DISCOVER AND GROW IN YOUR JOURNEY WITH GOD

DISCOVER AND GROW IN YOUR JOURNEY WITH GOD

BROKENESS 

How to Deal With Brokenness

Life brings many heartaches that can lead to inner brokenness. Many people we meet are suffering within. Some have learned ways to deal with their suffering others have simply found ways to hide it.

But God does not want us to hide our inner pain. He is the One who can heal our battered souls. God has provided a way of deliverance and healing for those things that are troubling our soul. He is the Great Shepherd of our souls who wants to lead us into a place of inner peace. But we must turn to Him. He doesn’t force himself on us. He waits with outstretched arms for us to come to Him and accept His love.

JESUS HEALS AND RAISES FROM THE DEAD

We read in the Bible of a story in Jesus’ life (Luke 8:40-53) when He raises a twelve-year-old girl from the dead, and also healed a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. These two stories remind us of the many in this world, people like you and me, who greatly suffer with broken lives, and do not know where to turn. Two individuals in our story, who were broken, and helpless turned to the Savior.

The first person was a man named Jairus.  He was a religious leader. He came to Jesus and fell at His feet. His daughter, who was only twelve, was sick and at the point of death. He needed help from Heaven and he knew that Jesus had brought heaven to earth. He therefore came and fell down and called out for help.

At the same time as Jesus was going through a crowd that was almost crushing Him, a woman who was suffering for twelve years with endless bleeding came up to Jesus. She came in faith. The Bible says, “And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.” Jesus sensed that the power of God had left His body as the woman touched Him in faith. He wanted to know who it was that touched Him. The disciples tell Jesus that there is no way of knowing who it was that touched Him since the crowd around Jesus that was pressing on Him was so large. The story goes on to say how Jesus brought healing and peace to this woman—outward and inward healing. “Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

Then we return to the story of Jairus. A man arrives and tells Jairus that it is too late. His daughter is already dead. The man tells Jairus to not bother Jesus any longer. But Jesus speaks reassurance to the man. “Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” Jesus goes with Jairus to his house where people are gathered and mourning for the dead. Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.”  The people mocked Jesus for saying she was not dead. But Jesus now acts and shows forth the power and mercy of God. The Bible says, “But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.” Jesus raised the child from the dead and gave her back to her parents, who were astonished at the power of God.

HEALING COMES THROUGH GOD’S FORGIVENESS

Because of the difficulties of life, we often face similar situations. These two stories speak of people who were broken on the outside but also hurting on the inside. They both did the right thing. They came to Jesus and He delivered them. In His love and mercy, He had compassion on them and healed their troubled souls.

Maybe you feel like you are dead within, having lost hope for today and the future. You need to come to Jesus like Jairus came, and let Jesus heal your stricken soul. If you will come like Jairus and humbly fall at Jesus’ feet, and open your heart to Him, He will open the heavens and pour out on your life God’s unlimited grace and meet your deepest needs. Or maybe you are like the bleeding woman who came to Jesus. Maybe your bleeding is in your heart and soul. Let me assure you that Jesus understands and is touched with your feelings of hopelessness and pain. He stands ready to stop your bleeding soul and give you inner peace.

The Bible tells us that inner healing and wholeness begins when our sins are forgiven. Jesus died on the cross and became the sacrifice for sin for the entire world. Three days later He arose from the dead and conquered sin and death. Our response must be to come to Jesus and trust Him alone. We must abandon any other hope of salvation except His death on the cross in our place and begin to follow Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

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GET UP AND STAND FIRM

I have always thought that the true test of a man’s character is not how he revels in victory but how he responds in the face of crushing defeat. Anyone can have a strong sense of self-worth when surrounded by adoring friends in the mountaintop experiences of life. But when you get pounded into the canvas of life and are trying to regain your senses, you are at a crossroads. How desperately do you want to get up? What is your true reason for living? What are your hopes and dreams now? Are you willing to get up and fight for them?


FEELING UNABLE TO GET BACK UP

Chapter 5 of the Gospel of John records an encounter at the pool of Bethesda between Jesus and a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. The man was one of a great number who had been knocked down by life: the “blind, the lame, the paralyzed” (verse 3). Jesus, knowing that this man had battled physical challenges for a long time, asked him an interesting question: “Do you want to get well?”

Let’s stop and consider this question. “Do you want to get well?” It seems obvious that the man was in a hopeless state and that he would give everything he had to be healed. And yet, there are people who have been lying on the canvas of life so far beyond the ten count that the knock-down punch became the knockout punch. They identify now so closely with the tragedy in their lives that they have a new and, well, we can use the word warped, sense of normalcy. The knockout punch defines them now. Their life started with life’s blow, and everything else is viewed in retrospect from the mental movies of that fateful moment.

