What is my favorite chapter/verse of the Bible…?

Wow, this question started my mind spinning. There are so many wonderful portions of the Bible, and I am so glad I’m able to read them all. 

My first thought was Romans 8, I think it has the most encouraging promises in the whole Bible. It starts out with the promise of no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and finishes with nothing being able to separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus. The middle of the chapter teaches us how to walk in the new life that we have been born again into. through our relationship with the Holy Spirit who lives in us, God guides and directs us as we surrender to Him. Chapter 8 also comes after the chapter that everyone who has ever walked this earth can relate to, Romans 7.

 “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. ”  

romans 7:15

How do we get out of living a Romans 7 life and start living a Romans 8 life? Furthermore when we fall back into seven how do we get back to eight?  

After that so many other favorites started flooding my mind.

Phillipians 3:7-14 where Paul shares:

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Phillipians 3:7-14

I then thought of Abraham in Genesis 12-25, and the story of how God invites him to follow Him. How their relationship grew into a deep friendship where God could ask Abraham to offer Isaac to Him, and Abraham trusted He would work it for good.

I love the story of Joseph and I wish we could have had some of the psalms that he wrote as God was shaping him into the man who would share the first version of Romans 8:28 in Genesis 45:5-7  

“And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.  For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”

Genesis 45:5-7

Then I thought of Deuteronomy 8 which has encouraged me so many times when I have felt like I was wandering in the wilderness. Through this chapter God reminded me that I was there with a purpose even though I couldn’t see it or feel it.

I was also reminded of Joshua, and how God allowed Him to wander for 40 years with the people who refused to listen to him. He encouraged them to trust God with all of their hearts and lean not on their own understanding.  I can see him teaching the next generation to trust God and to be ready to take the land that God had prepared for them.

I love the story of Eli and Samuel in 1 Samuel 3, how even though Eli was struggling as an old man he was still able to help Samuel to recognize that God was speaking to him. Through Eli’s obedience Samuel’s life was changed forever.

Psalm 91 was a wedding gift that God gave me as I had to be separated from my wife for the first 6 months of our marriage. It has been a source of comfort, protection and encouragement ever since.

Matthew 6 was a chapter that God has used to teach and train me for years and years. God taught me to learn to serve only one master: the Lord Jesus Christ. He taught me what a kind and generous master He is and that I need only to focus on seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness, because He will take care of all the rest.

I love the invitation that Jesus gives us at the end of Matthew 11 to come to Him and He will give us rest. He invites us to learn from Him and how He is humble and gentle of heart.  I don’t have to be perfect, I can make mistakes and keep learning because His mercy is new every morning.

I love so many Psalms like 32, 37, 139, and so many more that help me to relate to God in an honest way.

I love the story of Daniel especially, when, in Chapter nine God tells him how much he is loved.

I also have enjoyed different versions of the Bible for different reasons. Like how the Amplified always makes me think about the different meanings of words.

 I have enjoyed the Living Bible paraphrase because I resonate with the language that Kenneth Taylor uses to describe how it feels to follow God, and how He describes God’s love for us.  

I grew up reading NIV84 and so when I read it, I remember it developing my first love. 

I have enjoyed the King James version because there are verses that speak so clearly and convict me so much.  I usually tease, if you go King James on love, it takes patience to a whole new level. It tells us that Love suffers long and is kind, that is a different level than what we usually mean when we say love is patient.

Proverbs 9:10 states how we begin our relationship with Him. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

 John 4:9-19 in the Living Bible is probably my favorite passage because I think it gives us the destination of our relationship with God.

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into this wicked world to bring to us eternal life through his death. In this act we see what real love is: it is not our love for God but his love for us when he sent his Son to satisfy God’s anger against our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us as much as that, we surely ought to love each other too. For though we have never yet seen God, when we love each other God lives in us, and his love within us grows ever stronger. And he has put his own Holy Spirit into our hearts as a proof to us that we are living with him and he with us. And furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now tell all the world that God sent his Son to be their Savior. Anyone who believes and says that Jesus is the Son of God has God living in him, and he is living with God. We know how much God loves us because we have felt his love and because we believe him when he tells us that he loves us dearly. God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in him. And as we live with Christ, our love grows more perfect and complete; so we will not be ashamed and embarrassed at the day of judgment, but can face him with confidence and joy because he loves us and we love him too. We need have no fear of someone who loves us perfectly; his perfect love for us eliminates all dread of what he might do to us. If we are afraid, it is for fear of what he might do to us and shows that we are not fully convinced that he really loves us. So you see, our love for him comes as a result of his loving us first.”

John 4:9-19

It is so wonderful when we know how perfectly God loves us.

There is so much more but this is enough for now.


