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produced by the Creative Communications department of Sugar Creek Baptist Church


Š 2012 Sugar Creek Baptist Church 13333 Southwest Freeway, Suite 200 Sugar Land, TX 77478 Special Thanks to: Mickey Ary, Pat Conner, Julie Crocker, Brad Kirby, Aaron Konzelman, Jessica Leffew, Garet Robinson, John Rushing, Barbara Waldhuber Designer: Bobby Chandler


contents Elohim

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El Shaddai

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Jehovah Jireh

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Jehovah Rophe

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Jehovah Nissi

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Jehovah M’Kaddesh

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Jehovah Shalom

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Jehovah Rohi

44

Jehovah Tsidkenu

50

Jehovah Shammah

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introduction Moses, after spending forty years on the back side of a desert raising livestock, was summoned to a meeting. Not any ordinary meeting. He was called by God who appeared to him “in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush.” Moses knew about God. But, he really didn’t know God until the burning bush. The conversation between God and Moses that day was memorable, especially for Moses. God’s message demanded more from Moses than he could deliver. He was to leave the past forty years of his life behind, step into the face of a dreadful king, and demand the Hebrews be released from Pharaoh’s labor camps in Egypt. Moses was already a fugitive from the law in Egypt and a virtual unknown among his people. He was being asked to take on the most powerful man in the world in order to bring about the most improbable outcome. Moses had questions. His first question for the Being behind the voice and the burning bush was “Who are you? What is your name?” Moses knew that God’s name would be his banner of authority, strength, and courage as he faced otherwise insurmountable obstacles. So God told him, “I AM WHO I AM.” Jehovah – The I AM. Moses came face to face with The I AM. Over the next forty years, Moses came to know intimately the One who is The I AM. This devotional journal corresponds with Pastor Hartman’s sermon series, God: Also Known As… Each week, allow the Name of God that is explored to be a catalyst to know and experience Him more deeply and personally. Jesus who was God who became flesh, summarized that the very essence of eternal life was coming to know God through His Son: “And this is eternal life, that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” God wants us to know Him by Name!

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In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth Genesis 1:1 by John Rushing, Pastor of Adult Ministries

As I look at my now grown children, Amanda and Michael, indelible memories of warm September afternoons with them on the snow white, pristine beaches of Panama City Beach, Florida resurface from time to time. Vivid memories, happy days. Wasn’t that just yesterday? My mind sometimes replays magical moments of watching each of them in the sand with their little, bright-colored plastic buckets and shovels, their imaginations in overdrive contemplating their next creation in the gleaming granules waiting beneath their feet. Kids creating. What an illustration of the image of our Creator God stamped within the soulful essence of His human creation. In the beginning – the beginning of everything that is within the material universe – Elohim, the all-powerful Creator spoke. At His creative word, the heavens and earth came to be. In that unimaginably explosive moment of creation out of nothing (ex nihilo), Elohim said, “Let there be light.” And there was. God’s spoken energy and creativity generated a universe populated with an estimated 500 billion galaxies containing more stars than can be humanly imagined. From that expanse, Elohim selected a miniscule sphere situated third in distance from one of those burning orbs on which to further demonstrate His creative nature and power. On His Earth He created, by His Word alone, plants and creatures so majestically different, complex, purposeful, and beautiful that they still stun the intellect of every honest botanist, geneticist and biologist on the planet. He said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” And He did, out of the dust of the earth, the very 2


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dust that He had created. Into that lifeless, divinely crafted lump of dirt, Elohim breathed life. Have you ever noticed that Elohim did not speak life into Man? He breathed His own life into him, making Man different than any other created organism or thing. When Elohim exhaled His breath into that lifeless conglomeration of chemicals and minerals, He imparted enough of His nature to give Man the ability to live in a responsible, loving relationship with Him, the Creator. Man, unique among all created things, could know his Creator intimately. What God had created within them was not only good, but very good. We know that this relationship between man, woman and God changed. Adam and Eve were presented boundaries and charged with the ability to choose loving obedience and unhindered fellowship with Elohim. They chose poorly. They listened to a lie that cost them their innocence before Elohim, therefore severing their relationship with Him and His creation. The cost would be catastrophic to the human race, but not irreversible. Our Creator God created the path back into relationship with Him through a forgiveness that could only be obtained through the One who had created Man in the beginning. “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:13-17).

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prayer All-Powerful, Creator God, The words of my mouth and meditation of my heart agree with the confession of Job. “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.� You, alone are Creator. There is nothing in the heavens or on the earth that you did not bring into being. By your power all things are held together. That includes me. Because of your love and forgiveness given to me through the sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus, a new life has been created in me. You are holding me together through the power of your everlasting love. I find amazing confidence and abiding peace in the assurance that You are Elohim to me. Amen.

