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beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
He is Our Guide
For this God is our God for ever and ever;
He will be our guide even to the end.

Psalm 48:14 NIV

__________________

And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying,
This is the way, walk ye in it,
when ye turn to the right hand,
and when ye turn to the left.

Isaiah 30:21 KJV

__________________

I will lead the blind by a way they do not know,
In paths they do not know I will guide them.

I will make darkness into light before them
And rugged places into plains.
These are the things I will do,
And Iwill not leave them undone.

Isaiah 42:16 NASB

__________________

He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.

Yea, 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 23:3b-4 NKJV

__________________

Feed the hungry and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as day. The LORD will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Your children will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as the people who rebuild their walls and cities.

Isaiah 58:10-12 NLT

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“He shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.”

John 16:15

There are times when all the promises and doctrines of the Bible are of no avail, unless a gracious hand shall apply them to us. We are thirsty, but too faint to crawl to the water-brook. When a soldier is wounded in battle it is of little use for him to know that there are those at the hospital who can bind up his wounds, and medicines there to ease all the pains which he now suffers: what he needs is to be carried thither, and to have the remedies applied. It is thus with our souls, and to meet this need there is one, even the Spirit of truth, who takes of the things of Jesus, and applies them to us.

Think not that Christ hath placed his joys on heavenly shelves that we may climb up to them for ourselves, but he draws near, and sheds his peace abroad in our hearts. O Christian, if thou art to-night laboring under deep distresses, thy Father does not give thee promises and then leave thee to draw them up from the Word like buckets from a well, but the promises he has written in the Word he will write anew on your heart. He will manifest his love to you, and by his blessed Spirit, dispel your cares and troubles. Be it known unto thee, O mourner, that it is God's prerogative to wipe every tear from the eye of his people.

The good Samaritan did not say, “Here is the wine, and here is the oil for you”; he actually poured in the oil and the wine. So Jesus not only gives you the sweet wine of the promise, but holds the golden chalice to your lips, and pours the life-blood into your mouth. The poor, sick, way-worn pilgrim is not merely strengthened to walk, but he is borne on eagles’ wings. Glorious gospel! which provides everything for the helpless, which draws nigh to us when we cannot reach after it — brings us grace before we seek for grace! Here is as much glory in the giving as in the gift. Happy people who have the Holy Ghost to bring Jesus to them.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Who Killed Jesus?


Who was it that killed Jesus? Was it the Jews who delivered Him, the Romans who crucified Him, Pilate who ordered it, or was it us who have sinned?
The Jews
Most people might think that it was the Jews who killed Jesus. For example, they were constantly trying to trip Jesus up by asking Him difficult questions, but Jesus always turned the table on them, and they were the ones left speechless, and we know the Jews hated Jesus and sought to kill Him (Matt 12:14; John 5:18, 8:58-59, 10:30-33), so when the Jews brought Jesus before a mock trial and made false accusations against Him by people who were false witnesses, (Mark 14:55-59), Pilate must have known Jesus was innocent. Pilate knew that it was out of envy or jealously that the Jews had delivered Jesus (Mark 15:10) and not a criminal act. Jesus was gaining more popularity and a greater following than the Jewish leaders had, and Jesus exposed their hypocrisy for everyone to see, so the Jews conspired to kill Jesus, but did the Jews really kill Jesus? Who was responsible? Was it the Jews or the Romans?


The Romans
When the Jews brought Jesus to Pontius Pilate, Pilate examined Him, and saw that He was innocent, so “Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man” (Luke 23:4), but it didn’t matter to the Jews. They still cried out, “Crucify him” (Luke 19:15), but before Jesus was crucified, the Romans scourged Him. Perhaps Pilate thought that would be enough to satiate the Jew’s thirst for Jesus’ blood, but it only managed to make it worse. Jesus had just told Pilate of the One Who had given him his authority, obviously meaning God, so “when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha” (John 19:14), and sought to have Him freed.

Again, there was no chance because the Jews were still crying out, “Crucify him”(Mark 15:13), so Pilate washed his hands of it, knowing Jesus was innocent, but Pilate could not cleanse his conscience I am sure. Even though Pilate sought to have Jesus released, Pilate reluctantly sentenced Jesus to be crucified. Remember, the Jews had essentially threatened Pilate, by saying, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar” (John 19:12). That may have been enough to persuade Pilate to have Jesus crucified, so was it the Romans who crucified Jesus, who were only doing their duty; was it Pilate, who could have let Jesus go; or was it the Jews, who pressured Pilate into having Jesus crucified. They were the ones who brought the false accusations against him in the first place. It sounds more and more like the Jews, and not the Romans who killed Jesus, but let’s wait to decide on that yet.

Image: Marco Palmezzano. 1490.
Humanity
The first person I really see as killing Jesus, or at least having His life given as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45), is me. I feel like I was driving those nails into the cross, even 2,000 years before I was born. It was sin that caused Christ to go to the cross where my sins and yours He bore. If there were no sin, no sacrifice would have been needed, but since I have sinned, as all have, I needed a Savior. That’s why I have trusted in Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that He purchased me with His own blood (Acts 20:28). It’s so easy to read the accounts of the Old Testament and think, “Wow, how can they be like that,” but it is better for me to read it and think, “How am I like they are?” Very much, I am afraid.

