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Meditations for an every day relationship with jesus

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Forward Writing this book is the inevitable result of collecting. I do this to bring a unique voice … a voice that has developed over many years by God’s grace. Listening to Him speak is a blessing I have attempted to record for the purpose of honoring Jesus Christ as Lord.

At the core of this collection is the harvest of countless “meditations” ... lessons or devotions ... which have been sent out to e-congregations over the years under the banner of the gathering after Matthew’s gospel: Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."

Note: all Scripture is taken from the Holman Christian Standard Translation unless assigned.

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Index Page 2 ……. Forward Page 3 ……. Index Page 4 ……. Index Page 5 ……. Index Page 6 ……. Luke 9:18-20 Page 7 ……. Isaiah 41:10 Page 8 ……. Job 1:6-8 Page 9 ……. Matthew 5:43-45 Page 10 ...…. John 14:6-7 Page 11 …… John 14:14-18 Page 12 …….Luke 6:27-30 Page 13 …… Romans 5:3-8 Page 14 ……Isaiah 57:1-2 Page 15 …… Habakkuk 1:2-4 Page 16 …… Isaiah 51:6 Page 17 …… Revelation 21:4-5 Page 18 …... Romans 5:1-5 Page 19 …... 2 Corinthians 12:9 Page 20 …… Matthew 18:21-22 Page 21 …… Job 42:5-6 Page 22 ……Leviticus 24:3-4 Page 23 …... Revelation 22:12-13 Page 24 …… Matthew 6:24 Page 25 …… 1 Timothy 6:10 Page 26 …… Luke 14:27 Page 27 …… John 14:15-17 Page 28 …… 2Corinthians 5:17 Page 29 …… 1Peter 2:13-15 Page 30 …….1Thessalonians 4:10-12 Page 31 …… Colossians 1:15-17 Page 32 …… 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 Page 33 …… Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Page 34 …… 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 Page 35 …… 2 Timothy 2:8-9 Page 36 …… Genesis 11:5-8 Page 37 …… Genesis 1:31 Page 38 …… James 1:17-18 Page 39 …… Genesis 1:31 Page 40 …… 2 Thessalonians 3:7-10 Page 41 …… Isaiah 53:5 Page 42 …… Hebrews 1:1-3 Page 43 …… Genesis 3:20-21 Page 44 …… Joshua 24:15

Page 45 ……. Psalm 46:1 Page 46 ……. John 8:42 Page 47 ……. John 21:24-25 Page 48 ……. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 Page 49 ……. Ezekiel 36:27-28 Page 50 ……. 1 Timothy 6:6-8 Page 51 ……. James 5:14-16 Page 52 ……. 1 Thessalonians 1:5-8 Page 53 ……. Psalm 46:10 Page 54 ……. Titus 3:1-3 Page 55 ……. Psalm 46:10 Page 56 ……. Titus 3:1-3 Page 57 ……. 1 Corinthians 9:24-15 Page 58 ……. Genesis 2:7 Page 59 ……. Exodus 20:2-7 Page 60 ……. 1 Peter 2:10 Page 61 ……. Leviticus 26:3-4&6 Page 62 ……. Luke 4:17-19 Page 63 ……. Matthew 7:7-11 Page 64 ……. John 2:1-11 Page 65 ……. 2 Chronicles 20:17 Page 66 ……. Numbers 6:22-26 Page 67 ……. 2 Corinthians 4:18 Page 68 ……. Hebrews 13:15 Page 69 ……. Ephesians 5:15-17 Page 70 ……. Matthew 6:1-4 Page 71 ……..Psalm 40:9-10 Page 72 ……. Luke 16:10-13 Page 73 ……. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Page 74 ……. Psalm 27:1 Page 75 ……. Matthew 10:28 Page 76 ……. Matthew 6:33-34 Page 77 ……. Psalm 46:10 Page 78 ……. Genesis 1:3-5 Page 79 ……. Jeremiah 29:11-13 Page 80 ……. Jeremiah 29:141 Page 81 ……. 1 Peter1:6-9 Page 82 ……. 1 Corinthians 15:9 Page 83 ……. Haggai 1:5-6 Page 84 ……. John 3:12 Page 85 ……. Acts 2:2-6 Page 86 ……. Psalm 139:23-24 Page 87 ……. John 3:35

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Index Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page

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88 ….... Lamentations 1:1-2 89 …… Daniel 12:4 90 …… 1 Timothy 3:2-7 91 …… Titus 3:5-7 92 …… Psalm 61:1-3 93 …… Genesis 16:11-12 94 …… Numbers 23:19 95 …… 2 Timothy 2:13 96 …… 2 Peter 3:8-9 97 …… Isaiah 46:4 98 …… 1 Samuel 46:4 99 …… Psalm 9:8-10 100 …. Psalm 138:7-8 101 ….. John 15:16 102 ….. Romans 5:8 103 ….. Acts 2:42-47 104 ….. Matthew 26:75 105 ….. John 11:35 106 ….. James 1:12 107 ….. James 1:13-14 108 ….. James 1:1 109 ….. John 13:34-35 110 ….. 1 John 4:7-12 111 ….. Ezra 9:18-19 112 ….. Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 113 ….. Nehemiah 6:8 114 ….. Hosea 2:16-20 115 ….. Song of Solomon 2:8-12 116 ….. Colossians 3:1-4 117 ….. 1 Corinthians 15:58 118 ….. Colossians 3:18-24 119 ….. Psalm 62:5 120 ….. Galatians 6:1-2 121 ….. Proverbs 10:2-6 122 ….. Daniel 11:21-24 123 ….. James 3:1 124 ….. Mark 8:11-12 125 ….. Romans 12:4-8 126 ….. Colossians 3:17 127 ….. Galatians 2:20 128 ….. Psalm 42:1 129 ….. Isaiah 44:23 130 ….. Matthew 1:17 4

131 …… Esther 5:3 132 …… Romans 2:1 133 …… Leviticus 19:11-14 134 …… Matthew 24:6-8 135 …… Esther 9:12 136 …… Isaiah 44:20 137 …… John 15:1-5 138 …… John 4:35-36 139 …… Psalm 92:12-15 140 …… Deuteronomy 21:18-21 141 …… Deuteronomy 21:22-23 142 …… 3 John 1:11 143 …… Deuteronomy 5:6-10 144 …… Psalm 42:5 145 …… 2 John 1:9-11 146 …… Joel 2:1-2 147 …… Ecclesiastes 7:19-20 148 …… Philemon 1:8-12 149 …… Ecclesiastes 7:26 150 …… John 21:15-17 151 …… Revelation 20:6 152 …… Revelation 1:8 153 …… 1 John 4:9-12 154 …… Revelation 1-8 155 …… Proverbs 3:1-6 156 …… John 4:9-12 157 …… Proverbs 3:1-6 158 …… Deuteronomy 5:6-21 159 …… Philippians 4:4-6 160 …… 1 Peter 3:16 161 …… Amos 1:6-7 162 …… Matthew 4:18-20 163 …… Habbakuk 2:18-19 164 …… Hebrews 13:5-6 165 …… 2 Kings 6:16 166 …… Matthew 6:5-6 167 …… 2 Thessalonians 3:8 168 …… John 7:14-17 169 …… Joel 3:3 170 …… Proverbs 15:15 171 …… John 15:9-12 172 …… Ezra 9:15 173 …… Psalm 39:5-6 174 …… 1 Corinthians 5:7-8


Index Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page

175 …... Obadiah 1:2-4 176 …... Acts 17:22-23 177 ..…. Jonah 3:8-10 178 ..…. Ephesians 6:5-8 179 ..…. Psalms 14:1 180 ..…. Romans 3:20-24 181 ..…. James 4:1-4 182 ..…. Numbers 5:7 183 ..…. Psalm 103:11-12 184 ..…. Psalm 86:1-6 185 ..…. Isaiah 4:6-4 186 ..…. Numbers 23:19 187 ..…. 2 Timothy 2:13 188 ..…. Proverbs 28:26 189 ..…. 1 Chronicles 11:7-9 190 ..…. Zephaniah 3:1-2 191 ..…. Zephaniah 3:4-5 192 ..…. Proverbs 15:3 193 ..…. Titus 3:5-7 194 ..…. Psalm 138:7-8 195 ..…. Matthew 10:7-10 196 ..…. John 8:51 197 ..…. Psalm 48:14 198 ..…. Micah 3:1-3 199 ..…. 2 Titus 1:8-10 200 ..…. Ecclesiastes 8:11-13 201 ..…. Acts 4:18-19 202 ..…. Psalm 119:28-32 203 ..…. Ezekiel 46:16 204 ..…. Deuteronomy 4:29 205 ..…. Acts 21:10-14 206 ..…. 1 Kings 8:53 207 ..…. Nahum 1:2-2 208 ..…. Isaiah 46:11 209 ..…. Ecclesiastes 11:1-3 210 ..…. Mark 4:39-41 211 ……Luke 12:32 212 ..…. 1 Corinthians 4:1 213 ..…. Isaiah 57:1 214 ..…. Genesis 14:18-20 215 ..…. Genesis 14:22-23 216 ..…. Matthew 9:3-7 217 ..…. Matthew 9:36-38

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218 …… Proverbs 28:1-3 219 …… Deuteronomy 10:1-3 220 …… Genesis 1:27-28 221 …… Genesis 8:15-17 222 …… Genesis 11:1-6 223 …… Hosea 6:1-2 224 …… Matthew 16:21-23 225 …… John 2:16-19 226 …… Ecclesiastes 7:29 227 …… David 12:16 228 …… Isaiah 11:6-9 229 …… Genesis 1:27-30 230 …... John 5:42-43 231 …… 1 Kings 8:41-43 232 …… Matthew 2:1-2 233 …… Luke 11:39-41 234 …… Joel 1:5 235 …... Daniel 12:3 236 …… Jeremiah 1:4-5 237 …… Colossians 2:8 238 …… Romans 5:12-14 339 …… Romans 5:19-20 240 …… Matthew 10:7-10 241 …… Psalm 49:20 242 …… 1 Peter 1:6-7 243 …… Psalm 18:3 244 …… Matthew 9:35-36 245 …… John 6:64-65 246 …… Judges 2:1-5 247 …… Ezra 1:2-4 248 …… Haggai 1:5-7 249 …… Jude 1:4-6 250 …… 3 John 1:9-11 251 …… Ecclesiastes 2:21 252 …… Genesis 9:20-23 253 …… Micah 7:77-79 254 …… James 1:13-14 256 …… 1 Peter 1:18-19 257 …… Zechariah 1:8-10 258 …… Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 259 …… Luke 9:18-20 260 …… Philippians 4:13 261 …… Matthew 9:9-11


Index

Index

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262 …… Ephesians 2:19-22 263 …… 2 Peter 1:3-4 264 …… Amos 3:3-7 265 …… Esther 9:1-2 266 …… Joel 2:1-3 267 …… James 5:1-3 268 …… 1 John 4:11-13 269 …… 2 Chronicles 12:5-8 270 …… 1 Peter 1:14-16 271 …… Ecclesiastes 6:7 272 …… Proverbs 15:6 273 …… Revelation 3:14-17 274 …… Psalm 111:10 275 …… Genesis 12:1-3 276 …… Ezekiel 2:1-5 277 …… Ezekiel 15:17-18 278 …… Exodus 15:17-18 279 …… Galatians 5:13-15 280 …… Matthew 5:43-46 281 …… Deuteronomy 6:4-8 282 …… Leviticus 19:29-30 283 …… 2 Timothy 4:6-8 284 …… 2 Samuel 8:13-15 285 …… Luke 1:1-4 286 …… 1 Corinthians 1:9-13 287 …… Exodus 37:1-9 288 …… Isaiah 14:1-2 289 …… Isaiah 14:12-14 290 …… Isaiah 14:24-27 291 …… Isaiah 16:5 292 …… Romans 8:29-30 293 …… Jeremiah 10:5 294 …… Jonah 2:1-2 295 …… Amos 6:11 296 …… Jeremiah 4:3-4 297 …… Romans 8:31 298 …… Nehemiah 10:37 299 …… Matthew 19:20-22 300 …… Matthew 19:23-26 301 …… 2 Corinthians 9:5-7 302 …… Revelation 22:12-13 303 …… Ruth 2:1-3 304 …… Judges 2:10-12 6

305 …… 1 Corinthians 1:18-20 306 …… Exodus 14:13 307 …… Matthew 4:23 308 …… Daniel 12:9-13 309 …… Matthew 16:5-8 & 11-12 310 …… Matthew 13:33 311 …… Leviticus 23:17-18 312 …… Hebrews 1:1-3 313 …… Joshua 1:6-9 314 …… Acts 1:4-5 315 …… Hebrews 8:6-7 & 13 316 …… Hosea 4:2 317 …… Psalm 22:14-21 318 …… Jude 1:4-6 319 …… Jonah 3:8-10 320 …… Jonah 4:1-4 321 …… Jonah 4:9-11 322 …… Colossians 3:18-24 323 …… Hebrews 12:28-29 324 …… 2 John 1:7-11 325 …… Jeremiah 4:23-26 326 …… Joel 3:1-3 327 …… Hebrews 13:1-6 328 …… 1 John 3:4-7 329 …… John 10:17-21 330 …… Hosea 6:1-2 331 …… Judges 2:18-19 332 …… Habakkuk 2:5 333 …… Psalm 41:1-3 334 …… Psalm 41:11-13 335 …… Hebrews 5:1-4 336 …… Micah 6:1-3 337 …… Genesis 47:1-4 338 …… Galatians 4:1-7 339 …… Habakkuk 3:1-2 340 …… Galatians 4:28-31 341 …… Acts 10:34-36 342 …… 1 Timothy 4:4-8 343 …… Revelation 20:7-10 344 …… Revelation 11:1-2 345 …… Romans 6:1-4 346 …… Ecclesiastes 9:1-2 347 …… Jude 1:12-1`3


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349 …… Lamentations 3:1-5 350 …… Ruth 4:13-22 351 …… 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 352 …… Nahum 2:3-4 353 …… Psalm 150:1-6 354 …… Zephaniah 3:12-13 355 …… Revelation 17:7-9 356 …… Hebrews 4:12-14 357 …… James 3:7-10 358 …… Psalm 5:7-9 359 …… John 20:21-23 360 …... Ecclesiastes 8:6-8 361 …… Hebrews 11:1-3 362 …… Malachi 3:7 363 …… Romans 13:12-14 364 …… Galatians 5:24-26 365 …… Psalm 34:4-8 366 …… Job 33:14-17 367 …… 2 Peter 2:20-22 368 …… James 5:8 369 …… Romans 15:3-6 370 …… Genesis 16:4-6 371 …… Job 42:12-17 372 …… Ephesians 6:10 373 …… Afterward

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the voice God gave me

Is perception reality? James 1:17-18 Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning.

Perception is not reality. Reality stands apart from our perception in the way truth stands apart from a lie. Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life. Our God, Father of Lights, is the only absolute reality because He never changes: there is no variation or shadow caused by movement. God stays put! Perception is something that changes based on any number of variables, such as who is perceiving and what is being perceived. This is very subjective and open to endless interpretation. God always remains true to who He is, and keeps the promises He makes. If we choose to rebel against Him, it is not God who changes, but us.

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meditations for an everyday relationship with Jesus

What did Paul tell Titus? Titus 3:1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people. For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, captives of various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another.

Believers must keep their eyes on the prize which is Christ Jesus. Paul was giving Titus direction on how to keep his church on Crete intact. However, Paul has broader and more contemporary appeal as we read his practical guide to living in a world that often views belief in God as a failure. We must be kingdom people who turn the unnatural order of our world on its head. And we must never forget that we were once the foolish, disobedient and deceived. We still struggle but we are stronger.

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the voice God gave me

What child is this? Luke 9:18–20 Once when He was praying in private, and His disciples were with Him, He asked them, "Who do the crowds say that I am?" And they answered, "John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, that one of the ancient prophets has come back." "But you," He asked them, "who do you say that I am?" Peter answered, "God's Messiah!"

Who do you say that He is? The answer will forever define you and your relationship with God. C.S Lewis said that unless Jesus was telling the truth about Himself He could not be a moral teacher, since He had obviously lied. Jesus would have been undeniably insane to have orchestrated His own death by the cross ‌ the worst kind of torture! So, if you are reading this, and cannot believe that Jesus is the Son of God, then who do you say that He is?

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meditations for an everyday relationship with Jesus

How does God protect us? Isaiah 41:10 Do not fear for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.

Jesus hurt on the cross in ways we will never understand; and there is a part of us that still feels a deep sense of guilt. Whenever we get wrapped up in self pity it hurts deeply because we know that what we are going through is only a taste of what Jesus experienced first and on our behalf. As believers we get a fleeting sense of bitter-sweetness that washes over us but it does not remain; because of Christ we do not know the full depth of the separation that sin brings. Yet we sense its loneliness and longing. Grace protects us from lives of sin; it is unmerited and given freely.

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the voice God gave me

Who is the Lord of this world? Job 1:6--8 One day the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord asked Satan, "Where have you come from?" "From roaming through the earth," Satan answered Him, "and walking around on it." Then the Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job? No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil."

Have you ever felt like your life was in the toilet, and God was just waiting for the perfect opportunity to flush your karma down the drain? Understood! But, you wouldn’t have been the first person to consider that possibility. Take heart … God trumps karma, fate and especially Satan! Your life is not a gamble. Albert Einstein once said that God doesn’t play dice. The great physicist knew that worlds upon worlds are ordered, balanced, and with distinct purpose.

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meditations for an everyday relationship with Jesus

Is life fair? Matthew 5:43-45 "You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Actually, life is more than fair. Life is neutral; everyone has the same opportunity. People make lives what they are (or are not). The individual who has the most profound impact on our lives is us ‌ you and me. No one else has a bigger starring role in the drama of our lives than we do. Living is about freewill, and the choices we make. The clouds rain and the sun shines on everyone. The bigger question is whether we will make the best use of umbrellas and sunscreen.

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the voice God gave me

Why is Jesus different? John 14:6-7 Jesus told him, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you know Me, you will also know My Father. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.�

Jesus, unlike other faith leaders, is exactly who He claims to be. Instead of pointing to a tin god, or one who might offer enlightenment, Jesus comes as God and is the very answer we seek. Instead of being confusing and complex, offering riddles and rules, Jesus is simple and direct. Jesus also did something that no one else has ever done: He was resurrected bodily from the dead and promised the same for all who believe on Him. This assertion has never been successfully challenged, and no corpse was ever produced. Our God lives!

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meditations for an everyday relationship with Jesus

Is God nearby? John 14:14 –18 “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth, whom the world is unable to receive because it doesn't see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you.”

There are those times for each of us when we wonder where God went; when we ask why we feel so alone in our faith. The answer is this: God is always close in the person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is Jesus left behind with us in a spiritual form to comfort and guide. We are never alone. Since we are not gods, and our faith is not perfect, we have doubts and fears. But know this … We are children of the One Living God. We are not orphans.

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the voice God gave me

How can we love our enemies? Luke 6:27-30 "But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don't hold back your shirt either. Give to everyone who asks from you, and from one who takes away your things, don't ask for them back.”

We can only love our enemies if we have Jesus “in us” as our personal Lord and Savior. No one can love themselves into a relationship with Him by loving others. We do not have the capacity to do that without His capacity. We call it grace. This is not an ordinary love. It is “agape love” a Greek term which is best defined as a selfless love of one person for another without sexual implications; especially love of a spiritual nature. Be loved and love without condition. Forgive seven times seventy.

