Sisters For Sunshine

Receive God's Warm Love Through Reflection

Let It Fade – You Will Find Rest

Jeremy Camp’s song, Let It Fade, resonated with me when I heard it this morning, after a rough night of not sleeping well. I have been dealing with sleep trouble for this past year it seems, especially the last few months. And because I am tired (and so tired of being tired!), I have been questioning God and wondering why I can’t just sleep well again.
Is God listening? When will I have good rest again? When will I feel good again? Why do I have to deal with this? I can’t deal with it anymore.

If these thoughts sound familiar to you, then I feel a little better that I am not the only one. I keep hearing God answer through the music that I listen to, or the devotionals that I read. And yet, I still falter and doubt him and get mad and frustrated.

This is what I want. What I need. Rest. Good rest.

But God tells me that I need Him too.

Have you been walking on a surface that’s uncertain?
Have you helped yourself to everything that’s empty? yeah!

You can’t live this way too long.
There’s more than this, more than this.
Have you been standing on your own feet too long?
Have you been looking for a place where you belong?
You can rest, you will find rest.
You can rest, you will find rest.

Let this old life crumble, let it fade.
Let this new life offered be your saving grace.
Let this old life crumble, let it fade, let it fade.

Have you been holding on to what this world has offered?
Have you been giving in to all these masquerades?
It will be gone, forever gone.
It will be gone, it will be gone.

Let this old life crumble, let it fade.
Let this new life offered be your saving grace.
Let this old life crumble, let it fade, let it fade.

Let it fade.

Are you carrying the weight too much?, are you running from the call?
Let it fade, Oh yeah.

You can rest, you will find rest.
You can rest you will find rest.

Let this old life crumble, let it fade.
Have you been standing on your own feet too long?
Have you been looking for a place where you belong?

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Ways To Beat Anxiety

I am currently reading The Anxiety Toolkit, which is a great resource on dealing with and overcoming your anxiety. I’ve only read the first part of the book, but there are a lot of insightful advice about overcoming anxiety.

Author Alice Boyes describes three main components to overcoming anxiety: 1. “Self knowledge about the thinking and behavorial patterns that have caused your anxiety”, 2. Building “resiliency”, that is building up the strengths and tools for coping with challenges, 3. Self confidence in yourself.

The author of The Anxiety Toolkit wrote this article on ways to beat anxiety, and I thought to share.

