Bible Study · Lent

BIBLE STUDY: 8 Ways to Beat Temptation

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We all face temptations of many kinds. God wants us to beat them. We don’t have to sin, as powerful as temptations feel. Here are 8 ways to gain the victory.

1.  Pray before you are tempted

Jesus instructed his disciples to ask God, “Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.” And as he told us to pray, “Give us THIS DAY” our daily bread,” it’s good to ask God to deliver us from temptation and evil THIS DAY.

2. Flee. A good run is better than a bad fall.

Stay as far away sin as you can. Don’t think you won’t fall. If you hired someone to transport your most valuable possessions, you wouldn’t tell them to see how close to the edge of a cliff they could drive. In Proverbs 7 a “young man lacking sense” wanders near the house of an woman at twilight, and just “happens” to run into her. She’s dressed sensually. She says her husband’s gone and describes her perfumed bed. Eventually he follows her like an ox going to slaughter. Eve got into trouble by engaging with Satan and looking at how delicious the fruit looked. Flee temptation. Stay out of the car in the park in the dark.

3. Quote Scripture

That’s how Jesus overcame the tempter. When you feel like grumbling remind yourself to “rejoice always.” When tempted to give a harsh reply think, “A gentle answer turns away wrath.” When rankling against correction remind yourself, “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Of course, to quote Scripture when tempted means we must know it first, which means we must regularly take it in.

4. Pray in the midst of temptation.

Draw near to the throne of grace for help in time of need. Your sympathetic high priest, who was tempted as you are yet without sin, will help you (Heb 4).

5. Get a brother or sister to pray with you.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 says “though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

6. Ask someone to hold you accountable.

A friend once said to me, “Mark, when I get back from my business trip this week, can you ask me if I watched TV in the hotel room? When I’m alone on trips I can be tempted to watch bad stuff. Knowing you are going to ask me will help me fight temptation.”

7. Remember God’s faithfulness.

“God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 CO 10:13). God will never let us be tempted beyond the strength he gives, and if we ask he’ll “provide the way of escape” to get us through it.

8. Remind yourself that sin has consequences.

Remember Galatians 6:7: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”

When David committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged for her husband’s death, God forgave him, but told him the sword would never depart from his house, that his own family members would do him great harm and the child he conceived with Bathsheba would die. (2 Sa 12:10–14).

So here’s a quick summary:

Pray before you are tempted
Flee
Quote Scripture
Pray in the midst of temptation
Get a brother or sister to pray with you
Ask someone to hold you accountable
Remember God’s faithfulness
Remind yourself that sin has consequences

Keep fighting the good fight!

Be blessed,

signature_mjlluo9e3ke93x45ml

 (Source: Bible Study Tools )

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Bible Study · Lent

BIBLE STUDY: Praise God No Matter What

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“That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven” (Daniel 2:19 NLT).

Most of us don’t really know what to do when we’re confronted by an impossible situation. Did you know that a teenage boy from thousands of years ago can help?

Over the past few devotionals, we’ve learned some incredible principles from how Daniel dealt with an impossible request by the most powerful king of his time period. So far we’ve seen Daniel model these five actions.

  1. Don’t panic, and then ask why.
  2. Ask for more time.
  3. Gather prayer partners.
  4. Pray to God for help.
  5. Ask God for supernatural help.

The next thing we learn from Daniel in Daniel 2 is to worship God.

It is important to understand that worship is much more than just music. There are thousands of ways to worship. Anytime I turn my attention to God, that’s worship. When I express my love to God, that’s worship. You don’t have to be in church to worship.

When you worship God, you move your focus off of your problem and onto God.

The Bible says of Daniel, “That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven” (Daniel 2:19 NLT).

The passage shows you how to worship God in the midst of a crisis. Specifically, Daniel did three things.

  • He praised God for who he is. (v. 20)
  • He honored God for what he does. (v. 21-22)
  • He thanked God for his help. (v. 23)

That’s worship. Do that and you’ll move the focus off of you and your problems, and put it on God.

And he’s always where our focus should be.