DO NOT STAY SITTING

Right now, you are hurting. You are hurting from the life blow that either came from someone you trusted or it involved someone that you love. Your pain is legitimate and should not be trivialized or marginalized in any way. You are on the canvas of life because someone, or something, hurt you deeply. I understand your pain. But the question then becomes, “Do you want to get well?”

If you stay down then you allow your offender to bring pain to your life daily and even beyond as the moment will have a ripple effect on all those in your sphere of influence. For example, we hear stories of parents who lost a child to a disease, then expressed such rage and bitterness toward God that it poisoned their children who lived and debilitated their children’s personal relationship with Him.

IT IS UP TO YOU

Do you really want the tragedy to define you and to rob you of the life that God created you to live? If you want to be healed, then you must do what Jesus told the man in John 5 to do: “Get up, take up your bed, and walk” (John 5:8). The man turned to Jesus, received instruction, and was obedient to do what Jesus told him to do. And look at what happened: “At once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked” (John 5:9).

THE BENEFITS OF SUFFERING FOR THE FOLLOWER OF CHRIST

I once was carrying a briefcase filled with Gospel literature for my ministry in a local jail. I would visit there once a week and pass out the literature (Bibles and Gospel tracts) to the inmates. Many of them were very happy to receive the literature. It gave them something to read during their times of boredom while incarcerated.

One time, while visiting the inmates in the jail, I dropped the briefcase and the edge of it fell directly on my big toe. The toe turned black and throbbed with pain. The next day I went to the emergency room at the local hospital to have the pressure under the nail relieved. They wondered how I had slept through the night and how much I had suffered.

There are many kinds of suffering in this world. As human beings, we all suffer. Some suffer much more than others. Unfortunately, some suffer to the extreme in pain and loss. It is often hard to estimate the level of suffering a person is experiencing because suffering is not only physical but also a mental and spiritual experience. Often, the internal pain is more intense than external.

BENEFITS OF SUFFERING

Suffering is never wanted, but there is an underlying benefit to those who in faith commit their ways unto the Lord. As followers of the Savior, the Bible teaches us about the many different ways that God uses suffering for our benefit. Let us look at three such benefits:

1. Suffering can enable you to transmit comfort to others in their time of suffering. We read in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV, “3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” Without our own suffering, and the experience of the comfort of the gospel of grace, we would have nothing to offer to our fellow sufferers. The gospel of grace comes to us in the prayers and spiritual gifts of other disciples so that we can then join into this ministry of comfort and offer it to others in their time of need.

2. Suffering teaches us to persevere in order for us to mature in Christ. During a period of suffering, as His disciples, we must keep in focus God’s ultimate goal for our lives. The Bible tells us that God is at work in every aspect of our lives, including our suffering, to transform us inside out to become like the Savior. The Bible says in James 1:2-4 NIV: “2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James tells us that trials should bring us joy. We rejoice because we see the hand of God, the hand of Our Heavenly Father, at work sanctifying us and bringing our faith to maturity.

3. Suffering demonstrates the quality of our faith. Suffering reminds us how much we need Jesus and how we need to grow in our trust of Him. We find Him to be the Good Shepherd, who walks at our side and wraps us in His love during times of pain and uncertainty. The genuineness of our faith is exposed. It is easy for us to think that we are more mature in our faith than we really are. Trials teach us how to trust God in a deeper way. It is faith that has been tried, proven true, and strong that will remain until the time of judgment. Then, on that day, we will rejoice in the power of the gospel of grace that has enabled us to withstand the trials of this life. We will truly have a faith that is more precious than gold.

JOY IN SUFFERING

Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:7 NLT: “7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” Like James, Peter calls on us to have joy in the midst of our suffering. This is supernatural joy given by the Holy Spirit. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit that God gives us, by His grace, in order to soar by faith above the trial and see the hand of Almighty God at work. All of this is for the praise and glory of His infinite love and mercy.

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Journey to Wholeness

No one can doubt that we live in a broken world. As Jesus told us in advance, there are always wars and the fear of new wars. People suffer from the effects of wars and all the other natural disasters that come upon the earth. This brings suffering to individuals, families, and to whole societies. Each society has its own traditions to deal with disaster, tragedy, and pain. People often respond in compassion, being available to bring help. Sometimes no help comes at all.

But there is a deeper brokenness that we want to address. It is inner brokenness. Many things can contribute to inner brokenness. Such things as natural disasters that we have just spoken about, the loss of a loved one, family divisions, broken promises, words spoken in anger, addictions, feelings of worthlessness, failed plans, along with many other heartaches.