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meditations for an everyday relationship with Jesus

Why me, Lord? Romans 5:3-8 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope does not disappoint, because God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person-though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us!

Why not you; why not me? What makes us so special that we think we are exceptions to any of the rules? Addiction recovery tells us that we are not so special or so unique that we have a free pass through the difficult times. Jesus died for each of us so that we might live life more fully. Isn’t it outrageous that He would die for even those who would mock Him and scoff? God approves of those who are willing to walk the walk.

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the voice God gave me

Do the good always die young? Isaiah 57:1-2 The righteous one perishes, and no one takes it to heart; faithful men are swept away, with no one realizing that the righteous one is swept away from the presence of evil. He will enter into peacethey will rest on their beds—everyone who lives uprightly.

The good may not always die young, but when they do at least we can point to a verse in Scripture that deals with it in an honest way. What happens to us is not bad luck, karma, destiny or fate. What happens is the net result of the decisions we have made over a lifetime tempered with God’s purpose. In Isaiah we see that death can be a protective shield. More importantly … does good mean an individual who is innocent or does it mean those who make seek recognition for the good works they have done? Goodness is not godliness; righteousness is godliness. Be holy because God is holy. In that is our only purpose.

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meditations for an everyday relationship with Jesus

Can we be really honest with God? Habakkuk 1:2-4 How long, Lord, must I call for help and You do not listen, or cry out to You about violence and You do not save? Why do You force me to look at injustice? Why do You tolerate wrongdoing? Oppression and violence are right in front of me. Strife is ongoing, and conflict escalates. This is why the law is ineffective and justice never emerges. For the wicked restrict the righteous; therefore, justice comes out perverted.

This sense of outrage is only half of the equation. Honest communication with God is more than frustration, petition and challenge. However, this diatribe by the prophet Habakkuk suggests that God can handle our outrage, and more, without blinking. Our God has an infinite capacity for our fears and our sins. Remember that it was He who gave up only His Son as a ransom for our lives. I suggest that we balance our conversations with God by offering up praise, confession, and seeking forgiveness. That is a relationship.

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the voice God gave me

Always saved? Isaiah 51:6 Look up to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and its inhabitants will die in like manner. But My salvation will last forever, and My righteousness will never be shattered.

If salvation can be lost, then it is not good news for us. If salvation is conditional, then it cannot be eternal. The more critical question is whether or not we can lose something we have not merited or earned? Neither you nor I can lose something we never had, which is why an altar call can feel so empty after all of the excitement has passed, the church is empty, and nothing seems to have changed. However, if we are truly transformed, our salvation can never be lost. We could no more give back our “new creature� status than we could un-know God.

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meditations for an everyday relationship with Jesus

When will things be made new? Revelation 21:4-5 Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away. Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.

Everything is being made new as I write this and as you read this. The “newness” began with a definite purpose the moment Jesus emerged from the tomb. Everything is changing; nothing just stays where it is. It has been said that we are either busy living or busy dying . The choice is ours, and there is no in-between. Newness is four-fold. It affects how we relate to God, self, others, and creation. Are you busy being a life-giver? Are you about the newness of a life in Christ Jesus? The Light, which is God ,brings life; darkness, which is evil, brings only sin and death.

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the voice God gave me

How can we possibly enjoy difficult times? Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Also through Him, we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope does not disappoint, because God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

We cannot do this alone, and God does not expect us to. He has given us a helper we refer to as the Holy Spirit. The term for this third person of the Trinity, in the Greek, is paraclete; this word means “one brought alongside.” It is doubtful that Paul would have expected any of us to be thrilled with the prospect of hard times. What he does ask, however, is that we look at these times as formative, … experiences that will make us stronger and wiser for what is to come.

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meditations for an everyday relationship with Jesus

How can Jesus be enough? 2 Corinthians 12:9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.

Jesus is all we need. In fact, He is more than we will ever need! He is bigger than any person or any problem. Real evidence for the power of God is made known to all the world when we, as believers, rely upon Him. To those who do not believe it looks like insanity to depend upon a God no one can see; but the weakness referred to in this passage isn’t about physical strength. It is about being obedient and trusting in His purpose even if we do not have all of the answers. This is what we call “faith.” It is the reliance upon, and devotion to, things unseen.” Be faithful; what the world sees as weakness is really a source of strength.

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the voice God gave me

Endless forgiving? Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" “I tell you, not as many as seven," Jesus said to him, "but 70 times seven.”

Matthew West answers the question very eloquently in his hit “Forgiveness,” when he tells the listener that forgiveness frees the real prisoner which is really me and you. Seven is a perfect number, and would ordinarily suggest completion. However, in the case of forgiveness, Jesus tells Peter that forgiveness is an infinite process of healing and is never completed. The reason for this is a simple fact: the real victim of an unforgiving heart is not the person who needs to be forgiven, but the one who needs to forgive.

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meditations for an everyday relationship with Jesus

Love me? Job 42:5-6 “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself.”

How many of us have compared ourselves to God and, like Job, wondered how we could ever approach Him and ask for anything? Most of us feel so bad about who we are, or what we have done, that we envision such an encounter as just another rejection … but on a cosmic scale. For many of us it would confirm our worst fears, and underscore what we already know about ourselves. We are tempted to say, “If God only knew about … (1.) my infidelities, (2.) my addictions, (3.) my lies (4.) my fears, (5.) my resentments, etc.” And, of course He does know, and loves us anyway. We assume that God is like people only bigger and scarier. Our God is a loving God, and there is nothing else like Him … nothing better.

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the voice God gave me

Obedience Leviticus 24:3-4 If you follow My statutes, and faithfully observe My commands, I will give you rain at the right time, and the land will yield its produce, and the trees of the field will bear their fruit.

This is more about blessing than simply following a list of rules. We can follow rules and abide by civil law all day long, and we will probably not feel particularly blessed … although we will no doubt fit in better with our community, avoid fines and jail time. In the ways of God obedience is its own reward. We find ourselves submitting to a benevolent and merciful authority, and there is peace. No one but God can be the author of real peace in the middle of such hectic and unfulfilling lives. “Know Jesus, know peace. No Jesus, no peace.” Sometimes bumper stickers get it right!

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meditations for an everyday relationship with Jesus

When will the end come? Revelation 22:12-13 “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the last, the Beginning and the End.”

While many signs of the end are obvious, most are subtle. In Matthew it refers to “wars and rumors of wars,” and that these are but the “birthing pangs.” There are of course gatherings of the faithful, which are not new; but the microscopic focus on Israel and the Middle-East is new. God’s work will end where it began. Decisions about where we place our faith cannot be put off, and we can no longer claim ignorance. We do not live in a vacuum, but on a globe, informed and vulnerable. The emergence of the Bible Code, the Nag Hammadi Library, the nation of Israel, and the Dead Sea Scrolls are but a sampling of the knowledge that God asks us to investigate. He is commanding us to look at the big picture and to be aware of “which way the wind is blowing.”

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Why not more than one master? Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other … You cannot serve God and mammon [other gods, i.e. money, etc.].”

What this tells us is that we cannot serve Christ and other gods; a decision must be made. None of us do particularly well with split loyalties, and our “jealous God” will simply not stand for it. Praise Him for forcing our hand! Hid jealous love for us actually makes the decision for Him far less complex. He offers one real option, not a buffet of alternatives. Gather with those of one accord and behold Christ in the Holy Spirit. While you are on your faith journey continue ask Him for guidance, and actively seek Him out. He is not elusive. You will be blessed to discover that He is always there for us.

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Tithing: what does it mean? 1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”

Interestingly, Christ does not directly address tithing, but suggests that money should be given away, or at the very least be placed in perspective because it can become obsessive. If we are immersed in our faith, and worship is truly a lifestyle, then 10% of our accumulated (or earned) resources will be just the beginning. That is why Christ didn’t put a number on it. He wanted our faith to emanate from the heart not from the purse. God is also wondering what you and I will do with the other 90% of our resources, since it all originated with Him. We have not earned anything that He did not first create. Invest wisely.

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Cross training? Luke 14:27 “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn't first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?�

It is vitally important that we understand what the cross that Jesus bore consisted of, and why it was essential to salvation The cross that He carried was more than physically heavy, cumbersome, and full of splinters. It contained our sins: all the sins of all of the world, past, present, and future. To redeem means that He both paid for them and was literally crucified on them. And because of this real event, Jesus paid for those sins with His life. He paid as an innocent lamb (one without blemish or spot). This is in keeping with Biblical prophecy and Hebrew messianic tradition. Who carries a cross that has not counted the cost? Follow Him!

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Do you love Me ...? John 14:15-17 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth, whom the world is unable to receive because it doesn't see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you.”

“If you love me …” Have you ever had someone begin a conversation like this, and you know it is going to a very bad place? We are immediately on the defensive because in the flesh we know that a question like this is conditional; it will leverage our passion and our loyalty for the other person’s gain. You win, I lose. Not so with Jesus. When we give ourselves to Him in spirit and truth we gain the whole world even though we lose our old lives. These are conditions which hold promise and blessing. Love Him!

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Are our relationships broken?? 2Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

Today, instead of licking our wounds, and wallowing in self-pity, we are beginning to see that there are new ways to mend the relationships that are vital to us. We consider: Our relationship with God (we are no longer what happened) Our relationship with self (we are what can happen) Our relationship with others (we are now pure potential) Our relationship with creation (we are what God intended us to be)

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How are we radicals? 1Peter 2:13-15 Submit to every human institution because of the Lord, whether to the Emperor as the supreme authority, or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For it is God's will that you, by doing good, silence the ignorance of foolish people.

We talk freely about being “radical,” though most of us really don’t understand its root meaning. The actual definition is to be fully committed and thoroughgoing. In Christ Jesus we are indeed radical, passionate and fully committed, though we support governments—we do not make it our goal to overthrow them—and we honor kingdoms. We know that God will have the final word; we do not need to wage His wars for Him. Our constructive activities will do more to silence the tongues of the ignorant than any protest.

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What did Paul tell the Thessalonians? 1Thessalonians 4:10-12 But we encourage you, brothers, to do so even more, to seek to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, so that you may walk properly in the presence of outsiders and not be dependent on anyone.

Paul was teaching the Thessalonians to work quietly and let their everyday lives speak for Christ. In this way we are also asked not to shy away from the workplace, but to engage in it so that our light might shine brightly to others. We are commanded to be “glow in the dark� people who shine brightly in the darkness of this world. By the grace of God we can be a light to the paths of others.

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What did Paul tell the Colossians? Colossians 1:15-17 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation; because by Him everything was created, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.

Paul reminded the church members at Colossae that Jesus Christ alone is at the center, and at the head, of everything they needed to know. Because there were many false teachings circulating, especially those that were competing with the “Jesus only” doctrine, this lyrical letter, or creed, is simple, straight forward, and easy to remember. Today we do the same when we recite the Lord’s Prayer to invoke community and strength. “… protect us and deliver us from the evil one.”

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What was Paul’s thorn? 2Corinthians 12:7-9 Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may reside in me.

We don’t know for certain exactly what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was, but it was presumably a temptation of the flesh. All of us who seek Christ, and perfection in Him, understand all too well that the flesh itself is the last obstacle to a state of spiritual perfection. Our flesh is the one common humbling factor that no individual can claim to have overcome … not in this life. In this way all are equal, no one standing taller than another at the foot of the cross. Each one of us know the torment of the flesh. Take heart! Note: The “thorn” may well be a metaphor for what is suggested more broadly in Romans: the consequence of free will.

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Why should we be together? Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? And if somebody overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.

As it goes for marriages it also goes for communities. We were not meant to be alone. Jesus even left behind the Holy Spirit so that we would not be alone when He left. Consider that this model for community, and for marriage, is also the covenant model that God intends for us to experience with Him. We do not have to be alone; being alone is a choice. Being alone makes us vulnerable to the temptation of the enemy.

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Is the rapture real? 1Thessalonians 4:16-17 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel's voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will always be with the Lord.

The rapture is absolutely real, and it is the foundation of our hope in this crazy age. Paul reassures us through this letter to the church at Thessalonica that what Jesus promised He would fulfill; and that we should be prepared because no one but God the Father knows the day or the hour. The time for His return grows nearer with each passing day. Are you prepared in Christ?

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Can chains bind us? 2Timothy 2:8-9 Keep in mind Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, according to my gospel. For this I suffer, to the point of being bound like a criminal; but God's message is not bound.

God’s message is not bound by anything! No person, place or thing can stop God if He has a will and a purpose for your life. That being said, you and I can be the obstacle to His will for us in the same way the rich young man in Matthew 19 turned away from Jesus. He was bound by his wealth and his possessions. He chose them over God. God will never make us choose Him, but He will not let us forget Him, either. God’s message is never bound by circumstance, time or place. We, on the other hand, are bound by our obsessions and the chains of our sin. However, if we allow God to work through us no sin can prevent His work, and no prison can contain us. God’s truth will always set us free.

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Are some divisions necessary? Genesis 11:5-8 Then the Lord came down to look over the city and the tower that the men were building. The Lord said, "If, as one people all having the same language, they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down there and confuse their language so that they will not understand one another's speech." So the Lord scattered them from there over the face of the whole earth, and they stopped building the city.

While the Holy Spirit truly binds us as the common denominator, the God-glue, there are significant factors which continue to divide us. There is, in God’s mind, a good reason for this. Issues of language, ethnicity, affiliation and origin, continue to distract us so that we do not set about to do the unthinkable: That we might conquer the impossible, believe ourselves invincible, and crown ourselves God. Real beneficent unity occurs only in the Spirit and in the body of Christ. Unity is not about buildings or facades. Be still and know that only God is God.

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Creation or science? Genesis 1:31 God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Evening came, and then morning: the sixth day. John 1:1-2 In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. 2Peter 3:8 Dear friends, don't let this one thing escape you: with the Lord one day is like 1,000 years, and 1,000 years like one day.

What we have to take away from Genesis is this: we do NOT have to choose between creation and science. God does not require it and Jesus did not die for it. Our salvation is not affected by our belief in six days or six ages of creation. God’s time is not our time. What we must understand is that God saw all that He had created, and that it was good. Scientists and believers alike are required to understand creation in terms of faith because faith is the only avenue to an answer. The final step in any process is faith.

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Being responsible? 2Thessalonians 3:7-10 For you yourselves know how you must imitate us: we were not irresponsible among you; we did not eat anyone's bread free of charge; instead, we labored and toiled, working night and day, so that we would not be a burden to any of you. It is not that we don't have the right to support, but we did it to make ourselves an example to you so that you would imitate us. In fact, when we were with you, this is what we commanded you: "If anyone isn't willing to work, he should not eat."

Paul’s message was a message for the marketplace as was Jesus’ gospel. Most of us spend more time at work, and in commuting, than we do almost anywhere else. The Bible never speaks against honest labor or the acquisition of material goods. What Paul makes plain is that no one, especially faith leaders, should have an entitlement mentality. The church should not be burdened my mortgages or leadership; the church is a spiritual body headed by Christ, not merely a physical address with a cross on the steeple.

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Healing in woundedness? Isaiah 53:5 But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.

The prophet Isaiah foretells the scourging of Jesus Christ centuries before it came to pass. But, how can healing come from someone being hurt in our place? How can we live by the death of another? Debt always has to be repaid unless it is forgiven. Living may be a gift, but it is a gift that takes more than it gives back because of the nature of sin. Jesus actually had to purchase our sin, and paid the Father what we could not. Because sin will not just go away on its own the payment required to cover it up once and for all was the death of the only innocent one. It is the consummate irony, I believe. Rules and scorecards cannot add up to a tally that exonerates us. We are truly unforgivable! The only way to win is to believe on Jesus.

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What is a letter to the Hebrews? Hebrews 1:1-3 Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things and through whom He made the universe. He is the radiance of His glory, the exact expression of His nature, and He sustains all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

This letter or “epistle” to the Hebrews is Holy Scripture that speaks directly to believing Jews about the person of Jesus Christ. It ties together the Old and New Testaments by clearly illustrating the transformation of the Law given to Moses into an expression of God’s grace. Jesus died for all men, both the Jew and the Gentile. God has spoken in different ways at different times, but God’s voice is the always same … it is the voice of love and purpose. Seek God and find your purpose. Know that you are loved.

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meditations for an everyday relationship with Jesus

What is atonement? Genesis 3:20-21 Adam named his wife Eve because she was the mother of all the living. The Lord God made clothing out of skins for Adam and his wife, and He clothed them.

To atone means to cover ... literally, to cover up a thing that is blemished. In the Old Testament it required the death of a sinless animal to cover up our shame. In the New testament Jesus Christ is slain, as the perfect unblemished lamb, to cover all of our sins and to bridge the distance sin has created between ourselves and God. Hebrews 10:18 tells us that “Now where there is forgiveness of these (sins and lawless acts) there is no longer an offering for sin.� Christ did once and for all the very thing that no animal or good work could ever atone for.

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Does God make us choose Him? Joshua 24:15 But if it doesn’t please you to worship Yahweh, choose for yourselves today the one you will worship: the gods your fathers worshipped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. As for me and my family, we will worship Yahweh.

Thematically, the importance of freewill in the Bible is bested only by the assertion that there is one God ... that He is sovereign and above all other gods. Freewill, or choice, is how the Bible begins for humanity, and it is where it will end for each of one of us. In eternity we receive what we have sown in this earthly life. Jesus on the cross paid the price for the privilege to choose our “forever.” The consequence of His shed blood is our grace.

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meditations for an everyday relationship with Jesus

Where do we turn? Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Romans 8:38-9 For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!

We are faced with a choice, a dilemma … one that has plagued the post-modern man in ways that no other has been burdened. We are asked to choose God or Science. It is not a choice we have to make. While we tend to choose God when we are desperate and science at our most rational, the two combined answer the questions “why” and “how” in a complete and coherent way that science by itself cannot. We would do well to consider both/and, not either/or. Our God is a God of inclusion and promise, not exclusion and dismay.

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What do we know about Jesus’ birth? John 8:42 " Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, because I came from God and I am here. For I didn't come on My own, but He sent Me. Isaiah 9:6 For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

Surprising little is known about the birth of our Savior. The accounts we are familiar with in Matthew and Luke were written 40-50 years after His death and resurrection. Even Jesus didn’t say anything useful about His own birth if we are to believe the first-hand accounts of the Gospels. Our Jesus is not held captive in a manger nor is He to remain on the cross. Our Lord is a living God who is not bound by any event or human expectation. Isaiah tells us that a son will be born for us; Jesus fulfills all that is hoped for.

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meditations for an everyday relationship with Jesus

Are there other inspired writings? John 21:24-25 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if they were written one by one, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written.

In the Gospel of John the author who creates the epilogue for him wants us to know that Jesus’ works, even though He ministered for only 3 years, is far more vast than any one book or collection can possibly contain. Believers have struggled, as long as there has been breath, to put the mysteries of God into language that everyone can understand. Yet, we know that no language, or human utterance, can adequately represent the mighty and awesome nature of our God. Though men have written many books, and men have decided what our Bible would consist of, in the end they were led by the Spirit of God. There are not enough words, or the right words, to describe who God is or what He has done. He is way beyond words!

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What is Charisma? 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord. And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person.