10-15-17-Unshakeable-Praise-God-No-Matter-What

Talk It Over

  • Why is worship sometimes tough when you’re facing a particularly difficult situation?
  • How have you seen worship impact your stress level during struggles in your life?
  • Which of the three parts of worship mentioned in the devotional do you struggle with the most during a crisis: praising God for who he is, honoring God what he does, or thanking God for his help? Why?

Praise the Lord!

Be blessed,

signature_mjlluo9e3ke93x45ml

 (Source: Rick Warren)

Motivate Me · Motivation · Rick Warren

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,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)

 

Motivate Me · Motivation · 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?

06-06-17-Toolbox-Gods-Solution-For-Loneliness

Bless you,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)

 

Bible Study · Lent

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,

signature_mjlluo9e3ke93x45ml

 (Source: Bible Study Tools )

Motivate Me · Motivation

MOTIVATE ME: 3 Things Jesus Tells Us about Worry

Motivate Me

Jesus had a lot to say about worry.

He came into an unstable and unpredictable world. He lived in an agricultural society where one summer’s drought could wipe out crops for the winter. He hung out with fishermen, who might fish all night long and catch nothing to sell or bring home to family. And Jesus knew the human heart and the temptations presented by the cares of this life. So he gave his disciples some excellent instruction on worry in Matthew 6.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (25)

First, Jesus says God gave us our human life and our bodies without us even asking. Human life and our physical bodies are incredibly valuable. Our life is much more valuable than the food we put on the table; our body far more valuable than the shirt we put on. If God gave us life, which is so very valuable, will he not give us food, which is of far lesser value? If God gave us these bodies which are fearfully and wonderfully made, will he not give us clothes to cover them? And even further, if God has given us eternal life, will he not provide for our temporal life?

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (26)

Jesus reminds us that God faithfully provides for dumb animals. Birds don’t sow or reap or store their food in barns—and they don’t fret about whether they’ll have enough for tomorrow or to get through the winter. Yet God feeds them. And Jesus tells us that humans, the crown of God’s creation, the only creatures made in God’s image, are of much more value than birds. If God provides for birds, then surely he’ll provide for those he made in his own image. Furthermore, will not God especially provide for those he bought with the blood of his Son?
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? (27)

Worry does absolutely no good. It won’t bring in money, food, or clothing. Worry only has negative results: it chokes the word of God and distracts us from God. It is unbelief, the opposite of faith. And it leads to more fear and anxiety. And the different scenarios we play out in our minds can’t prevent a single thing from happening. And besides that, most of the things we spend so much time fretting about won’t happen anyway.

To sum up:

So don’t worry, trust your heavenly Father who cares for you.

Bless you,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: BibleStudyTools)

 

Bible Study · Rick Warren

BIBLE STUDY: Start Unlocking Scripture with This Study Method

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Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives” (Colossians 3:16a NLT).

Studying the Bible in a way that changes your life doesn’t take a bunch of expensive tools. You don’t need commentaries or Bible study software. In fact, if you were stuck on a desert island with just a Bible, you could simply use the method you’ll learn about in this devotional.

God says that if we meditate on his Word, we’ll be successful. Here’s a method you can use to meditate on God’s Word in a way that’ll please God.

The “pronounce it” method of biblical meditation is an easy method for meditating on Scripture — and getting every ounce of spiritual nutrition you can out of it.

You start with a verse and read it over and over again. Each time you read the verse, you emphasize a different word. It’s the simplest way to start unlocking Scripture. You can do it even if it’s the first time you’ve ever opened up a Bible. It’s simple but amazingly powerful. Each time you emphasize a different word, you get a different perspective.

Take the first part of Colossians 3:16 for example. The verse says, “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives” (NLT).

The first time you read the verse, emphasize the word “let.”Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you.” What does it mean to let? It means “give permission.” You open the door; it’s your choice. You have to choose to let the Word of God dwell in you richly.

Then read the verse again and emphasize “message.” “Let the message of Christ dwell in you richly.” That means you need to get God’s Word in your mind.

