Emmanuel: Vine & Branches

pexels-photo-273011.jpegAs we approach the new decade, we’re in for an interesting year. Already the vying for the presidential race has begun, dire predictions are popping up all around. I’m so glad I’ve quit listening to much of the news, politics and weather reports. Not putting my head in the proverbial sand, not being uninformed, but refusing to let these things invade my thoughts and lead me to upset, anxiety or just plain fear!

Many of us endeavor to make “New Year’s Resolutions”. I’m keeping in mind that sustained small steps toward a goal are important. Our church does a 21 day fast in January, encouraging each of us to find our own way to do this and to know we’re being supported. It can be as simple as cutting out treats/sweets/desserts, electronics/media…or even a full fast if that’s what the Lord is leading you into. Our congregation has experienced many miracles and answered prayers as well as restored relationships in previous years of January fasts.

This January, I’m planning to go back to Eat Fat, Get Thin by Dr. Mark Hyman and doing the 21 day elimination I did three summers ago to reset my eating and my health. I recently read my journal from 6 months before the Spirit led me to this plan. I was a mess of inflammation, high blood pressure, allergy symptoms, lack of energy, foggy brain and skin problems. How far I’ve come from that!  But I’m definitely finding myself craving sweets and junk food (no where near as much as 3 1/2 years ago!), my pants getting tight, and not sleeping so well. Because my biggest challenge is finding time for praying/worshiping/meditating on the Lord when I fast, I’ve determined to minimize the time I spend meal planning and prepping by making daily or even weekly meal plans/menus . I will also curtail books I’m reading; only those that encourage my desire to draw deeper into fellowship with Emmanuel. Last year I used Jentezen Franklin’s book The Fasting Edge along with The Fasting Edge Journal. I plan to use these resources again this year.

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With all this in mind, I ponder this verse:

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

In the natural, branches cannot bear fruit unless they are attached to a vine or tree. The branches do not grow the fruit, but the fruit grows out of the connection to the source, the part that’s planted in the soil and soaks up sun, rain and nutrients, which then flow through the branch. No matter how hard the branch tries, it cannot produce any  fruit on its own. Think about this: I can do a lot of things without Him, but none of them will add to eternal treasures in God’s heavenly kingdom. Going back to Paul’s words:

1 Corinthians 13: 1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. In other words, without love drawn from the Source, all our efforts and great exploits come to nothing!

My dear readers, join me as I learn how to abide; Christ in me and I in Christ. Emmanuel, God with us in ALL things!

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Emmanuel-God With Us

img_20191224_162900040One blogger challenged me to find a word for a theme for the new year, so I’ve chosen Emmanuel/Immanuel-God with us for 2020. O Come, O Come Emmanuel is the Carol that’s been illuminated for me this season. I never knew it had 7 verses, but according to Music Choice, Christmas Carols were written to share the Gospel with those who could not read [so were hymns] and this one has a lot of Bible truth in it.

 

[Verse 1]
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

[Refrain]
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

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This occurred when Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

[Verse 2]
O come, O come, Thou Lord of might
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height
In ancient times didst give the law
In cloud, and majesty and awe

This was when the Lord led them through the wilderness and gave the Law to Moses.

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[Verse 3]
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave

Jesus fulfilled this when He rose from the dead.

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[Verse 4]
O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight

Jesus, the light of the world, accomplished this as well when He came into the world and His star shone.IMG_20180928_084722683

[Verse 5]
O come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heavenly home
Make safe the way that leads on high
And close the path to misery

Psalm 139 fulfilled when Jesus reconciled us to Father God.

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[Verse 6]
O come, Thou Wisdom from on high
And order all things, far and nigh
To us the path of knowledge show
And cause us in her ways to go

friendsThis is fulfilled when we learn to walk in the Spirit, letting go of animosity and living in the love of the Father.

[Verse 7]
O come, desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease
And be Thyself our King of peace

[Refrain]
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

This is exactly why Jesus came! He made a way for us to renew our relationship with Father God, restoring what was broken by Adam and Eve’s fall. We can only come into unity when we become part of the true Church in Christ Jesus…Emmanuel!

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What a wonderful time to be on earth during the culmination of the work, prayers and martyrdom of so many who went before us, as we experience this time of exponential growth of the Church. Many being added to Christ’s Body, including Isaac’s seed – the Israelites – coming to Him as well as Ishmael’s seed, the Muslims. May all nations see the light and multitudes come into the Kingdom!