God knew Adam and Eve would sin. He knew I would sin and He knew you would sin. He knew a Savior would be needed. And that was why Jesus had to come and live a life of perfection, dying, having never sinned, and being raised again and is now seated at the right hand of the Father. My sin and yours made Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection necessary. Who killed Jesus? Was it us? Wait before you answer that, because the Bible actually tells us who killed Jesus.

The Father
Isaiah the Prophet wrote a prophecy about the coming suffering servant, Who would take upon Himself the sins of the world, but Jesus said, concerning His own life, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father” (John 10:18), so the Jews didn’t take Jesus’ life from Him. Neither did the Romans or Pontius Pilate. Jesus laid down His life of His own accord, for those who trust in Him. Since “no one” took it from Him, this must include both the Jews and the Romans, and really, us! Isaiah tells us that “it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief” (Isaiah 53:10a), and “he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressor” (Isaiah 53:12c).

When Jesus was about to go to the cross, and take upon Himself the sins of the world, Jesus prayed three times to have that cup removed, but He knew it was the will of the Father, so He prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt 26:39). This means it was the Father’s will to have Jesus die. Of course it was also the Jews will to kill Jesus, but the Jews didn’t kill Jesus. The Romans could have freed Jesus, but Pilate caved into political pressure, but the Romans or Pilate didn’t actually kill Jesus. If the Father had willed that Jesus not die, then Jesus would not have died. There was no way that Jesus was not going to die on the cross.

When the Apostle Peter tried to stop Jesus’ arrest by cutting off the servant of the high priest’s ear (John 18:10), “So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me” (John 18:11), so it was the Father’s will that Jesus died, even though we were responsible for Jesus having to go to the cross, but even that is placed within the sovereign will of God. His will is going to be done, no matter what. God’s will is done, through good and bad (Rom 8:28), but it was not the Jews, not the Romans, and not even Pilate or we that killed Jesus. It was the Father that killed Jesus, but that was the only way we could be saved.

Conclusion
If this seems amazing, it is. God’s love is infinite and beyond comprehension. His love is more than feelings or words…it is action (John 3:16). It is a love that dies for those who are ungodly, wicked sinners, and natural enemies of God (Rom 5:6-10). That’s why grace is so amazing. We get what we don’t deserve because Jesus got what He didn’t deserve. If only through history had they understood that it was not the Jews who killed Jesus, nor the Romans, and not even we, but it was the Father that killed Jesus. This is why Jesus can say, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this” (John 11:25-26)? Well? Do you believe this?
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
He is A Faithful Guide
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5,6 NKJV

__________________

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD:
and he delighteth in his way.

Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down:
for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

Psalm 37:23,24 KJV

__________________

Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.

Psalm 73:23-5 NASB

__________________

No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.

Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.

Joshua 1:5-7 ESV

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“He began to wash the disciples’ feet.”

John 13:5

The Lord Jesus loves his people so much, that every day he is still doing for them much that is analogous to washing their soiled feet. Their poorest actions he accepts; their deepest sorrow he feels; their slenderest wish he hears, and their every transgression he forgives. He is still their servant as well as their Friend and Master. He not only performs majestic deeds for them, as wearing the mitre on his brow, and the precious jewels glittering on his breastplate, and standing up to plead for them, but humbly, patiently, he yet goes about among his people with the basin and the towel.

He does this when he puts away from us day by day our constant infirmities and sins. Last night, when you bowed the knee, you mournfully confessed that much of your conduct was not worthy of your profession; and even tonight, you must mourn afresh that you have fallen again into the selfsame folly and sin from which special grace delivered you long ago; and yet Jesus will have great patience with you; he will hear your confession of sin; he will say, “I will, be thou clean”; he will again apply the blood of sprinkling, and speak peace to your conscience, and remove every spot. It is a great act of eternal love when Christ once for all absolves the sinner, and puts him into the family of God; but what condescending patience there is when the Saviour with much long-suffering bears the oft recurring follies of his wayward disciple; day by day, and hour by hour, washing away the multiplied transgressions of his erring but yet beloved child!

To dry up a flood of rebellion is something marvellous, but to endure the constant dropping of repeated offences—to bear with a perpetual trying of patience, this is divine indeed! While we find comfort and peace in our Lord's daily cleansing, its legitimate influence upon us will be to increase our watchfulness, and quicken our desire for holiness. Is it so?
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
God Is Love


According to the doctrine of the Trinity, the ultimate source of all things, the God in whom we live, move and have our being, is both one and plural, one God in three persons. This has enormous implications for how we think of the world.
In ancient philosophy, the highest reality was always thought of as a unified reality. The Form of the Good for Plato, the unmoved Mover of Aristotle, the One of Plotinus and other neo-Platonists. The highest reality was pure unity.