WHERE DO WE GO FOR HEALING FOR OUR SOULS?

People travel down many roads in their attempt to find inner peace. People turn to the many world religions and philosophies, hoping that inner wholeness can come about through religious observance or deeper knowledge.

Others try to stamp out the inner voice of trauma and pain through the use of drugs and alcohol. Others look for wholeness within through success. They hope to find inner peace as they give their energies to their life’s goals and accumulate material gain.

But the Bible tells us that inner wholeness and peace can only come from God himself. We only find inner peace from the God who can give us peace.

THE SAMARITAN WOMAN

The Bible tells of an event in Jesus’ life (John 4) when he met a woman at a well who was drawing out water. The Bible says that she was a Samaritan woman. Jesus in His love asked her for a drink of water. 

The woman was surprised that Jesus wanted to communicate with her and to get a drink from her. The Bible says, “The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)” Jesus then looks into her soul, sees her brokenness, and offers her living water. “Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’”

The woman does not understand what Jesus means by living water. Jesus was talking about supernatural water that comes from God that will heal our inner brokenness, and refresh our souls. The woman thinks that Jesus is talking about the water from the well. To help the woman, Jesus compares and contrasts the water from the well to the living eternal water that He alone can give her. “Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’”

The woman is excited and wants the water that Jesus is offering, but still thinks of the kind of water that comes from a natural well. “The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.’” Jesus knows that if this woman is to be healed within, she needs to be freed from her sin. He tells her to go call her husband. She tells Jesus she has no husband. Jesus responds that He knows that she has no husband and that she has lived with five men in the past who were not her husband. Also, the man she is now living with is not her husband. Jesus was not condemning her, rather He was calling her to repentance. Inner peace can only come from God. Her sin was separating her from God, who is holy.

Jesus wants to freely give us living water that heals our soul and satisfies us deep within. To have living water she needed a new life.

THE FREE GIFT OF SALVATION

God sent His Son into the world to save us. The Bible says (John 3:16 NIV): “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus died on the cross, taking our place, taking upon himself our sins. He became the sacrifice for sin so that we can be forgiven. Three days later He arose from the dead.

We must ask God to forgive us, turn from our sin, and surrender our lives to Jesus. God then gives us

the gift of living water to heal our souls, and to satisfy us deep within. As we drink daily the gift of living water, God then begins the daily process of restoring our souls as we learn to trust Him.

My friend let me encourage you to put your whole trust in Jesus, and His death for you as your only means of Salvation. Purpose in your heart to begin to follow Jesus as the Savior and Lord of your life. He will forgive you of your sins and heal you deep within.

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Brokenness 

Isaiah 41:10

“10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Job 8:5-7
“5 If you will seek God and plead with the Almighty for mercy, 6 if you are pure and upright, surely then he will rouse himself for you and restore your rightful habitation. 7 And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.”

Psalm 18:6
“6 In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.”

Psalm 28:7
“7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”

Psalm 34:18
“18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 42:5
“5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation.”

Psalm 51:15-17
“15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

Psalm 69:32-33
“32 When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. 33 For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.”

Psalm 71:20
“20 You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.”

Everything in life seems to be in flux.

Everything in life seems to be in flux. Information is passing with lightning speed on the internet and through social media. Many people are finding themselves in overload because of the abundance of information and the multitude of opinions coming their way each and every day.

It is difficult to know what to believe. So much that we hear is propaganda. Profit outweighs the truth. Many are trying to lead us down their worldview’s path. Voices multiply and sure foundations crumble. This leaves some people feeling frightened. Many are confused and discouraged not knowing which way to turn nor which path to walk down. Foundations are being removed and the ground is now uneven. What was sure seems now not so sure. Hope is being lost. People are no longer sure where to turn in their confusion.

Is there a way out? Is there a way forward? Can we know the right path for our lives? Is there truth for us to build our lives upon?

UNWAVERING TRUTH

We need the truth that is eternal and unchanging. We need direction from God himself. We need our Creator, who knows what is best for us, and what will give peace to our souls. God in His mercy did not leave us without guidance. He knew we would need truth to stand on. He knew we would need truth that was easily accessible. Therefore, God in His infinite wisdom and love gave us His written and eternal Word.

We see a description of this blessed gift in the Bible itself. We read in Psalm 19:7-11 NIV

7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

FINDING STABILITY

The Psalmist David tells us that it is in the Word of God that we find perfection (vs 7a). In times of shifting sand, we can pick up the Bible and read and meditate on the truth that is perfect. In the Bible, we find the very words of God our Creator. Therefore, we find the truth that causes stability and refreshing to our souls. Confusion and uncertainty are put to flight as we learn to stand on God’s eternal principles. David tells us that God’s statutes are trustworthy (vs.7b). We can trust the Word of God to lead us down a path of peace and wholeness. The Bible contains everlasting truth that we can stand on, and we can build our house upon. It gives us the wisdom to be discerning. We can separate truth from a lie as our minds are saturated with the statutes of God.