  1. Take a slow breath. Continue slow breathing for 3 minutes.  – I like to breath in for a count of four, hold for seven, then breath out for a count of 8.
  2. Drop your shoulders and do a gentle neck roll.
  3. State the emotions you’re feeling as words, e.g., “I feel angry and worried right now.” (Aloud but to yourself.) – I try to think positive emotions in my head to counter the negative and make me feel calmer.
  4. Massage your hand, which will activate oxytocin.
  5. Put something that’s out of place in its place. (Physical order often helps us feel a sense of mental order.)
  6. Take a day trip somewhere with natural beauty. – I find that getting out of the house and in sunshine really helps my mood.
  7. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Then, ask yourself, “How would I cope if that happened?” Now answer those questions.
  8. Take a break from actively working on solving a problem and allow your mind to keep processing the problem in the background.
  9. Take a bath. – I like using Epsom salts in a foot bath each evening.
  10. Forgive yourself for not foreseeing a problem that occurred. – This is hard for me. I’m often too hard on myself. I need to focus on letting go, having peace of mind, and being kinder and more patient with myself.
  11. Throw out something from your bathroom. (The order principle again.)
  12. Take a break from watching the news or reading newspapers.
  13. Make a phone call you’ve been putting off. – For me, making phone calls is something that actually makes me anxious. So do what you think is best.
  14. Write an email you’ve been putting off. – I find that writing my thoughts down, typing them, even making these blog posts, really helps my mood.
  15. Take another type of action on something you’ve been putting off.
  16. Throw something out of your fridge.
  17. Try a guided mindfulness meditation. (Google for free mp3 downloads. There are some good ones out there.)
  18. Take a break from researching a topic you’ve been over-researching.
  19. Cuddle a baby or a pet. – Hugging really makes me feel calmer and more peaceful.
  20. If a mistake you’ve made is bothering you, make an action plan for how you won’t repeat it in the future. Write three brief bullet points.
  21. Ask yourself if you’re jumping to conclusions? For example, if you’re worried someone is very annoyed with you, do you know for sure this is the case or are you jumping to conclusions? – I often jump to conclusions regarding what other people think of me; I’m working at focusing on something that I like about myself that people WILL notice versus if they might be thinking badly of me.
  22. Ask yourself if you’re catastrophizing, i.e.,  thinking that something would be a disaster, when it might be unpleasant but not necessarily a disaster.
  23. Forgive yourself for not handing a situation in an ideal way, including interpersonal situations. What’s the best thing you can do to move forward in a positive way now? – Again, try not to be so hard on yourself, and think positively about conquering the situation next time.
  24. If someone else’s behavior has triggered anxiety for you, try accepting that you may never know the complete reason and background behind the person’s behavior.
  25. Recognize if your anxiety is being caused by someone suggesting a change or change of plans. Understand if you tend to react to changes or unexpected events as if they are threats.
  26. Accept that there is a gap between your real self and your ideal self. (This is the case for pretty much everybody.)
  27. Question your social comparisons. For example, is comparing yourself only to the most successful person you know very fair or representative? – I find myself comparing to others, feeling confused as to why others can cope but I can’t. I need to accept who I am and look at being stronger.
  28. Think about what’s going right in your life. Thinking about the positive doesn’t always work when you’re anxious, but it can do if anxiety has caused your thinking to become lopsided and you’re not seeing the big picture. – When I’m feeling bad, I immediately go through the alphabet and recall positive words that make me feel calmer and happier.
  29. Scratch something off your to-do list for the day, either by getting it done or just deciding not to do that task today. – Writing down a to-do list really clears my mind, and then I am able to focus on what’s important to do first.
  30. Ask a friend or colleague to tell you about something they’ve felt nervous about in the past, and to tell you what happened.
  31. If you’re nervous about an upcoming test, try these quick tips for dealing with test anxiety.
  32. Do a task 25% more slowly than usual. Allow yourself to savor not rushing.
  33. Check if you’re falling into any of these thinking traps.
  34. Try gentle distraction; find something you want to pay attention to. The key to successful use of distraction when you’re anxious is to be patient with yourself if you find you’re still getting some thought intrusions about the anxiety-provoking topic. – Great advice for getting rid of those negative feelings! When I feel anxiety coming on strongly, I force myself to focus on a photo of my dog or a memory of being with my family on a vacation. Make me focus on the good in my life.
  35. Go to a yoga class, or do a couple of yoga poses in the comfort of your home or office.
  36. Get a second opinion from someone you trust. Aim to get their real opinion rather than just reassurance seeking.
  37. Allow yourself to do things you enjoy or that don’t stress you out, while you’re waiting for your anxious feelings to naturally calm down. – I’ll go read something positive, watch Ellen or something that makes me smile, or walk outside in the sunshine.
  38. Go for a run. – Exercise in general really helps my mood. Going outside and exercising is even better!
  39. Find something on YouTube that makes you laugh out loud. – I love watching Ellen or The Tonight Show video clips on YouTube!
  40. Lightly run one or two fingers over your lips. This will stimulate the parasympathetic fibers in your lips and you’ll feel calmer.
  41. Look back on the anxiety-provoking situation you’re in from a time point in the future, e.g., six months from now. Does the problem seem smaller when you view it from further away?
  42. Imagine how you’d cope if your “worst nightmare” happened, e.g., your partner left you, you got fired, or you developed a health problem. What practical steps would you take? What social support would you use? Mentally confronting your worst fear can be very useful for reducing anxiety.
  43. Call or email a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile.
  44. If you’re imagining a negative outcome to something you’re considering doing, also try imaging a positive outcome.
  45. If you rarely back out of commitments and feel overwhelmed by your to-do list, try giving yourself permission to say you can no longer do something you’ve previously agreed to do.
  46. Do any two-minute jobs that have been hanging around on your to-do list. It’ll help clear your mental space. – Very true! When I have something that I don’t like doing on my to-do list, even if it takes only a couple minutes, I have to remind myself that I CAN get them done really quickly, and then once I do them and finish them in just 5 minutes, I feel so much better.
  47. Jot down three things you worried about in the past that didn’t come to pass.
  48. Jot down three things you worried about in the past that did occur, but weren’t nearly as bad as you imagined.
  49. Do a form of exercise you haven’t done in the last six months. – Exercise has been such a wonderful outlet for me to clear my mind and improve my mood. I love FitnessBlender videos.
  50. Allow time to pass. Often the best thing to do to reduce anxiety is just to allow time to pass, without doing the types of activities that increase anxiety.