The Greek charismata if derived from the root charis meaning grace. Paul tells us that are different gifts and different ministries, so we should not get stuck on one gift or the other. It requires all gifts working together to fully represent the body of Christ. Gifts cross denominational lines, and are not the sole property of any sect or institution. What is most important is how we use our gifts and talents to glorify God in the name of Jesus Christ. If we use our gifts or talents to further our own importance then we are dishonoring God and misleading those who need Jesus the most. Find your gift; find your passion; but, by all means find Jesus!

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Ezekiel and gifts of the Spirit? Ezekiel 36:27-28 I will place My Spirit within you and cause you to follow My statutes and carefully observe My ordinances. Then you will live in the land that I gave your fathers; you will be My people, and I will be your God.

We often think of Ezekiel only in terms of the strange visions he had; but he also had very practical insight into the Holy Spirit long before the advent of Jesus or the Disciples’ gifting of tongues at Pentecost. The purpose of gifts is made clear in the Old Testament, and should be considered before we go out prophesying, speaking in tongues, and laying on of hands. Why? Because more often than not these acts are not glorifying God; they are furthering personal agenda and directing our attention away from following only God’s statutes and ordinances. Jesus says love God and your neighbor … that covers it!

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Having just what we need? 1 Timothy 6:6-8 But godliness with contentment is a great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.

It is possible to be content without material gain. Consider what Jesus had: He had what was in His heart and what was on His back. He reminded a scribe in the Gospel of Matthew that while the Son of Man had no place to lay His head, the foxes have dens and birds have nests. Our Lord was not complaining; He was providing perspective in a culture that equated material gain with blessing. Are you content ‌ that is to say ‌ are you free, and not caught up in the bondage of materialism? If you are truly liberated it is because the Son has set you free! Do not equate material gain with blessing.

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meditations for an everyday relationship with Jesus

Faith healing? James 5:14-16 Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they should pray over him after anointing him with olive oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The intense prayer of the righteous is very powerful.

Faith healing, or being healed in (and by) our faith in Jesus is absolutely real. The problem with our understanding of “faith healing” is that it is presumed to be immediate, and always relief from a physical ailment. However, while there will always be miracles of physical healing, more often than not, healing is of a spiritual nature. Know this: healing is always in God’s time, and it must glorify the Son. We should praise God for even the smallest miracles in our daily living because that is where healing is most abundant.

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What does a church look like? 1 Thessalonians 1:5-8 For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance. You know what kind of men we were among you for your benefit, and you became imitators of us and of the Lord when, in spite of severe persecution, you welcomed the message with joy from the Holy Spirit.

A church looks exactly like the individuals that meet one, two, three or more, at a time. They gather to enrich their lives and to let the name of Jesus pass their lips. They speak His name just as easily as the names of their favorite foods, or the names of childhood friends. Their hands and feet look just like the hands and feet of the man Jesus. In these intimate churches there are kingdom and garden experiences, the ones we all yearn to have at least one time in our lives this side of heaven. Churches are not real estate or stained glass; they are places we find (or maybe they have found us). Regardless, they give us a glimpse of heaven at times when hell is far more familiar.

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Why stop fighting? Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. (KJV)

One perception that still prevails is this: God is a being who is both benevolent and yet cannot wait to exercise His wrath. While this is deeply rooted in tradition, it is only half true. Our God is merciful and loving to a fault ‌ He exists to deliver us, and we are made to love Him. That is all. We are to be still and respectful of our Lord, to stop our fighting, knowing that while He could exercise His wrath at any time, He does not. He waits patiently. He has decided to let us choose when to fight and when to sit down, when to be active and when to stop. Wrath is defined as right judgment, not unbridled anger. Our God is not full of wrath; He satisfied it so long ago on the cross.

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Submissive to authority? Titus 3:1-3 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people. For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another.

We must overcome our biases and our prejudiced thinking if we are going to have any hope of making disciples in Jesus’ name. And … sometimes it isn’t unbelievers, but believers, who are the greatest challenge. Lashing out at leaders, not for truth but because of ideology or “righteous indignation,” is only giving power to the devil and his kind. We cannot do God’s will and submit to our own petty differences. This all divides the church and alienates Christ followers from one another at a time when we need each other the most. When have you claimed to be a believer, but discovered that you are as weak in the flesh as anyone else? If you have, then you are aware of how difficult it is to live for Jesus day in and day out. Have you confessed and sought to be forgiven? If you have, then forgive and be free to be a slave for Jesus Christ.

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meditations for an everyday relationship with Jesus

Do I have to run? 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize.

Running the race is a metaphor, or symbolic language, that helps the Apostle Paul better illustrate what he is trying to teach the followers of Jesus. All of those listening would have understood the concept of racing just like we understand a touchdown or a basket. We are told that if we want to get to the finish line first and receive the best prize, then we need to run hard and run straight! Only a handful of those who begin any race will finish in the top positions. Practice hard every day and prepare to run a long race. Your efforts will pay off if you persevere.

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But, what is life? Genesis 2:7 Then the LORD God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.

All that we know is that without life we are but empty husks. We know that we cannot create it because life is not just the random activity of cells … it has a critical spiritual component. It is a gift that has no other purpose than to reproduce itself and to glorify its Creator. Such a gift is unparalleled because it has no conditions, and when opened is full of nothing but perfect love.

Strong #5397 Hebrew neshâmâh (Greek pneuma) 1) breath, spirit

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No idols or tin gods?

Exodus 20:2-7 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. Do not have other gods besides Me. Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. 5 You must not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ sin, to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commands. Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God, because the LORD will not leave anyone unpunished who misuses His name.”

Boundaries, rules if you want to call them that, are set in place for protection, not to restrict. And in the end the Ten Commandments, of which these are representative, and those that accompany them in the balance of the Torah, are reduced to only two: Love God and love your neighbor; everything else depends upon this. God is showing us how to love. No false gods. Having them is unhealthy and ends in destruction.

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God’s people?

1 Peter 2:10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Being a defined and recognizable people is more than a metaphor, it is symbolic of the kingdom blessing found only in the “body of Christ.” This is unique to Christ-followers because they know the Messiah has come, and they are a transformed people. This is literally the revelation of the gospel ... “the uncovering” of an indisputable truth. We are a peculiar people defined by our covenant relationship with God.

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Isn’t obedience a kind of punishment? Leviticus 26:3-4&6 "If you follow My statutes and faithfully observe My commands, I will give you rain at the right time, and the land will yield its produce, and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. I will give peace to the land, and you will lie down with nothing to frighten [you]. I will remove dangerous animals from the land, and no sword will pass through your land …”

Know that even today, especially in these last days, the following blessings are ours if we are obedient to our Lord Jesus: It will rain at the right time The land will yield its produce Trees will bear their fruit Peace will be given across the land One can lie down without fear Dangerous animals will be removed No sword will pass through your land.

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Am I a captive? Luke 4:17-19 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him, and unrolling the scroll, He found the place where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.

We are bound by our discipleship to go out and carry the message of good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom to all captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and freedom to the oppressed. Which one of us cannot identify at one time or another with being poor in possession & in spirit, captive to our sin, blind to the healing grace of Jesus Christ and oppressed by some one or some thing? However, now that we have a pretty good idea just what it means to taste freedom from a lifestyle that kept us forever in bondage, it is time to go out and tell others what we have discovered!

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meditations for an everyday relationship with Jesus

Does God care if we ask too much? Matthew 7:7-11 "Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What man among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Does this mean that the first time we seek, or the first time we knock on God’s door, that we will be given everything we ask for and we will be completely satisfied? Or is there a suggestion that we must be persistent, and not tire of doing the right things, until we have results? We must be persistent, and the results will come at an appointed time. This timing will honor God and benefit us … that is His will. If our lives are going to change it will be because of a process of steps we take each day, not because we have been involved in some “one-of-a-kind” supernatural event.

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Inferior wine John 2:7-11 Now six stone water jars had been set there for Jewish purification. Each contained 20 or 30 gallons. [about 150 gallons] “Fill the jars with water,” Jesus told them. So they filled them to the brim. Then He said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the chief servant.” And they did. When the chief servant tasted the water (after it had become wine), he did not know where it came from — though the servants who had drawn the water knew. He called the groom and told him, “Everyone sets out the fine wine first, then, after people have drunk freely, the inferior. But you have kept the fine wine until now.” Jesus performed this first sign in Cana of Galilee. He displayed His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.

Our passage about the finest wine being left until “now” is a strong statement about God’s timing for Jesus Christ Himself. In Jesus He kept the finest wine (His only Son) until an appropriate moment, and then gave Him to the world: His blood a covenant. While the world is drunk on itself, and enamored with all of its acquisitions (having consumed the inferior wine), God has poured out His Son (the fine wine) at just the right time: the “now” is truly “in this church age,” but sadly many of the most inebriated on the inferior product cannot taste the fine wine of salvation. We are told time and time again in the New and Old Testaments to stay sober and vigilant so that opportunity does not pass us by in our drunken state. (see Luke 21:34) 64


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God has this 2 Chronicles 20:17 You do not have to fight this battle. Position yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD. He is with you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Tomorrow, go out to face them, for Yahweh is with you.’ ”

Tomorrow go out and face whatever is your battlefield and know that God is already there to slay the enemy. He simply wants you to show up in faith. We are not required to do the hand to hand or sword to sword combat, but to be of a sound spirit and a passionate single mindedness. Don’t confuse this with being perfect. If you wait to be perfect you will never go out to meet your Goliath. Size doesn’t matter, by the way. God is bigger than your biggest adversary!

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Recount His glory and seek His deliverance Numbers 6:22-26 The LORD spoke to Moses: “Tell Aaron and his sons how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: May Yahweh bless you and protect you; may Yahweh make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; may Yahweh look with favor on you and give you peace.”

There are many beautiful prayers in the Bible; The Lord’s Prayer and The Magnificat, to name a couple. Yet, the prayer of grace in the Book of Numbers is one of the oldest and most reassuring in all of Scripture. There is the direct invocation of God to be with us in the blessing, but not as a wrathful or punishing figure. This manifestation of Yahweh suggests a loving and affirmative countenance or face of God smiling and well pleased. God’s appearance shines on the recipient and causes them to glow like Children of Light, warriors of the faith. Additionally there is the closing to confer favor and peace as the blessed assembly goes out. This prayer of blessing is simple, well rounded, and overflowing with assurance. It can be used anytime a blessing is required.

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Believe in Him

2 Corinthians 4:18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Faith is what we rely on, and it is sustained or fed by the Holy Spirit. Believing is a choice, but faith is a gift. Paul tells us in the Second letter to the Corinthian church not to get caught up in the appearances of things, but what is unseen and spiritual. Appearances, as we know, can be deceiving. The work of the Holy Spirit is its own best evidence and is discerned or understood clearly by those willing to accept the truth, which is Christ Jesus What we lay physical eyes on is temporary and will decay and go back to the earth. What is invisible is no less real, but the caveat is that it will never cease to be in its current state. It is endless, limitless and unchanging. It is absolute. We need our guidepost.

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Praise God!

Hebrews 13:15 Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name.

We crawl up onto the altar, a living sacrifice. We praise Him and we pray that we are committed enough not to roll off the altar at the first hint of discomfort. We must intentionally relieve Jesus on the cross by remaining on the altar.

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The days are evil Ephesians 5:15-17 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk--not as unwise people but as wise-making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don't be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.

The days themselves are not evil, but the potential for using our time for an evil purpose is greater now than ever. Do not give into the temptation of the Adversary. He whispers sweet nothings that have lost their sweetness ‌ they are lies: candy coated barbed wire and broken glass. Watch what you swallow.

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The reality Matthew 26:75 And Peter remembered the words Jesus had spoken, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Peter is each one of us: foundational building blocks of the universal church held intact by the cornerstone, Jesus. A foundation without its cornerstone cannot remain. Building blocks crumble and are scattered. Without their cornerstone They have no purpose. A foundation that has no integrity, no cornerstone, cannot support anything built upon it. A foundation in Christ cannot be scattered nor destroyed. It remains when all else is swept away by the fear and uncertainty of the current age. The rock Peter was flawed, but remained intact because of its proximity to the cornerstone. Stones placed together strategically have incredible strength.

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The real Jesus

John 11:35 Jesus Wept.

With the exception of the clearing of the Temple complex of money changers, this is Jesus at His most human; and yet He is the most God-like in His mercy and complete love for the loss of His friend Lazarus. He weeps for us as well. He calls us from the darkness of our tombs into the bright light of a life eternal.

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Don’t boast in your charity Matthew 6:1-4 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Can you imagine sounding a trumpet as you proceed down the center aisle at church to present your offering, or having a parade and fanfare as you march down the street to give money or belongings to someone in need? This is what God says we should not do because it isn’t God who is getting the glory, it is the individual (you and me) becoming bloated with pride and getting the attention … our fifteen minutes, as Andy Warhol so aptly stated. Our reward is in heaven. Anything else is temporary and a distraction. Make sure that your heart and treasure are in heaven. Look up!

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Proclaim God! Psalm 40:9-10 I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; see, I do not keep my mouth closed -as You know, Lord. I did not hide Your righteousness in my heart; I spoke about Your faithfulness and salvation; I did not conceal Your constant love and truth from the great assembly.

So, have you kept your mouth shut like a tomb? Have you been reluctant to pronounce the truth of Jesus Christ to the “great assembly?” In our time the great assembly is our local community; this is as it was in ancient times. If we hide what we know to be true we may not touch those who need to hear a comforting word or an admonition. Tell about your personal experience with God in Jesus Christ! Testify! Do not keep your light under a bushel or those who are in darkness will mot be able to clearly see the path worth taking. We are to be “glow in the dark people” … maybe the only light some folks will ever see. Shine brightly!

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God and money Luke 16:10-13 Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much. So if you have not been faithful with the unrighteous money, who will trust you with what is genuine? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to someone else, who will give you what is your own? No household slave can be the slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t be slaves to both God and money.”

This is simply about stewardship. Of the four relationships that we must cultivate as believers, this one is probably the most challenging because it means taking what we have learned and applying it to our everyday living. The other relationships, i.e. with God, self and others can seem very abstract to us, but this one has “practical” written all over it. Some say we can serve God by giving money, funding a project or a cause, while others say we can only truly serve God if we cast off all of our material trappings … that money or mammon is somehow evil. In the context of our faith, Jesus is asking us to be in balance and to use our resources wisely. Being rich will not save anyone but either will a vow of poverty. Be alive: worship Jesus Christ is spirit and in truth.

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Love is ‌ 1Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient; love is kind. Love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for languages, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end.

God is the Alpha and the Omega, and since He is love, and love neverending, love can never end. We are assured that all other things will pass away except Him and His beloved bride, the church. If we want to know the character of God, then we should read the above passage closely as Paul has been very specific about the nature of love: bears, believes, hopes and endures. This is our merciful God as He presented Himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ. God in Jesus Christ is not provoked, but deeply in love which was best demonstrated on the cross. On it He loved us to death ...

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God’s strength Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation — whom should I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life — of whom should I be afraid?

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Whom to fear Matthew 10:28 “Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

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Enough for us Matthew 6:33-34 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don't worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

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meditations for an everyday relationship with Jesus

Stop your fighting Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. (KJV)

One perception that still prevails is this: God is a being who is both benevolent and yet cannot wait to exercise His wrath. While this is very traditional, is only half true. Our God is merciful and loving to a fault ‌ He exists to deliver us, and we are made to love Him. That is all. We are to be still and respectful of our Lord, to stop our fighting, knowing that while He could exercise His wrath at any time, He does not. He waits patiently. He has decided to let us choose when to fight and when to sit down, when to be active and when to stop. Wrath is defined as right judgment, not unbridled anger. Our God is not full of wrath; He set it free so long ago on the cross.

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God said Genesis 1:3-5 Then God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day," and He called the darkness "night." Evening came, and then morning: the first day.

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There is a plan Jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the plans I have for you" -[this is] the Lord's declaration-"plans for [your] welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

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Israel’s promise Jereemiah 29:14 I will be found by you"-the Lord's declaration-"and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and places where I banished you"-the Lord's declaration. "I will restore you to the place I deported you from."

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The essence of faith 1Peter 1:6 –9 You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to be distressed by various trials so that the genuineness of your faith--more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire--may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

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Imperfect Paul 1 Corinthians 15:9 “I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”

We often see Paul as being the most important and the least sinful. Indeed, he is the most prolific of the writers in the New Testament with the exception of Luke. He is certainly the most influential second to Jesus. Sinlessness and importance are a winning combination that most of us view with awe and reverence rather than with a sense of its reality. We tend to overlook the issues Paul contended with: he despised who he was, he had “a thorn in the flesh,” he did things he knew did not honor God (and didn’t do those things which would), and he was conflicted over his separation from his Jewish tradition. When we see people this gifted and talented, we must keep in mind that they are not any better or worse than us; then we can begin to see our own inherent worth…. the hope that Jesus Christ sees.

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Never enough Haggai 1:5 –6 Now, the Lord of Hosts says this: "Think carefully about your ways: “You have planted much but harvested little. You eat but never have enough to be satisfied. You drink but never have enough to become drunk. You put on clothes but never have enough to get warm. The wage earner [puts his] wages into a bag with a hole in it."

Why is it that we never have enough? Is it because of there being too little or is there another reason? Is it because we are unwise with what little we do have?

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Belief John 3:12 If I have told you about things that happen on earth and you don't believe, how will you believe if I tell you about things of heaven?

We believe what we want to believe. Sometimes it involves heaven, and other times not. Jesus knew this all too well. That is why he timed His delivery of sensitive information so that the disciples could “eat it in little bites.” Too much good information is the same as misinformation: it is more than the recipient can handle. The Christ-follower’s simple claim to belief might begin like this: “I believe that God exists. The proof is all around me. There is no other reasonable explanation for the perfect harmony I see around me every day. It is easier, for me, to believe that God did this than to invent an alternative. I choose to believe.”

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The gift of tongues Acts 2:2-6 Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. And tongues, like flames of fire that were divided, appeared to them and rested on each one of them. Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability for speech. There were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. When this sound occurred, the multitude came together and was confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.

Ah, Pentecost! This is where the Pentecostal movement derived its name, however, tongues is not the only gift as many of you are already know. It would seem that while this is indeed the best known Scriptural evidence for a specific gift, like all gifts it had a specific purpose: it honored God, not the individuals giving utterance. In your own faith experience what is your personal evidence of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you? Keep in mind that the demonstration of ones gifts in a public place, such as in Acts 2, was preceded by receiving the Spirit in a private place. To remain honest the use of gifts should not be measured by material or personal gain. The right hand should not know what the left hand is doing.

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Lead me Psalm 139:23-24 Search me O God and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked in me. And lead me in the way everlasting.

There is great anxiety in all of us regarding the position of free will. There is nothing more conflicting than making a choice about an issue that our hearts are torn in two over. It makes the sin more tempting and the joy more fulfilling. Having freewill and asking to be led seems like a contradiction. What is the point in having choice if we choose to follow someone? This individual we are following is not just anyone; He is God. Instead of the blind leading the blind, which is often the case when one person leads another, we have the divine benefit of being led by a God with perfect vision and a perfect will.

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God the Father loves the Son John 3:35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hands.