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journal: God is Our Creator Share an experience when you were literally awestruck by God’s creation. It might help to read Psalm 19. _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

What aspects of God’s creation do you find most fascinating and why? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

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Can you relate a personal life experience when you felt weak and defeated, but you called upon Him who is all-powerful to be your strength? It might help to read Psalm 73:25-26. _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

In what ways can you allow God to show Himself all-powerful and creative in your life? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

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I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless Genesis 17:1 by Brad Kirby, Pastor of Student Connection

In 1957 a French film director invented a strategic board game originally called La Conquête du Monde (The Conquest of the World). Chances are you’ve played this game. We know the board game as Risk. The standard version is played on a board depicting a political map of the Earth divided into forty-two territories, which are grouped into six continents. The primary objective of the game is world domination by occupying every territory on the board. In so doing, all other players are essentially eliminated. A passionate player must begin the game with the attitude, “I want it all.” Many people live life that way. The problem is “it all” won’t even begin to satisfy a deep and eternal craving inside of every person that only God is enough to fill. Of all the Hebrew words and names that have been transliterated into the English language, El Shaddai is certainly among the best known. El Shaddai literally means “God Almighty” and is among the most frequently appearing names for God in the Bible. I am sure that most of us have heard it preached in sermons, beautifully described in songs, and inscribed on art work at our local Christian book store. However, we may ask the question, “What does it really mean?” Or quite possibly, “What does it really mean for me and my life?” The word “el” is literally translated “God”. It occurs in the Old Testament over 200 times with that general significance. “You are the [El] who performs miracles….” (Psalm 77:14) “The [El] of Israel gives power and strength to His people.” (Psalm 68:35) Nehemiah even called upon the great, the mighty, and the terrible [El] to 8


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intervene on behalf of his people (9:32). It is clearly seen that the word is literally defined by might and power. So in regard to the name El Shaddai, the idea of might and power is solely expressed in the word El or God alone. Shaddai is found in the Old Testament over 48 times and is translated “almighty.” Its root word “shad” is found in the Old Testament 24 times and is translated “breast.” In connection with the root word; breast, the title Shaddai means one who nourishes, supplies, and satisfies. Then, when connected with the word El or God, it powerfully becomes the “The God who is almighty to nourish, satisfy, and supply.” What does this mean for you and me? We live in a world that tells us that we are always in a constant state of need, that no matter what we have and have accumulated, we will always need just a bit more. We are then left feeling as if we will never have enough…never enough money, fame, food, control, love…never enough. When we truly understand that we have a God who is El Shaddai and is sufficient to meet all of our needs according to His glorious riches in Jesus, it will change every aspect of our lives. No more worrying about how to accomplish what He has asked of us, no more doubt about where to find the resources to grow our families spiritually, no more constant striving for unending worldly wants. God is saying “I am sufficient,” “I am enough.” He is more than God Almighty, He is God mighty to nourish, supply and satisfy. Unlike the board game Risk, there is no risk involved in a life of complete reliance and trust in El Shaddai, our Almighty God. He is enough and He will completely satisfy, both here and forever.

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prayer Jesus, you know my real needs. There are so many things that I think I need, but I don’t really need at all. Matter of fact, most of the stuff I say I need, I don’t really need; it’s just stuff I want. Please help me see the difference. Provide for my need, not my greed. I know that you are more than capable and faithful to accomplish your will in my life, Lord allow me to be available and obedient to you. ~ Amen.

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journal: God Cares for Us What are the visible things that you get caught up in and find yourself running after most often? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

Wherever you are right now, simply lift your head and look around. What do you see? What THINGS are around you? Write them down. Can these THINGS give your life true meaning? Do they define who you are? Why do we spend our time worrying about obtaining THINGS? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

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Read Proverbs 3:5-6. Why is it so hard to make this verse a reality in your life? Can we not trust the Word of the Lord? Read Psalm 12:6. _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

In what ways can you allow God to show Himself all-powerful to supply for you in life? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

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Abraham named that place The Lord Will Provide Genesis 22:14 by Julie Crocker, Director of Children’s Discipleship