 

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Exercise Your Mind

Choose your thoughts.

Sounds simple, but it’s so hard to fight those negative thoughts and feelings that can quickly jumble in your mind.

Changing your thoughts to positive thoughts requires work and effort.

When we exercise, we must train our bodies to get stronger, to get fit, and to be healthy. Likewise, we must train our mind to think positive and be stronger. Feed your mind with good thoughts.

I came across this article on exercises to train your mind to be positive:

  1. Daily Gratitude – No matter the time of day, focus on something that you are grateful for. Just focusing on the blessings in your life can boost your mood. When you find your mind slipping into negative thoughts, just force yourself to think of one thing you are grateful for.
  2. Stay Centered – Make an effort to calm your mind. Even try for just five minutes in a quiet room. I find that focusing on my breathing helps. Breath in and out deeply and slowly. Acknowledge your thoughts and try to release them. Breath in, acknowledge, breath out, and let go. Breath in good thoughts. Breath out negative thoughts. Quiet your mind.
  3. Stay Active – By keeping your day busy (but not overly cluttered), you will be less likely to focus on the negativity around you. Find things that you enjoy doing to lift your spirits. Try keeping a schedule and then check off each thing you accomplish. Well done! Those feelings of accomplishment will cover up negative feelings.
  4. Eat, Drink, & Sleep WellBe committed to your health. Your body is a temple that God created and should be taken care of with love. Eat healthy foods, drink plenty of water, exercise, and get plenty of rest. Your mind will thank you.
  5. Help Others – Support others through your positive example. Volunteer in your community, be there for someone in need, give gifts just because, and hug. Being generous can make you feel better.
  6. Inner Healing – I think reading devotionals, counseling, and being apart of a like-minded group or church family can help with healing. Let go of the past in peace. Find new growth, new love.
  7. Follow Your Passion – Fill your time with things that you love doing and with people that you care about. Do something fun. Be silly. Spend time with people you love. If you aren’t currently doing something you love, write down what you love doing. Try scheduling in your free time to do something you enjoy doing.

 

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Doubt & Confusion

I’ve been struggling with doubt and confusion, questioning God as to why I have to deal with my struggles as a sleep-deprived mom. This month I was at an all-time low, and the day before Easter, I decided to open up my book, The Battlefield of the Mind, by Joyce Meyer.

There were two chapters about doubt and confusion and with her insight I felt more calm and again more focused on my faith. I know in life Christians will flutter in their faith, and that’s why it’s important to have a good strong support system and a sense of where to go to re-align. I find focus and strength through reading bible verses and positive quotes and through prayer. I mindfully focus on those quotes over and over in my head, especially when I’m in a difficult situation or when I feel my worst.

 

Here are some of Joyce’s words and Bible verses that helped me calm my doubts:

“Even in adverse circumstances and storms and spiritual warfare, keepy your mind on God to build up your faith.”

“Get quiet and still, turn off your head, and look into your heart.”

“May the God of hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, you may abound and be overflowing with hope.” Romans 15:13

“Take captive every thought into the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind, and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

“Experience the peace of mind and heart that comes from trusting in God.”

“Turn the matter over to God, trusting Him to work out all the things for good regardless of what happens.”

“Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it, and you will.” Mark 11:24

 

Here are four more posts that we’ve done that include quotes from The Battlefield of the Mind

Change Your Mind To Be Obedient To God

Choose To Follow

Humble Yourselves

God Keeps Us Going

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Seeds to Scatter – Fasting

I receive Seeds to Scatter emails this Lenten season, and this weekend’s email was about fasting. Some great ideas!

https://www.seedstoscatter.org/home/2017/3/22/day-22

“Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” –Isaiah 58:3-7

Today, we ask you to take up — in any way of your own imagining — the practice of fasting in order to bring about justice, as described above in the Torah. Here are some ideas of different kinds of nontraditional “fasts” for justice to get you started:

