intenciones; para hechos, no ideas; hemos sido creadas para demostrar amor de manera práctica.

1Juan 3:17 – Pero el que tiene bienes de este mundo y ve a su hermano tener necesidad, y cierra contra él su corazón, ¿cómo mora el amor de Dios en él?

Sé que Dios ha hablado a tu corazón durante nuestro estudio. Quizás te ha hablado sobre tu relación con tu familia, con tu iglesia, con las personas inconversas con las que convives. Quizás te ha mostrado nuevas formas de salir de tu zona de comodidad y alcanzar a otros. Quizás te ha pedido que des la bienvenida a tu vida a otras personas.

De cualquier forma que Él haya hablado a tu corazón, pasa a la acción. Abre tu corazón. Comparte. Vive en verdadera communion con otros.

Podemos amar porque Dios nos amó primero. Él demostró Su amor al enviar a Jesucristo a morir por nosotras y darnos vida eterna. ¿De qué manera vas tú a amar a otros “de hecho y en verdad”?

Contenta en Su servicio,
Edurne
AmaaDiosGrandemente.com

 

Week 8 Memory Verse

LoveGodGreatly

Week 8 Reading Plan

week 8 reading plan

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