Has God ever asked you to sacrifice something precious and important in your life in exchange for His extraordinary plan? There is often great risk associated in the pursuit of “God-sized extraordinary”. Self-doubt and the doubts of others can make us question God’s plan in our lives. We find ourselves asking if the risk is really worth it. Does God understand what He is asking us to do? Is God really Jehovah Jireh, the Lord our Provider? In Genesis chapter 22, we see a unique example of God’s provision for Abraham in the most difficult of circumstances. God asks Abraham to make a tremendous sacrifice – the literal sacrifice of his only beloved son, Isaac. Abraham obeys God without delay or question. In fact, Abraham responds to God’s request with great planning and preparation. Beginning in verse three, Abraham rises early, saddles a donkey, selects two young men to help him on the journey, splits the wood for the sacrifice, summons Isaac, and together they head out on a three day expedition. Abraham’s journey certainly had moments where he could have questioned God’s plan and provision. Yet, Abraham obeyed and continued to fulfill God’s request, even after seeing the mountain of sacrifice looming in the distance. After stopping to drop off the two young men who had helped in the journey, he gathered up the knife and fire, loaded the wood for the sacrifice on Isaac’s back, and proceeded on to the sacrificial site God had selected. Abraham obeyed God and trusted in His provision. The love and devotion Abraham has for Isaac is clear as they approach the final phase of the journey. Isaac asks his father, “The fire 14


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and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham tells Isaac what he has believed all along. “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son”. The final preparation for God’s request had to be grueling for the loving heart of this compassionate father. However, Abraham continued in obedience building an altar, arranging the wood, binding his son, Isaac, and placing him upon the altar. At this point, most of us would be questioning, if not abandoning, God’s plan. Without hesitation, however, Abraham unsheathes his knife in preparation to slaughter his only beloved son. Abraham had multiple opportunities to pause and question God’s plan. He didn’t have to wake up early, saddle the donkey, find people to help carry items for the journey, split wood, travel three days, pick up the knife and fire, take his son to the mountain of sacrifice God had chosen, build an altar, arrange the wood, bind his son to the wood, place him on the altar, or take out his knife in preparation to take Isaac’s life. Abraham did all of those things in obedience knowing that his God would provide. In that moment of provision, Abraham worshiped God as Jehovah Jireh, the Lord will provide. It was a name spoken in tremendous relief as Abraham rejoiced in God’s two mighty provisions. First, God sent an angel to stay Abraham’s hand just as he was poised to complete the sacrifice of his son. Second, God sent a ram, entangled in the bushes, to serve as the sacrifice in Isaac’s stead. As we follow Christ, it’s important to know that doing so will always require sacrifices of one sort or another. We can follow Him in confidence, knowing Jehovah Jireh is with us every step of the way. As He leads, faithfully follow and watch in wonder as He provides!

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prayer God, It can be so difficult to find understanding in your plan and trust in your provision. In the midst of our humanity we find ourselves questioning you, our creator. I pray for courage, strength, and patience as I step out by faith. I also pray for wisdom to identify your provision for myself and my family. I pray the scripture Philippians 4:19 that You, God, will supply all of our needs and that I will see you as Jehovah Jireh. Amen.

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journal: God is Our Provider Share a time when you felt like God was asking you to step out in obedience to His plan. _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

Do you remember feelings of uncertainty and concern during that time? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

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How did God provide as you walked with Him in faith? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

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That we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed 1 Peter 2:24 by Aaron Konzelman, Worship Leader

Eleven years of pain. That was my life from the age of 18 forward. I had severely injured my back working at a cabinet shop. After one major surgery and multiple attempts at treatment and rehab, I was told by doctors that I would always be in pain with permanent nerve damage, partial paralysis in my fingers and one of my legs, and burning pain all the way down the left side of my body. I was told, “Just get used to it and move on.” So I did. It just became my “thorn in the flesh” my “cross to carry.” I never even thought to ask if God might want things to be different. I had no hope of ever being able to live without constant pain or of being able to play with my kids the way I wanted – let them ride on my back and throw them up in the air. I felt that my hope of a future had been taken away for some reason. I’m reminded of the story of the ten lepers. They were outcasts, forgotten, with all hope for a future lost. They must have been scared, confused and angry. Were they angry at God, scared of the future and confused about why it had happened to them? Had God forgotten them? Had they made Him angry somehow? Had God gone out of the healing business? But one day they saw Him. The one everyone was talking about. The one they said was the promised Messiah, Jesus! Suddenly, all the anger and confusion drained away and fell to the ground in a moment of humble desperation. Their response? “Jesus! Master! Have mercy on us!” And He did. He healed them! He let them know that they were not forgotten 20