The precepts of God are right, always right (vs 8a). It is as we follow the precepts of God, we are able to discern what is fair and just. This brings great joy as the uncertainty of life evaporates. The commands of God are radiant and pure (vs 8b) helping us see correctly. The word of God causes the scales of deception to fall off our eyes and we can see clearly. We know which way to turn, when to stop, and when to move forward. The word of God helps teach us to submissively and reverently obey Almighty God. We learn the nature of God and learn to submit to Him and to love Him with all of our hearts. Loving God brings peace to our souls. David tells us that the decrees of God are firm. The Word of God is a firm foundation. It is a rock to build our lives upon. God’s decrees are powerful with the effect of changing us deep within to become more like God himself. This is why the Psalmist tells us that for him the Word of God is more valuable than gold and it is sweeter to his soul than honey to the mouth. Confusion ends where the truth of the Bible begins. Read it and love it and you will have an eternal bulwark that keeps you from confusion.

Jesus is the living Word of God. God sent His Son into the world to save us. He died on the cross as the sacrifice for sin. Three days later He arose from the dead and conquered sin and death. We begin to escape the confusion of this world by trusting Him alone to save us. We find God’s path forward in following Jesus.

Please contact us by clicking one of the buttons below if you desire to follow Jesus, have a question, or a prayer request. Someone is waiting to hear from you.

WAS JESUS JUST A MAN?

There is a lot of confusion in the world about the person of Jesus Christ. Was He just a man or was He really God in the flesh? Howard W. Stevens helps us understand what the Bible says about the person of Jesus Christ.

Someone recently sent me a letter stating that Jesus was not divine. He believed that God had created Jesus as a human being in Mary’s womb, and prior to that Jesus did not exist. Furthermore, he claimed that Jesus never said that He was God. Although the person acknowledged that Jesus had lived a perfectly sinless life and had died on the cross for our sins, he contended that Jesus was merely a mortal man.

Many in our contemporary culture believe that Jesus was just a good man. They suggest that we should follow His wise teachings, but reject His divinity and His sinlessness.

What does the Bible say about Jesus?

1) Jesus Always Existed with God

Jesus was always present with God. The Hebrew word Elohim, which is plural, is used repeatedly in Genesis 1 to refer to God, signifying the plurality of persons in the Godhead. In verse 26, God says, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness” ( Genesis 1:26 NIV).

John’s Gospel takes us literally behind the scenes and informs us that before our Lord was known as Jesus, He was known as the Word, the Logos. John 1:1 explicitly states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The phrase “in the beginning” is essentially the same as that of Genesis 1:1 and refers to the indefinite eternity that preceded all time. Thus, the Logos always existed. Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed, “Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” (John 17:5 NIV).

In addition, the Logos not only was with God, but He actually was God the Creator. According to John 1:3, through Jesus all things were created; nothing was created apart from Him. Colossians 1:16 and Hebrews 1:2 state that the Son (Jesus Christ) is the agent of Creation. John 1:10 clearly says that the world was made through Him.

2) Jesus Claimed to Be God

Colossians 1:19 states that God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in him [Christ]. John 1:18 implies that the Son is the fullest expression of God’s life and love; as such, He radiates God’s real character. The term only begotten (KJV) or the One and Only (NIV) is translated from the Greek word monogenes, which means only or unique. John used this term to point to Christ’s uniqueness. Christ has no equal.

Jesus claimed equality with God by using His name “I AM”, the name by which God had revealed himself to Moses (Exodus 3:14, NIV). “‘I tell you the truth,” Jesus told the Jewish leaders, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58 NLT). The religious leaders understood that Jesus was claiming to be God. They picked up stones to stone Him, the penalty for blasphemy.

In John 10:30, Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” Once again, the religious leaders picked up stones to kill Him, stating, “You, a mere man, claim to be God” (John 10:33 NIV). Jesus also told His disciples that anyone who had seen Him had seen the Father (John 14:9, 11). 

3) Jesus Had to Be Perfect

The name Jesus is a transliteration of the Hebrew Yeshua, which means Jehovah saves. But someone may ask, “If God sent Jesus to be our Savior, does it matter whether Jesus was divine? Can’t we still be saved from our sins by accepting Him even if Jesus was only human?”