  • Perhaps, in order to bring about environmental justice, you might fast from eating meat today. Did you know that cutting out meat can cut your carbon footprint in half?
  • Another fast for environmental justice would be a “carbon fast.” You could do this by tossing your keys and choosing to carpool, walk, ride a bike, or use public transportation for the day.
  • What about putting your pantry on a fast? Do you really need all those canned goods and unopened dry goods? Drop them all off at a local food bank.
  • Put your closet on a fast as described on the website http://bemorewithless.com/project-333/, where you dress with 33 items or less for 3 months. At the end of 3 months, donate the clothes you realize you actually don’t need to charity.
  • How about a “credit card fast?” Can you go a whole day without swiping or buying anything? Now, donate whatever you think you would have spent to the charity of your choice.
  • You calendar definitely needs to go on a fast. Write down your top three values. Then, look at your calendar. Try to eliminate as many things as possible on your calendar that do not align with your top values. Be ruthless. Now, with the added room — if you don’t already — schedule in sacred time for seed-scattering — whether that be volunteering, attending activism events, booking self-care practices for yourself, or carving out quality time with those you love.
  • The ultimate test: how long would you go on a screens/tv/internet/social media fast? Now, use whatever time you would have wasted on your media vice playing this addicting vocabulary game instead: www.freerice.com. You won’t believe it, but for every answer you get right, advertisers pay for 10 grains of rice to be donated to the World Food Program.
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Be Kind

I love Ellen Degeneres and her motto, “Be kind to one another”. It’s really resonated with me recently, particularly with the negativity going on in our country with our new president. I am saddened to hear about how our president and his fellow supporters are leading this country, and how they interact, communicate, and work with others is disrespectful. We shouldn’t be disrespectful or rude. We should be respectful and kind. Our leaders need to show more respect and kindness. 

How can you be more kind in your day-to-day life, in your interactions and communications with others? An easy one is to smile! How about opening a door for someone? Why not tell someone one thing that you like about them? So many simple gestures of kindness can bring so much more joy into the world.

We have many posts on our blog about kindness. Here are a few of our favorites – go check them out!

Kind Words: “If we speak more kind and positive words, perhaps there will be more peace and joy within communities and within people’s hearts. Wholesome words help build-up people, help make a difference, and empower people to live in God’s grace. Something so simple as “You are special” or “Awesome job” can be so profound.”

Spread Kindness: “Spread love everywhere you go… kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.

Respect: “Think about your words and your actions towards others, that you may show respect… Show respect to all people. Treat others as you would want to be treated. Respect all opinions.

Take Time to Care: “Take time to care, by expressing love to everyone, inspiring people, encouraging people, and being sensitive to others. A hug, a smile, a listening ear, and kind word can make all the difference…Kindness can transform someone’s dark moment with a blaze of light. You’ll never know how much your caring matters. Make a difference for another today.”

Pray For Kindness: “Loving God, There are all kinds of people that I come in contact with during my day. I may not know them like you know me, so please give me kindness and understanding as I interact with them. I pray that I may remove any judgement and pride that I may have, and instead, show love and kindness. May I consider these people as brothers and sisters in Christ, full of love for you, Lord. Amen.”

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Welcome All People With Love

I posted this on my Facebook page last month, and I’d like to share it here. It’s an important issue to share.

Alicia Keys made a beautiful and sad video portraying what it might be like if Americans faced the struggles of refugees. What if you were in the refugees’ shoes? What if you saw your children struggling like this? How would you feel? We need to stand up for love.

We need to help the refugees, not ban them. They are women, men, children…families just like yours. They are people who are wanting love and peace. And America should be a place that they can go and live in peace and love.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in…” (Matthew 25:35)

#loveothers #refugees #peace #opendoors #immigration #helpothers #compassion

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Pray for your spouse

I receive the Crosswalk Marriage newsletter, and last week it was about praying for your spouse.

As a wife, I always hope that my husband has a good day at work, that he’s healthy and sleeps well, and that he’s happy. But I sometimes fall short with actually praying to God about these things.

“Prayer is always the answer and the best assistance we can give to our husbands.”

How can you pray for your spouse? Janet Thompson writes in Dear God, He’s Home! A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-at-Home Manthat you can pray persistently, pray as couple, and pray by reciting scripture. Also, ask them daily how you can pray for them, or journal in a prayer notebook.

Below is a prayer written by Janet Thompson,that I hope will inspire you in your prayers to your husband/wife. This prayer is particularly regarding prayer for your husband who may be struggling.