Diversity, plurality, difference was seen as defective or at least as a lesser form of being. Plurality is a fall from an original unity, and the ultimate aim is to be united with the One, to be reabsorbed into unity.
If God is the Triune Creator, this must be wrong. There is difference at the highest level of reality. The source of all things isn’t unified, nor is it a triad of interchangeable persons. It is a fellowship of distinct Persons who are eternally distinct from one another.

Modernity tends in the other direction from ancient thought, Instead of privileging unity, modern thought tends to privilege difference and diversity. Each individual is unique. And, in some forms of modern thought and culture, each individual is treated as a impenetrable atom of human nature. Each is unique and separated. Unity isn’t the original form, but a kind of totalitarianism.
Again, if God is Triune, this must be wrong. There is individuality in the Trinity, but it’s an individuality that is completely dependent on relationality. The Father is individually and uniquely Father because He begets the Son by the Spirit. The Son is uniquely the Son; He will always be Himself and not be Father, but He is so because He is eternally begotten by the Father.

Postmodernity, like modernity, emphasizes difference, but sees all difference as competitive and conflicted. Differences can only be brought into unity by force. The doctrine of the Trinity says that at the origin of all things, what sustains all things, is a God who is internally diverse yet thoroughly at peace. The Father, Son, and Spirit exist within an eternal fellowship that is a harmony of difference.
The ancient problem was one of one and many. What the Trinity shows is not that one and many can be balanced. It shows that the purest form of unity is harmonious diversity, and diversity is dependent on relation. One and many aren’t the same after the Trinity.
That’s still pretty abstract. Let’s make it a bit more concrete and practical.
The Triune God isn’t simply diverse, or triadic. You can have a triad of geometric shapes, but that’s hard to warm up to. The Triune God is a communion of persons.


There has been a good bit of discussion of late about what it means to say that there are three persons in one God.

It has been argued that the early church brought a revolution in metaphysics, the part of philosophy having to do with being. Before Christianity, “person” wasn’t considered an exalted feature. The highest beings were not personal beings, but principles, beyond the interaction and relation that we associate with persons. Christianity changed that by saying that “person” is not merely a role or a mask, but the fundamental reality of the universe and of human beings.
Some will say that “person” doesn’t mean the same thing in ancient Christian writing as it does today. It doesn’t imply “personality.” That’s true. The word has changed meaning over time.

Yet, if we stick with the premise that God shows Himself as He truly is, then we have to say that the Father, Son, and Spirit are persons in something like our sense of the term. They communicate with one another; they speak and reply; they act and react; they love and return love; they give and give again; they make decisions.
The Triune God is the source of all things, the One who keeps all things in existence. And the Triune God is a communion of Persons. We live in a world of cosmic personalism. What moves the world isn’t an impersonal force like Evolution or fate. What moves the world is the Father of Jesus, the Father who is like Jesus, and who moves the world by the Spirit of Jesus.

We can take a step further: We live in a world of cosmic love. The highest unity isn’t the unity of a BB. It’s the unity of persons in a communion of love. The world originates in love. Love is the secret force that moves all things. Love is the destiny of all things.
Human beings are made in the image of this God of love, and so we are destined for love, loving communion with God that produces loving communion with one another.

Love is the organizing principle of the world, and any community without love is out of sync with the ways of the world. Any political or economic system that excludes love is perverse. Any economic system that creates a zone of giftlessness, of loveless competition, fails to reflect the economy of God, which reveals the God who not only shows Himself to be, but is love.

There is no deeper or more precise statement about God’s being than this: God is Love.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Pray for Our Leaders
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 KJV

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To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers--not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

1 Peter 5:1-3 NIV

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Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 13:7,8 NASB

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
''Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.”

Luke 22:46

When is the Christian most liable to sleep? Is it not when his temporal circumstances are prosperous? Have you not found it so? When you had daily troubles to take to the throne of grace, were you not more wakeful than you are now? Easy roads make sleepy travelers. Another dangerous time is when all goes pleasantly in spiritual matters. Christian went not to sleep when lions were in the way, or when he was wading through the river, or when fighting with Apollyon, but when he had climbed half way up the Hill Difficulty, and came to a delightful arbour, he sat down, and forthwith fell asleep, to his great sorrow and loss. The enchanted ground is a place of balmy breezes, laden with fragrant odours and soft influences, all tending to lull pilgrims to sleep.

Remember Bunyan's description: “Then they came to an arbour, warm, and promising much refreshing to the weary pilgrims; for it was finely wrought above head, beautified with greens, and furnished with benches and settles. It had also in it a soft couch, where the weary might lean.” “The arbour was called the Slothful's Friend, and was made on purpose to allure, if it might be, some of the pilgrims to take up their rest there when weary.” Depend upon it, it is in easy places that men shut their eyes and wander into the dreamy land of forgetfulness.

Old Erskine wisely remarked, “I like a roaring devil better than a sleeping devil.” There is no temptation half so dangerous as not being tempted. The distressed soul does not sleep; it is after we enter into peaceful confidence and full assurance that we are in danger of slumbering. The disciples fell asleep after they had seen Jesus transfigured on the mountain top. Take heed, joyous Christian, good frames are near neighbours to temptations: be as happy as you will, only be watchful.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Do The Bible’s Proverbs Promise Too Much?