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or overlooked. They all left shouting for joy, overwhelmed with the new found promise of a future life! But one of them stopped dead in his tracks. He remembered, “I didn’t do anything to deserve this mercy. All I did was cry out and he turned and heard me. He didn’t have to heal me. He doesn’t owe me anything. I have to go back and thank him!” I can relate. I had grown ungrateful to God and indifferent of His mercy and grace to even give me breath each day. I assumed that His mercy and healing were for others, but not for me. I thought I needed to try harder, be better, and do something really grand to get His attention and earn it. Then, one day His mercy caught me by surprise. On October 10, 2010, I was in a church service when the worship leader said from the platform, “There is someone here who lives in chronic back pain. If you will humble yourself, repent to him of your pride and cry out for His mercy with thankfulness that he has wiped your sin away, He will heal you.” So I did. I cried out to Him, and he heard me. In that instant, He healed my back! Completely! It popped from top to bottom. Feeling rushed back into my fingers and toes. The pain drained out of my body. My bones became warm all through my body, and the burning pain was gone for the first time in eleven years! And it stayed that way! Isaiah 53:4-5 says: “Surely He has borne our grief and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” I love that wording! “We ARE healed.” His work on the cross paid the price for our healing once and for all. He is our Healer! Do you need Jehovah-Rophe today? For your body, your soul, your mind? He is still our Healer, our hope of a future. Call upon him! Fall at his feet in a moment of humble desperation and cry out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on me!”

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prayer Oh Lord, You are my Healer and my Salvation. You are kind and merciful and a refuge to the weary. You are an ever-present help in trouble and a shelter to the oppressed. Oh Lord, I need You. I need Your mercy and healing in my soul, my mind, my heart, and my body. I cry to You and You hear me. You have not forgotten me. Forgive me for my pride and unbelief. Teach me to trust in you at all times and in all things. Show me how to live a life of thankfulness and worship. Lord, I Believe. Amen.

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journal: God is Our Healer God wants to show Himself as Healer to you in all areas of your life. What are some spiritual areas that you need Him to reveal Himself as Jehovah-Rophe, your Healer? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

What are relationships in which you need Him to reveal Himself as Jehovah-Rophe, your Healer? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

What are some physical needs in which you need Him to reveal Himself as Jehovah-Rophe, your Healer? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

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What are mental areas in which you need Him to reveal Himself as Jehovah-Rophe, your Healer? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

Be honest with yourself. List any reasons that have held you back from taking these needs to God and trusting Him with the results. _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

Read Philippians 4:6 and Matthew 7:7-11. Ask God to still your heart and show you areas that you have been afraid to ask Him for help, mercy, healing and faith. Write out, in your own words, a prayer of thanksgiving, worship, and request for all the areas in which you need His healing touch in your life. _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

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Moses built an altar and named it “The Lord Is My Banner” Exodus 17:15 by Jessica Leffew, Women’s Ministry Director

Even as a child, I got really excited whenever the Summer Olympics drew near. For me, the sport was gymnastics. Through the years, I followed Nadia Comaniche, Mary Lou Retton, and Shawn Johnson. I was mesmerized by every flip, twirl and landing. The games always open with a heart-stirring procession of athletes from participating countries entering the stadium under their nation’s banner, their national flag. That flag is their identification with their country and a rallying point for the athletes and fans alike. Flags have been carried into battle throughout history. When one country succeeded in conquering a battlefield, their flag would be planted as a symbol of victory. Such was the case during World War II when American forces successfully took the tiny Pacific island of Iwo Jima and the Stars and Stripes were hoisted at the summit of Mount Suribachi. Who can forget that image? In Exodus 17:8-16, it was during a fierce battle in the Old Testament that God revealed Himself as Jehovah Nissi – The Lord is My Banner. Moses called on his faithful general, Joshua, to lead the Israelites into battle while he stationed himself on top of a hill to pray over the battlefield. Moses lifted his hands to the heavens as the battle waged. As long as Moses’ hands remained high, Israel prevailed in battle. When his arms grew weary and lowered, Amalek prevailed. So Aaron, Moses’ brother, and Hur, Aaron’s assistant sat Moses on a rock, one on either side, and held his hands up for him until the battle was totally won. At the end of the day there was victory for Israel. God told Moses 26


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to write down what had happened and read it in Joshua’s hearing. God knew there would be a time when Moses would be gone, and Joshua would be called upon to take over leadership of God’s chosen people. Joshua would be the one to lead Israel over the Jordan River into Canaan, their Promised Land, and on to defeat Jericho. Joshua would have plenty of battles ahead of him and God wanted him to remember this battle and the victory God had given them. Moses then built an altar as a place to honor God’s faithfulness and remember the victory over Amalek. At this altar, Moses called God “Jehovah Nissi,” because he understood that God’s banner of faithfulness and protection had flown over them and brought them victory. God is the One who fights and wins our battles. He did then. He still does. When Moses wrote that story down for Joshua, he was also writing it down for our benefit so that we would remember it as we face the battles of life. Today, our enemy is not Amalek; our enemy is Satan, who is active against God’s people in all generations. When you gather under Jehovah Nissi as your banner, trust Him that the outcome of your battle will be the same as it was for Moses and Joshua at Rephidim. The flag is raised. God’s banner waves over us each and every day. Claim His love and faithfulness, no matter how small or great your battles may be.

