POWER THOUGHTS: Five Things Forgiveness Is Not

“Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do” (1 Corinthians 13:5b CEV).

There’s a lot of faulty thinking about forgiveness. The act of forgiveness gets watered down. It gets abused. It gets cheapened.

What is forgiveness really? Take a quick test by answering “true” or “false” to the following statements:

  1. People should not be forgiven until they ask for it.
  2. Forgiveness includes minimizing the offense and the pain that was caused.
  3. Forgiveness includes restoring trust and reuniting a relationship.
  4. You haven’t really forgiven until you’ve forgotten the offense.
  5. When I see someone else hurt, then it is my duty to forgive the offender.

If you study the Bible, you’ll discover that all five of those statements are false.

Before we talk about what forgiveness really is, we have to talk about what it is not. Here are five things forgiveness is not:

1. Forgiveness is not conditional. In other words, it’s not based on somebody else’s response. Real forgiveness is unconditional. It’s not earned. It’s not deserved. It’s not bargained for. It’s not paid for. It’s not based on some promise that you’ll never do it again. If you say to someone “I’ll forgive you if . . . ,” that’s not forgiveness. That’s called bargaining.

2. Forgiveness is not minimizing the seriousness of the offense. There is a big difference between being wounded and being wronged. Being wounded is something that is accidental and does not require forgiveness. When you are wronged, someone intentionally meant to hurt you, and that requires forgiveness.

3. Forgiveness is not resuming a relationship without changes. The Bible teaches that forgiveness and restoring relationship are two different things. Forgiveness is instant. Trust must be built over a long period of time. Forgiveness is your part in reconciliation. But for a relationship to be restored, the offender has to do three other things that are unrelated to forgiveness: Demonstrate genuine repentance, make restitution whenever possible, and rebuild your trust by proving he or she has changed over time.

4. Forgiveness is not forgetting what happened. It’s impossible to try to forget something. When you’re trying to forget something, what are you focusing on? The very thing you want to forget. And whatever you focus on, you tend to move toward.

The key isn’t forgetting. The key is learning to see it through the lens of grace and God’s sovereignty and discovering how he can turn even bad things into good in your life if you’ll trust him and respond in the right way.

5. Forgiveness is not my right when I wasn’t the one that was hurt. Only the victim has the right to forgive. You can’t forgive people who haven’t hurt you.

There is always a cost to sin. And there is always a cost to forgiveness. That’s why you have to understand what forgiveness is not before you can look at what forgiveness really is.

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Love and joy to you all,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)

POWER THOUGHTS: God Wants You to Really Live

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“Jesus [said] … ‘I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of’” (John 10:10 The Message).

Jesus did not come to make life perfect for us. Rather, he came to give us a life connected to him, so that no matter what situation we face, we are eternally attached to the source of true life.

What would a life connected to Jesus look like? Keep in mind that a full and abundant life in Christ involves all of you, not just your spirituality.

How do you think your constant connection with Christ will affect you mentally or emotionally? For instance, how would a life connected to Jesus help you with stress and worry?

What does your health have to do with living a full and abundant life? Why would your physical health be intertwined with your spiritual health?

To live a full and abundant life, instead of trying harder, trust Jesus more, believing in faith that he is guiding us to where we need to go.

Love and joy to you all,

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(Source: Rick Warren)

PRAYER: 5 Evening Prayers to Close Your Day

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Evening Prayer for the Family

Heavenly and merciful Father, as we come to the end of the day, I pray that You will spread your protective arms over me and my family. Cover us with your protecting angels and keep us well and safe from all harm and spiritual attacks.

Almighty Father, I count myself blessed for the wonderful family members You’ve bound me with, though I may not always appreciate them. Give us peace and love towards one another. Quell the quarreling tongue. Bring us close to each other.

I pray for my family members who are not Christians, who have not given their lives to Christ. Bless them, oh Lord, with understanding and wisdom, that they would come to know you and have a relationship with you. In Jesus all-powerful name I pray, Amen!

Prayer Before Sleep

Dear God, as I lay down to sleep, release the stress and tension in my body. Calm my thoughts and remove all restlessness.

Heavenly Father, as I close this day, I thank You for all the blessings in my life – family, friends, love, hope, and a secure future. I thank You for Your presence in my life, and I pray that You give me wisdom and courage to deal with everything that comes my way tomorrow.

Heavenly Father, as I close this day, I thank You for all the blessings in my life

Help me to trust You with my life. Direct my steps and let me walk in Your ways. Dear Father, continue speaking to me every moment of everyday and allow me to know the perfect peace that only You can provide.