If you do this, if you don’t do that, then you will get this or not get that. It’s called “retribution theology” and “reward theology” and Tremper Longman examines whether this theology in the wisdom literature promises what it can’t possibly deliver. Is Proverbs unrealistic? Is Proverbs the prosperity gospel in ancient form?
This issue of retribution, or what I like to call “correlation” theology, cannot be shelved in books about history as if it is now a bygone era. I’ve met many Christians who operate with the correlation theology: If I do this, if I read my Bible, if I pray, if I live obediently, if I follow Jesus … then I will be blessed.
When bad things happen such persons wonder why God hasn’t lived up to the divine sign of the bargain.
Longman’s book is called The Fear of the Lord is Wisdom.
Here is the basic moral vision of Proverbs and the wisdom tradition (see Longman’s Proverbs commentary here):
Wise behavior leads to wealth, health, longer life, good relationships, and other benefits. In a word, wisdom leads to life in the fullest sense. By contrast, foolish behavior leads to the opposite consequences, including poverty, sickness, and troubled relationships. In short, folly leads to death (179).
Proverbs 11:8: “The righteous person is delivered from distress, but the wicked will take his place.”​
Then comes the Book of Job. And Ecclesiastes. It’s not so simple even in Bible’s own wisdom literature. So, we have two traditions at work: one that correlates result with behavior and another that challenges any simplistic correlation.
First, Job (Longman’s commentary on Job here):
While the book does not purport to answer the question of why humans suffer, it nonetheless completely undermines belief in mechanical and absolute retribution theology. … Job differs only in knowing that he is innocent, though his retribution theology leads him to accuse God of injustice. The conclusion of the book of Job serves to repudiate this crude, naive way of thinking about retribution. To suppose that a person suffers because they are a sinner (or that they live well because they are wise, godly, and righteous) is not only wrong-minded but cruel.​
Second, Ecclesiastes (Qohelet; Longman’s commentary on Ecclesiastes here):
If there is no justice in this life and there is no (certain) life after death, then where is justice to be found? Nowhere for sure. Thus, according to Qohelet, one cannot count on proper retribution in this life or the next.
Our conclusion was that the frame narrator affirmed Qohelet’s speech was true given the stated context. That is, he is right that the righteous/wise/godly are not always rewarded and the wicked/foolish/ungodly do not always suffer in this life (“under the sun”). Thus, those who presume that they will be rewarded for good behavior (the prosperity gospel) are much mistaken. That said, the frame narrator has a different perspective on divine judgment. Indeed, the very last thing he tells his son, and the final statement of the book, is “for God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil” (12:14). Thus the conclusion of the book of Ecclesiastes is that, while retribution may not work out in this life, there is a future judgment.​


Now Proverbs, and here are the money quotes:

First, the better-than proverbs demonstrate that, in the mind of the sages who produced Proverbs, people sometimes or perhaps frequently have to choose between wisdom and wealth, and when such a situation arises, there is no doubt about which to choose. The second consideration will lead us back to the question of the proverb as a genre, where we will see that … proverbs don’t make promises.
[Thus:] Better to be a humble spirit with the needy than dividing plunder with the proud. (16:19)​


It is a mistake, though, to treat the proverb as a type of guarantee. That is not what proverbs do. Again, it is a genre issue. Proverbs are not in the business of giving promises. Rather, they encourage people toward attitudes and actions that will lead toward a desired goal, all other things being equal. It is more likely that a child will grow up to be wise if their parents train them in the Lord’s way. But perhaps that child will come under the negative influence of his or her peers (see, for instance, the advice given in 1:8-19).​
So, he concludes:
But the book of Job, in particular, urges its readers to move beyond the questions of whether we deserve what life brings us. Yes, as the lament psalms and the book of Lamentations demonstrate, God invites his people to express their pain to him, including their anger directed at God. However, the story does not end there. Ultimately, according to the picture of suffering developed in the book of Job, God desires our silent trust in spite of the pain of life.​
Correlation is my best attempt to express what’s at work here: there is a correlationbetween life and consequences. But it’s not simplistic and it’s not a promise. What I think is most helpful from Longman is that Proverbs’ proverbs are a genre exhorting people to live wisely.
Parents speak like this to their children often (“if you do that, that will happen” or “if you don’t do this, this will occur”).
A friend of mine once warned his son of the potential disasters of gambling. So he took him to a casino, placed some kind of bet in a slot machine, and out popped several hundred dollars. It is wisdom literature to say “Those who gamble their wages bankrupt their family” but sometimes a few hundred dollars come from gambling.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Fear Not!
The waywardness of the simple will kill them,
and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
but whoever listens to me will live in safety
and be at ease, without fear of harm."

Proverbs 1:32,33 NIV

__________________

All your children shall be taught by the LORD,
And great shall be the peace of your children.

In righteousness you shall be established;
You shall be far from oppression,
for you shall not fear;
And from terror,for it shall not come near you.