Then emphasize the word “Christ.” You’re not dwelling on what some philosopher, guru, or talk show host has to say. You’re dwelling on the words of Christ! You may not want to let the word of the world dwell in you, but that’s what happens when you spend your time watching TV instead of reading God’s Word.

Then you focus on the word “richness.” What does that mean? It means the opposite of poorly. In other words, richness means lusciously, extravagantly, and profoundly. God doesn’t want his Word to be a poor substitute in your life. He wants it to create beauty in your life.

Then emphasize the word “fill.” Don’t rush through God’s Word so you can get on with the rest of your day. To let the Word of Christ fill you is to let it live within you.

Finally, focus on the words “your lives.” The Bible isn’t just God’s Word for your pastor, a seminary professor, or your small group leader; it’s God’s Word for you! The Bible is instruction for every single believer.

See all the great jewels you discovered in this passage just by focusing on one word at a time? You didn’t need a seminary degree or a great library of reference tools. You can do this!

Praise the Lord!

Be blessed,

signature_mjlluo9e3ke93x45ml

 (Source:Rick Warren)

Motivate Me · Motivation · Rick Warren

MOTIVATE ME: Four Steps to Make God’s Word a Habit

Motivate Me

“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31b NASB).

It’s a really important step to commit to reading your Bible regularly for a short period, maybe a few weeks. It’s a great way to get started, but you should never leave it there. Jesus said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31b NASB). It’s the long-term commitment to learning from Jesus and his Word that makes us his disciples.

How do you continue in the Word and stay connected with Jesus through his Word for the long term?

  1. Make the decision to do it. It starts with your commitment. Don’t wait for a better time to make God’s Word a regular part of your life. Start your commitment today.
  2. Make a declaration. Announce your intentions to others. Hold yourself accountable. If you keep your commitment to God a secret, it’s easier to slip up.
  3. Make a determination. Don’t allow anything to knock you off your commitment. Be absolutely determined to make this a permanent habit in your life, particularly in the early months. If you start skipping days, it’ll be much harder to stay committed to God’s Word.
  4. Double up. Get a spiritual partner to come alongside you for support and encouragement. This is someone with whom you can share what you learn in your quiet times. It could be someone in your small group, a friend, or a family member. The Bible says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed” (Ecclesiastes 4:9 NLT).

Spending time with God should be a lifelong habit, not a passing fancy. Research shows you need to do something for about six weeks straight to build a habit. Make God’s Word part of your life today — and for the rest of your life.

Bless you,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)

 

Motivate Me · Motivation · Rick Warren

MOTIVATE ME: God’s Word Will Unlock Your Potential

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“You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31b-32 NLT).

Truth be told, you can’t even fathom your full potential. Only your Creator can. Only God, the one who made you, knows all you are capable of being. Your parents, your spouse, your friends, your boss — they only get a glimpse of your potential.

Only God knows what you’re truly capable of doing and who you’re capable of becoming.

You use such a small fraction of your brain. You don’t need more intelligence. You need to use more of the intelligence you already have!

Most people live for the approval of others. They spend all of their time worrying about what others think of them. Your life has been limited by replaying tapes in your head of people who lied to you. They may not even mean to lie to you, but they still do. They’ve told you that you can’t do something or that you shouldn’t even bother because you’re not worth much anyway.

You’ve played these tapes over and over in your mind. But they’re lies! The people who made those statements about you have no idea about your potential. You have to talk to your Creator for that.

Only he knows what he can do through your life. And only he can unlock that potential. How does he do it?

The Lord frees us through his Word. Jesus said this in John 8:31-32: “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (NLT). God’s Word will unlock all you’ve been made to do and be. Through it, you’ll be able to do things you never thought possible.

How do you do that?

  1. Learn God’s Word. God won’t unlock your potential until you actually open the Bible and learn it. You won’t unlock potential by osmosis. You’ll start to do it by learning what the Bible says.
  2. Accept God’s Word. The Bible has to be the authority in your life. You may not like what you’re reading, but — if you want God’s best for your life — you need to accept what it says as the final authority for how you live.
  3. Obey God’s Word. You can’t just learn God’s Word and accept God’s Word. You have to do what the Bible teaches. You don’t get blessed for the parts of the Bible you know. You get blessed for the parts of the Bible you do.