Above everything, protect my mind and actions so that the enemy might not get through to me. Lord, I pray and ask that You give me the wisdom to deal with my circumstances, light my path way through the dark tunnel. Grant me restful sleep tonight, in Jesus name, Amen!

Evening Prayer for Safety

Lord of Hosts, Gracious Father, and Protector of mankind, I pray to You today for safety and protection. Knowing Your promise to keep us from harm, I believe and trust that my family and myself are safe in Your protective arms.

In Your Word, You advise us that the enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy. On my own, I am powerless against such evil but through You I am a conqueror.

You promised that whatever we bind on earth, will be bound in heaven. Therefore, I bind all traps that the devil has set on my path. Every harm that he has conjured, I bring down, in the mighty name of Jesus. As for evil intents, I ask You to get them away from my hearing, sight, feeling, thought, touch, and sense.

Matthew 18:18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. And whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Lord, help us to be aware of wrong thoughts that enter our minds and, when they do, let us not sit and take the beating from the enemy but we can cast down every wrong thought with Your Word. Lord, I come against every mind-binding spirit and every other evil spirit, in the name of Jesus.

Thank You for providing protection and safety even before I asked. I pray this, believing in Your goodness and love, now and forever, amen.

Prayer for a Blessed Night

Lord, as I come to this day’s end, I give You thanks for all the blessings You’ve bestowed upon me today. I had a troublesome day but I got through it because You provided the strength, wisdom, peace, and safety to empower me.

Now that I am done for the day, I ask for one more thing: a blessed, peaceful night. Let me not sin against You in thought or deed. Rather, allow me to spend the time reflecting on Your goodness and grace.

Now that I am done for the day, I ask for one more thing: a blessed, peaceful night

Lord, thank You for Your unfailing love and that nothing can separate us from You. Lord, help me to be patience as I wait for Your promises to be manifested. May I not fret or complain, nor even worry, for You have got me engraved in the palm of Your holy righteous hand. Father, thank You in Jesus name, Amen.

I pray all this trusting and believing in our Lord Jesus’ name, amen.

God bless.
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MOTIVATE ME: Let God Breathe New Life into Your Healthy Efforts

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“We will never turn our back on you; breathe life into our lungs so we can shout your name!” (Psalm 80:18 The Message) 

The Bible says, “We will never turn our back on you; breathe life into our lungs so we can shout your name!” (Psalm 80:18 The Message)

Breathing is one of the few functions of your body that you do automatically — but it can also be done mindfully. When you remember to breathe deeply, you can actually clear your body and mind. By slowing your breathing, you can lower your heart rate and your stress level! Breathing is a powerful way to strengthen your body.

Mindful breathing is a reminder that your need for intimacy with God is like your need to breathe in air. King David sang, “I live and breathe God” (Psalm 34:2).

God can breathe new life into you and your efforts to become healthier. He says, “I will put breath into you and bring you back to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD” (Ezekiel 37:6b TEV).

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Talk It Over

  • What does it mean to “live and breathe God”? Why is this significant to your success in getting healthy?
  • What does the truth that God can breathe new life into you mean to your efforts to become healthy and strong?
  • Taking five slow, deep breaths before you eat can help you eat less and enjoy the food more. Try this during your next meal. How does it affect the way you eat and the way you feel during and after the meal?

 

Bless you,

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(Source: Rick Warren)

 

POWER THOUGHTS: How Can You Maintain Your Enthusiasm?

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“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:11-12 NIV).

In order to reach your goals, you have to figure out how to maintain your enthusiasm over the long haul.

The influential American writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, said, “Nothing great is ever accomplished without enthusiasm.” I believe that with all of my heart. I have found it to be true in my life. You’ve got to have passion, you’ve got to have enthusiasm, or you’re never going to make it to the finish line.

Most people would consider me an enthusiastic person, and I am. But I haven’t been an enthusiastic person for a week or a month. My enthusiasm has not waned over a year or five or 10 years. I have been consistently enthusiastic about the goals that I’ve set for more than 30 years.

How do you do that? How do you stay enthusiastic day after day in spite of delays and difficulties and dead ends and problems and pressures and criticisms? How do you stay enthusiastic for more than 30 years?

Positive thinking is not enough. Pulling yourself up by your psychological bootstraps is not enough. Talking yourself into optimism is not enough.

The way you stay enthusiastic for a lifetime is found in the word “enthusiasm.” The word “enthusiasm” comes from the Greek word en theosEn is the Greek word for “in.” Theos is the Greek word for “God.” So en theos means to be “in God.”