Let’s do our part, growing in wisdom and deepening our relationship with the Lord and the people He surrounds us with. Keep walking in the Spirit and doing great exploits for the Kingdom!

rejoice

 

Mid-December Musings

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A glorious Ice Rose found in our yard

 

Forgive me for becoming random in my postings. Hunting season for our family officially ended today so I’ll get this ready while the Spirit moves. This week I came across this Scripture and found new understanding of this verse:

Hebrews 2:17 For this reason Jesus had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every way so he could be their merciful and faithful high priest in service to God. Then Jesus could die in their place to take away their sins. [CEV]

This is the season when we remember how Jesus came as an infant, going through all the things an infant goes through:  after growing in the womb which He created, arriving through the birth canal He created…just the beginning of His journey from toddler – to school boy – to apprentice to his earthly father in his carpentry shop; before He came into ministry at 30 years old. He knows what it’s like to have brothers and sisters, a mother accused of adultery, busy parents, dad dying, taunts and teasing that came from his own siblings before those who abused him in public.  He was in all ways tempted as we are, yet chose not to sin. (my paraphrase from Hebrews 4:15)

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I think I mentioned the Advent devotional I’m reading last post: The Glory Has Come compiled by Larry Sparks. Today’s entry was written by Larry Sparks: God’s Friends Have A Front Row Seat To His Appearing . It discusses Simeon and Anna in the Temple, how they were intimate with the Lord, and how Holy Spirit aligned them both to be in the temple – on the front row when Jesus’ parents bring him to the temple for his Bris ceremony when he was 8 days old. (Luke chapter 2) Larry encourages us to realize we are now “the temple of Presence, intimacy and communion; a portable prayer and praise meeting.” We should commune with the Lord through the Spirit continually.

I am coming into deeper understanding of my position in Father, Son and Spirit and my husband is watching BBC nature programs that are blatantly showing off the glory of God and evidencing the intricacy of His creation to me. How blind we can be to the glory all around us! This is what I poured out in my journal after reading the above devotional with the T.V. in the background.

author Yes Lord, I realize I need you more than my necessary food. I realize my need to deepen my intimacy with You. I want to be so close I feel Your breath on my neck, realize Your presence within, upon, surrounding me like a deep, thick blanket. Your glory of creation on our T.V. is so evident, how can people mistake Your hand? How can I even begin to doubt when I’m constantly surrounded with evidences of Your great and mighty hand?  Is this show on T.V. really labeled “Wonder Struck” and people still don’t see?

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

As we come closer to the culmination of the Christmas season, I pray you slow down enough to contemplate what it all means for this time in your life. Shalom my dear ones!friends

 

Under His Shelter

Wow!  Did I tell you last week I watched Graham Cooke on YouTube for the first time?  InThe Language of Heavenhe recommends reading through the Gospels frequently; like at least yearly – if not every 3 months. He suggests we become Jesus’ disciples instead of Paul’s?!  It’s about learning a new language. Our human influences have given us a negative, unbelieving, untrusting way of thinking, talking, acting and reacting. The language that comes from this world system is hurtful, reactive, fatalistic…what more need I say?  Heavenly language, as Jesus modeled during his life on earth, is fair, loving, wise, always hoping and never giving up. Do you realize Heaven doesn’t have a Plan B?

VictoryAnother thing I gleaned from Graham Cooke: Heaven doesn’t see problems or failure. Jesus always took the negative and turned it around for the glory of God. Think about it: every problem/challenge comes with a promise and a provision. Let me give you an example:

If we have wayward children, instead of looking at where they’re at right now and hashing over all that’s wrong and despairing, let’s find a Scripture that would turn these thoughts around.

Isaiah 54:13 All your children shall be taught by the LordAnd great shall be the peace of your children.

1. My children SHALL be taught by the LORD (provision)

2. Great SHALL be their peace (promise)

Claim this for your children and see what happens! I challenge you to find other verses of promise for your children, your marriage, your health; any problem that comes.

The same evening I found Graham Cooke, I also found Shane and Shane‘s music videos on YouTube. They put Psalms into song and do amazing video to accompany. In Psalm 91 on Eagle’s Wings they use these Scriptures:

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Psalm 91:1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

Psalm 18:2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait on 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.

Another Scripture the Spirit impressed me with the same day:

Psalm 57:1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!
For my soul trusts in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge,
Until these calamities have passed by.

2 I will cry out to God Most High,
To God who performs all things for me.
He shall send from heaven and save me…

These passages promise if I take refuge in the shadow of His wings, trust and cry out to Him, He will perform all things for me, deliver and strengthen. He will send from heaven and save me.I love the way the Spirit brings all things together to clearly make a point. As thick as I can sometimes be, what a gracious Father to use several methods to make the point He’s trying to make. It’s such a marvelous journey following the Lord, my heart is sad for those who haven’t experienced it. Let’s help others find the narrow way that leads to life.

giving thanks

Before church a couple Sunday’s ago here’s what I wrote in my two-way journal          (think God Calling/Jesus Calling)

Lord, I know you’re doing a mighty work in me, my family, our congregation, my neighbors. What is my assignment today?