Isaiah 54:13,14 NKJV

__________________

The LORD is thy keeper:
the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite thee by day,
nor the moon by night.

The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil:
he shall preserve thy soul.

The LORD shall preserve thy going out and
thy coming in from this time
forth, and even for evermore.

Psalm 121:5-8 KJV

__________________

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.

Romans 8:14-16 NASB

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“She gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.”

Ruth 2:3

Her hap was. Yes, it seemed nothing but an accident, but how divinely was it overruled! Ruth had gone forth with her mother's blessing, under the care of her mother's God, to humble but honourable toil, and the providence of God was guiding her every step. Little did she know that amid the sheaves she would find a husband, that he should make her the joint owner of all those broad acres, and that she a poor foreigner should become one of the progenitors of the great Messiah. God is very good to those who trust in him, and often surprises them with unlooked for blessings.

Little do we know what may happen to us to-morrow, but this sweet fact may cheer us, that no good thing shall be withheld. Chance is banished from the faith of Christians, for they see the hand of God in everything. The trivial events of to-day or to-morrow may involve consequences of the highest importance. O Lord, deal as graciously with thy servants as thou didst with Ruth.

How blessed would it be, if, in wandering in the field of meditation to-night, our hap should be to light upon the place where our next Kinsman will reveal himself to us! O Spirit of God, guide us to him. We would sooner glean in his field than bear away the whole harvest from any other. O for the footsteps of his flock, which may conduct us to the green pastures where he dwells!

This is a weary world when Jesus is away — we could better do without sun and moon that without him — but how divinely fair all things become in the glory of his presence! Our souls know the virtue which dwells in Jesus, and can never be content without him. We will wait in prayer this night until our hap shall be to light on a part of the field belonging to Jesus wherein he will manifest himself to us.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
God’s Revealed Truth Is Something We Discover, Not Invent



I know some people, including a few old friends, who say they are still following Jesus, but are walking away from God’s truth. They’re no longer believing that people need to trust Jesus to be saved and rescued from Hell (some don’t believe in Hell at all), and are no longer affirming that the Bible is entirely true or that Jesus is the only way to Heaven (John 14:6). They’re following the latest drifts of our culture and trying to be popular on social and moral issues, rather than holding on to God’s revealed truth in Scripture.

My heart is heavy for them. It’s easy for all of us to distance ourselves from some truths, especially when it means we can fly underneath the culture’s radar and avoid becoming a target.
Jesus said some strong words: “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33). Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16-17).

Maybe you’ve seen this going on around you, or sometimes in your own heart. Here are some related thoughts from my book Truth. I hope maybe there’s something you’ll find helpful or encouraging or that the Lord might use in your life:
In The Fellowship of the Ring, Bilbo Baggins says to his young cousin, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

To “keep our feet” in this world requires putting our weight upon what is true.
Theologian J. Gresham Machen wisely said, “Nothing in the world can take the place of truth.” Yet we are constantly bombarded with lies that attempt to do just that.
Truth is not something we invent, only something we can discover. God reveals it to us in His Word.

Truth is rooted in the eternal, all-powerful, and unchangeable God. Therefore His promises cannot fail: “Every word of God proves true” (Proverbs 30:5 ESV).
The Holy Spirit leads people into truth (John 16:13). We’re commanded to know the truth (1 Timothy 4:3), handle the truth accurately (2 Timothy 2:15), and avoid doctrinal untruths (2 Timothy 2:18). Christ’s disciples do the truth (John 3:21) and abide in the truth (John 8:31-32). The “belt of truth” holds together our spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:14). God “does not lie” (Titus 1:2). He is “the God of truth” (Isaiah 65:16 ESV).
“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19).


Christ, as the Living Word of God, is inseparable from truth. He not only is the Truth (John 14:6), he is the source of all truth, the embodiment of truth, and the ultimate reference point, in concert with His revealed Word, for evaluating all truth-claims.

Those in countries where democratic ideals are embraced might have the illusion they should have a voice when it comes to truth. But the universe is not a democracy.
Truth is not a ballot measure. God does not consult us to determine right and wrong. It’s we who must go to revealed Scripture to find out what we should believe. Our culture appeals to whatever now is; God appeals to his intentions and design, to what ought to be.
When we wonder what’s right, we’re to turn to God’s Word: “For the word of the Lord is right and true” (Psalm 33:4). As Psalm 119 depicts in every one of its 176 verses, God’s truth is at the heart of the spiritual life.

Christ the Truth-Teller v. Satan the Liar
Unlike God, the devil promises without delivering. He’s always denying, revising, or spinning the truth, rearranging the price tags. Jesus called him a “liar, and the father of lies.” He said, “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language” (John 8:44).
Everyone speaks their native language fluently. Have you ever known people who lie so convincingly that it’s difficult not to believe them? Satan’s the best liar in the universe. “Go ahead, you deserve it.

This won’t hurt anybody.” He’s articulate, smooth, and persuasive. He murders people, and he lies to cover his murders.
When we speak the truth, we speak Christ’s language. When we speak lies, we speak Satan’s language. Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice” (John 10:27). He says, “But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will flee from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice” (v. 5).
We’re to become familiar enough with God’s Word that we learn the sound of our Master’s voice, and can tell the difference between his voice and the devil’s impersonation.