You were made for much more than you ever imagined. The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “What God has planned for people who love him is more than eyes have seen or ears have heard. It has never even entered our minds!” (CEV).

So open up God’s Word, and get ready to do what only God can imagine.

02-14-17-40-Days-Gods-Word-Will-Unlock-Your-Potential

Bless you,

3l8vgf8e2pga9jxok0br

(Source: Rick Warren)

 

Bible Study

BIBLE STUDY: The Book of Hosea

bible study

Image result for hosea

When Moses asked Pharaoh to “Let my people go,” Pharaoh responded, “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?” If Pharaoh could have read the book of Hosea, he would have known that the Lord was a sovereign God (Chapters 1-3); a holy God (Chapters 4-7); a just God (Chapters 8-10); and a loving God (Chapters 11-14).

Pharaoh, of course, never had the benefit of the depth of knowledge that Israel was given through the mouth and pen of the prophet Hosea, and yet the people were as stony-hearted toward God as Pharaoh was those many centuries before.

Hosea is one of the most remarkable books of the Old Testament. No other messenger gives so complete an outline of the ways of God with His earthly people as does Hosea:

1)God suffers when His people are unfaithful to Him;
2)God cannot condone sin;
3)God will never cease to love His own; and, consequently
4)He seeks to win back those who have forsaken Him.

Hosea was a contemporary of Isaiah (for most of his ministry) and Amos (in his earlier years); he was the “Jeremiah” of the Northern Kingdom. His main target was the Northern Kingdom, yet his message encompassed the entire people of God.

“Not My People”?

One of the pivotal insights occurs in the setting aside of his adulterous wife, and in the remarkable naming of his children: Jezreel, Lo-ruhamah (“not loved”), and Lo-ammi (“not my people”). The blood of Jezreel figures prominently throughout Israel’s history and climaxes at Armageddon. In the New Testament the Holy Spirit confirms the application of these prophetic names to the State of Israel since they have been cast out of their land.1 Their restoration is one of the key pronouncements in Hosea. Dr. Charles Feinberg, an outstanding Jewish believer and scholar, says of Chapter 3:

“It rightfully takes its place among the greatest prophetic pronouncements in the whole revelation of God.”

Hosea is frequently quoted in the New Testament and each time reveals some surprises.2

The Fatherhood of God

Among the provocative hermeneutical insights is the strange application of Hosea 11:1 by Matthew (2:15), which links the Fatherhood of God toward Israel and His calling His Son out of Egypt.3 He didn’t just adopt them; He cared for them. How tenderly and compassionately the Lord taught and cared for His son, Israel. These words seem to parallel Moses’ description of Israel’s being carried through the wilderness as a father carries his son.4

In response to the love of God as seen in their redemption from Egypt, Israel, like a prodigal son, turned a deaf ear to God’s prophets, choosing Baal and other idols instead.5

“The Best of Times and the Worst of Times”

Their material prosperity was unequaled since Solomon (2 Kgs 14:25-28; 2 Chr 26:2, 6-15). Jeroboam had recovered all the territory lost to Israel, even the possession of Damascus. Yet material prosperity is not a guarantee of safety to a people whose stability rests not on the moral basis of the fear of God and obedience to His laws. Hosea’s warning was that God would use their enemies as His means of judgment. (We have explored the apparent parallels with America in our briefing pack, “Hosea, Can You See?”)

An Incredible Book

The Lord’s self-disclosure in Chapter 11 is so intense that many rank it as one of the greatest in the Bible. Perhaps among the most surprising of the prophetic insights in Hosea is the discovery of the prerequisites for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.6

It is truly an amazing book and, like all of the books of the Bible, the Holy Spirit always rewards the diligent student. And Hosea is among the most rewarding.

Image result for hosea

* * *

This article was originally published in the
December 1999 Personal Update News Journal.

Chuck Missler

Praise the Lord!

Be blessed,

signature_mjlluo9e3ke93x45ml