When you get in God, you will be enthusiastic. It’s the kind of enthusiasm that isn’t affected by the economy or the weather or your circumstances. It’s eternal because you are tied to the eternal God. You are in Christ.

Paul tells us how to do this in Romans 12:11-12. He says, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (NIV).

If you want to reach your goals this year, you need to get God’s power by being joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.

Pray this prayer today: “Dear God, I don’t want to go another day without you in my life, controlling every part of my heart. I offer you my body. I dedicate myself to you. In light of all you’ve done for me, I give myself as a living sacrifice to you as a spiritual act of worship.

I humbly admit that I need help. I want you to help renew my mind. Help me to think the way you want me to think. Please forgive me for my pride. I don’t want to think more highly of myself than I should. My faith needs to grow, and I need your help to set goals that can be measured so I can manage them. Forgive me for trying to change on my own.

I want to fill my life with love. I want to fill my life with you. Help me to get group support. Help me to take delight in honoring other people, to focus on giving my life away so that you can take care of my needs. I want to nurture my enthusiasm by being in you. Help me to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. I give myself to you. In your name I pray. Amen.”

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Love and joy to you all,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)

MOTIVATE ME: God’s Solution for Loneliness

Motivate Me

“But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength” (2 Timothy 4:17a NIV).

The Bible encourages us to consider several things when we grapple with loneliness:

First, focus on the needs of others. We can choose to turn our eyes toward other people, instead of staying focused on ourselves. And we can look for specific ways to serve them. The apostle Paul focused on telling more people about Jesus: “But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it” (2 Timothy 4:17a NIV).

Second, focus on your purpose. Even when the apostle Paul was isolated in a prison, he never stopped living out his purpose. He kept telling others about Jesus. In fact, while under house arrest in Rome, he wrote many of the letters that are now part of the New Testament.

Third, focus on supporting others. Instead of thinking, “I’m so lonely,” say, “Father, help me be a friend to people who need a friend. Help me to help lonely people.” That’s an effective antidote for loneliness.

You can help others become rich in relationships by giving them the gift of you.

Talk It Over

  • Talk about the significance of this verse: “But the Lord stood at my side” (2 Timothy 4:17a NIV).
  • How can living out your purpose help you with loneliness?
  • What are some ways you can reach out and support other people who might be lonely?

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Bless you,

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(Source: Rick Warren)

 

POWER THOUGHTS: When You’re Angry, Slow Down and THINK

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19b NIV).

We save ourselves a lot of pain and heartache if we follow one simple rule: Slow down when we’re angry or hurt.

The Bible says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19b NIV).

Yet, usually we do just the opposite. We’re quick to speak, slow to listen, and swift to become angry. That’s backward! But if you do the first two — be slow to speak and quick to listen — the last part will be automatic. You’ll find yourself becoming angry less often and less naturally.

There’s an important rhythm to this idea, which the Bible reiterates over and over again. For example:

  • Proverbs 14:29Patient people have great understanding, but people with quick tempers show their foolishness (NCV).
  • Proverbs 15:28“Good people think before they answer. Evil people have a quick reply, but it causes trouble” (GNT).
  • Proverbs 15:18“Losing your temper causes a lot of trouble, but staying calm settles arguments”(CEV).

    How do you slow down and think before rushing to anger? Consider these five questions before speaking when you’re angry.

  • T:Is it truthful? Is what I’m about to say the truth?
  • H:Is it helpful? Or will it simply harm the other person?
  • I:Is it inspirational? Does it build up, or does it tear down?
  • N:Is it necessary? If it’s not necessary, why do I need to say it?
  • K:Is it kind? Will it encourage or discourage?

It’s not enough just to slow down when we’re angry. Take extra time to THINK about what to say or do next.

Talk It Over:

  • Describe a time when you spoke quickly in anger and regretted it.
  • If you were to speak without thinking, which part of the THINK acronym are you most likely to skip, and why?
  • How have you seen a rush to anger affect someone you care about?

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Love and joy to you all,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)

POWER THOUGHTS: It’s Time to Eliminate Negative Self-Talk

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“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts” (Proverbs 4:23 GNT).

Long before psychology came around, God said your thoughts determine your feelings and your feelings determine your actions.

Our minds are really an amazing creation. It would take a computer the size of the Pentagon just to carry out the basic functions of your brain. Your brain contains over 100 billion nerve cells. Each individual cell is connected with 10,000 other neurons.