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prayer God, our Banner, our Victory. Help me to remember that You see the battles of my life so differently than I do. They do not catch You by surprise. You know their outcome already. Help me to make my first reaction a prayer to you. Let my very first action be that of raising my hands to you in complete obedience and expectation of your answer. Just as Joshua obeyed Moses without question, let me obey you wherever you ask me to walk. Give me opportunities to share my story of how you, Jehovah Nissi, won the battle. I will testify of your glory to all you give me the chance to encounter, and I will praise you all of my days. Amen.

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journal: God is Our Protector What battles are you facing right now? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

Share some of your honest feelings about the battles before you. _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

Moses called upon Jehovah Nissi and raised his hands in prayer. What do we sometimes do instead when life’s challenges wage war in our lives? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

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Like Aaron and Hur were there for Moses, do you have friends you can go to for support when you feel weak? List those friends here and offer a prayer of thanks for them. _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ Share a story of a life experience when God helped you win a battle. _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ Now place a memory stone of some sort in your home to help you tell the story. I know one friend who literally gets rocks and paints the date of his battles on them, so he can point them out and testify of God’s victory. In our home, we have a lamp shade signed by friends who have helped us through particular battles by “shining the light” in our darkness. Do you have any “memory stones” in your home to remind you of battles won? What are they? If not, what could you do to remember to tell the story? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

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I am the LORD, who makes you holy and brought you out of Egypt Leviticus 22:32-33 by Garet Robinson, Pastor of Married Young Adults

When growing up, it wasn’t always easy to understand why our parents had rules. It was even harder to understand the rules that they had. They weren’t fair, they weren’t fun, and they were clearly made just to keep us under their control. Of course, as we grew up, we realized that our parents weren’t actually crazed control freaks bent on ruining our lives. We learned that their rules and requirements about our conduct actually made sense. A lot of people don’t understand why God has random rules and ways. Just like when we were trying to understand our parents, we try to get our arms around why God would be so unjust. Yet the heart of God’s ways come from His desire to help us in our blindness and because He is holy. God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). In holiness, we find confidence and clarity. The God who sanctifies, or makes us holy is our focus. To sanctify means to make holy. YHWH-Meqaddishekem, means, literally, “[The] God who sanctifies us.” To be holy is to be clean, pure, and focused on God’s purpose for our lives. God always does this in the lives of those who are obeying His ways. Each of the nine occurrences in the Old Testament are within the context of God speaking about how He will make the Israelites a holy people as they obey His ways. In Leviticus 22:31-33, we see that God begins by telling the Israelites to remember and follow His commands. Following God’s commands, His ways, is vital to becoming a holy person. Notice that this verse isn’t just about keeping God’s commands, but it also shows 32


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that this is to be our lifestyle. Don’t speak poorly of God, cursing His name, instead be respectful “about” Him. God seeks out people to pour into. As He reminds us in this passage, the people who are clean containers for His glory are the ones who follow His ways and commands the closest. As we live in the new covenant time, we see that God’s ways are unchanging though we are not bound by some of the ceremonial aspects of the Old Testament law. When we read in 1 John 1:8-9 we see this: 8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. We must recognize our ways are corrupt, but God’s ways are pure. As followers of Jesus, our command is to be more like Him in our everyday lives. We are able to be humble imitators of Jesus. In doing this, we find ourselves becoming more holy and God is filling us with His presence and purity. When we were young, we kicked and screamed about our parents’ rules and commands. As we grew, we learned their ways were better ways. So, too, as we grow closer to God may we see that as we follow His ways, we can become more pure, more holy, more spiritually healthy. To allow God to pour into our lives His holy presence, we need to first consider if we are worthy containers for His blessing.

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prayer The purifying God, the God who sanctifies, May I be able to better understand your ways and live in your commands. As I have failed to be obedient to your Word and live in your ways, I repent and ask forgiveness. May you allow me to hear the Holy Spirit’s conviction on my life. May I grow closer to you everyday through living more like Jesus in my words, actions, thoughts, and practices. Thank you for showing me how to be more holy. Thank you for allowing me to see holiness in your Son. Please let me show holiness to others today. Amen.