Examining Truth-claims
In an age of endless Internet gossip, tabloids, false advertising, lying politicians, and “made up reality,” how important is the truth? Reformer Ulrich Zwingli wrote, “The business of the truth is not to be deserted, even to the sacrifice of our lives.”
Luke makes a profound observation: “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11).
They searched the Scriptures—probing, not just skimming. The Bible should be primary, all other truth-claims secondary. We need a worldview informed and corrected by God’s Word.

They searched the Scriptures daily. (People died to get the Bible into our hands; the least we can do is read it!) Unless we establish a strong biblical grid, a scriptural filter with which to screen and interpret the world, we’ll end up thinking like the world. We desperately need not only Bible teaching, but group Bible study that explores the text and applies it to daily life.
The test of whether Scripture is my authority is this: Do I allow God’s Word to convince me to believe what I don’t like, what’s contrary to what I’ve always believed or wanted to believe? Do I believe it even when it offends me? Am I willing to bow my knees before God and accept his truth even when my life would be easier, for the moment, if I didn’t?

Truth is truth even if no one believes it; a lie is a lie even if everyone believes it.”
 

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Generous Asset
Lord, have mercy on me, the sinner.
"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."

Hebrews 8:10-12 NIV

__________________

Seek the LORD while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the LORD,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.

Isaiah 55:6,7 NKJV

__________________

He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.

As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Psalm 103:10-12 NASB

__________________

And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, seeing that you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserved and have given us such a remnant as this,

Ezra 9:13 ESV

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.”

Ecclesiastes 1:7

Everything sublunary is on the move, time knows nothing of rest. The solid earth is a rolling ball, and the great sun himself a star obediently fulfilling its course around some greater luminary. Tides move the sea, winds stir the airy ocean, friction wears the rock: change and death rule everywhere. The sea is not a miser's storehouse for a wealth of waters, for as by one force the waters flow into it, by another they are lifted from it. Men are born but to die: everything is hurry, worry, and vexation of spirit.

Friend of the unchanging Jesus, what a joy it is to reflect upon thy changeless heritage; thy sea of bliss which will be for ever full, since God himself shall pour eternal rivers of pleasure into it. We seek an abiding city beyond the skies, and we shall not be disappointed. The passage before us may well teach us gratitude. Father Ocean is a great receiver, but he is a generous distributor. What the rivers bring him he returns to the earth in the form of clouds and rain. That man is out of joint with the universe who takes all but makes no return. To give to others is but sowing seed for ourselves. He who is so good a steward as to be willing to use his substance for his Lord, shall be entrusted with more.

Friend of Jesus, art thou rendering to him according to the benefit received? Much has been given thee, what is thy fruit? Hast thou done all? Canst thou not do more? To be selfish is to be wicked. Suppose the ocean gave up none of its watery treasure, it would bring ruin upon our race. God forbid that any of us should follow the ungenerous and destructive policy of living unto ourselves. Jesus pleased not himself. All fulness dwells in him, but of his fulness have all we received. O for Jesus’ spirit, that henceforth we may live not unto ourselves!
 

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Generous Asset
Real Hero


I only noticed him out of the corner of my eye. I knew he was a Marine from the cut of his uniform, with it's tightly pressed military creases. Then I heard him, speaking low with a kind of hiss. He was not speaking to me. He was speaking to my Sergeant, who was the Non Commissioned Officer, in charge of the Military Information Booth, at San Francisco International Airport, where I served as a Navy WAVE, during the Vietnam War.

I heard his tortured attempt to speak. "Hep nee, peesss!" (Help me, please!) He struggled with every word. I was grabbing my purse to take a much needed break, but I was caught by his struggle to make himself understood. I could hear the irritation in the sergeant's voice, as she demanded that he "speak up!"

I paused, as he began again, "I-nee-to-change-ny-tickek!" I understood every painful word he said. He needed to change his ticket. What was wrong with my NCO? "I CAN'T understand you!" She said, irritated. "Speak up!" How rude! I thought. I turned, putting down my purse, and I looked at him, again beginning his struggle to speak. And, no wonder. There stood a tall, strong Marine Officer, perfect in his pristine uniform, missing half his jaw! My gosh, I thought! What is she thinking?!

"Excuse me, Sir. I can help you." Without thinking, I shoved my Sergeant aside and maneuvered my way in front of her. I could see the man's teeth through the wire that held his face together. I was of no importance, a lowly seaman apprentice, but I knew what this man needed. Someone, who cared enough to listen. I studied his eyes. I saw the pain, and I felt his humiliation. Soul to soul, I knew what to do. I smiled. A big, welcoming smile.

"Yes Sir! How can I help you?" Painfully.slowly.words, tortured and slurred, escaped from his wired mouth. I listened with all my heart, and I watched his eyes. Dear God, help me to understand! I prayed. And I did understand him, more than I can express. I gave him the directions he needed, and his eyes smiled his thanks. When he walked away, I called a friend at United Airlines, who adopted him immediately, taking great care with his situation.