If God the Father loves the Jesus the Son so much that He has given Him all things, then doesn’t it also make sense that Jesus would imitate His Father and also entrust us with all that He has been given? We know that God loves us because He is a merciful God, not because of something we might do or who someone we might be. There is nothing God needs from us that He cannot provide for Himself except ‌ a relationship. And because of that prospect He allows us to live; He tarries for one last soul. God is love. What He does is simply how He is. Jesus is the same way, and we see the gift of life given to us when Jesus died on the cross. There is no greater gift. Jesus is the gift.

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Our cities Lamentations 1:1 –2 How she sits alone, the city [once] crowded with people! She who was great among the nations has become like a widow. The princess among the provinces has become a slave. She weeps aloud during the night, with tears on her cheeks. There is no one to offer her comfort, [not one] from all her lovers. All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies.

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Ending times Daniel 12:4 "But you, Daniel, keep these words secret and seal the book until the time of the end. Many will roam about, and knowledge will increase."

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Service requirements 1Timothy3:2-7 An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy-- one who manages his own household competently, having his children under control with all dignity. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God's church?) He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and fall into the condemnation of the Devil. Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the Devil's trap.

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Not by works Titus 3:5-7 He saved us — not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. He poured out this Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by His grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.

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Prayer Psalm 61:1-3 God, hear my cry; pay attention to my prayer. I call to You from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength. Lead me to a rock that is high above me, for You have been a refuge for me, a strong tower in the face of the enemy.

Praying believing is, in my humble opinion, the most difficult thing we can do as Christ-followers. It sounds obvious enough to believe that God will answer our prayers, and it would appear the only way to pray … however, many believers are conflicted in their personal prayer life. Why would be conflicted on such a foundational element of our belief?     

There is not always an obvious cause and effect. Prayer isn’t necessarily answered in the positive. We are taught that prayer is only for others. We may not have a convincing personal testimony. We don’t pray as often as we claim to.

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The nature of Ishmael Genesis 16:11-12 Then the Angel of the LORD said to her: You have conceived and will have a son. You will name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard your cry of affliction. This man will be like a wild donkey. His hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him; he will live at odds with all his brothers.

As this was being written we had just experienced an unprovoked terror attack in Paris, France and in Bamako, Mali, not to mention the downing of a Russian airliner. It would appear that ISIS was gaining a considerable foothold on the world stage, and that it was unprecedented in its rise and reach. But this was not entirely true. In the context of recent attacks on the West it was savage, but has its roots in prophecy going back over 4000 years. Brother against brother ‌ a conflict as old as man. And we should not confuse the political terror we have witnessed with a jihad waged for religious purposes. This was strictly terror for its own sake, and it has no place in the hearts and minds of moderate or even passionate Muslims. The fulfillment of end time prophecy is not even remotely Muslim or Christian. It is tied to the consequences of a man named Abraham and his covenant with God.

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God remains true Numbers 23:19 God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?

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Faith 2 Timothy 2:13 if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

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God’s time 2 Peter 3:8-9 Dear friends, don’t let this one thing escape you: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.

God’s time is not our time.

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God is our protector Isaiah 46:4 I will be the same until your old age, and I will bear you up when you turn gray. I have made you, and I will carry you; I will bear and save you.

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God’s pleasure 1Samuel 15:22 Then Samuel said: Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention [is better] than the fat of rams.

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True refuge Psalm 9:8-10 He judges the world with righteousness; He executes judgment on the nations with fairness. The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Those who know Your name trust in You because You have not abandoned those who seek You, Yahweh.

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Life preserver Psalm 138:7-8 If I walk into the thick of danger, You will preserve my life from the anger of my enemies. You will extend Your hand; Your right hand will save me. The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me.

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Chosen

John 15:16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.

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To be sin for us Romans 5:8 But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! 2 Corinthians 5:21 He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

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Biblical community Acts 2:42-47 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayers. Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. Now all the believers were together and had everything in common. So they sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. And every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added those being saved to them.

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Temptation, trial and testing James 1:12 Blessed is a man who endures trials, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that He has promised to those who love Him.

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God does not tempt James 1:13-14 No one undergoing a trial should say, "I am being tempted by God." For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn't tempt anyone. But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires.

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Wages of sin James 1:15 Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.

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Love as first and foremost John 13:34-35 “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.� John 15:17 This is what I command you: Love one another.

Any time a command is repeated frequently in Scripture it is being repeated for a purpose: suggesting importance and urgency.

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Perfected in us 1 John 4:7-12 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.

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God’s hand Ezra 9:8-9 But now, for a brief moment, grace has come from the Lord our God to preserve a remnant for us and give us a stake in His holy place. Even in our slavery, God has given us new life and light to our eyes. Though we are slaves, our God has not abandoned us in our slavery. He has extended grace to us in the presence of the Persian kings, giving us new life, so that we can rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.

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There are times Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 Again, I observed all the acts of oppression being done under the sun. Look at the tears of those who are oppressed; they have no one to comfort them. Power is with those who oppress them; they have no one to comfort them. So I admired the dead, who have already died, more than the living, who are still alive. But better than either of them is the one who has not yet existed, who has not seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.

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Rumors are deadly Nehemiah 6:8 Then I replied to him, "There is nothing to these rumors you are spreading; you are inventing them in your own mind." For they were all trying to intimidate us, saying, "They will become discouraged in the work, and it will never be finished." But now, [my God,] strengthen me.

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Song for Israel Hosea 2:16 –20 In that day-the Lord's declarationyou will call [Me]: My husband, and no longer call Me: My Baal. For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth; they will no longer be remembered by their names. On that day I will make a covenant for them with the wild animals, the birds of the sky, and the creatures that crawl on the ground. I will shatter bow, sword, and weapons of war in the land and will enable the people to rest securely. I will take you to be My wife forever. I will take you to be My wife in righteousness, justice, love, and compassion. I will take you to be My wife in faithfulness, and you will know the Lord.

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A song for the church Song of Solomon 2:8 –12 Listen! My love [is approaching]. Look! Here he comes leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills My love is like a gazelle or a young stag. Look, he is standing behind our wall, gazing through the windows peering through the lattice. My love calls to me: Arise, my darling Come away, my beautiful one For now the winter is past; the rain has ended and gone away The blossoms appear in the countryside. The time of singing has come, and the turtledove's cooing is heard in our land.

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Seek what is above Colossians 3:1-4 So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

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Never in vain 1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

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Submission: what it really means Colossians 3:18-24 Wives, be submissive to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and don't become bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing in the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so they won't become discouraged. Slaves, obey your human masters in everything; don't work only while being watched, in order to please men, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord--you serve the Lord Christ.

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Hope comes Psalm 62:5 Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him.

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I Am the One Revelation 1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "the One who is, who was, and who is coming, the Almighty."

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The consistence of love John 4:9-12 God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (atonement or sacrifice) for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.

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Restoration Galatians 6:1-2 Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted. Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

122


Proverbial sayings Proverbs 10:2–6 Ill-gotten gains do not profit anyone, but righteousness rescues from death. The Lord will not let the righteous go hungry, but He denies the wicked what they crave. Idle hands make one poor, but diligent hands bring riches. The son who gathers during summer is prudent; the son who sleeps during harvest is disgraceful. Blessings are on the head of the righteous, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

123


Daniel and his prophetic nature Daniel 11:21–24 "In his place a despised person will arise; royal honors will not be given to him, but he will come during a time of peace and seize the kingdom by intrigue. A flood of forces will be swept away before him; they will be shattered, as well as the covenant prince. After an alliance is made with him, he will act deceitfully. He will rise to power with a small nation. During a time of peace, he will come into the richest parts of the province and do what his fathers and predecessors never did. He will lavish plunder, loot, and wealth on his followers, and he will make plans against fortified cities, but only for a time.

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Not all should teach James 3:1 Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment;

This is not an issue of knowledge or intellectual development, but about the potential for misleading those who need truth the most. Those who teach are those with greater influence and authority, and therefore held to a higher standard regarding accountability. This is very evident when we look at the wide range of misunderstood doctrine and Scriptural interpretation being sent out by those in positions of great power. Many are well-intended, but if it is not Jesus first it is distorted and has great potential for damage. New believers are far more susceptible to false doctrine, and Jesus Himself warns of this in the last days when He is quoted in the Olivet Discourse from the Gospel of Matthew. Believe what is consistent and true.

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Believe Mark 8:11–12 The Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him, demanding of Him a sign from heaven to test Him. But sighing deeply in His spirit, He said, "Why does this generation demand a sign? I assure you: No sign will be given to this generation!"

We all wants signs and wonders to back up our beliefs and our actions. No one understands that better than me. I am dependent upon the love and affirmations of others; I am especially vulnerable when I do not receive visible cues. This is ok except when we become reluctant to act in faith, and on our belief, because of our dependency upon signs. I do not believe that faith is a “once and done� experience. It has to be cultivated though practice like everything else we learn. It is not natural for us to wait or to believe without tangible support. Yet, by the work of the Holy Spirit we can become better at waiting and acting in good measure, and at the appropriate time.

126


Spiritual gifting Romans 12:4-8 Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts: If prophecy, use it according to the standard of faith; if service, in service; if teaching, in teaching; if exhorting, in exhortation; giving, with generosity; leading, with diligence; showing mercy, with cheerfulness.

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Every word and deed

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

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Not me who lives Galatians 2:20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

129


The greatest thirst Psalm 42:1 As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, God.

130


Sing to the Lord Isaiah 44:23 Rejoice, heavens, for the Lord has acted; shout, depths of the earth. Break out into singing, mountains, forest, and every tree in it. For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and glorifies Himself through Israel.

131


There is a method Matthew 1:17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were 14 generations; and from David until the exile to Babylon, 14 generations; and from the exile to Babylon until the Messiah, 14 generations.

132


Esther takes the advantage Esther 5:3 "What is it, Queen Esther?" the king asked her. "Whatever you want, even to half the kingdom, will be given to you."

133


The Book of life Daniel 12:1 At that time Michael the great prince who stands watch over your people will rise up. There will be a time of distress such as never has occurred since nations came into being until that time. But at that time all your people who are found written in the book will escape.

134


The woman and the scarlet beast Revelation17:3–6 So he carried me away in the Spirit to a desert. I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names, having seven heads and 10 horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold, precious stones, and pearls. She had a gold cup in her hand filled with everything vile and with the impurities of her prostitution. On her forehead a cryptic name was written: Then I saw that the woman was drunk on the blood of the saints and on the blood of the witnesses to Jesus. When I saw her, I was utterly astounded.

135


Do not judge Romans 2:1 Therefore, anyone of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things.

136


Do the right thing Leviticus 19:11-14 "You must not steal. You must not act deceptively or lie to one another. You must not swear falsely by My name, profaning the name of your God; I am the Lord. "You must not oppress your neighbor or rob [him]. The wages due a hired hand must not remain with you until morning. You must not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but you are to fear your God; I am the Lord.

137


The problems we face Matthew 24:6-8 You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, because these things must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these events are the beginning of birth pains.

The problems we do have are two-fold: 1.) consequences of our own actions 2.) the fulfillment of end times prophecy. What makes this all seem so overwhelming to us is that we are experiencing the consequences of our actions (both individually and as nations) and the fulfillment of prophecy simultaneously Are these signs of the [ending] times? Yes, I believe that they are. The Scripture passage from Matthew goes on to say that we are to take heed, be aware, and to behave in an upright manner, even as this era comes to a close. But we should not give up, or quit fighting, just because the odds seem overwhelming. I fact we need to fight harder together to make this a better place until the “kingdom comes.�

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Prophecy throughout Esther 9:1-2 The king's command and law went into effect on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month Adar. On the day when the Jews' enemies had hoped to overpower them, just the opposite happened. The Jews overpowered those who hated them. In each of King Ahasuerus' provinces the Jews assembled in their cities to attack those who intended to harm them. Not a single person could withstand them; terror of them fell on every nationality.

139


We cannot deliver ourselves Isaiah 44:20 He feeds on ashes. [His] deceived mind has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself, or say, "Isn't there a lie in my right hand?"

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He is the true Vine John 15:1-5 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. "I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.�

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Harvest time John 4:35-36 “Don’t you say, ‘There are still four more months, then comes the harvest’? Listen to what I’m telling you: Open your eyes and look at the fields, for they are ready for harvest. The reaper is already receiving pay and gathering fruit for eternal life, so the sower and reaper can rejoice together.

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God is just Psalm 92:12-15 The righteous thrive like a palm tree and grow like a cedar tree in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, they thrive in the courtyards of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, healthy and green, to declare: "The Lord is just; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him."

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Why Grace? part 1 Deuteronomy 21:18-21 "If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father or mother and doesn't listen to them even after they discipline him, his father and mother must take hold of him and bring him to the elders of his city, to the gate of his hometown. They will say to the elders of his city, 'This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he doesn't obey us. He's a glutton and a drunkard.' Then all the men of his city will stone him to death. You must purge the evil from you, and all Israel will hear and be afraid. "

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Why Grace? part 2 Deuteronomy 21:22-23 “If anyone is found guilty of an offense deserving the death penalty and is executed, and you hang his body on a tree, you are not to leave his corpse on the tree overnight but are to bury him that day, for anyone hung [on a tree] is under God's curse. You must not defile the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.�

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Of God 3John 1:11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.

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I AM and no other Deuteronomy 5:6-10 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. Do not have other gods besides Me. Do not make an idol for yourself in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. You must not bow down to them or worship them, because I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ sin to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commands.

God is not jealous of anyone or anything. God is not jealous of us or other gods. God is jealous for us, which means He wants to love and protect . To appreciate the Ten Commandments as more than a cosmic laundry list of “don’ts,” one must read the additional language surrounding the Commandments in their full context for clues about God’s character as a loving and always practical Father. God reminds His people to be grateful and remember that they (we) are free because of His hand. There is nothing we have done to earn or secure our freedom or His love. This is mercifully given in what we now know as grace. Because of Jesus Christ on the cross.

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Why do I feel this way? Psalm 42:5 Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God.

Sometimes life is depressing. It’s just the way it is. Things happen to us or those we love. We try to do too much; time gets away from us and there isn’t enough of it in the day, etc. This isn’t clinical depression, it is simply depressing at the time, and is a normal response to frustration and disappointment. You do not need psych meds for this! However, there is nothing wrong with the right medication in the right dosage. God gives us all of the people and places and things to live a full, healthy and abundant life. If you need prayer, seek prayer; if you need medication, seek out a reputable physician or psychiatrist. Do not be ashamed, be healed in the name of Jesus.

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Other false teaching 2 John 1:9-11 Anyone who does not remain in the teaching about Christ, but goes beyond it, does not have God. The one who remains in that teaching, this one has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your home, and don't say, "Welcome," to him; for the one who says, "Welcome," to him shares in his evil works.

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It is coming Joel 2:1-2 Blow the horn in Zion; sound the alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the residents of the land tremble, for the Day of the Lord is coming; in fact, it is neara day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and dense overcast, like the dawn spreading over the mountains; a great and strong people [appears], such as never existed in ages past and never will again in all the generations to come.

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No righteous man Ecclesiastes 7:19-20 Wisdom makes the wise man stronger than ten rulers of a city. There is certainly no righteous man on the earth who does good and never sins.

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Once useless, now useful Philemon 1:8 –12 For this reason, although I have great boldness in Christ to command you to do what is right, I appeal, instead, on the basis of love. I, Paul, as an elderly man and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus, appeal to you for my child, whom I fathered while in chains--Onesimus. Once he was useless to you, but now he is useful to both you and me. I am sending him--a part of myself--back to you.

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More bitter than death Ecclesiastes 7:26 And I find more bitter than death the woman who is a trap, her heart a net, and her hands chains. The one who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner will be captured by her.

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Do you love Me? John 21:15-17 When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these? ” “Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.” “Feed My lambs,” He told him. A second time He asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me? ” “Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.” “Shepherd My sheep,” He told him. He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me? ” Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you love Me? ” He said, “Lord, You know everything! You know that I love You.” “Feed My sheep,” Jesus said.

Over a second charcoal fire Peter is redeemed. Glory be to God the Father who loves us as His own! “Peter, do you love Me more [than these]?” 3 times Peter affirms his Lord, and each time he responds with, “Lord, you know I love you,” one more sin of denial is systematically atoned for: finally erased 3 minus 3 = 0. First: Feed My lambs; Second: Shepherd My sheep; Third: Feed My sheep. Theologically, this is the affirmation of Peter’s calling. This is when his life took a sharp turn from fisherman to evangelist. It is at this time that he is transformed from an impetuous disciple into “Petra” the rock. Upon rocks like these the church would be built with Jesus as Cornerstone. 154


And they will reign Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over these, but they will be priests of God and the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years.

155


Patience and understanding Proverbs 14:29 A patient person [shows] great understanding, but a quick-tempered one promotes foolishness.

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True wisdom Proverbs 3:1-6 My son, don't forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commands; for they will bring you many days, a full life, and well-being. Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you. Tie them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will find favor and high regard in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.

157


The Ten and the Greatest Deuteronomy 5:6-21 The Ten Commandments 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Do not worship other gods. Do not make idols or graven images. Do not misuse My name. Remember the Sabbath. Honor your father and mother. Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal Do not lie. Do not covet what is your neighbor’s.

Love God with all you heart, soul, strength and might. This is the greatest commandment. All of the Law and the words of the prophets are dependent upon this Commandment. Jesus says that they literally hang on it.

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Rejoice ‌ always! Philippians 4:4-6 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

Why do we rejoice? It is not for nothing ‌ it is because the Lord is near.

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A clear conscience? 1Peter 3:16 However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame.

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Gaza and world news Amos 1:6-7 The Lord says: I will not relent from punishing Gaza for three crimes, even four, because they exiled a whole community, handing them over to Edom. Therefore, I will send fire against the walls of Gaza, and it will consume its citadels.

161


Follow Me Matthew 4:18-20 As He was walking along the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen. "Follow Me," He told them, "and I will make you fishers of men!" Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.

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Teacher of lies Habakkuk 2:18-19 What use is a carved idol after its craftsman carves it? It is [only] a cast image, a teacher of lies. For the one who crafts its shape trusts in it and makes idols that cannot speak. Woe to him who says to wood: Wake up! or to mute stone: Come alive! Can it teach? Look! It may be plated with gold and silver, yet there is no breath in it at all.

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What can man do? Hebrews 13:5-6 Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

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No fear 2 Kings 6:16 Elisha said, "Don't be afraid, for those who are with us outnumber those who are with them."

165


Pray where you are Matthew 6:5-6 "Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. I assure you: They've got their reward! But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

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Not a burden 2Thessalonians 3:8 we did not eat anyone's bread free of charge; instead, we labored and toiled, working night and day, so that we would not be a burden to any of you.

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How He knows

John 7:14-17 When the festival was already half over, Jesus went up into the temple complex and began to teach. Then the Jews were amazed and said, “How does He know the Scriptures, since He hasn’t been trained? ” Jesus answered them, “My teaching isn’t Mine but is from the One who sent Me. If anyone wants to do His will, he will understand whether the teaching is from God or if I am speaking on My own.

Jesus tells us that if we want to know the truth all we have to do is “knock and the door will be opened.” Jesus claims only to be the humble messenger, not taking the place of God, but delivering God’s message with His authority. As a triune God (three manifestations in One God, all aspects have equal authority, because, in the end, they are God. If we are willing to believe, then doors will be opened and questions answered. Knowing that Jesus is Messiah, and trusting Him, answers every question and fulfills every prophecy. In comes down to belief and then faithful living. Sounds simple, but it is the hardest thing you will ever do. Yet, it is the best thing that will ever happen to you!