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journal: God Makes Us Holy List some of God’s ways that you already know He intends for you to follow. _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

Among those, which ones either have been or continue to be a struggle for you to follow? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

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In those struggles, how would your life be different if you would step up and do what you know God’s holiness requires of you? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

What are some steps you need to take to experience success in living a holy life before God and others? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

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Gideon built an altar to the Lord and called it: The Lord is Peace Judges 6:24 by Barbara Waldhuber, Director of Elementary Ministries

There are many great stories in the Bible where God called ordinary people to do extraordinary things for Him. The thread that ties these stories together is that those ordinary people often questioned God’s plan. Such was the case when God called out Gideon (Judges 6-7) to lead Israel’s army in a campaign to defeat the armies of Midian and Amalek. Their enemies were so numerous, the Bible says they were “like locusts in abundance.” Let’s remember that Gideon was not an accomplished military strategist. Far from it. But God chose him to wage battle against Israel’s enemies. Gideon argued with God, knowing neither he nor his warriors were capable of routing their enemies, at least in human terms. When God calls us to the extraordinary, what is it that causes us to argue with the Living God? Is it the fear of inadequacy, or sometimes just fear, itself? When God calls the one He has chosen, it is God’s intention to cause it to be. In God’s ultimate plan, the details of that plan require us to see God’s work, not man’s. When God proposed to Gideon that he should reduce his forces from 32,000 down to 300, what do you think went through his mind? He was more than likely in a state of panic rather than peace. However, in Judges 6:12, the Angel of the LORD promised Gideon, “Jehovah will be with you, O valiant warrior.” In the story, we discover that Gideon was assured of God’s presence and ultimate victory. God’s promises, presence, and peace were all revealed to Gideon in Judges 6:16 when He said to him, “Surely I (Jehovah) will be with you and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” 38


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Do you see what is happening here? God recognized in Gideon something he could not see in himself. Likewise, God sees in us what we can become as He works in our lives. As we give all of who we are to God and His purposes, then we begin to understand the Peace of God. The problem is there is sin looming in all of us. This must be taken care of first. God wants us to recognize, admit, and confess our sin and ultimately accept the provision that He has offered us in the Savior. Once that part of who we are is resolved, God begins to mold and shape the person He wants us to be. God already knows our weaknesses and our faults. However, many times we take on the work of changing and fixing things in us. God, on the other hand, wants us to give it all over to Him and let Him bring out the life change. When Gideon realized that Jehovah was the one in charge and responsible for the results, he could rest in God’s faithfulness and be at peace. That true peace of Jehovah Shalom comes as we place our complete trust and dependence in Him. For every challenge in life, He wants us to call out to Him for direction and guidance. If we firmly believe that the Sovereign God has called us to something, we can be confident He will accomplish that task through us. What about you? Are you able to depend so deeply on God that you can rest in His peace, knowing that He will be by your side always? He is Jehovah Shalom, God our Peace! What a beautiful resting place God has offered us. When I think about times in my life when I have argued with God or tried to run ahead of Him, God always finds ways to remind me that He, and only He, is in control. When I can yield to Him, then I experience the peaceful, strong and assuring presence of Jehovah Shalom. He is my Peace.

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prayer God, I am a frail and unworthy vessel. I am amazed that You have chosen me to participate in your plan. Help me to become more dependent on you and less on me. I know I can find peace in you, no matter the challenges that lie ahead. I don’t want to argue with you or question your plans. I pray that you would draw me nearer to you so that I may experience the peace that passes all understanding and allow you to guard my heart and mind through all of life’s experiences. I believe that you are the God of Peace, my Jehovah Shalom. Amen.

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journal: God is Our Peace Think back to a time when you believed that God wanted you to do something that took you way outside of your comfort zone. What did that feel like? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

Recall a situation when you argued with God over something you knew He was calling you to do. How did that go? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

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How did you discover God’s peace as you stepped into what God was asking you to do? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

As you better understand God’s provision in your life, how does that help you find true peace? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

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The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not be in want Psalm 23:1 by Brad Kirby, Pastor of Student Connection

After the funeral service of his first wife, the late Donald Grey Barnhouse, distinguished pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, was thinking about how he could convey to his young children the loss of their mother. As he tried to conjure up words of comfort, the shadow of a large van passed over their car as they were driving down the highway. Instantly, Barnhouse thought of the words needed for the moment. “Children,” he asked, “would you rather be run over by a truck or by its shadow?” The children quickly answered, “Well, of course, Dad, we’d much rather be run over by the shadow! The shadow cannot hurt us.” Then Barnhouse, the master illustrator, replied, “The truck of death ran over the Lord Jesus two thousand years ago, so that only its shadow now passes over us. That is all that has happened to your mother. Only the shadow of death has passed over her. She is unharmed in heaven.” In Psalm 23, David decided to express through song what God meant to his life. David did what we all do so often in life and used what was familiar to him as a metaphor. David was very familiar with sheep and the ins and outs of shepherding, having been a shepherd himself as a boy. He knew what it meant to take responsibility for a virtually helpless group of sheep as he took them out to pasture in the fields and on the hillsides outside of Bethlehem, his boyhood home. Shepherding was second nature to this boy who eventually became the King of Israel. His job was to love, lead, provide for and protect his charge. David begins this psalm with a very distinctive name for our God. In the English it reads; “The Lord is my shepherd.” But in the original 44