I thanked God for this opportunity to help a real hero. However, I also knew I was in trouble. I looked at my Sergeant, feeling anger rise in me, at her rudeness and total lack of sensitivity. She stared at me, and she said, "I could put you on report." Her eyes narrowed. Without thinking, I blurted out, "...and, I could put YOU on report, Sergeant, for insubordination to an officer!" My eyes spit fire, as I hurtled the stack of report chits towards her. "Be my guest!" I said, as I grabbed my purse. "I'll be on break." And I left.

I went on to supper, as I knew it would be a long night. I was troubled, however, now that my "dander" was down, at the thought of going to Captain's Mast, for my insubordination to an NCO. I was certain it would be very unpleasant.

As I neared the United Airlines counter, I saw him again. His luggage was being checked, and his back was towards me. Then, as though someone had told him where I was, he turned, and he looked at me. Our eyes met, for an eternity. Then I smiled.

This soldier and hero, in the United States Marine Corps, pulled himself up to his full height, and with all the military perfection in his being, he gave me a sharp, military salute! I was thrilled! WAVES did not salute indoors, especially, when they were not wearing their cover (hat), but I pulled myself to attention and returned that salute.

Moving on to the cafeteria, I walked a little taller, and I felt more like a lady than I ever had before, in my whole life! And...just a little bit...I felt like a hero.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Speaking the Truth
Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Colossians 3:9,10 NIV

__________________

A false witness will not go unpunished,
And he who speaks lies will not escape.

Proverbs 19:5 NKJV

__________________

"These are the things which you should do: speak the truth to one another; judge with truth and judgment for peace in your gates. Also let none of you devise evil in your heart against another, and do not love perjury; for all these are what I hate,' declares the LORD."

Zechariah 8:16,17 NASB

__________________

LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;

Psalm 15:1,2 ESV

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Charles H. Spurgeon
“We are all as an unclean thing.”

Isaiah 64:6

The believer is a new creature, he belongs to a holy generation and a peculiar people — the Spirit of God is in him, and in all respects he is far removed from the natural man; but for all that the Christian is a sinner still. He is so from the imperfection of his nature, and will continue so to the end of his earthly life. The black fingers of sin leave smuts upon our fairest robes. Sin mars our repentance, ere the great Potter has finished it, upon the wheel. Selfishness defiles our tears, and unbelief tampers with our faith. The best thing we ever did apart from the merit of Jesus only swelled the number of our sins; for when we have been most pure in our own sight, yet, like the heavens, we are not pure in God's sight; and as he charged his angels with folly, much more must he charge us with it, even in our most angelic frames of mind.

The song which thrills to heaven, and seeks to emulate seraphic strains, hath human discords in it. The prayer which moves the arm of God is still a bruised and battered prayer, and only moves that arm because the sinless One, the great Mediator, has stepped in to take away the sin of our supplication. The most golden faith or the purest degree of sanctification to which a Christian ever attained on earth, has still so much alloy in it as to be only worthy of the flames, in itself considered. Every night we look in the glass we see a sinner, and had need confess, “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.”

Oh, how precious the blood of Christ to such hearts as ours! How priceless a gift is his perfect righteousness! And how bright the hope of perfect holiness hereafter! Even now, though sin dwells in us, its power is broken. It has no dominion; it is a broken-backed snake; we are in bitter conflict with it, but it is with a vanquished foe that we have to deal. Yet a little while and we shall enter victoriously into the city where nothing defileth.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Four Core Characteristics of God
OCTOBER 27, 2017 BY JACK WELLMAN

30 COMMENTS
16

Here are four major attributes or characteristics of God.
Holiness
One characteristic of God is that He cannot dwell with or be in the presence of sin. After the fall, God’s fellowship with mankind was severed. That’s because God cannot even look upon sin as sin is against the very nature of God. This may explain why God had to turn away from even from His own Son at the cross when Jesus cried out, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Matt 27:46)?

Since Jesus bore the sins of mankind, God the Father could not look upon Him. That explains the three hours of darkness during Jesus’ last hours. This was the first time in all eternity that the Father and the Son had been separated, so how agonizing that must have been for both of them. Since Jesus had taken upon the sins of humanity, it makes sense that this is the only time where Jesus called God, “My God, My God” and not, “My Father, My father.” For a brief moment in time, Jesus was separated from the Father by our sins as He bore them on the cross. That’s when and why the Father turned away. Psalm 22:1 was a Messianic prophecy about Calvary, where he wrote, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me?” On the cross, God was “so far from helping [Him].”

God distances Himself from the presence of sin, and that reveals perhaps His greatest attribute of all. He is “holy, holy, holy” (Isaiah 6:3). In Jewish literature, repeating something three times is the greatest emphasis possible. To repeat something twice in the same sentence is of supreme importance in itself as God calls out only a select few by calling their name out twice: Abraham, Abraham; Saul, Saul; Peter, Peter; and so on. To three-peat something shows that it’s of the uttermost importance.