If Jesus’ claim to be God was a lie, then Jesus did not live a sinless life. God’s justice demanded a perfect sacrifice for our sins. If Jesus had sinned, then He would need a Savior! Therefore, His death on the cross could not save us from our sins. Only if Jesus was the sinless God could He bridge the gap between God and men. 1 Peter 2:22 NIV states “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth”. Jesus was holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens (Hebrews 7:26).

4) Jesus Will Judge

Jesus said that when He comes in His glory, He will sit on His throne as Judge. Not everyone will enter heaven. “Many will say, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?'” But Jesus will tell them plainly, “‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” (Matthew 7:22–23 NIV).

As Paul told the Galatians, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:8 NIV). If anyone teaches that Jesus is merely a man, they are preaching a false gospel and will be judged accordingly.

Editor’s note

It is important for us to let the truth of the Word of God (the Bible), of who Jesus really is, change our lives and free us from our sin. We can escape the confusion of this world, including the many false teachings concerning Jesus, by surrendering our lives to Him and allowing Him to be the Lord of our lives.

We know who He really is when we know Him through the forgiveness of our sins. The Bible teaches that Jesus is the Savior of the world.

Jesus came into the world to save us. The Bible says that Jesus took our place on the cross. Our sins were placed upon Him so that we can now be forgiven. Jesus was buried and three days later He arose from the dead and now is in heaven at God’s right hand praying for us.

We must stop going our own way, stop trusting in anything but Jesus, and begin to follow Him. He will, through the Word of God, lead us into all truth. The truth sets us free!

Please contact us by clicking one of the buttons below if you desire to follow Jesus, have a question or a prayer request. 

LIES BRING CONFUSION

We all have grown tired of those who tell lies. We see them on television and on the internet. We hear them on the radio and often think, “Will these people ever stop lying?” We wonder to ourselves, “Do these people even know the difference between the truth and a lie?”

DECEPTION IS DAMAGING

Lying can be more personal than what we see or hear through the media. It can hurt very deeply when we find out someone we love and trust has not told us the truth. We can feel deceived and can begin to doubt if we can ever trust that person again. Experiencing the deception of others bring confusion to our minds, and feelings of disappointment into our hearts and souls. We are no longer sure who we can trust. We can begin to ask ourselves are all people, liars? Does anyone tell the truth? Who can I now trust? We become confused, disheartened, and withdraw ourselves from others.

Where did this problem of lying that has caused so much confusion and hurt in the world begin?  The Bible tells us it began at the very beginning of the world. Satan, in the form of a serpent, came to our first ancestors, Adam and Eve, and lied to them. The Bible says, “The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, ‘Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?'” (Genesis 3:1 NLT).

The Devil wanted to sow the seed of doubt into the mind of Eve. He was deceiving her. He told her that it was really God who was lying and that God did not really love her. He tricked her into believing that God was depriving both her and Adam of things they needed. Through his deception, he tricked them into eating what God had forbidden and plunged the world into darkness and confusion. Lying became a human trait and spread as the human race multiplied. In our fallen state we are often more drawn to the lie than to the truth.

FREEDOM FROM THE LIES

If this is true, how can we be freed from the confusion of a lying world? Who can deliver us? What can change our hearts so that we can again begin to hate lying and love telling the truth?

God sent a Redeemer. We become truth-tellers when the truth of the Redeemer sets us free. Jesus is the truth (John 14:6) and He calls His followers to walk in the truth. The Bible tells us, “Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds” (Colossians 3:9 NLT). New life comes to us when God forgives us of our sins and we begin to follow Jesus.

Please contact us by clicking one of the buttons below if you desire to follow Jesus, have a question, or a prayer request. Someone is waiting to answer you.

FIND REAL TRUTH

Many people want to tell you how you should act. They tell you how you should think. Other people will tell you that you must listen only to your heart. They say that you should not listen to the words of others.

But, are they speaking truth to you? They act like they know the truth. What they say looks like it might be the truth. But you do not know if their truth is real. The problem with listening only to your heart is you do not know the truth. What you like one day may bring you joy. But, the next day you may lose joy. What seems good one day may seem bad the next day.

Do you follow people if their truth seems good today? Do you do only what feels good to you? These questions do not give you the truth. You must find someone who knows the truth that comes from God. I know this person. His name is Jesus Christ.

Jesus said that He is truth. Jesus said that if you obey His words then you will know the truth. God’s truth is real every day. God’s truth is for every person. God’s truth is for every tribe and leader. God’s truth never fails. If you want God’s truth then you must follow Jesus. Jesus said that He and God are one. Jesus was perfect.