You are constantly talking to yourself — all the time. You’re talking to yourself right now! Research indicates that most people speak at a rate of 150 to 200 words per minute, but the internal dialogue that you carry on with yourself (self-talk) is more like 1,300 words per minute.

The problem is that in all our self-talk, a lot of people are like Job. In Job 9:20b, he says, “Everything I say seems to condemn me” (GNT). If you’re typical, you are your own worst critic. Right? You’re always putting yourself down. You could walk into a room smiling, but inside you’re saying, “I’m fat. I’m not smart enough. I’m ugly. And I’m always late.” Most of this dialogue is unconscious.

God wants you to stop putting yourself down. When you put yourself down, who are you really putting down? You’re really pointing to the Creator who made you. When you say, “God, I’m worthless; I’m no good; I can’t do anything,” you’re actually saying, “God, you blew it with me.” That’s why God says it’s wrong to put yourself down.

How do you eliminate negative self-talk so you can become a more confident person? It’s the principle of replacement: “Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right . . . Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about it” (Philippians 4:8b TLB).

Focus on what you want to be, on what God wants to do in your life. I don’t know any better antidote to low self-esteem than to read God’s Word every day. Study it, memorize it, meditate on it, and apply it in your life. I can’t tell you a better thing to help you raise your confidence level than to get in the Bible and start believing what God says about you.

Talk It Over

When you read the Bible, try to find a verse that speaks to you, write it down on a card, memorize it, and start affirming it back to God. For instance, “I am valuable, I am significant, I am forgivable, and I am capable.” Let God remold your mind because “as [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he”(Proverbs 23:7a NKJV).

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Love and joy to you all,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)

POWER THOUGHTS: Five Choices That Will Transform Your Life

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“Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 GNT).

We learned yesterday that, ultimately, your identity is based on your choices. Here are five winning choices you can make that will help determine your destiny:

1. I can choose to get healthier. Instead of bemoaning the fact that you don’t have an Olympic body, find ways to increase your energy, lower your stress, get more sleep, and have more power. Psalm 119:73 says, “You made me; you created me. Now give me the sense to follow your commands” (NLT). Improving the controllable factors in your life helps you reduce the impact of the uncontrollable factors.

2. I can choose to deepen relationships. The fear of rejection prevents connection, and the only way to get rid of fear is to do the thing you fear the most. Learn communication skills, replace bad relationships, reach out, and risk connecting with someone. “Let love be your highest goal!” (1 Corinthians 14:1a NLT).

3. I can choose to trust God no matter what happens. “I will always thank the Lord; I will never stop praising him” (Psalm 34:1 GNT). When you get to the point in your life where you can say, “I praise the Lord no matter what happens,” that is a confidence that you won’t find anywhere in Hollywood, on Capitol Hill, or on Wall Street. That is a confidence built on a relationship with God!

4. I can choose what I think about. Throughout the 20th century, scientists believed the adult brain could not be changed. When a Nobel Prize winner proved that you can rewire your brain, science finally caught up to the Bible: “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Romans 12:2b NLT). Your self is created by your memories, and your memories are created by your mental habits. Feed your brain with truth: God’s Word.

5. I can choose Jesus as my Savior. I’m not just talking about Jesus saving you from your sins. I’m talking about letting Jesus be your Savior every day. Letting Jesus save you gives you the power to follow through on the choices you make. “Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 GNT).

You get to choose how much God blesses your life; he is just waiting on you to use your wild card. It is never too late to change. When you make these five winning choices, God gives you a winning hand.

Pray this prayer today —

“Dear God, there are some things you’ve dealt me and life has dealt me and others have dealt me that I don’t like. But I thank you for the wild card. Thank you that you made me in your image and that I can make choices. Today, in your power and your strength, I choose to get healthier. I choose to do the things that will give me more energy and a healthier mind, body, and emotions. Lord, I choose to build healthy relationships. I’m scared to death, but I’m going to risk building new, healthy connections. I want love to be my highest goal; I want my life to be built on love.

“God, I choose to trust you regardless of the circumstances. I will praise you no matter what happens! I will trust that every detail of my life is being worked out for good. Lord, I choose what I will think about — no more junk. Help me to fill my life with positive memories and the Word of truth. Most of all, Jesus, I choose you as my Savior. I need your salvation, but I also need you to save me from myself. I need you to help me rewire my body, my heart, my mind, and my relationships so that the rest of my life is the best of my life. I pray this in your name. Amen.”