Love, love, love! Give out the love I give you. Soak in the river of life and overflow. Encourage, speak life, walk in peace & joy. Let My fruits in you be squeezed, dripping & oozing down and getting all over those around you. The simple act of kindness is mightier than you realize! (H.H. 11-17-2019)

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Romance? Relevance?

 I just finished reading An Idaho Christmas: Past and Present a compilation of two of Robin Lee Hatcher’s Christmas romances. It reminded me of the plots for Hallmark romance movies and brought questions to mind.

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  • Why is there always a miscommunication?

  • Why is there always an impossible situation?

  • Why can’t the romantic characters see what everyone around them is observing?

  • Why so much drama?

Maybe because the authors/script writers follow what they’ve observed in real life, or what they’d like to see in real life? Possibly because human nature has never really changed since the first marriage? What’s the relevance of it all? Let’s ponder a bit.

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In my own life, there was a time while we were dating that my husband (to-be) John saw me on the sidewalk, said hi and I didn’t respond. He thought I was ignoring him or mad at him. The truth was, I was on my way home from school concentrating on my teen-aged thoughts so thoroughly that I didn’t see or hear him! We’ve had many instances where we did not communicate well-if at all- and it made things very difficult. As with the romance stories, each of us has had longings for the other and not understood we had the same longings. If we’d just spoken up and not held it in, we’d have saved a lot of drama and hurt.

In the Bible we read of similar things that may be relevant to these romance stories.  How about Jacob and Esau when Jacob returned to Bethel (Genesis 32-35) with his wives and children? He was sure Esau wanted to kill him and take for himself all that Jacob had acquired. Esau did just the opposite! Joseph and his brothers in Egypt; (Genesis 42-43) they thought he was going to kill them, he just wanted to reveal himself and be reconciled. David’s relationship with his brothers in 1 Samuel 17 and Joseph’s relationship with his brothers in Genesis 37.  What about Jacob’s wives who were sisters?

I appreciate the way God inspired the Bible to be written. I can relate to the people in the stories because I’ve realized as King Solomon did in Ecclesiastes 1:9

That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun. 

I don't think soAs in the romance stories, we can observe or discern misunderstandings; people often can’t see what’s true because they can’t get out of their heads. Often, being inside the relationship, the truth that’s evident to the outsider is hidden from them. How many times have I watched or read these stories and been frustrated that they just can’t see what’s right in front of them???  Why are they believing a lie their thoughts dreamed up? Then I realize I’m the same way in my own life!      downcast

What about in your life?  Have you ever thought someone was mad at you then found out they weren’t even thinking about you at the time?  What seemed relevant in your view was not in their thoughts.  As I’m growing in the things of the Lord and getting new revelation on love and Godly relationships, I’m able to help others see some of these things and work on the love and relationship parts. I’m getting better perspective on why people act like they do and why I act like I do!

Last Sunday, our Pastor spoke about Relevance. He asked us to think about that drug addict, the alcoholic, the abuser. If I had grown up in his/her household, with the people they grew up with, the abuses they suffered, the neighborhood they lived in, I could have the same problems they have. If I’m going to be relevant and minister Christ to these people, I need a new perspective. As I said in last week’s blog, it’s all about love and relationship with God first, then people. We need God’s perspective to be able to love those He puts around us. Compassion is the mode we should operate in; start with a true estimation of who I am in Christ, then a true estimation of the other people around me. Jesus paid the price for ALL of us to be forgiven of sin. This thought lends to:

1 John 2: 9 He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

As this passage shows, if we walk in the Light of God, the shadows of darkness won’t blind us. Remember, the light of God is His love, displayed in Christ Jesus. Let’s draw close to Him and walk in the light of love and minister to those He puts in our spheres of influence. I pray we all begin to see others as God sees them, through Christ’s blood sacrifice and His love. Then we can find common ground and become relevant to those around us. The Gospel based on love and restored relationship is always relevant if we just realize it. I leave you all in the love and admonition of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Remember:

Good, Good Father

Musings for early November 2019

what it says about godGood day dear readers. Life got a bit out of hand so I’m late posting again, but at least it’s still Friday; my target day to post! This two-way journaling with the Lord is getting quite interesting. Let me share some things from it.

Yesterday Mandisa tweeted:

“We need to have a war chest of Scripture to FIGHT life’s challenges. What Scripture are you claiming over your life today?” [#BetterTogetherTV@mandisaoffical]

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Immediately this Scripture came to mind: For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:17. I declared I do not have any fear for I claim God’s power, God’s love, and a sound mind. The rest of my evening was victorious!

SO, what Scripture are YOU claiming/declaring over your life today?