Lord, you know that my husband is struggling with something that he cannot fix. You are the Lord of our home and the head of my husband and I ask you in the name of Jesus to take control over our home and let your will rule in our lives. Thank you God that I can come before you and take whatever is bothering my husband and put it at your feet, fully trusting that your will is done in his life. 
Father, help my husband not to harbor under the weight of a guilty conscience, but remind him that because of his salvation, the blood of your Son Jesus Christ will make him clean again if he will only confess his troubles to you. If he has done something requiring repentance, Lord humble him to repent and ask for forgiveness so he can once again feel the spiritual cleansing that comes from your grace and mercy. 
Lord help us both to hold tightly without wavering in the hope we affirm, for you God can be trusted to keep your promise to us. Help me to think of ways to motivate and encourage my husband with acts of love and ways to make his life easier. Please don’t let this struggle come between us so that we stop having times of conversation, recreation, and intimacy. Lord, help my husband to feel your love and know that whatever he is struggling with pales with the knowledge that someday we will be with you in Heaven. 
Give me courage and patience, and guide my husband in the way he should go. Amen.

 

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Psalm to our loving God

What a beautiful song from Psalm 36:5-9! When I read this, I am reminded to praise Him, to have hope, to focus on the joy that He gives, and to renew my thoughts to be more positive and thankful.

God will provide. He is here with us, protecting us, keeping us safe, giving us abundant love, and bringing life into our souls.

Rejoice in God, who is faithful, righteous, loving, and overflowing with life! 

 

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
    your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
    you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light we see light.

– Psalm 36:5-9

 

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Peace in my mind & soul

My “resolution” this year is to focus on peace. I hope to have peace in my heart and mind. To live in this moment of my life in peace. Peace to remain calm when I am frustrated or tired, peace when I am out in the world interacting with others, peace with my family and friends. And I will pray for peace, for countries in war and for our country at the start of a new presidential term.

Jason Mraz has a song, Live in the Moment, and what great lyrics to reflect on. We shared this song back in 2015. Here is a piece of the song lyrics that particularly moved me. Have peace in your mind and heart for whatever you are experiencing that moment. Live life in this moment now!

I will not waste my days
Making up all kinds of ways
To worry about all the things
That will not happen to me

So I just let go of what I know I don’t know
And I know I’ll only do this by
Living in the moment
Living our life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
Peace in my soul
Wherever I’m going, I’m already home
Living in the moment

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Jesus is the reason

Christmas is tomorrow, and the most important thing to know about Christmas is that Jesus is the reason. Jesus is the reason for us to celebrate. It’s his birthday! A time to rejoice in Him, who came into our lives to bring love, joy, and salvation.

No matter what time of the year, we should reflect on Jesus. How about being a follower of Christ in your actions all throughout the year? What are some ways you can be more like Christ?

~care for others just like Jesus did
~give a hug or helping hand to a friend
~share good news to others
~worship Him and Him alone
~repent of your sins
~sing hymns of praise to Him
~serve others, such as volunteering at the community kitchen or giving food out to the poor
~read the Bible or devotionals
~obey the commandments
~pray for someone who is sick or hurting
~be kind to each other in your words and actions

Repost from Feb 2016: https://sistersforsunshine.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/ways-to-follow-jesus/

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Gifts for God

Yesterday in my devotional God Moments, A Year In The Word, it talked about gifts that you would give to God. God already has everything – so what would you give him?

“To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”— Mark 12: 33

Acts 17: 25 says that He doesn’t need anything at all. Don’t be discouraged: God’s sufficiency is a blessing! We do not need to earn His love. He does not expect repayment for His free gift of salvation through Christ (Isaiah 55, Rev. 21: 6). Honestly, it is so valuable that even if we wanted to repay Him, we just couldn’t. The Psalmist describes His unfailing love as “priceless” (Ps. 36: 7).

So what do you get for the God who has everything? If God had a gift registry, here are some things He’d definitely include:

  1. Your love: Mark 12:33
  2. Your life: Romans 12:1
  3. Humility: Psalm 51:17
  4. Praise: Psalm 141:2, Hebrews 12:15
  5. Righteousness: Proverbs 21:3
  6. Mercy: Micah 6:8, Matthew 9:13
  7. Good works: Ephesians 2:10, James 2:23-24
  8. Generosity: Hebrews 12:16
  9. Obedience: Romans 12:2, 2 John 1:6

And that’s just the beginning! Here’s my challenge for you today: search God’s Word for yourself, then live a life that will make God smile and say, “It’s just what I wanted!”

Your love: “To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” – Mark 12:33

Your life: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” – Romans 12:1

Humility: My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” – Psalm 51:17

Praise: May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.” – Psalm 141:2;  “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” – Hebrews 12:15

Righteousness: To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” – Proverbs 21:3

Mercy: He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8; “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” – Matthew 9:13

Good works: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10;And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.” James 2:23-24

Generosity: “See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.” – Hebrews 12:16

Obedience: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2; “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” – 2 John 1:6

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