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Love and joy to you all,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)

BIBLE STUDY: Prayer with an Attitude

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The Bible tells us we should “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Unfortunately, for many of us, a few minutes spent in prayer feels like forever. Why do we struggle so much with prayer when we know how vital it is to our relationship with God?

 We certainly don’t lack information about how to pray. Christian bookstores are packed with books that explain in great detail the various methods of prayer. But perhaps we need to also direct our attention to our motivation, our attitude, in prayer. The following article, entitled “Focus on the Father” by Rusty Rustenbach (excerpted from Discipleship Journal, Issue 6), explores how our attitude can make prayer an adventure rather than a burden.  As you read through the article, underline any portions that stand out to you. Then respond to the questions and exercises.

 Privilege of Prayer

Of all the ingredients in discipleship, the area many of us struggle with most is prayer. According to one recently published estimate, a typical Christian layman spends about three and a half minutes each day in prayer. Full-time Christian workers average about seven minutes per day. This pitiful situation must amaze even the Lord Himself, for Isaiah 59:16 records that when no one was found to intercede for His people, God was appalled. Why do we fail to take full advantage of the privilege of prayer? Is it a lack of discipline? Are we too busy? Are we unmotivated?

 1. What things make it difficult for you to spend quality time in prayer?

 _Too busy or tired

_ Can’t concentrate

_ Don’t know what to pray about

_ Don’t feel like it

_ Feel guilty

_ Not convinced it makes a difference

_ Other:

Perhaps the basic cause of our weakness in prayer relates to how we view God. We may have no genuine awe for the One “who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth” (Isaiah 51:13). God seems more like a superhero from a child’s cartoon, whittled down to human size.

 If we aren’t captivated by God, prayer is a tedious task. It becomes a discipline that only those with wills of steel can master. I once regarded prayer as “gutting it out” before God. It meant trying to bring reams and reams of petitions before the Lord. The more requests I could bring, the more spiritual I was.

2. What similarities do you see between the author’s approach (bringing “reams and reams of petitions before the Lord”) and Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 6:7?

3. How would you compare the focus of prayer in Matthew 6:7 with the focus in Matthew 6:9-13? Which of these is most like your approach to prayer?

Communion or Wrestling Match?

I also misinterpreted statements from godly men about the importance of prayer. Martin Luther’s statement that “I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer” implied to me that prayer was a guaranteed formula for success.

Rather than being a dynamic communion with the sovereign Lord of the universe, to me prayer was an exercise meant to wrestle effects into the lives of people and to manipulate God’s hand. Prayer became lifeless and tedious. It was like castor oil: terrible tasting, but good for me.

4. Which of the following statements describe your general attitude toward prayer? Check all that apply.

_ Prayer is like a marriage—it is hard work but can be very rewarding.

_ I want to like prayer, but I really don’t.

_ Prayer is like writing “thank you” notes—it is an obligation I need to fulfill.

_ I look forward to prayer.

_ I enjoy the time I spend in prayer, but I would like to go deeper.

_ Other:

 Yet God reminded me of the truth I was neglecting: He wanted to commune with me. What does this mean? Communion is defined as the intimate sharing of thoughts and emotions, and an intimate fellowship, rapport, or communication. This is the kind of relationship God wants with me.

5. How is God’s desire for communion (intimate relationship) with us expressed in the following verses?

Isaiah 65:1-2

Jeremiah 33:3

Matthew 23:37

Romans 5:8-10

1 John 4:9-10

Isaiah 30:18

6. Summarize in your own words the most significant or meaningful insight you gained from the verses above.

What Is Your Picture of God?

I saw I had become hardened to the excitement of walking in continual awareness of God’s presence. I realized afresh that He desires open communion with me. He has little interest in the petition gymnastics I was trying to perfect in prayer. He wants me to be preoccupied with Himself. Seeing God this way enables us to stand in awe of Him. It stimulates our heart to vital communion and conversation with Him. Seeing God as He is requires faith on our part, but whoever is enamored and thrilled with God is then rightly motivated to pray. Discipline will still be necessary, but prayer won’t be drudgery. I believe that is hat John 4:24 is hinting at: “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (emphasis added).

7. Read John 4:4-30, the context of the story of the woman at the well.

  1. How did the Samaritan woman’s inaccurate picture of God affect her ability to worship Him “in spirit and in truth”?
  2. What aspects of God’s character are hardest for you to grasp (for example, all-powerful, ever-present, all-knowing, sovereign, holy, righteous, loving, merciful, faithful, and so on)? How might this affect your prayer life?

Praise the Lord!

Be blessed,

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 (Source: Bible Study Tools )