Looking unto Jesus

Have you ever considered who is watching us run this race we call our lives? We know that God is watching, but the bible says that there is a great cloud of witnesses cheering for us to run this race well.

Have you ever watched your favorite sports team play after it’s been eliminated from the playoffs? Not usually must see TV. But, if you have ever had the opportunity to watch your team play in a championship game you know that it’s an exciting and exhilarating experience. You have the opportunity to cheer them on to victory! I sometimes think of our lives like a TV channel. Have you ever been watching a show and then something comes on that is inappropriate or morally wrong and you had to change the channel quick? I wonder if that is what happens in heaven when those who are witnessing us live out our lives see us choose sin. What would the rating of our lives and our thoughts be? G, PG, PG-13, R, or worse?

Questions I encourage you to consider:

  • What is the sin that so easily entangles us?
  • What are the weights or distractions that are slowing us down?
  • Do you ever feel like you are running this race alone?

As I have considered the 3rd question I found great encouragement from God’s word. Everyone’s race is different but, we all are able to keep our eyes fixed on our savior Jesus Christ. He had the most difficult race to run in all eternity, But because of this He understands what its like to run. He was running for us. And His finish line? Sitting at the right hand of the Father.

As we keep all this in mind, it still can feel like a long race and we still have to fight discouragement and sin. God gives us excellent advice for this fight in Hebrews 12.

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees,
and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.

Hebrews 12:12-13

We definitely have times during our race when we feel weak and vulnerable. One of those times for me is when I am tired. If I haven’t made a plan (straight path for my feet) for how I am going to spend my time in the evenings, it is easy for me to waste my time on a computer or phone instead of spending time with other people.

  • Are there any areas that you can make straight paths for your feet?

How we run this race matters, and God calls us to pursue him in such a way as to glorify him through our actions.

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.

Hebrews 12:14-17

Lastly, imagine running into a stadium with hundreds of thousands cheering you on to finish your race well…

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

Hebrews 12:22-24

Hebrews 12:22-24 says that YOU HAVE an innumerable group of people cheering you on, so with that in mind, run your race well looking unto Jesus.

-Bill Saunders

Witnessing The Faithfulness of God

By Hope Saunders

Hope here! If you don’t already know me I’ll take a moment to introduce myself. I am the 3rd oldest of 4 children in the Saunders family and the oldest daughter. I am a sophomore in Highschool and, of all the subjects that I have had the opportunity to study, my favorites are Math and Music. As I was talking with my parents about what I had learned through the process of moving to Oklahoma, they asked me if I would be willing to share some of that with you all today. I agreed, so here we are! The process of moving truly started for me in early 2019, It was a snowy day in February when my dad first presented to our family the possibility of joining ITG and moving to OKC. At that time the thought of uprooting myself from everything I had ever known, and moving across the country seemed ridiculous. In the many ensuing conversations that I had with my family (most of them with my dad), we reached the conclusion that it was ok for me to pray against moving to Oklahoma, and boy did I! We went down to visit Oklahoma for a week in May of 2019, and to be honest with you, I did not have a good attitude at all. We did many fun things while we were there but despite all that, I was determined to dislike Oklahoma. Even through all of that my brother William and I decided to come down for 2.5 weeks in June and participate in Operation Impact or OI as Summer Missionaries. It was through this experience that God softened my heart, and showed me that his plan for our family was to move. I will never forget the moment that I realized that it was God’s plan, not my dad’s, to move to OKC. We were riding home from OI, and the majority of the way back I had been dealing with the thought that God might be calling our family to move. Shortly after we got to MN, I broke down crying and told my parents that, even if I didn’t like it, God had made it clear to me that we were supposed to go. I’m not going to sit here and tell you all that after that conversation everything was all sunshine and roses, because it was not. There were many tears, and countless times that I would remember something that I would miss about Minnesota and cry some more. But it wasn’t until a dear friend of my mom’s told me something that my perspective changed. She said “It’s ok to be sad and mourn the loss of the incredible blessings you experienced here, but, remember that God will do more that we could ask for or even imagine when we follow him.” Wow, as I thought through what she had said, God helped me to trust him and his plan. And I am so grateful that He did!

God has provided an incredible group of friends and mentors for me here in OKC. He has also given our family the gift of a wonderful church and youth group. In closing I believe that God gives us all moments in our lives that we can look back on and be encouraged. Through little moments that I experienced before we moved, I was able to see God’s heart and his goodness. And through those experiences, I had the ability to look back on them while going through the difficult process of moving and see his faithfulness. A verse I stumbled across a while back sums this up pretty well:

Psalm 37:3-4

Trust in the Lord, and do good;

Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

Delight yourself also in the Lord,

And He shall give you the desires of your heart.