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Human trafficking Joel 3:3 They cast lots for My people; they bartered a boy for a prostitute and sold a girl for wine to drink.

169


The feast Proverbs 15:15 All the days of the oppressed are miserable, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast.

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I love you John 15:9-12 “Just as the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you. Remain in My love. If you keep My commandments you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and remain in His love. I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is My commandment: that you love one another just as I have loved you.�

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As a remnant Ezra 9:15 Lord God of Israel, You are righteous, for we survive as a remnant today. Here we are before You with our guilt, though no one can stand in Your presence because of this.

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Only a vapor? Psalm 39:5-6 You, indeed, have made my days short in length, and my life span as nothing in Your sight. Yes, every mortal man is only a vapor. Selah Certainly, man walks about like a mere shadow. Indeed, they frantically rush around in vain, gathering possessions without knowing who will get them.

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Clean out the old yeast 1Corinthians 5:7-8 Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch, since you are unleavened. For Christ our Passover has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us observe the feast, not with old yeast, or with the yeast of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

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Who can bring me down? Obadiah1:2-4 Look, I will make you insignificant among the nations; you will be deeply despised. Your presumptuous heart has deceived you, you who live in clefts of the rock in your home on the heights, who say to yourself: Who can bring me down to the ground? Though you seem to soar like an eagle and make your nest among the stars, even from there I will bring you down.

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An Unknown God Acts17:22–23 Then Paul stood in the middle of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that you are extremely religious in every respect. For as I was passing through and observing the objects of your worship, I even found an altar on which was inscribed: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it--He is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in shrines made by hands.

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And He did not do it Jonah 3:8 –10 Furthermore, both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth, and everyone must call out earnestly to God. Each must turn from his evil ways and from the violence he is doing. Who knows? God may turn and relent; He may turn from His burning anger so that we will not perish. Then God saw their actions-that they had turned from their evil ways -so God relented from the disaster He had threatened to do to them. And He did not do it.

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From the heart Ephesians 6:5–8 Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ. Don't work only while being watched, in order to please men, but as slaves of Christ, do God's will from your heart. Render service with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that whatever good each one does, slave or free, he will receive this back from the Lord.

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The fool says ‌ Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, "God does not exist." They are corrupt; their actions are revolting. There is no one who does good.

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All have sinned

Romans 3:20-24 For no flesh will be justified in His sight by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. But now, apart from the law, God's righteousness has been revealed--attested by the Law and the Prophets --that is, God's righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

There is no way we can control our urges, or successfully resist temptation, by ourselves. We are powerless over our sin: every man and every woman is powerless over sin. But with a belief in Jesus Christ, and the sincere desire to begin again with Him, we can live a life that is both manageable and productive. There are no steps that will save us without Jesus. Steps are guides on a road map to freedom; but by themselves they are just legalities which condemn us in the knowledge of our sin. Yet there is real hope in the knowledge that while all have fallen short there is the gift of grace . Everyone (yes, everyone) can have this gift if they are willing to accept it. In accepting grace we are immediately forgiven and we can begin a new way of life. It is never too late to confess our shortcomings and walk away from our old lives. This is repentance!

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Wars within

James 4:1-4 What is the source of the wars and the fights among you? Don't they come from the cravings that are at war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don't receive because you ask wrongly, so that you may spend it on your desires for pleasure.

If we are honest – and really there is no other choice if we want to quit being a slave to our sin – then we will have to look into the wars and fights among us and within us. We must look into the areas of darkness and conflict within our own bodies and souls. No matter what reason you have arrived at this point in your life you already know that the battle you have been unable to win is the one within your own soul. The reason you have not been successful is because you have not been honest about the inventory of darkness within you and the deficit of Light. The only real Light bearer is Jesus Christ; He is all love and all Light. Get honest for a change. Confess.

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Confess and make amends Numbers 5:7 The person is to confess the sin he has committed. He is to pay full compensation, add a fifth of its value to it, and give [it] to the individual he has wronged.

Yes, confession is good for the soul in the same way forgiveness is. It liberates us. God knows our hearts, but we take responsibility for our sin and make the choice to unload it. The trick is not to pick it all back up when we are on our “way out� of the confessional. The passage from Numbers is a really interesting combination of confessing and making amends. Nothing we do stands alone in its impact; nothing we do is accomplished in a vacuum. There is always a cause and an effect. Sin is at the root, though in the end it is our own decision-making that has caused the pain We are confessing because we have done something to dishonor God, but most likely we have also dishonored another person and probably hurt them, along the way. Just because we have not had the law called, or an individual is not bleeding out in front of us, does not mean that what we have done is harmless. There is no such thing as a victimless crime! 182


Our transgressions

Psalm 103:11-12 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His faithful love toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

God is the only One who forgives sin and forgets sin. We know that Jesus died for our sins, and that the work of forgiveness is complete on the cross. But because we continue to sin there must be someone who can lift them from us each time we confess. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, the one left alongside each one of us in the absence of our risen Lord. The burning question is this: are you and I entirely ready to have our sin removed? It would seem like an obvious answer … but not so fast. We do not like to give up our areas of comfort and satisfaction even if they are bad for us. Am I right? Sin can be like an old overstuffed chair. It feels good, so good that even though it is destroying our will to live we just can’t lift ourselves out of it. It is way too easy to stay where we are and wait until tomorrow. Well, it’s a great plan assuming there is a tomorrow! Prepare today for what no one knows: the day or the hour. 183


Making amends Psalm 86:1-6 Listen, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Protect my life, for I am faithful. You are my God; save Your servant who trusts in You. Be gracious to me, Lord, for I call to You all day long. Bring joy to Your servant's life, since I set my hope on You, Lord. For You, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive, abundant in faithful love to all who call on You. Lord, hear my prayer; listen to my plea for mercy.

The manner in which David writes this petition to God, in order to make amends for his own transgressions, is similar to what we would say to the person (or persons) we have harmed. Now, those we have offended may not be as open or as forgiving as God is. So, what about those who are unavailable, those we would be causing more harm to, or those who are dead? We need to understand that the individual that is most in need of our forgiveness is you and me. I am not suggesting that others do not require a formal apology; what I am saying is that if we are to move on we must forgive ourselves whether or not others are willing to do the same. Pray for forgiveness, confess your sins, repent and ask for a special blessing on those you have harmed. In this way you are being liberated from the bondage of a past that cannot be rewritten.

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I am with you always Isaiah 46:4 I will be the same until your old age, and I will bear you up when you turn gray. I have made you, and I will carry you; I will bear and save you.

185


Who is a man that does not lie? Numbers 23:19 God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?

186


Faithfulness 2 Timothy 2:13 if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

187


Fools that we are Proverbs 28:26 The one who trusts in himself is a fool, but one who walks in wisdom will be safe.

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The City of David 1Chronicles 11:7–9 Then David took up residence in the stronghold; therefore, it was called the city of David. He built up the city all the way around, from the supporting terraces to the surrounding parts, and Joab restored the rest of the city. David steadily grew more powerful, and the Lord of Hosts was with him.

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She has not drawn near Zephaniah 3:1 –2 Woe to the city that is rebellious and defiled, the oppressive city! She has not obeyed; she has not accepted discipline. She has not trusted in the Lord; she has not drawn near to her God.

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Knowing no shame Zephaniah 3:4-5 Her prophets are reckless treacherous men. Her priests profane the sanctuary; they do violence to instruction. The righteous Lord is in her; He does no wrong. He applies His justice morning by morning; He does not fail at dawn, yet the one who does wrong knows no shame.

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Omnipresent God Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, observing the wicked and the good.

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He saved us Titus 3:5-7 He saved us — not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. He poured out this Spirit on us abundantly ...

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The Lord will fulfill Psalm 138:7-8 If I walk into the thick of danger, You will preserve my life from the anger of my enemies. You will extend Your hand; Your right hand will save me. The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me.

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Heaven has come near

Matthew 10: 7-10 As you go, announce this: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, drive out demons. You have received free of charge; give free of charge. Don’t take along gold, silver, or copper for your money-belts. Don’t take a traveling bag for the road, or an extra shirt, sandals, or a walking stick, for the worker is worthy of his food.

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No death, ever? John 8:51 “I assure you: If anyone keeps My word, he will never see death-ever!"

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Eternally ours Psalm 48:14 "This God, our God forever and everHe will lead us eternally."

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Like meat in a cauldron Micah 3:1-3 Then I said: "Now listen, leaders of Jacob, you rulers of the house of Israel. Aren't you supposed to know what is just? You hate good and love evil. You tear off the skin of people and [strip] their flesh from their bones. You eat the flesh of my people after you strip their skin from them and break their bones. You chop them up like flesh for the cooking pot, like meat in a caldron."

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Do not be ashamed 2Titus 1:8-10 So don't be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me His prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

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Swift and sure is best Ecclesiastes 8:11-13 Because the sentence against a criminal act is not carried out quickly, therefore the heart of people is filled [with the desire] to commit crime. Although a sinner commits crime a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I also know that it will go well with God-fearing people, for they are reverent before Him. However, it will not go well with the wicked, and they will not lengthen their days like a shadow, for they are not reverent before God.

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Cease and desist Acts 4:18-19 So they called for them and ordered them not to preach or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it's right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard."

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I am weary but choose truth Psalm 119:28-32 I am weary from grief; strengthen me through Your word. Keep me from the way of deceit, and graciously give me Your instruction. I have chosen the way of truth; I have set Your ordinances [before me]. I cling to Your decrees; Lord, do not put me to shame. I pursue the way of Your commands, for You broaden my understanding.

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Inheritance to the sons Ezekiel 46:16 "This is what the Lord God says: If the prince gives a gift to each of his sons as their inheritance, it will belong to his sons. It will become their property by inheritance.

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He will not leave you; you will return Deuteronomy 4:29–31 But from there, you will search for the Lord your God, and you will find [Him] when you seek Him with all your heart and all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, you will return to the Lord your God in later days and obey Him. He will not leave you, destroy you, or forget the covenant with your fathers that He swore to them by oath, because the Lord your God is a compassionate God.

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His will, not mine Acts 21:10–14 While we were staying there many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. He came to us, took Paul's belt, tied his own feet and hands, and said, "This is what the Holy Spirit says: 'In this way the Jews in Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into Gentile hands.' " When we heard this, both we and the local people begged him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul replied, "What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." Since he would not be persuaded, we stopped talking and simply said, "The Lord's will be done!"

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True inheritance 1 Kings 8:53 For You, Lord God, have set them apart as Your inheritance from all the people on earth, as You spoke through Your servant Moses when You brought their ancestors out of Egypt.

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Clouds are the dust Nahum 1:2-3 The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is fierce in wrath. The Lord takes vengeance against His foes; He is furious with His enemies. The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will never leave [the guilty] unpunished. His path is in the whirlwind and storm, and clouds are the dust beneath His feet.

God is so vast and He is so mighty that even the clouds are mere dust beneath His feet. Obviously this is a metaphor, but not far from the truth ‌ though the truth is much grander and far mightier than mere words can describe. Worlds themselves are His footstools and universes are barely enough room for Him to stretch. Or recline.

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Planning and doing Isaiah 46:11 I call a bird of prey from the east, a man for My purpose from a far country. Yes, I have spoken; so I will also bring it about. I have planned it; I will also do it.

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Where the tree falls Ecclesiastes 11:1-3 Send your bread on the surface of the waters, for after many days you may find it. Give a portion to seven or even to eight, for you don't know what disaster may happen on earth. If the clouds are full, they will pour out rain on the earth; whether a tree falls to the south or the north, the place where the tree falls, there it will lie.

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Silence! Mark 4:39-41 He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Silence! Be still!" The wind ceased, and there was a great calm. Then He said to them, "Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith?" And they were terrified and said to one another, "Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!"

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Delights of the Father Luke 12:32 Don't be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights to give you the kingdom.

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Managers of the mystery 1 Corinthians 4:1 A person should consider us in this way: as servants of Christ and managers of God’s mysteries.

We get caught up in so many things doing church “work” that we tend to forget our true purpose. Many of us believe in our hearts that we are supposed to work ourselves to a frazzle, or into a froth, thereby pleasing God who will thank us for our selfless behavior at the foot of the throne. I am not so sure. We manage God’s mysteries by being faithful, and being the evidence of things unseen. We confound the wise by lifting up Jesus as Lord and God. In that way we take on an air of mystery ourselves. We are made in the mysterious image of God.

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Why some of the good die young Isaiah 57:1 The righteous one perishes, and no one takes it to heart; faithful men are swept away, with no one realizing that the righteous one is swept away from the presence of evil.

Rarely can we find the right words to speak into tragedy and pain. And yet, this passage from Isaiah contains possibly the only Biblical reference to the question we all have regarding why certain people are taken, especially children, before their time. It doesn’t tell us why the innocent and the righteous are taken from us, but it does give us a glimpse into God’s mercy. The understanding is that though taken too soon, those taken in this manner are swept out of the realm of greater evil and sadness. Our God is a protector God. We must trust Him even when we do not understand Him.

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One tenth Genesis 14:18 –20 Then Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine; he was a priest to God Most High. He blessed him and said: Abram is blessed by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and give praise to God Most High who has handed over your enemies to you. And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

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An oath Genesis 14:22 –23 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have raised my hand in an oath to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will not take a thread or sandal strap or anything that belongs to you, so you can never say, 'I made Abram rich.'

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Which is easier? Matthew 9:3-7 At this, some of the scribes said among themselves, "He's blaspheming!" “But perceiving their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why are you thinking evil things in your hearts? For which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? But so you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" -then He told the paralytic, "Get up, pick up your stretcher, and go home." And he got up and went home.

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Few workers Matthew 9:36–38 When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd. " Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."

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Land in rebellion Proverbs 28:1-3 The wicked flee when no one is pursuing [them], but the righteous are as bold as a lion. When a land is in rebellion, it has many rulers, but with a discerning and knowledgeable person, it endures. A destitute leader who oppresses the poor is like a driving rain that leaves no food.

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Two more tablets Deuteronomy 10:1-3 "The Lord said to me at that time, 'Cut two stone tablets like the first ones and come to Me on the mountain and make a wooden ark. I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets you broke, and you are to place them in the ark.' So I made an ark of acacia wood, cut two stone tablets like the first ones, and climbed the mountain with the two tablets in my hand.

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Be fruitful Genesis 1:27-28 So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female. God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth."

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Be fruitful a second time Genesis 8:15-17 Then God spoke to Noah, "Come out of the ark, you, your wife, your sons, and your sons' wives with you. Bring out every living thing of all flesh that is with you-birds, livestock, creatures that crawl on the ground-and they will spread over the earth and be fruitful and multiply on the earth."

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The tower Genesis 11:1-6 At one time the whole earth had the same language and vocabulary. As people migrated from the east, they found a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, "Come, let us make oven-fired bricks." They had brick for stone and asphalt for mortar. And they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky. Let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise, we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth." Then the Lord came down to look over the city and the tower that the men were building. The Lord said, "If, as one people all having the same language, they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.

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Third day (1) Hosea 6:1-2 Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn [us], and He will heal us; He has wounded [us], and He will bind up our wounds. He will revive us after two days, and on the third day He will raise us up so we can live in His presence.

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Third day (2) Matthew16:21-23 From then on Jesus began to point out to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, "Oh no, Lord! This will never happen to You!" But He turned and told Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, because you're not thinking about God's concerns, but man's."

Since we cannot imagine anyone doing what Jesus did, it is hard for us to believe, at times, that He even went to the cross.‌ that it really happened. We simply cannot fathom it. We can intellectualize it, but we cannot identify with it. That may be why it is so hard to believe in Jesus for so many. He is just enough like us, and yet so unlike us, that we cannot capture Him; He eludes us. He is like a firefly just out of reach. What Jesus did for us was (and is) impossible, and so we find it impossible to relate to Him or anyone like Him. Who would do such a magnificent thing? Jesus is so familiar at a glance, and yet is so unlike the flesh He wears; even His own disciples cannot not accept His words. Peter was not in denial as much as he was in utter disbelief. Jesus was the only glue they knew spiritually speaking. My take: Beneath it all His Disciples were afraid of being alone. Satan tempts us, and distorts our faith, when we are isolated. 224


Third day (3) John 2:16-19 He told those who were selling doves, "Get these things out of here! Stop turning my Father's house into a marketplace!" And His disciples remembered that it is written: Zeal for Your house will consume Me. So the Jews replied to Him, "What sign of authority will You show us for doing these things?" Jesus answered, "Destroy this sanctuary, and I will raise it up in three days."

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Many schemes Ecclesiastes 7:29 I have discovered that God made people upright, but they pursued many schemes."

In view of the various political campaigns we have been exposed to over our lifetime, it is fair to say that we have seen countless candidates come into the process with awesome intentions and pristine ideals; and then we have seen them “pursue many schemes.” They get sidetracked by special interests and seduced by the siren song of money and fame. I think we can identify. Good men and women still eat the fruit “of the tree” believing they can be wiser than Solomon and more powerful than God.

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The Daniel fast Daniel:12–16 "Please test your servants for 10 days. Let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then examine our appearance and the appearance of the young men who are eating the king's food, and deal with your servants based on what you see." He agreed with them in this matter and tested them for 10 days. At the end of 10 days they looked better and healthier than all the young men who were eating the king's food. So the guard continued to remove their food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables.

This is what we honor when we do the “Daniel fast.” It harks back to what we see in Genesis and Isaiah in lessons to follow. We tend to forget that God wanted us all to live in a place that was unified, balanced and serene. Obviously, we do not live in that place. If we want to know what sin brought into the world, then we must look at God’s intended and then the outcome. We see that Daniel, and his fellow exiles in Babylon, not only ate the prescribed holy diet, but they thrived and outshone their Babylonian courtiers. Daniel’s righteous risk-taking is a huge testimony to the protective nature of God’s original intention and what happens when we distort His will to satisfy our desires.

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Peaceable kingdom Isaiah 11:6–9 The wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the goat. The calf, the young lion, and the fatling will be together, and a child will lead them. The cow and the bear will graze, their young ones will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like an ox. An infant will play beside the cobra's pit, and a toddler will put his hand into a snake's den. No one will harm or destroy on My entire holy mountain, for the land will be as full of the knowledge of the Lord as the sea is filled with water.

The original cover of the book The Peaceable Kingdom (hardback) by Jan de Hartog always comes to mind when I think of lions and lambs lying down together. The Quaker reference to anti-slavery and nonviolence is inevitable, but I think this reference must go far deeper than a novel … it is a spiritual connection for all Christ-followers to go out and proclaim the good news of the Gospel of Jesus of Nazareth … to practice nonviolence and make slaves of no man. And then to go even deeper: keep alive the theme of God’s original desire that we do not eat our warm-blooded (and cold-blooded) friends. Read the passage very closely. Not only do predators and prey comingle, but children pick up vipers and are not harmed. There was no fear or danger in God’s original plan. Sublime as defined, “excellence, grandeur, and beauty,” is the Garden of Eden.

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The Sixth day Genesis 1:27–30 So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female. God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth." God also said, "Look, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth, and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This food will be for you, for all the wildlife of the earth, for every bird of the sky, and for every creature that crawls on the earth-everything having the breath of life in it. [I have given] every green plant for food." And it was so.