God the Father wants you to obey His truth. When you do not obey then it is called, “sin.” Sin will lead you to death. God the Father does not want you to die. He sent Jesus Christ, God’s Son, to die in your place. Jesus Christ died so you will not have to die for your sins. He wants you to love God the Father. Jesus wants you to accept His gift of life. He wants you to give all your heart and mind to God the Father. When you know Jesus then you know God. When you know Jesus you will know the truth.

Jesus is truth. If you obey Jesus each day you then you will know the truth. Jesus will teach you how to act. Jesus will teach you how to think. When you obey Jesus you will find joy. The truth that comes from Jesus will never fail you. The truth that comes from Jesus is good every time.

Please pray with me if you want to move from no truth to truth.

“Dear Jesus, I understand that you love me. I searched for truth for so long. I surrender my life to you. Please show me how to walk in your truth. I want to find forgiveness and new life in you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!”

If you prayed that prayer, please click the button that says: “Yes, I prayed.” We would love to know more about your story.

Living Again

Living Again: Overcoming the Pain of Death

Death is a cruel and heartless enemy. All of us deal with death at some time or another. Maybe you received bad news from a doctor. Or perhaps you are struggling to move forward after the death of a son, a daughter, or a spouse.

My Story

My biggest battle with death came when I was just a boy. My father faced a hopeless battle against cancer. Slowly, he was reduced from a giant of a man to someone who was frail and broken. His death left me empty, afraid, and bitter!

The perfect description of how I felt came the day we buried my father. It was a Saturday. The trip to the cemetery was on the same route that people were going to use for a parade just a few minutes after we passed. I sat in the back of the car with my family. We were all dressed in black. We mourned, but none of the people lining the streets for the parade were aware of what was happening to us, happening to me.

Children didn’t understand why the crowd hushed as the hearse passed. They didn’t know that I lost someone I loved. They held balloons in their hands. They had smiles on their faces. I felt empty and alone. Their world was happy. My world was ending.

You Are Not Alone!

Death does that to those left to mourn. Few people understand the pain, the loneliness, and the frustration you feel. They are smiling while you are crying.

But there is a God who understands our grief. The Bible tells us that the pain of death is caused by a world full of sin. God loves us so much that He created a way to overcome death. It was not easy. It cost God His one and only Son, Jesus.

There is Hope

Jesus paid the price of our sin once and for all. He broke the curse of death by rising from the dead three days after sinful people nailed him to a deadly cross. Because He rose from the dead, we have hope for new life: now and forever.

Nothing will change the fact that people die. But, death does not have to overpower us. We can begin to live again because of our relationship with Jesus.

It begins with a prayer:

“Dear Jesus, please help me find my way forward again. The grief I feel has hurt me so much! I need to find new life in You. Please forgive me for the wrong things I have done in my life. I choose to follow You. Thank You for breaking the power of death over my life. Help me to find hope and joy again. In Your name I pray. Amen!”

If you prayed that prayer, please click the button that says: “Yes, I prayed.” We would love to hear your story.

ALL WILL DIE

All will die, but some only once and others twice.           All live once, but some will live a second time.

DEATH IS AND HAS BEEN EVERYWHERE

In 2020 the world faced the very contagious COVID 19 virus that brought sickness and death throughout the world. It was an unseen killer that brought great fear to many. The world rushed to get a vaccine to end the fear and dying.

Death has never been a pleasant thought and never will be. It is a word that we wish we could remove from human language no matter which language it is in. Every nation and culture have traditions and religious practices formed out of the necessity of dealing with this ever-present evil.

SEPARATION FROM OTHERS

The shortest verse in the Bible is “Jesus wept.” Jesus was suffering at the grave of a friend. He wept as He beheld the suffering of his friends who felt the pain of separation. Many believe that He was weeping for the entire world that is suffering under the fear of inevitable death and separation.

Often the death of a loved one brings us face to face with the inevitable. We sense at that moment the frailty of life. The Psalmist writes, “My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass” (Psalm 102:11) and “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more” (Psalm 103:15).

SEPARATION FROM GOD

Death can be defined as separation. When the body dies the eternal soul is separated from the body. When a soul dies eternally that soul is separated from God forever.

The term “second death” in the Bible is a metaphorical expression for being separated eternally from the presence and glory of God. Speaking of the lost and the return of Christ to earth the Bible tells us, “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints…” (2 Thessalonians 1:9-10).

The question comes to all of us, “is there a way to escape this second death?” Can we know what lies beyond the grave? Can we find assurance in our souls that we are ready for life beyond the grave?

THE ENTRANCES OF LIFE AND DEATH

The Bible tells us that life and death are totally in God’s hands. All human life is in His hands. We breathe because He has given us the gift of life and breath in our lungs. “In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:10).