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Hebrew, the text reads as Jehovah (God), Rohi (shepherd). God is Jehovah Rohi, our shepherd and we are His sheep. According to the psalm, He knows and takes care of our needs, provides us rest, offers peace, brings about life change, leads us in the right direction, and does not allow us to be harmed from any attack of the enemy. Wow! To say God is our Jehovah Rohi is good would be an understatement. As Christians we believe that Jesus Christ is fully God. All that is true about Jehovah God is equally true about Jesus. In John 10:11 Jesus revealed Himself as our Shepherd. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” No doubt Jesus was mindful of Psalm 23 when he spoke these words. His sheep – believers of all the ages – were of such value and priority to Him that He did lay down His life. The Apostle Peter penned it perfectly when he said, “He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:24-25) When we read through Psalm 23, it is easy to see something in ourselves that is irresistibly attracted to the idea of God as our shepherd. We need Him to nourish us, protect us, lead us, and comfort us. We recognize how utterly dependent we are upon Him and how much we need Him to shield us from this world and the evil one. This world is harsh, dark, uncertain, and very scary sometimes. Charles Spurgeon said, “If He be a shepherd to no one else, He is a shepherd to me. He cares for me, and preserves me.” As life surrounds you and the enemy presses in, remember the words of this Psalm. “The Lord is MY shepherd.” He is near.

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prayer God, I am so dependent upon you. I need you in so many areas of my life. I need you to meet my spiritual, physical, mental, and social needs. I simply need you! You are my Lord and Shepherd who provides all that pertains to my life and godliness. Thank you. I do not have to fear anything – not the enemy, not doubt, not even death – because you are my protector. Please continue to infiltrate my life with your love. Amen.

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journal: God is Our Shepherd Have you ever turned to this psalm in times of loss, uncertainty, fear, or confusion? What did its words mean to you? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

David said in Psalm 23:2, “He restores my soul.” What does the word restore mean to you? How does this help describe the activity of God as your shepherd? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

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What areas of your spiritual journey are you trying to be shepherd of? What areas of your life do you need to surrender your perceived control? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

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This is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness’ Jeremiah 23:6 by Mickey Ary, Associate Pastor of Missions

One of my first experiences as a teenager in a church youth group was by invitation of friends to attend an out-of-town youth event. This was a new experience for me and I really didn’t know what to expect. Our youth leader was affectionately known as “Mr. David.” His passion for ministering to teenagers was amazing. He loved us unconditionally and we knew it. During one of the sessions at this particular event, a group of kids decided to skip and just hang out somewhere. I joined the truants thinking we were slithering away without being detected. I didn’t realize Mr. David had a sixth sense that sounded an internal alarm when kids went missing in action. We had a relationship with him as our youth leader and he trusted us. Suddenly, that trust was broken. I will never forget the disappointment on his face and in his voice when we had to face the music. We were guilty as charged. But what hit a deeper nerve in me was the reality that I had been part of wounding this godly leader and friend. His right and appropriate expectations collided with our irresponsible realities. In Genesis chapter 3, a narrative unfolds of a conversation between Adam, Eve and the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Humanity’s first parents made a decision based on lies and deception that led to their fall from innocence and a shattered relationship with Elohim, their Creator God. It not only affected them, but all mankind sustained an insurmountable loss – the forfeiting of a right standing before God, what the Bible calls righteousness. The intimate communion that Adam and Eve once enjoyed with God lay in ruins. In and of 50


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themselves, they possessed no ability to repair what was damaged. They suddenly faced spiritual hopelessness. But the story does not end in the third chapter of Genesis! Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ came into the world to restore the broken relationship caused by the fall of man as recorded in Genesis 3. The Prophet Jeremiah gives a promise of a Savior to come in chapter 23, verse 6: “In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which He will be called: ‘The Lord Our Righteousness.’” Jesus fulfilled this promise through his death on the cross. It’s called the Atonement, which means to cover. The perfectly righteous Son of God, through His sacrifice, covered our unrighteousness with His own. Hebrews 1:3 explains this divine act of righteous restoration by stating, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” Because Jesus died in our place, we are completely pardoned and forgiven of all sin through the blood of Christ. When God sees a person who has been saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), He sees us covered in the righteousness of Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21 puts it this way, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Do we deserve this? His righteousness to cover our lack of it? That’s where grace and mercy step in. Praise be to God for the sacrifice of His Holy Son for our restoration to righteousness before God, Jehovah-Tsidkenu, The Lord our Righteousness.