And finally on the sixth day God completed His masterpiece and “it was good.” It would have remained that way, but our God is a gracious and merciful God. Knowing full well that we would make poor decisions, and that we would attempt to destroy this masterpiece, he dropped us right into the middle of it! There is a way to reverse this destruction one square foot of real estate at a time: plant a garden! If you can’t plant a garden, then plant a flower or a tree. Plant something that other creatures can feed on or find refuge in. It is an act of worship when we put our hands in the dirt. It is good for the soul and for the soil …

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No love for God John 5:42-43 but I know you--that you have no love for God within you. I have come in My Father's name, yet you don't accept Me. If someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.

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The foreigner on God’s heart 1 Kings 8:41-43 Even for the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of Your namefor they will hear of Your great name, mighty hand, and outstretched arm, and will come and pray toward this templemay You hear in heaven, Your dwelling place, and do according to all the foreigner asks You for. Then all the people on earth will know Your name, to fear You as Your people Israel do and know that this temple I have built is called by Your name.

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Wise men Matthew 2:1-2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived unexpectedly in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him."

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What is inside matters more Luke 11:39-41 "But the Lord said to him: "Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and evil. Fools! Didn't He who made the outside make the inside too? But give to charity what is within, and then everything is clean for you.

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Wake up, wake up! Joel 1:5 Wake up, you drunkards, and weep; wail, all you wine drinkers, because of the sweet wine, for it has been taken from your mouth.

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Like the stars Daniel 12:3 Those who are wise will shine like the bright expanse [of the heavens], and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

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Jeremiah’s calling = our calling Jeremiah1:4–5 The word of the Lord came to me: I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

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Christ and Him alone Colossians 2:8 Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.

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Adam was the prototype Romans 5:12-14 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned. In fact, sin was in the world before the law, but sin is not charged to one's account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin in the likeness of Adam's transgression. He is a prototype of the Coming One.

Adam was the prototype before the fall, not after!

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One man’s obedience Romans 5:19-21 For just as through one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. The law came along to multiply the trespass. But where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The core of this, and all of the New Testament, is the passage, “But where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more …” In the person of Jesus Christ sin could not, and cannot, outdistance, overcome, or outlast, grace. This is the Good News in a nutshell.

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Give free of charge Matthew 10:7-10 As you go, announce this: 'The kingdom of heaven has come near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons. You have received free of charge; give free of charge. Don't take along gold, silver, or copper for your money-belts, or a backpack for the road, or an extra shirt, or sandals, or a walking stick, for the worker is worthy of his food.

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Value? Psalm 49:20 A man with valuable possessions but without understanding is like the animals that perish.

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The revelation of Jesus Christ 1Peter 1:6-7 You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to be distressed by various trials so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire--may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

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I was saved Psalms 18:3 I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I was saved from my enemies.

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Compassionate Savior Matthew 9:35-36 Then Jesus went to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd.

Making disciples for Jesus Christ is an act of compassion, not a stab at statistics or a jewel in the crown. All that is done, all that matters, glorifies Jesus and is modeled on His example. Compassion literally means with passion, and the passion Jesus had was one of purest love, the genuine article. If we are to be remembered it is not we who will be named. It will be Jesus who is high and lifted up! If we are forgotten, left in the dustbin of history, and He is remembered, then our mission is accomplished. We will be remembered in the Book of Life ‌ that is the only legacy that matters. Oh, and, it is worth repeating: Sheep without a shepherd are dead sheep ...

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Jesus knew John 6:64-65 " But there are some among you who don't believe." (For Jesus knew from the beginning those who would not believe and the one who would betray Him.) He said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted to him by the Father."

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A cautionary tale Judges 2:1-5 The Angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bochim and said, "I brought you out of Egypt and led you into the land I had promised to your fathers. I also said: I will never break My covenant with you. You are not to make a covenant with the people who are living in this land, and you are to tear down their altars. But you have not obeyed Me. What is this you have done? Therefore, I now say: I will not drive out these people before you. They will be thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a trap to you." When the Angel of the Lord had spoken these words to all the Israelites, the people wept loudly. So they named that place Bochim and offered sacrifices there to the Lord.

Does this sound like you life? Consider the elements and answer for yourself in a private place. 1.) God brought us out of a bad place and promised us His undying love and protection … His covenant. 2.) God gave us boundaries for our own protection but we disobeyed. We kept the altars of our former gods and had other maters we worshipped. 3.) God asked us about this and we acted like we didn’t know what He was talking about. 4.) God honored our choices and left certain things in our lives to be thorns of disobedience. 5.) We wept loudly, promised never to do these things again, and even gave up things we said we valued to show our love and sacrifice. But we forget, don’t we, and go back to our old lives until we are again confronted … and then we plead forgiveness until the next time, and the time after that. We are no different than the Israelites are we? What have you and I learned from this holy recycling program? 246


God uses King Cyrus of Persia Ezra 1:2–4 This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: "The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and has appointed me to build Him a house at Jerusalem in Judah. Whoever is among His people, may his God be with him, and may he go to Jerusalem in Judah and build the house of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem. Let every survivor, wherever he lives, be assisted by the men of that region with silver, gold, goods, and livestock, along with a freewill offering for the house of God in Jerusalem."

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Think about it Haggai 1:5-7 Now, the Lord of Hosts says this: "Think carefully about your ways: You have planted much but harvested little. You eat but never have enough to be satisfied. You drink but never have enough to become drunk. You put on clothes but never have enough to get warm. The wage earner [puts his] wages into a bag with a hole in it." The Lord of Hosts says this: "Think carefully about your ways.

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Consequences for unbelievers Jude1:4–6 For certain men, who were designated for this judgment long ago, have come in by stealth; they are ungodly, turning the grace of our God into promiscuity and denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Now I want to remind you, though you know all these things: the Lord, having first of all saved a people out of Egypt, later destroyed those who did not believe; and He has kept, with eternal chains in darkness for the judgment of the great day, angels who did not keep their own position but deserted their proper dwelling.

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Strong words 3 John 1:9–11 I wrote something to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have first place among them, does not receive us. This is why, if I come, I will remind him of the works he is doing, slandering us with malicious words. And he is not satisfied with that! He not only refuses to welcome the brothers himself, but he even stops those who want to do so and expels them from the church. Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.

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What is futility? Ecclesiastes 2:21 For there is a man whose work was done with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, but he must give his portion to a man who has not worked for it. This too is futile and a great wrong. For what does a man get with all his work and all his efforts that he labors with under the sun? For all his days are filled with grief, and his occupation is sorrowful; even at night, his mind does not rest. This too is futile.

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He planted a vineyard, and then ...

Genesis 9:20-23 Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. He drank some of the wine, became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth took a cloak and placed it over both their shoulders, and walking backwards, they covered their father's nakedness. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father naked

Noah, as faithful as he was, did the right thing and honored God with a burnt offering; and then, not unlike ourselves … planted a vineyard, fermented the grapes, and then proceeded to get blindly drunk passing out naked (uncovered). How often have we gone to church, made peace with God, made our sacrificial offering, and then gone right out and dishonored Him in every conceivable way? Everyone of us. Too often to count. It is the desire of our flesh to have our cake and eat it, too. The message here is a universal one of personal atonement gone predictably wrong. We believe that if we balance our offering and our rebellion, that somehow, in a cosmic sense, they cancel one another out … our account is “balanced.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. Only Jesus cancels debts and balances the scales. 252


Not over yet Micah 7:77-79 But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. Do not rejoice over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will stand up; though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. Because I have sinned against Him, I must endure the Lord's rage until He argues my case and establishes justice for me. He will bring me into the light; I will see His salvation.

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God does not tempt

James 1:13-14 No one undergoing a trial should say, "I am being tempted by God." For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn't tempt anyone. But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires.

And, for the record … the Devil didn’t “make you do it!” The only one accountable is you. Will you be honest enough to accept responsibility for what you have done (or refused to do); will you repent and turn your life around? The world says we are weak when we confess that what we wanted, and paid dearly for, hurt many, especially those we love. But, I am telling you that it takes incredible strength to admit that what seemed like a good idea at the time came to no earthly good. We confess ... James had it right. We can blame God, and we can blame Satan, but in the end, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

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Redeemed 1 Peter 1:18-19 For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things, like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.

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The horsemen Zechariah 1:8-10 I looked out in the night and saw a man riding on a red horse. He was standing among the myrtle trees in the valley. Behind him were red, sorrel, and white horses. I asked, "What are these, my lord?" The angel who was talking to me replied, "I will show you what they are." Then the man standing among the myrtle trees explained, "They are the ones the Lord has sent to patrol the earth."

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Oppression Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 Again, I observed all the acts of oppression being done under the sun. Look at the tears of those who are oppressed; they have no one to comfort them. Power is with those who oppress them; they have no one to comfort them. So I admired the dead, who have already died, more than the living, who are still alive. But better than either of them is the one who has not yet existed, who has not seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.

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Who do you say that I am? Luke 9:18-20 While He was praying in private and His disciples were with Him, He asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am? ” They answered, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, that one of the ancient prophets has come back.” “But you,” He asked them, “who do you say that I am? ” Peter answered, “God’s Messiah! ”

Who do you say that He is? The answer will forever define you and your relationship with God. As C.S. Lewis said so eloquently: "A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg--or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.” (Mere Christianity) If He is a reincarnation of John the Baptist or Elijah, or one of the prophets of old, He is but a man. If He is a man He cannot save souls or forgive sins. Jesus can only do these things (the things we need the most) if He is indeed God.

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All things? Philippians 4:13 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.

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The source; the war within James 4:1-3 What is the source of the wars and the fights among you? Don't they come from the cravings that are at war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don't receive because you ask wrongly, so that you may spend it on your desires for pleasure.

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Matthew is called Matthew 9:9-11 As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and He said to him, "Follow Me!" So he got up and followed Him. While He was reclining at the table in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came as guests with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"

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A holy sanctuary Ephesians 2:19-22 So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone. The whole building is being fitted together in Him and is growing into a holy sanctuary in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for God's dwelling in the Spirit.

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Precious promises 2 Peter 1:3-4 For His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires.

When we are called by the glory and goodness of God we are not called to live small lives. I have never heard anyone suggest that we should go out and live “small.” On the contrary … we are called to go out and “live large” proclaiming the name of Jesus from the rooftops and in the alleyways, showing others that a life in Him is a joy and a true liberation from self. The precious promise is this: we can live and love in this corrupted world and not fall prey to the corruption. Peter tells us that we escape the corruption because we now share in the divine grace that is the presence of God Himself. Our desire is for Jesus and not for the world.

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It follows Amos 3:3-7 Can two walk together without agreeing to meet? Does a lion roar in the forest when it has no prey? Does a young lion growl from its lair unless it has captured [something]? Does a bird land in a trap on the ground if there is no bait for it? Does a trap spring from the ground when it has caught nothing? If a ram's horn is blown in a city, aren't people afraid? If a disaster occurs in a city, hasn't the Lord done it? Indeed, the Lord God does nothing without revealing His counsel to His servants the prophets.

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Even today Esther 9:1–2 The king's command and law went into effect on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month Adar. On the day when the Jews' enemies had hoped to overpower them, just the opposite happened. The Jews overpowered those who hated them. In each of King Ahasuerus' provinces the Jews assembled in their cities to attack those who intended to harm them. Not a single person could withstand them; terror of them fell on every nationality.

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The day of the Lord is coming Joel 2:1-3 Blow the horn in Zion; sound the alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the residents of the land tremble, for the Day of the Lord is coming; in fact, it is neara day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and dense overcast, like the dawn spreading over the mountains; a great and strong people [appears], such as never existed in ages past and never will again in all the generations to come. A fire destroys in front of them, and behind them a flame devours. The land in front of them is like the Garden of Eden, but behind them, it is like a desert wasteland; there is no escape from them.

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Stuff is not the solution James 5:1-3 Come now, you rich people! Weep and wail over the miseries that are coming on you. Your wealth is ruined: your clothes are moth-eaten; your silver and gold are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You stored up treasure in the last days!

1.) Death comes to all. Those who placed value in material wealth have no eternal hope in it ‌ their expectation comes to nothing. The flesh rots and the spirit will die. Silver & gold will corrode. 2.) Wealth gained by fraud will see continued losses, and will never see significant gain; however, what little is earned by honest means will be multiplied many times over. 3.) A house inhabited by the righteous is a wealthy house and a healthy home. However, trouble will always follow a thief!

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Seeing God in love 1 John 4:11-13 Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us. This is how we know that we remain in Him and He in us: He has given to us from His Spirit.

If we are the only vision of God that some ever see, how then will He be remembered? Will our behavior help or hinder? Will we be the straight and narrow road for a person seeking Jesus or will we be the obstacle on it?

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The Lord is righteous 2 Chroniocles 12:5-8 Then Shemaiah the prophet went to Rehoboam and the leaders of Judah who were gathered at Jerusalem because of Shishak. He said to them: “This is what the Lord says: 'You have abandoned Me; therefore, I have abandoned you into the hand of Shishak.' " So the leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, "The Lord is righteous." When the Lord saw that they had humbled themselves, the Lord's message came to Shemaiah: "They have humbled themselves; I will not destroy them but will grant them a little deliverance. My wrath will not be poured out on Jerusalem through Shishak. However, they will become his servants so that they may recognize [the difference between] serving Me and serving the kingdoms of the land."

Sometimes knowing the difference is the difference.

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Be Holy 1Peter1:14–16 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance but, as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.

We struggle with being “good enough.� So, being holy in any sense of the word sound impossible; it is beyond our reach, beyond our comprehension. Where is this written? It is from the book of Leviticus 11:45 in the Old Testament Torah. So, while God has inspired Peter to remind us of our anticipated spiritual condition, it is a message that has deep roots going back to the time of the Exodus. This is just one more illustration of how God has not changed, and why the Old and New Testaments must be considered One and not Two.

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Bottomless pit Ecclesiastes 6:7 All man's labor is for his stomach, yet the appetite is never satisfied.

Are heavier people more satisfied than skinny people? Does eating more actually fill a person up?

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Wealth and trouble are connected

Proverbs 15:6 The house of the righteous has great wealth, but trouble accompanies the income of the wicked.

It is no wonder that topics about wealth are always within a stone’s throw of topics about fraud and corruption. Keeping wealth has become an obsession, and prosperity is seen as an end rather than a blessing with a divine purpose. It would seem that getting rich isn’t the hard part … staying rich is! Choose the wealth that you can hold on to, not one that will slip through your fingers ...

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Indifference Revelation 3:14-17 "To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: "The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Originator of God's creation says: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, 'I'm rich; I have become wealthy, and need nothing,' and you don't know that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked …”

Indifference is the worst possible position to take. The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference. The opposite of passion is not being dispassionate, but being indifferent. Out Lord in Revelation says that he would rather we be hot or cold … but never lukewarm or indifferent. Why? It is disgusting. It is tasteless and it will make one vomit. It is the result of serving two masters: serving hot and cold will make us tepid, not both hot and cold. It ruins the character of both the hot and the cold. God can work with passion; He knows indifference breeds apathy and destroys motivation. Lukewarm does not embody cold or hot … in its desire to embody both, it embodies neither.

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Fear = Reverence Psalm 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His instructions have good insight. His praise endures forever.

‫יראה‬ yir-aw' Feminine fear; morally reverent Going back to root words in Strong’s definition, both suggest to fear or to frighten; but more emphatically, to morally revere, though by inference to pay homage, to respect and follow. It is also worth noting that the specific use is feminine, and gender specific, which may actually be a reference to the Holy Spirit. Wisdom in the Old Testament is generally personified in the feminine and named Sophia in the Greek. Again, I believe this is a reference to the spiritual nature of God. Recognizing God’s will as perfect and supreme means accepting the fact that we are “where we need to be” as a result of our journey, and that acceptance of His will and purpose puts us squarely is a place of greater wisdom and truth. Now, we can begin to make sense of His purpose. It is a new beginning.

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People of God Genesis 12:1-3 The Lord said to Abram Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father's house to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

I am convinced that God is the greatest Poet Laureate bar none. When we look at the Bible, and much of its narrative style, we discover lyric poetry. Whether music as in Psalms (songs), wisdom in Job and Proverbs, sensuality in The Song of Solomon, instruction through Lord’s Prayer, or Mary’s gratitude in The Magnificat, we see unequaled beauty and cadence throughout Holy Scripture. We see the same in Genesis when, through Abram, the People of God were called through one man … one man called to pack up and leave his place of comfort; called to go to a place he did not know. It was named Canaan, modern -day .

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Unidentified Flying Objects Ezekiel 1:16-21 The appearance of the wheels and their craftsmanship was like the gleam of beryl, and all four had the same form. Their appearance and craftsmanship was like a wheel within a wheel. When they moved, they went in any of the four directions, without pivoting as they moved. Their rims were large and frightening. Each of their four rims were full of eyes all around. So when the living creatures moved, the wheels moved beside them, and when the creatures rose from the earth, the wheels also rose. Wherever the Spirit wanted to go, the creatures went in the direction the Spirit was moving. The wheels rose alongside them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

It is easy to see how a case can be made for the “Ancient Aliens� theory. These writings from the prophet Ezekiel are fantastic. However, we must realize that God came first, not these incredible manifestations of beryl and wheels within wheels with rims full of eyes. When we get caught up in believing that God is an afterthought, dependent upon our vision and our understanding, it is easier to believe these even more incredible UFO theories. We must be discerning as believers, able to separate television entertainment from truth. Nevertheless, this is how God presented Himself to Ezekiel. It would have been a statement of purpose that would have riveted the attention of even the most stubborn individual. How did God get your attention?

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Sending a prophet Ezekiel 2:1-5 He said to me, "Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak with you." As He spoke to me, the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet, and I listened to the One who was speaking to me. He said to me: "Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites [and] to the rebellious nations who have rebelled against Me. The Israelites and their ancestors have transgressed against Me to this day. The children are obstinate and hardhearted. I am sending you to them, and you must say to them: This is what the Lord God says. Whether they listen or refuse [to listen] -for they are a rebellious house-they will know that a prophet has been among them.

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Sanctuary Exodus 15:17–18 You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of Your possession; Lord, You have prepared the place for Your dwelling; Lord, Your hands have established the sanctuary. The Lord will reign forever and ever!

Do you know what a sanctuary is? Do you have a place that you call a sanctuary? I went on the internet to look up the meaning and found all kinds of stuff related to the word: there is a TV series with that name, there is a song by that name, and … there are also a nightclub and a clothing line by that name. There were 127 million references on Yahoo alone. What does it really mean? The definition in the dictionary is what you might expect: a sacred or holy place; a place of safety, refuge and asylum. Isn’t that why we are here at The Gathering? Don’t we want to be protected, warm and safe? There is an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee that claims to be “the nation’s largest natural habitat refuge.” These elephants, “live out their lives with the freedom to roam the natural habitat of the Sanctuary, making new friends and special relationships as the years pass.” Sounds great doesn’t it? I now have second thoughts about being an elephant ... (intro to my first sermon written in 2008) 278


Called to freedom Galatians 5:13-15 For you are called to freedom, brothers; only don't use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another.

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Love your neighbor Matthew 5:43-46 "You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don't even the tax collectors do the same?