In the beginning man was not created for death. Adam and Eve, our first parents, had access to both the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They were warned not to eat of

the latter (Genesis 2:17). The Bible says that Adam and Eve were deceived by the Serpent. But at the same time, the Word of God also makes clear that they were willfully deceived. They chose to rebel and follow the lie of the Serpent. Adam was the first man and we are all descendants. Adam’s sin plunged the entire world into a lost condition. We became sinners and as a result of our sinning, we all face death. Paul the apostle wrote, “Sin pays its servants: the wage is death” (Romans 3:23, J.B. Phillips).

HOPE FOR THE FUTURE

We all live now under what the psalmist calls the shadow of death. But King David found hope in knowing that when the end approached God would be his shepherd to lead him to his eternal home. He wrote, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).

Isaiah looked forward to the day when death would be swallowed up and done away with. “And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 25:7-8). The prophecy of Isaiah came to fruition in the life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God. The followers of Jesus still will die a physical death, but the second death, spiritual death, has been removed from them. Their names have been written in the Book of Life and therefore have no fear of death.

The disciple of Christ has no fear because he knows that nothing can separate him from the love of God. Paul wrote, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). There has been established for us a way of escape so that the grip of the fear of death can be removed from our lives. We overcome through living the grace filled, faith filled, Holy Spirit empowered life.  By His grace, we will attain to the resurrection of the just and will live forever in the presence of God in His eternal Kingdom.

Those who, by the grace of God, trust Jesus as Savior and Lord, and surrender to Him will not see death. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death” (John 8:52).  They will die only once (physically) for they have passed from death unto eternal life. These are the same redeemed followers of Christ who will live twice. They will live out their physical life according to the time God gives them, but because of their faith, they will live a second time forever in the presence of Almighty God.

FREEDOM FROM ETERNAL DEATH THROUGH CHRIST

Jesus died in our place. He took our sin upon himself, becoming the sacrifice for the sin of the entire world. He was buried and three days later He arose from the dead and conquered sin and death. Do you want this assurance of life eternal? Do you want the fear of death removed from your mind and heart? You must trust Jesus alone for your salvation. You must surrender your life to Him and begin to follow Him.

Please contact us by clicking one of the buttons below if you desire to follow Jesus, have a question, or a prayer request. Someone is waiting to answer you.

Death

Psalm 23:4
“4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Psalm 46:1-3
“1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”

Psalm 147:3
“3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Isaiah 25:8
“8 He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
“3 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;”

Matthew 5:4
“4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Matthew 11:28-30
“28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

John 11:25-26
“25 Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’”

John 14:1-3
“1 Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

Romans 8:38-39
“38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 12:15
“15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

”Romans 14:8
“8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.”

1 Corinthians 15:54-56
“54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ 55 ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.”

2 Corinthians 4:17-18
“17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

”2 Corinthians 5:1
“1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
“13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”

Revelation 21:4
“4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Depression

Deliverance From Depression

We all suffer from the temptation of negative thoughts. Often, it is hard to rid our minds of negative thinking. It can come on us like a flood, overwhelming our souls. The enemy of our souls, the Devil, comes to us seeking to destroy us through tormenting thoughts. But God tells us that we can resist Him in the power of Jesus’ name and He will flee. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 NIV). 

Our thought life is a battleground. We must learn how to not only resist negative thoughts but to how to fill our minds with good and uplifting thoughts. We must put off the old and put on the new: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV). 

There is a verse in the Bible that I believe can help us to flood our minds with heavenly thoughts to encourage our souls and lift the heaviness. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”  (Philippians 4:8 NIV).

It is at the cross that we find all the things that Paul the apostle calls upon us to think about.  

The verses remind us that we must give our minds over to redemption. It is in meditating on the cross and all that Jesus accomplished for us and continues to accomplish for us that our minds are renewed.

WHATEVER IS TRUE

It is at the cross where Jesus hung and died for us that we find the truth. It tells us the truth that God loves us with a never-ending love that will never fail us. God who gave us His Son to save us from sin will also keep us by His grace until we enter into God’s eternal Kingdom. We must meditate on this truth.  

“31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32 NIV).

WHATEVER IS NOBLE   

Paul also tells us to think on that which is noble. We read in the Bible concerning Jesus: 

“But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12 NIV).  

The sacrifice of Jesus was truly noble. The sacrifice of the Son of God was more than sufficient for the sins of the whole world. This tells us that the gospel message is for every man. Jesus’ death was a complete sacrifice for the redemption of all of humanity. Nothing else needs to be done. We need to flood our minds with thanksgiving for God’s complete and noble redemption.   