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prayer Jehovah- Tsidkenu, The Lord our Righteousness, Today I come before you with a grateful heart as you restore that which sin has taken away. Thank you for the sacrifice of your Holy Son, Jesus Christ, to bring restoration, forgiveness, and cleansing to my life. Today, may I be an example of the Righteousness, that only comes through you, our Heavenly Father. May others be drawn to your Son, Jesus Christ for forgiveness and restoration. Amen.

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journal: God is Always Good Take a moment to write out your personal experience of knowing God’s forgiveness. _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

As you reflect on God’s righteousness, what does that mean to you? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

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What is your role in helping others to experience God as JehovahTsidkenu, The Lord our Righteousness? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

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The name of the city from that time on shall be, The LORD Is Present Ezekiel 48:35 by Pat Conner, Minister to Children

Every October, my husband and I take a trip. Exhausted by the fun but busy ministry activity of the summer and tired of the unrelenting heat of Houston, we escape! Most often, looking to replenish ourselves, we travel to the beautiful mountain regions of the western U.S. We are never disappointed. An amazing thing happens as we gaze at the beauty of God’s creation. We stand in awe of what God has done; and there comes a time when we realize, when we know for sure, that God is there. He is with us. You know the feeling. You may experience it on the beach or in the forest rather than the mountains, but you know that feeling. The Lord is present. Over the past several years, our oldest daughter has fought a devastating battle with cancer. As I have sat by her bedside on the darkest days, I have known deep sorrow and even despair. But an amazing thing happens then, too. As I struggle with my sadness and fear, there comes a time when I realize, when I know for sure, that God is there. He is with us. No matter how hard the road, the Lord is present. The mountains and the sickroom become sanctuaries when we acknowledge that God is there. The prophet Ezekiel saw that in the last days, God’s plans would be fulfilled. He said in that perfect fulfillment that the City of God would be called Jehovah Shammah, the Lord is Present (Ezekiel 48:35). Even now, God is present with His people. Over these past few months, we have tried to grasp more fully who our God is. Our Creator, our Provider, our Healer, our 56


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Peace, our Righteousness—and more. How could it be true that this incomparable God is with us? We can’t fully understand it, but we believe it and sometimes we are even able to sense it. In our fallen world, we do not comprehend God’s presence perfectly; but nevertheless, He allows us to know it. This means more than the fact that God is omnipresent. Of course, God is here. He is everywhere. He is sovereignly accomplishing His purpose in all things. But this sovereign God is present with us in a special way. He has chosen to be present with us, to make Himself known to us, to exercise His grace and power in our lives. The Lord is with us! Our God is not a God who set the universe in motion and then left us to fend for ourselves. He promises He will never leave us (Deuteronomy 31:8). The psalmist reminds us that we have nothing to fear, not even the valley of the shadow of death, for God is with us (Psalm 23:4). As Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, he knew the presence of the Lord. God spoke to Moses, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14). Moses fully understood the blessing and necessity of God’s presence. He passionately replied to God, “If your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” Of course, God faithfully traveled with His people. God’s presence is more than a thrill on a mountaintop. Our God walks the hard paths with us. He cannot fail. He will not abandon us. We can live our lives in absolute confidence because we know that we belong to Jehovah Shammah, and He is present. He guides us, He comforts us, and He strengthens us. He is with us. Whether our journey is pleasant or difficult, we can always know that Jehovah Shammah travels the road with us. “The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).

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prayer Jehovah Shammah, thank you for being with me. The gift of your presence is too wonderful for me to fully realize, but I accept that you are faithful and will be with me just has you have promised. Refine my heart, Lord, so that I am aware of your presence. Guide my steps and travel my paths with me. Thank you for the comfort and confidence that comes from the knowledge that you are present. Amen.

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journal: God is With Me Share a time when you have been acutely aware of God’s presence. _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

Perhaps there have been difficult times in your life when you have not felt the presence of God. Recall one or more of those times. According to scripture, God will never leave us. How do you reconcile these things -- God’s promises vs. your feelings -- in your mind? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

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List some ways that you can become more aware of God’s presence with you? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________

How might your life be different if you were more consistently aware that the Lord is present? _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________

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