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The same yesterday and today Deuteronomy 6:4-8 "Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.�

What does Jesus tell us? He says to Love God and love your neighbor. On those words hang the words of the prophets and the tenants of the Law. Moses and Jesus are connected in a message that spans almost 1450 years. See Matthew 22:36-40. Moses tells the Israelites to put the words in their hearts, repeat them to their children, talk about them, and bind them to themselves. These words are something we can also heed as Christ-followers. As believers we do this; we wear crosses on our necks and we cross ourselves with our hands to seal, to consecrate and to protect. I do not suggest that this is the same, but that the activities of true believers bear striking similarities to the Judaic tradition ‌ because we worship the same God, the Great I AM: Yahweh. Moses spoke of the truth and Christ fulfilled it. The connection between Old and New Testament Scripture is undeniable. It is a fact. Jesus was a practicing Jew. He came not to abolish but to transform.

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Practical knowledge Leviticus 19:29-30 "Do not debase your daughter by making her a prostitute, or the land will be prostituted and filled with depravity. You must keep My Sabbaths and revere My sanctuary; I am the Lord.�

I selected this because it seems so obvious to us that we should not sell our children or defile sacred sanctuaries, but such was not always the nature of the ancient world. Monotheistic worship for the Hebrews changed all of that. God chose His people, and wanted so much to preserve them that He provided a plethora of practical laws for their protection. Those laws have been translated into many of the legal systems most civilized societies live by today. Even the Islamic model has, at its base, the same built-in protective and theocratic societal umbrella. This is no accident as Islam also recognizes Abraham as founding father. Jesus takes the old and makes it brand new ‌ literally. The sanctuary which is Jesus Christ remains open to the public, rain or shine, 24/7, 365.

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Poured out, finished 2Timothy 4:6-8 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. In the future, there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing.

I need to have God carry me across the finish line. I have strength and will run, but I am not enough to take me very far ... And the definition of “far” is always the distance required for a true walk in faith that is greater and further than we had counted on and trained for. No walk of faith is accomplished alone, not if it involves more than a few steps. A wise man knows this to be true, but a fool denies it saying his life is his own, and in no way depends upon God’s strength and guidance. Be wise and invite God along on your journey.

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A reputation 2Samuel 8:13-15 David made a reputation for himself when he returned from striking down 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. He placed garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites were subject to David. The LORD made David victorious wherever he went. So David reigned over all Israel, administering justice and righteousness for all his people.

The Edomites are today’s Syrians. David conquered tens of thousands, but at a price. Psalm 60 written in conjunction with this particular engagement, suggests that while a victory, David’s heart seemed uncertain. For he writes in verse 5, You have shown Your people hard things; You have made us drink the wine of confusion. It is not known whether this was written before or after the battle, but no matter how victorious, the cost of victory can be enormous. Of course David was blessed and a man after God’s heart; that much we know, but rather than yielding to God he had begun to believe in himself in ways that sowed the seeds of arrogance. As we know, even the most blessed individual can begin to believe what he hears, and may attribute his success to his own ability rather than honoring God’s power and will. It is an easy thing to get caught up in. It is always a dangerous game. And David’s son Solomon fell prey to the same arrogance late in life.

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Compiling an accurate narrative Luke 1:1-4 Many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them down to us. It also seemed good to me, since I have carefully investigated everything from the very first, to write to you in orderly sequence, most honorable Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed.

The gospel of Luke, and also Acts, were written as instructional letters that could be reviewed as needed to assure that proper doctrine was being taught in a rapidly changing social, geographic, political, and spiritual environment. Thus Luke, as a physician and a man of detail and fact, wanted to be sure that the events surrounding Christ’s ministry were recorded while many of the eyewitnesses were still alive. Luke was a Gentile, so it was important that he conveyed this good news of Jesus Christ in a manner that would touch the hearts of other Gentiles. Luke contains strong parallels to Matthew, and as such, they are thought to have had a common source. This common source is the basis for the belief in a Quelle or “Q” Gospel. Quelle in German means “source.” Theophilus, to whom the Gospel is addressed, is not known although there is much scholarly speculation. The name means “lover of God” and he is referred to as “most excellent.” This might suggest a person of right-standing or possibly the code for a specific faith community.

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A divided Christ 1 Corinthians 1:9-13 God is faithful; by Him you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Now I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all say the same thing, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction. For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by members of Chloe's household, that there are quarrels among you. What I am saying is this: each of you says, "I'm with Paul," or "I'm with Apollos," or "I'm with Cephas," or "I'm with Christ." Is Christ divided? Was it Paul who was crucified for you? Or were you baptized in Paul's name?

Doctrinal differences aside, we have many issues that threaten to create divisions in the body of Christ. Most of the problems for the church are influences that are secular by definition. Ironically, the very separation we clamor for between church and state is where we find ourselves the most divided and ungodly. Claims for moral correctness, and ideological righteousness, have created an “us and them� mentality in our modern culture that has blurred the lines between the political arena and the places we hold most sacred: our churches and our belief in God. Paul tells us that we are to be united in Christ if nothing else.

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The Ark of the Covenant Exodus 37:1-9 Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood, 45 inches long, 27 inches wide, and 27 inches high. He overlaid it with pure gold inside and out and made a gold molding all around it. He cast four gold rings for it to be on its four feet, two rings on one side and two rings on the other side. He made poles of acacia wood and overlaid them with gold. He inserted the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark for carrying the ark. He made a mercy seat of pure gold, 45 inches long and 27 inches wide. He made two cherubim of gold; he made them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat, one cherub at one end and one cherub at the other end. He made the cherubim [of one piece] with the mercy seat, [a cherubim] at each end. They had wings spread out, covering the mercy seat with their wings and facing each other. The faces of the cherubim were looking toward the mercy seat.

If you ever wondered about the Ark of the Covenant, and whether it looked like the one in the Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, here is the opportunity to make a mental comparison. I would say that generally it is pretty close in the way that it is described, although in Exodus the dimensions are much more rectangular in shape, and somewhat larger, than what is generally illustrated in the movie.

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Prophecy of Isaiah I Isaiah 14:1-2 For the Lord will have compassion on Jacob and will choose Israel again. He will settle them on their own land. The foreigner will join them and be united with the house of Jacob. The nations will escort Israel and bring it to its homeland. Then the house of Israel will possess them as male and female slaves in the Lord's land. They will make captives of their captors and will rule over their oppressors.

Israel:

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Prophecy of Isaiah II Isaiah 14:12-15 Shining morning star, how you have fallen from the heavens! You destroyer of nations, you have been cut down to the ground. You said to yourself: "I will ascend to the heavens; I will set up my throne above the stars of God. I will sit on the mount of the [gods'] assembly, in the remotest parts of the North. I will ascend above the highest clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." But you will be brought down to Sheol into the deepest regions of the Pit.

Satan: even though we know that the context is Babylon, and the “shining morning star� is the person of King Nebuchadnezzar, it is pretty obvious that the reference also clearly points to the fall of Lucifer, the angel who was light bearer and the most beautiful. The comparison is hard to dismiss for good reason. The consequence of pitting oneself against God has severe consequences .

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Prophecy of Isaiah III Isaiah14:24-27 The Lord of Hosts has sworn: As I have planned, so it will be; as I have purposed it, so it will happen. I will break Assyria in My land; I will tread him down on My mountain. Then his yoke will be taken from them, and his burden will be removed from their shoulders. This is the plan prepared for the whole earth, and this is the hand stretched out against all the nations. The Lord of Hosts Himself has planned it; therefore, who can stand in its way? It is His hand that is outstretched, so who can turn it back?

Assyria (Syria): whenever you read this meditation know that my thoughts reflect the destruction of Syria culminating in 2016 ‌ a result of The Arab Spring and the terror spread by ISIS like a modern-day plague. While we do not completely understand why there must be so much destruction; why there have to be so many refugees fleeing the country, displaced and in fear for their lives, we can take some solace in knowing that God has a plan that included this from the beginning. All of this will fulfill prophecy and glorify God before it concludes ‌ before Jesus returns for His bride, the church. The destruction has begun. What was built in defiance of God will fall.

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Prophecy of Isaiah IV Isaiah 16:5 Then in the tent of David a throne will be established by faithful love. A judge who seeks what is right and is quick to execute justice will sit on the throne forever.

Jesus Christ:

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Predestined

Romans 8:29–30 For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.

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Useless idols Jeremiah10:5 Like scarecrows in a cucumber patch, their idols cannot speak. They must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them for they can do no harm and they cannot do any good.

The imagery in Jeremiah’s prophecy is second to none.

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The belly of a fish Jonah 2:1-2 Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish: <i> I called to the Lord in my distress, and He answered me. I cried out for help in the belly of Sheol; You heard my voice.

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God’s work is complete Amos 6:11 For the Lord commands: The large house will be smashed to pieces, and the small house to rubble.

What causes me discomfort is how Amos begins the chapter: Woe to those who are at ease in Zion and to those who feel secure on the hill [of Samaria] … I realize that I am taking a very specific view, no doubt out of context, but it struck me that we could substitute a few key words and we have a message for our times … Woe to those who are at ease [in America] and to those who feel secure on the hill [of Washington D.C.] …

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Renewal Jeremiah4:3â&#x20AC;&#x201C;4 For this is what the Lord says to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: Break up the unplowed ground; do not sow among the thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord; remove the foreskin of your hearts, men of Judah and residents of Jerusalem. Otherwise, My wrath will break out like fire and burn with no one to extinguish [it] because of your evil deeds

The image of broken ground evokes renewal or revival.

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Who? Romans 8:31 What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

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Firstfruits Nehemiah 10:37 We will bring a loaf from our first batch of dough to the priests at the storerooms of the house of our God. We will also bring the firstfruits of our grain offerings, of every fruit tree, and of the new wine and oil. A tenth of our land's produce from our lands belongs to the Levites, for the Levites are to collect the one-tenth offering in all our agricultural towns.

A tenth of what? A tenth of increase, generally related to various harvests (grains, wine and oils), processing and butchering. This relates to a man’s very substance or material wealth. It is not to be ill-gotten or by fraud. It is not meant to diminish personal prosperity. Generally it was not strictly monetary as exchange was often done by bartering, not by cash for goods as we practice it. What is a freewill offering? These are things given freely above and beyond the requirements of the Law. What is a personal contribution? This would appear to be another way of saying freewill or any giving above and beyond. What is a dedicated thing? Things consecrated or blessed and purified for sacred use. Some portion of these things, by Law, were freed up as “second tithes” to be used for food for priests, not just sacrifice for atonement. What is a first fruit? It is exactly what it suggests: the first of the harvest, fruits, grains, new wine and olive oil … generally the best and most abundant. Is Tithing in the Ten Commandments? No. Under the New Covenant Jesus says to “Love your God and love your neighbor.”

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Rich young man Matthew19:20â&#x20AC;&#x201C;22 "I have kept all these," the young man told Him. "What do I still lack?" "If you want to be perfect," Jesus said to him, "go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me." When the young man heard that command, he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.

Jesus wept ...

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The camel and the eye of the needle Matthew19:23-26 "Then Jesus said to His disciples, "I assure you: It is hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven! Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." When the disciples heard this, they were utterly astonished and asked, "Then who can be saved?" But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Following up on the conversation with the rich young man, the Disciples who were evidently within earshot, now wondered who could make it to glory if such a righteous person could not.

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Not extortion 2 Corinthians 9:5-7 Therefore I considered it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance the generous gift you promised, so that it will be ready as a gift and not an extortion. Remember this: the person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart--not out of regret or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver.

God is not extorting us and neither should church leadership. Preachers and other leadership should be honest about the nature of giving, lay out the practical needs in a cash-based culture, and find ways that the community can survive without demanding a set monetary percentage from the congregation. Be creative; find ways for members to serve that utilize spiritual gifts as well as their resources; connect reaping and sowing in concrete terms, and be an example of joyful giving by illustrating it as an act of obedience. Never tell only the story you want to tell, sowing the seeds of guilt; tell the whole story of Biblical giving, the origin of the tithe in Genesis, and most certainly how the Acts 2 church behaved. Giving must be its own reward.

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Alpha and Omega Revelation 22:12-13 " "Look! I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me to repay each person according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

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Genealogy and the hand of God

Ruth 2:1-3 Now Naomi had a relative on her husband's side named Boaz. He was a prominent man of noble character from Elimelech's family. Ruth the Moabitess asked Naomi, "Will you let me go into the fields and gather fallen grain behind someone who allows me to?" Naomi answered her, "Go ahead, my daughter." So Ruth left and entered the field to gather [grain] behind the harvesters. She happened to be in the portion of land belonging to Boaz, who was from Elimelech's family.

The story of Ruth is one of humbling and service followed by the recognition and love of a benefactor. In this case the benefactor was Boaz, a wealthy relative of Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law. He is named in the genealogy of Jesus by way of Jesse and King David. Obed, the son of Ruth and Boaz, was the grandfather of King David. Ruth is a complex story of life under the Law for a foreigner in a land that despised her and her people. And yet she was redeemed. Ruth’s story hinges upon a technicality of the Law of inheritance … one that illustrates how God does brings good out of the complexities of our lives, out of what may appear to be an impossible situation. For man these things are impossible, but for God all things are possible.

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Cycle of rebellion Judges 2:10-12 That whole generation also died, and the next generation forgot the LORD and what he had done for Israel. Then the people of Israel sinned against the LORD and began to serve the Baals. They stopped worshipping the LORD, the God of their ancestors, the God who had brought them out of Egypt, and they began to worship other gods, the gods of the peoples around them. They bowed down to them and made the LORD angry.

The timeline for Judges is roughly between 1380 and 1050 B.C. The period began after Joshua had died, Mosaic leadership declined, and Egypt was all but forgotten as the Hebrews were settling into Canaan. The narrative is built around a cycle of spiritual rebellion by God’s people, judgment by Him, the peoples’ cry for help, and the Lord’s response of raising up Judges to deliver them. Much of the judgment that came to the Hebrews was in the form of military attack rather than famine or sickness. Evidently this form of attack had a more profound effect on their sense of well-being, and jolted them out of their pagan ways for a season. God in His mercy sent 12 of these rescuing Judges whose duration of leadership lasted for as few as 6 years, and as many as 80 years. In similar fashion we have fallen away, begun to serve Baals, and are being jolted back to reality by acts of terror and economic decline. God is preparing for His Son’s return. Who are judges in our modern day culture? Who are our prophets?

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Foolishness? 1 Corinthians 1:18-20 For to those who are perishing the message of the cross is foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is God's power. For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will set aside the understanding of the experts.*

Where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn't God made the world's wisdom foolish? Christ’s message is founded on such basic principles that we often overlook their potential. We gloss right over the obvious. He said that we are to “Love God with all our being and love our neighbors as we would want to be loved” … that if we adhere to these basics, then the right behaviors and consequences occur naturally. The framework of this approach is so profound, yet so brilliantly simple, that it actually seems too good to be true. It is not! Christ has stumped the experts since day one The more avidly the philosophers and scholars debate His existence, the more absurd the debate becomes. Accept Him, there is no need to debate or intellectualize Him.

*What was written can be found in Isaiah 29:14

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You will not see them again

Exodus 14:13 But Moses said to the people, "Don't be afraid. Stand firm and see the LORD's salvation He will provide for you today; for the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again ...â&#x20AC;?

Israelites were not building pyramids for the Pharaoh; but it is good bet that they were being worked in the Land of Goshen where granaries and storage facilities were located. The chosen people had multiplied and were by then considered a large non-indigenous population of potential consequence. They were probably segregated and put to work in the years following the reign of Joseph to reduce the potential for a grassroots rebellion. Are you and I free even while we toil at our jobs, or engage in serving our communities, churches and clubs? I would say that we are truly free if we are freed in God no matter where we are or what we are doing. We are free because in God there is hope and hope is never lost in Him.

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What makes Jesus different?

Matthew 4:23 Jesus was going all over Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.

Records show that Jesus was not the only one healing people in the ancient world. So what made Jesusâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; work noteworthy? What was it that gave Him the staying power and historical significance? Jesus was not performing magic; he was offering holistic healing that came from God, not spirits or personal charisma. The other aspect was this: Jesus did not take credit for the healing nor did He use it for personal gain. Even today what differentiates a healer from a charlatan is often the expectation of personal prosperity. And then, there is the wellness of the spirit that accompanied Jesusâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; healing. We see that in the healing of the madman in the tombs. Again, today we can tell the difference between healing and magic because true healing ultimately focuses on the condition of oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s spirit and glorifies God in the name of Jesus Christ. The truth never changes ...

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Vision of the end Daniel 12:9â&#x20AC;&#x201C;13 He said, "Go on your way, Daniel, for the words are secret and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, cleansed, and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; none of the wicked will understand, but the wise will understand. From the time the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches 1,335 days. But as for you, go on your way to the end; you will rest, then rise to your destiny at the end of the days."

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Yeast of the Pharisees Matthew16:5-8 & 11-12 When the disciples reached the other shore, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus told them, "Watch out and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." And they discussed among themselves, "We didn't bring any bread!" "Aware of this, Jesus said, "You of little faith! Why are you discussing among yourselves that you do not have bread? ... Why is it you don't understand that when I told you, 'Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees,' it wasn't about bread?" Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the yeast in bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Watch out for false doctrine. Jesus made it clear that we can often tell what is coming our way if we have visible signs (like the weather) but that it is harder to be sure how to prepare ourselves when we do not have visible indicators. Such is the case with false doctrine. Like yeast that may have gone bad and will not rise. Adding false doctrine to our lives has a similar effect : our expectations are not met and we are disappointed. It would be like professing to be Christians but leaving Jesus out of our theology.

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Parable of the yeast Matthew 13:33 He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into 50 pounds of flour until it spread through all of it."

In this parable yeast is a positive element added to flour to create a much needed and relied upon food. This is what Jesus wanted the Disciples to understand, but because He used figures of speech, His message was often misunderstood, especially when the metaphor could be used with either a positive or negative connotation. Our faith and passion, like yeast, can have both positive and negative consequences if added incorrectly to the recipe of our faith journey. The bread we bake as believers will be consumed by others, not just by you and me. And, unleavened and leavened bread have different purposes. One is for daily use and the other is for sacred use. Today we wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t appreciate a hearty sandwich constructed using unleavened bread (unless we ordered a quesadilla), nor would we expect Passover or Seder to be celebrated using leavened bread. We can be the yeast in a world that is 50lbs of flour. We can make it rise ...

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Yeast and firstfruits Leviticus 23:17-18 Bring two loaves of bread from your settlements as a presentation offering, each of them made from four quarts of fine flour, baked with yeast, as firstfruits to the LORD. You are to present with the bread seven unblemished male lambs a year old, one young bull, and two rams. They will be a burnt offering to the LORD, with their grain offerings and drink offerings, a fire offering of a pleasing aroma to the LORD.

Unleavened bread is most often associated with Passover and the haste required of those exiting Egypt. Exodus 12:39 The people baked the dough they had brought out of Egypt into unleavened loaves, since it had no yeast; for when they had been driven out of Egypt they could not delay and had not prepared any provisions for themselves.

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Bookends Hebrews 1:1-3 Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things and through whom He made the universe. He is the radiance of His glory, the exact expression of His nature, and He sustains all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Everything is about Jesus Christ. He is the beginning and the end and everything in between. That’s what God tells us in this passage. (Open your Bible and read John 1:1-3 as companion Scripture: they are bookends) This is a compact version or a simple creed. It is what we believe as Christfollowers. Christ and Christ alone now sits at God’s right hand as judge in the fullness of His mercy and grace. We are told that while Jesus was brought “low” He now is lifted “high.” He knows how it feels to be human and to be God, and this is why He understands us so well … why He loves us. Jesus had to die on the cross to sit down at God’s right hand. Our salvation could only have happened if Jesus suffered as a human being and was resurrected bodily ... a final sacrifice that overcame sin and death once and for all. Resurrection means to be brought back to life from death. Jesus’ physical body was raised up on the day we celebrate as Easter, a Sunday, the third day.