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Our focus for our Watertown Women’s Connection Prayer Connection [affiliated with Stonecroft Women’s Ministry] this month is Gratefulness. In that vein, I shout out a heart-felt thank you to all the Veterans as November 11th approaches. Happy 13th Birthday to my nephew Ethan that day also!

comforting friendIn Life Group, our leaders said their adult children were talking about all the people cutting themselves, the suicides and drug addictions. I shared a thought and my leader told me to write it right down: “We haven’t invested in the little ones and the families are not being families so they have no love resource to draw from so they have no identity.” We who have accepted Jesus as Lord of our lives should find our identity in the Father’s love. If we don’t have that identity and love, how can we share with others to help them establish their own identity and worth? Pastor Nsamba [George William] from Ghana spoke in our church a couple weeks ago. He shared a new movement in the Body: Bring One. He and other leaders had planned huge gatherings to share the gospel. All the time and money brought some salvations, but never brought many into their churches. When they caught the idea of Bring One, each member found a friend, relative, neighbor, co-worker to bring and the churches grew exponentially. He stressed that we need to nurture our love relationship with the Lord, and start relationships and love on the people aroundfriends us, then we’ll have opportunity to invite them to church. The Spirit is in the church, so if we bring one, they will encounter the Living God and be changed. It’s emboldened us to deepen our relationships and to love others more so we have people we can bring into church and into the Kingdom. Can you Bring One?

I’ve gone back and re-read some journal pages and found some common themes: I’m precious, loved, a dear one to Him. He tells me to draw closer, come deeper into Him, deeper into His love. All things come out of love and relationship. As I deepen my relationship with Him, I deepen my relationship with those around me. As I experience more of His love, I have more love to lavish on others. Let’s look at what the Word says of God’s love and the benefits of us sharing it:

…that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; Deuteronomy 30:20

…to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Joshua 22:5

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5

[ Walk in Love ] Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. Ephesians 5:1

I’ll finish with Matthew 22:36-40:

36 “Teacher, which is the great[est] commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Since God IS love; love is His person/nature. The Word of God in the Bible is all about His love for us, the love He gives, the love He wants us to give. Brothers and Sisters, as God has loved us in Christ Jesus, we also are to love. One other thought: Holiness means ownership. Holiness means you are owned by Him as 1 Corinthians 6:20 says, we were bought with a price; so glorify God in your body and spirit, which belong to God. Walk in love and you will draw many to Him; draw closer to Him and find yourself in the will of God! We need EVERYONEare YOU in???

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John Chapter 3

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Today I want to share some insights from the third chapter of John. John 3:16 is the first scripture I remember memorizing and I’ve often heard the story of Nicodemus, but never really spent any time in this chapter to connect the whole story. Notice, chapter 4 tells of the wedding in Cana of Galilee where Jesus did His first public miracle.

The New Birth

John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

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So Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, fearful he’d be found speaking with “the enemy” by the other Jewish rulers; fearful of punishment that could be as light as losing his leadership position or as heavy as being stoned to death. He admits Jesus must be a teacher come from God, but it’s too far a stretch for his mind to conceive of him as Messiah.

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

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This is another big stretch of Nicodemus’ understanding, this phrase “born again”.

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

DoveJesus is introducing one of the Holy Spirit’s main functions in this passage. This makes a clear distinction between the characteristics of human flesh and that flesh that is re-born of the Spirit.

Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?

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Nicodemus was well-versed in the Law and Prophets, having been a Torah student from a young age, having served in the Synagogue leadership and taught others for a number of years by now. But, Jesus points out that his knowledge blinds him from the wisdom in God’s Word.

10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

This section uses eternal life v.15, everlasting life v.16. Looking at John 10:10  Jesus again speaks of the life He came to give: life and life more abundantly (Zoe life). This chapter makes plain the fact that life eternal comes from God through Christ and no other way. Notice, Jesus is already proclaiming how he would die (v.14).

Is that me

1“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

pexels-photo-593899.jpegThere is no condemnation in Christ Jesus (v.17) but those  who choose not to believe are condemned because they love the darkness and reject His light. Because shining light exposes evil deeds, they turn away from it. Those who’s works are good don’t mind them being highlighted and clearly seen because they know there’s no condemnation when they do what’s pleasing to God. One thought: if you’ve done nothing wrong, you don’t fear the police. Fear comes from trying to hide your sin and shame. The devil is more than happy to help our flesh condemn us; our memories are too long! God does not condemn us; He convicts us of sin. There is no remedy for condemnation, but the remedy for conviction is Christ’s blood. So repent, turn away from your sins; let them be buried in the deep sea, dipped in the blood of the Lamb that washes white as snow. 

Have you been washed clean by accepting eternal life in Christ Jesus? Are you taking advantage of the relationship with Father God restored to us by the blood of Jesus? I pray you will all walk in faith and victory with the Lord each day; running free from sin, shame and fear because He is with you!

Shalom dear readers!

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