WHATEVER IS PURE

We can think of that which is pure. Jesus is the sinless Son of God. He was tempted in every way as we are. Yet He never sinned. He understands our struggles and is there, through the power of the Spirit, to strengthen us to overcome every temptation. We must meditate on the sinless Son of God. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15 NIV).  

WHATEVER IS LOVELY

Paul exhorts us to think about that which is lovely. There is no one or nothing in this world or in heaven above that is more lovely than Jesus himself. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can compare to Him. He is the loveliest of all. The writer to the Hebrews tells us:  “3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs” (Hebrews 1:3-4 NIV).  

The angels in heaven are full of majesty and glory. But in comparison to Jesus, their glory is but a flicker. He is much more superior to them in glory. In Him, we see the very radiance of God himself. He is the one who purified us from our sins. He is the One who now sits at the right hand of God in glory. He is truly and completely lovely. Think often of how lovely Jesus is! The songwriter wrote:

All that thrills my soul is Jesus
He is more than life to me
And the fairest of ten thousand
In my blessed Lord I see 

WHATEVER IS ADMIRABLE

Paul calls us to think of that which is admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. This again calls attention to our Redeemer. There are many great names we could refer to of great men and women who did great things in history. But they all fade into nothing in comparison to the greatness of our Savior.  

Heaven is filled with His praise. He will be admired for all eternity both by the angelic host and by all of the redeemed. Praise will forever go up and never cease because He is admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. We see this unending praise in the book of Revelation. We need to fix our minds upon it.  

“9 And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.’ 11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’ 13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’ 14 The four living creatures said, ‘Amen,’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.”

My friend, think about these things!  

DEPRESSION

Sometimes bad things happen to you and you feel sad. Some people feel so sad that they lose hope. They lose their love for life. They cannot feel joy. They cannot be happy. They are so sad, they feel nothing. They feel empty. They do not care about life. There is a word for this. The word is “depression.”

The Bible tells a story about a man who lost his feelings for life. His name was Elijah. I tell you this story so you will move from no feelings to life.

Elijah was a man who loved God. He taught others about the truth of God. One day, he met with men who taught lies about God. They had a contest to see if God would answer their prayers. The men who taught lies about God shouted with loud voices. They cut themselves with knives. But, God did not answer them. Elijah prayed to God. God answered his prayer. The people saw that Elijah was teaching truth. The people were happy. The king became angry. He did not like Elijah. He sent his soldiers to kill Elijah.

Elijah knew the king wanted to kill him. Elijah ran away. Elijah ran and ran and ran. He was very tired. He did not eat. He did not drink. He was so tired that he stopped running. He was so sad that he lost his joy. He felt empty. He did not care about life. He wanted to kill himself.

You may have no feeling in your heart. You may want to hurt yourself. You must not hurt yourself. There is hope. You can feel alive again.

Elijah did not hurt himself. He prayed. He asked God to help him. God sent an angel to give Elijah food and water. God gave Elijah good feelings. God gave him life. God sees you. God loves you. Do what Elijah did. Turn to God. Ask God to help you. Give God control of your heart and mind. He will give you good feelings. God will talk with you. You will feel good again.

God the Father wants you to do what He tells you to do. When you do not do what He tells you to do then it is called, “sin.” Sin will lead you to death. God the Father does not want you to die. He sent Jesus Christ, God’s son, to die in your place. Jesus Christ died so you will not have to die for your sins. He wants you to love God the Father. Jesus wants you to accept His gift of life. He wants you to give all your heart and mind to God the Father. If you do this then you will care about life. You will find God’s love.

Pray with me if you want to move from no feeling to life.

“Dear Jesus, I want to care about life. Please take away my empty feelings. I give you control of my heart and mind. Please fill my heart with your love. Please give me life. Thank You. Amen.”

Fight Depression!

You can move from no feeling to life…

Depression

Joshua 1:9
“9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Psalm 23:4
“4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Psalm 30:11
“11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,”

Psalm 32:7
“7 You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance.”

Psalm 34:17-18
“17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. 18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 37:23-24
“23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; 24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.”

Psalm 40:1-2
“1 I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. 2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.

”Psalm 42:11
“1 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”

Proverbs 3:5-6
“5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Isaiah 40:30-31
“30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Isaiah 41:10
“10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Jeremiah 17:9
“9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Jeremiah 29:11
“11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Matthew 11:28-30
“28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

John 10:10
“10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

John 16:33
“33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Romans 8:38-39
“38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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

2 Corinthians 4:17-18
“17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Philippians 4:4-7
“4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:8-9
“8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

Philippians 4:11-13
“11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Revelation 21:4
“4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”


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