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Not afraid Joshua 1:6-9 "Be strong and courageous, for you will distribute the land I swore to their fathers to give them as an inheritance. Above all, be strong and very courageous to carefully observe the whole instruction My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night, so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. Haven't I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

What are Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s instructions for Joshua? What are the rewards God promises to provide? Instructions: Be strong and courageous Do not be afraid or discouraged.. Carefully observe the whole instruction. Do not turn from [it] to the right or the left. [The book of instruction] must not depart from your mouth, and You are to recite [it] day and night. Outcomes: I [God] swore to provide an inheritance to their [Hebrew peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s] fathers. You will have success wherever you go. You will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. The Lord your God is with you wherever you go. ..

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Good as His Word Acts 1:4-5 While He was together with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father's promise. "This," He said, "is what you heard from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

Not only is Jesus as good as His word, He is the Word. Christ is referring, in this particular passage, to the day of Pentecost. Our God takes a bunch of confused, fearful, men and women, and transforms them into passionate risk-takers. In this passage Christ is keeping His promise by reminding the followers of His own baptism by His cousin, John the Baptist; and He is affirming what John, the beloved disciple, tells us about this journey we are on being a spiritual one. Christ is also specifically references the impending gift of God’s Holy Spirit … one who will be provided to guide and counsel us as members of the spiritual body we call the Church. The Church is Jesus Christ’s body on earth until His second coming.

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About to disappear Hebrews 8:6â&#x20AC;&#x201C;7 & 13 But Jesus has now obtained a superior ministry, and to that degree He is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been legally enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, no opportunity would have been sought for a second one. By saying, a new covenant , He has declared that the first is old. And what is old and aging is about to disappear.

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Sounds familiar Hosea 4:2 Cursing, lying, murder, stealing, and adultery are rampant; one act of bloodshed follows another.

We would like to believe that somehow either through civilization or technology, we are better, more refined now. But some character traits remain with us no matter how much changes on the surface. On the outside we look pretty good. On the inside we remain unclean â&#x20AC;Ś much as we have always been.. We lost our moral compass so long ago, and as a result new blood is being spilled every day. This is prophecy; and while it may pertain to a specific time and place in the past, all prophecy has more than one layer. I believe it is more than ample evidence that we are closing in on the end of days. It isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just one prophetic utterance, but many, that create a confluence that speaks of a greater truth â&#x20AC;Ś one that is eminent and grand in its scope and finality.

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David was stressed Psalm 22:14-21 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are disjointed; my heart is like wax, melting within me. My strength is dried up like baked clay; my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You put me into the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded me; a gang of evildoers has closed in on me; they pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people look and stare at me. They divided my garments among themselves, and they cast lots for my clothing. But You, Lord, don't be far away. My strength, come quickly to help me. Deliver my life from the sword, my very life from the power of the dog. Save me from the mouth of the lion!

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The turning away Jude 1:4â&#x20AC;&#x201C;6 For certain men, who were designated for this judgment long ago, have come in by stealth; they are ungodly, turning the grace of our God into promiscuity and denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Now I want to remind you, though you know all these things: the Lord, having first of all saved a people out of Egypt, later destroyed those who did not believe; and He has kept, with eternal chains in darkness for the judgment of the great day, angels who did not keep their own position but deserted their proper dwelling.

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Nineveh overthrown in 40 days? Jonah 3:8-10 Furthermore, both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth, and everyone must call out earnestly to God. Each must turn from his evil ways and from the violence he is doing. Who knows? God may turn and relent; He may turn from His burning anger so that we will not perish. Then God saw their actions-that they had turned from their evil ways -so God relented from the disaster He had threatened to do to them. And He did not do it.

We know that God’s prophecy can be overturned if those who are prophesied against respond to Him. It means that we not necessarily doomed “by our fate.” We have every opportunity to repent. Our own lives as believers indicates this: we chose to heed God’s warning and our path to destruction was rerouted to heaven, a place of eternal refuge and sanctuary. However, we like Jonah, sometimes want to see others get what we think they deserve. It makes us feel privileged and special. We do not want others to be special. It takes away our distinction as God’s chosen people. We have all taken secret joy in seeing outsiders “getting what is coming to them.” For this we should repent and seek forgiveness, but we must not heap burning coals on our own heads.

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Why are you angry?

Jonah 4:1-4 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became furious. He prayed to the Lord: "Please, Lord, isn't this what I said while I was still in my own country? That's why I fled toward Tarshish in the first place. I knew that You are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to become angry, rich in faithful love, and One who relents from [sending] disaster. And now, Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live." The Lord asked, "Is it right for you to be angry?"

Truth is, Jonah secretly wanted the Ninevites to be punished. He thought they deserved it because they were pagans and they were enemies. God had other plans. God, unlike us, is far more merciful and consistently just. Have you ever wanted someone who wronged you to get what you think they deserved? Of course you have â&#x20AC;Ś so have I. They problem with that line of thinking is that we get to be prosecuting attorney, judge and jury. We are just not capable of handling that kind of responsibility with mercy and justice. We get caught up in wrath and outrage. We are not objective in any sense of the word. A prophet would have to be a pretty upright of individual with a pure heart and nerves of steel!

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You care more about a plant than 120,000 people Jonah 4:9-11 Then God asked Jonah, "Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?" "[Yes,]" he replied. "It is right. I'm angry enough to die!" So the Lord said, "You cared about the plant, which you did not labor over and did not grow. It appeared in a night and perished in a night. Should I not care about the great city of Nineveh, which has more than 120,000 people who cannot distinguish between their right and their left, as well as many animals?"

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Do the right thing Colossians 3:18-24 Wives, be submissive to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and don't become bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing in the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so they won't become discouraged. Slaves, obey your human masters in everything; don't work only while being watched, in order to please men, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord-you serve the Lord Christ.

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Not shaken Hebrews 12:28â&#x20AC;&#x201C;29 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us hold on to grace. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.

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Come on in 2 John 1:7â&#x20AC;&#x201C;11 Many deceivers have gone out into the world; they do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves so that you don't lose what we have worked for, but you may receive a full reward. Anyone who does not remain in the teaching about Christ, but goes beyond it, does not have God. The one who remains in that teaching, this one has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your home, and don't say, "Welcome," to him; for the one who says, "Welcome," to him shares in his evil works.

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The power of God Jeremiah4:23-26 I looked at the earth, and it was formless and empty. [I looked] to the heavens, and their light was gone. I looked at the mountains, and they were quaking; all the hills shook. I looked, and no man was left; all the birds of the sky had fled. I looked, and the fertile field was a wilderness. All its cities were torn down because of the Lord and His burning anger.

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I will gather all nations Joel 3:1-3 Yes, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and take them to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. I will enter into judgment with them there because of My people, My inheritance Israel. The nations have scattered the Israelites in foreign countries and divided up My land. They cast lots for My people; they bartered a boy for a prostitute and sold a girl for wine to drink.

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What can man do? Hebrews 13:1-6 Let brotherly love continue. Don't neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it. Remember the prisoners, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily. Marriage must be respected by all, and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge immoral people and adulterers. Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

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Children 1 John 3:4â&#x20AC;&#x201C;7 Everyone who commits sin also breaks the law; sin is the breaking of law. You know that He was revealed so that He might take away sins, and there is no sin in Him. Everyone who remains in Him does not sin; everyone who sins has not seen Him or known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you! The one who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous.

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Heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s crazy and demon possessed John 10:17â&#x20AC;&#x201C;21 This is why the Father loves Me, because I am laying down My life that I may take it up again. " No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from My Father." Again a division took place among the Jews because of these words. Many of them were saying, "He has a demon and He's crazy! Why do you listen to Him?" Others were saying, "These aren't the words of someone demon-possessed. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"

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On the third day Hosea 6:1-2 Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn [us], and He will heal us; He has wounded [us], and He will bind up our wounds. He will revive us after two days, and on the third day He will raise us up so we can live in His presence.

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Without a leader Judges 2:18-19 Whenever the LORD gave Israel a leader, the LORD would help that leader and would save the people from their enemies as long as that leader lived. The LORD would have mercy on them because they groaned under their suffering and oppression. But when the leader died, the people would return to the old ways and behave worse than the previous generation. They would serve and worship other gods, and stubbornly continue their own evil ways.

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Wine betrays Habakkuk 2:5 Moreover, wine betrays; an arrogant man is never at rest. He enlarges his appetite like Sheol, and like Death he is never satisfied.

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Where he lies Psalm 41:1-3 Happy is one who cares for the poor; the Lord will save him in a day of adversity. The Lord will keep him and preserve him; he will be blessed in the land. You will not give him over to the desire of his enemies. The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed; You will heal him on the bed where he lies.

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Everlasting to everlasting Psalm 41:11-13 By this I know that You delight in me: my enemy does not shout in triumph over me. You supported me because of my integrity and set me in Your presence forever. May the Lord, the God of Israel, be praised from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and amen.

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Called like Aaron Hebrews 5:1-4 For every high priest taken from men is appointed in service to God for the people, to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness. Because of this, he must make a sin offering for himself as well as for the people. No one takes this honor on himself; instead, a person is called by God, just as Aaron was.

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Testify against Me! Micah 6:1-3 Now listen to what the Lord is saying: Rise, plead [your] case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice. Listen to the Lord's lawsuit, you mountains and enduring foundations of the earth, because the Lord has a case against His people, and He will argue it against Israel. My people, what have I done to you, or how have I wearied you? Testify against Me!

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He is his brothersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; keeper Genesis 47:1-4 So Joseph went and informed Pharaoh: "My father and my brothers, with their sheep and cattle and all that they have, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in the land of Goshen." He took five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh. Then Pharaoh asked his brothers, "What is your occupation?" And they said to Pharaoh, "Your servants, both we and our fathers, are shepherds." Then they said to Pharaoh, "We have come to live in the land for a while because there is no grazing land for your servants' sheep, since the famine in the land of Canaan has been severe. So now, please let your servants settle in the land of Goshen."

After all that Joseph had been through he continued to look after his brothers and his father.

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When was time complete? Galatians 4:1-7 Now I say that as long as the heir is a child, he differs in no way from a slave, though he is the owner of everything. Instead, he is under guardians and stewards until the time set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were in slavery under the elemental forces of the world. But when the completion of the time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, " Abba , Father!" So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

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Remember mercy Habakkuk 3:2 Lord, I have heard the report about You; Lord, I stand in awe of Your deeds. Revive Your work in these years; make it known in these years. In Your wrath remember mercy!

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Children of the free woman Galatians 4:28â&#x20AC;&#x201C;31 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But just as then the child born according to the flesh persecuted the one born according to the Spirit, so also now. But what does the Scripture say? Throw out the slave and her son, for the son of the slave will never inherit with the son of the free woman. Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

This is a reference to Isaac and his mother Sarah. Remember that the two children of Abraham, those of note, are Isaac and Ishmael. Ishmaelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mother was Hagar and she was a maidservant, a slave.

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No favorites? Acts 10:34-36 Then Peter began to speak: "In truth, I understand that God doesn't show favoritism, but in every nation the person who fears Him and does righteousness is acceptable to Him. He sent the message to the sons of Israel, proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ--He is Lord of all.

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It is good 1 Timothy 4:4â&#x20AC;&#x201C;8 For everything created by God is good, and nothing should be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, since it is sanctified by the word of God and by prayer. If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished by the words of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. But have nothing to do with irreverent and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness, for, the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

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1000 years completed Revelation 20:7-10 When the 1,000 years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle. Their number is like the sand of the sea. They came up over the surface of the earth and surrounded the encampment of the saints, the beloved city. Then fire came down from heaven and consumed them. The Devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

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Prophecy Revelation11:1-2 Then I was given a measuring reed like a rod, with these words: "Go and measure God's sanctuary and the altar, and count those who worship there. But exclude the courtyard outside the sanctuary. Don't measure it, because it is given to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for 42 months.

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A new way Romans 6:1-4 What should we say then? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life.

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It is the same for us all Ecclesiastes 9:1-2 Indeed, I took all this to heart and explained it all: the righteous, the wise, and their works are in God's hands. People don't know whether [to expect] love or hate. Everything lies ahead of them. Everything is the same for everyone: there is one fate for the righteous and the wicked, for the good and the bad, for the clean and the unclean, for the one who sacrifices and the one who does not sacrifice. As it is for the good, so it is for the sinner, as for the one who takes an oath, so for the one who fears an oath.

This is a good place to demonstrate the continuity of Old and New Testament Scripture, specifically Mathew 5:45: ... so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. It is the same for us all, and that it is our decision to honor God, and Him alone, that will cause real change. This real change affects our lives now and for eternity. But, make no mistake â&#x20AC;Ś our decision-making also impacts the lives of countless others. Want to make a difference? Choose Christ!

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Dangerous ones Jude 1:12-13 These are the ones who are like dangerous reefs at your love feasts. They feast with you, nurturing only themselves without fear. They are waterless clouds carried along by winds; trees in late autumn--fruitless, twice dead, pulled out by the roots; wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shameful deeds; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever!

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Teach the truth 2Timothy 2:15-18 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn't need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth. But avoid irreverent, empty speech, for this will produce an even greater measure of godlessness. And their word will spread like gangrene, among whom are Hymenaeus and Philetus. They have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and are overturning the faith of some.

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It is we who create the hardship Lamentations 3:1-5 I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of God's wrath. He has driven me away and forced [me] to walk in darkness instead of light. Yes, He repeatedly turns His hand against me all day long. He has worn away my flesh and skin; He has shattered my bones. He has laid siege against me, encircling me with bitterness and hardship.

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The purpose of geneology Ruth 4:13-22 Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he was intimate with her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. Then the women said to Naomi, "Praise the Lord, who has not left you without a family redeemer today. May his name be famous in Israel. He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. Indeed, your daughter-inlaw, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him." Naomi took the child, placed him on her lap, and took care of him. The neighbor women said, "A son has been born to Naomi," and they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. Now this is the genealogy of Perez:Perez fathered Hezron. Hezron fathered Ram, who fathered Amminadab. Amminadab fathered Nahshon,who fathered Salmon. Salmon fathered Boaz,who fathered Obed. And Obed fathered Jesse,who fathered David.

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A thing we do not do well 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Be restored, be encouraged, be of the same mind, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

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The day is come: like lightening Nahum 2:3-4 The shields of his warriors are dyed red; the valiant men are dressed in scarlet. The fittings of the chariot flash like fire on the day of its [battle] preparations, and the spears are brandished. The chariots dash madly through the streets; they rush around in the plazas. They look like torches; they dart back and forth like lightning.

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Hallelujah! Psalm 150:1-6 Hallelujah! Praise God in His sanctuary. Praise Him in His mighty heavens. Praise Him for His powerful acts; praise Him for His abundant greatness. Praise Him with trumpet blast; praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with tambourine and dance; praise Him with flute and strings. Praise Him with resounding cymbals; praise Him with clashing cymbals. Let everything that breathes praise the Lord. Hallelujah!

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A meek and humble people Zepheniah 3:12-13 I will leave a meek and humble people among you, and they will trust in the name of Yahweh. The remnant of Israel will no longer do wrong or tell lies; a deceitful tongue will not be found in their mouths. But they will pasture and lie down, with nothing to make [them] afraid.

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Rome Revelation17:7â&#x20AC;&#x201C;9 Then the angel said to me, "Why are you astounded? I will tell you the secret meaning of the woman and of the beast, with the seven heads and the 10 horns, that carries her. The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up from the abyss and go to destruction. Those who live on the earth whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will be astounded when they see the beast that was, and is not, and will be present again. "Here is the mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated .

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Confession Hebrews 4:12-14 For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as to divide soul, spirit, joints, and marrow; it is a judge of the ideas and thoughts of the heart. No creature is hidden from Him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account. Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens-Jesus the Son of God--let us hold fast to the confession.

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The tongue James 3:7â&#x20AC;&#x201C;10 For every creature--animal or bird, reptile or fish--is tamed and has been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who are made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things should not be this way.

We have a pretty good idea what is going on in a personâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s head and heart by what rolls off the tongue. If actions confirm, then we can be sure that what we see and what we hear are the essence and the substance of the person no matter how loudly that he or she pleads to the contrary.

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An open grave Psalm 5:7-9 But I enter Your house by the abundance of Your faithful love; I bow down toward Your holy temple in reverential awe of You. Lord, lead me in Your righteousness, because of my adversaries; make Your way straight before me. For there is nothing reliable in what they say; destruction is within them; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongues.

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Peace to you John 20:21-23 Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! Just as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." " After saying this, He breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. " If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

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A right time and procedure Ecclesiastes 8:6-8 For every activity there is a right time and procedure, even though man's troubles are heavy on him. Yet no one knows what will happen, because who can tell him what will happen? No one has authority over the wind to restrain it, and there is no authority over the day of death; there is no furlough in battle, and wickedness will not allow those who practice it to escape.

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Faith is ... Hebrews 11:1â&#x20AC;&#x201C;3 Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. For by it our ancestors were approved. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen has been made from things that are not visible.

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Return to Me Malachi 3:7 "Since the days of your fathers, you have turned from My statutes; you have not kept [them]. Return to Me, and I will return to you," says the Lord of Hosts.

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High standards Romans 13:12-14 The night is nearly over, and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.

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Crucfixion of the flesh Galatians 5:24-26 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

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Taste and see Psalm 34:4-8 I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard [him] and saved him from all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them. Taste and see that the Lord is good.

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Can God speak in dreams? Job 33:14â&#x20AC;&#x201C;17 For God speaks time and again, but a person may not notice it. In a dream, a vision in the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they slumber on [their] beds, He uncovers their ears at that time and terrifies them with warnings, in order to turn a person [from his] actions and suppress his pride.

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Returning to vomit 2Peter 2:20-22 For if, having escaped the world's impurity through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in these things and defeated, the last state is worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb: A dog returns to its own vomit, and, "a sow, after washing itself, wallows in the mud."

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Nearer James 5:8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord's coming is near.

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One voice, one Spirit Romans 15:3-6 For even the Messiah did not please Himself. On the contrary, as it is written, The insults of those who insult You have fallen on Me. For whatever was written before was written for our instruction, so that through our endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we may have hope. Now may the God of endurance and encouragement grant you agreement with one another, according to Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice.

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Me and you Genesis16:4-6 He slept with Hagar, and she became pregnant. When she realized that she was pregnant, she looked down on her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, "You are responsible for my suffering! I put my slave in your arms, and ever since she saw that she was pregnant, she has looked down on me. May the Lord judge between me and you." Abram replied to Sarai, "Here, your slave is in your hands; do whatever you want with her." Then Sarai mistreated her so much that she ran away from her.

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Full of days and blessing the latter part Job 42:12-17 So the Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the earlier. He owned 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. He named his first [daughter] Jemimah, his second Keziah, and his third Kerenhappuch. No women as beautiful as Job's daughters could be found in all the land, and their father granted them an inheritance with their brothers. Job lived 140 years after this and saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. Then Job died, old and full of days.

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Finally

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength.

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the Voice God gave me