Goodness
What does the creation tell me about God and His character? It tells me that whatever He wills, that He does. He only needs to speak and it is done! God said that His creation was good, and that means it was perfect. Why? In Mark 10:17 a young rich man came up to Jesus and said, “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” What Jesus sees as good He equates with godliness as He responds by saying, “Why do you call me good?”Jesus answered.

“No one is good—except God alone” (Mk 10:18). Of course, Jesus was God too, but the young man didn’t know to whom he was speaking, so this is why Jesus said that only God is good, so what He creates is also good. This is why after God had created the heavens and the earth, He said “It was good,” and whatever is repeated in the Bible indicates the supreme importance of it, and the phrase “And God saw that it was good” is repeated 5 times. Another characteristic of God is found in Genesis 1-3 where we read that God is holy, pure, and perfect; therefore, everything God created reflected part of His character as it was “good.” The creation was good because God is good, just as Jesus had said in Mark 10.

Fellowshipping
Yet another characteristic of God is that He is desires fellowship with us, just like the fellowship that existed before the creation where the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit had perfect relationships and fellowship with one another. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are always in perfect harmony, fellowship, and in relationship with One Another. God is a personal God and seeks to dwell with us, and even though He is both transcendent and immanent, He desires to dwell with His own children.

He is altogether holy and transcendent, being above all things but He still walks with those who are like Enoch who walked with God “and was no more” (Gen 5:24). God walked in the Garden with mankind just after creation (Gen 3:8), but once sin entered, God could no longer walk or be present or dwell with mankind in the same way. John 1:14 says that “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us,” which is better rendered “to have one’s tabernacle, abide (or live) in a tabernacle (or tent), tabernacle.” [1] Strong’s concordance says the Greek (G4637) σκηνόω (skēnoō) (dwelt) is used only 5 times in the New Testament, including John 1:14, and interestingly, the other four times are found in the Book of Revelation.

John writes,“Rejoice then, you heavens and those who dwell (tabernacle) in them” (Rev 12:12), and “It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell (tabernacle) in heaven” (Rev 13:6). In Revelation 21:3 it says, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell (tabernacle) with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them.” In every case, order has been restored, sin has been dwelt with, and God is able to dwell (tabernacle) with the redeemed. At that time, the creation is restored, and God can again dwell where the corruption of sin has not tainted it.

Order
A final characteristic of God is that the creation reveals that God creates in perfect harmony and symmetry. God is a God of order and not of chaos (1st Cor 14:33). This is the theme of the book, The Privileged Planet, by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards (Regnery Publishing, 2004). The perfection and precision of God’s creation is plainly known to science. If the moon were any closer or further away…if the earth’s axis were not exactly where it is, and other such scientific observations reveal that life on earth could not exist as we know it if our sun were a bit larger, our planet was a bit closer (or further) from the sun, the moon was positioned at a greater distance, and other such observations. The false idea that this life on earth was completely due to blind chance is so astronomically impossible that mathematicians cannot even comprehend the odds or they are so great that you can’t even wrap your mind around it.

This symmetry of the universe reflects God’s nature in the beauty of the creation, and a beauty that we can only imagine in our mind’s eye. There is proportional balance and beauty that necessarily arose from the perfect handiwork of God. The heavens declare the glory of the work of His hands. The psalmist wrote, “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). They do tell about God and they are telling about His glory. The creation is indicative that God should be glorified and mankind’s proper response should be to live a holy life worthy of His creating us, and that He is most worthy to be worshiped, and the Bible says that He seeks those who would worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24).

Conclusion
God has many attributes, but I believe His greatest attribute is that He is holy. The only attribute of God that is mentioned three times, which is the highest form of emphasis in Jewish literary form, is that God is “Holy, holy, holy.” It doesn’t say God is love, love, love, although He is love…it doesn’t say He is merciful, merciful, merciful, although this is true, but rather it says, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:3).
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
The Fasting and Feasting of Lent



Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. I love this season of the church year, which is odd because it is a time for self-denial and repentance. I try to observe all of that, painful though it be, and yet I love Lent.

This is a paradox. How can we enjoy something designed to be unpleasant? The reason Lent works that way is suggested by a poem on the subject by George Herbert, the great 17th century Christian poet whom I have written about extensively in my academic career.
In his poem “Lent,” Herbert welcomes the “dear feast of Lent.” “Dear” showing he feels about it as I do. But he calls the season a “feast.” Lent is a fast, not a feast! And the entire poem is about the value and significance of fasting. Yet the entire poem develops the sense in which fasting is a kind of feasting!
This comes together at the final stanza, in which the Lenten fast is described as having two components: “starving” and “taking repast” (that is, eating). “Starving sin” and “taking such repast” that controls our faults.

We best observe Lent by fasting, good works, and other exercises in self-denial, yes, but also in “feeding” on God’s Word, by “feasting” on the Lord’s Supper.
At the very end of the poem, we are “reveling”–we would say “partying”–not in the usual place, the parlor where one entertains guests, but at the door, where we interact with our neighbors and those in need. We are “banqueting the poor,” in Lenten good works that do carry their own joy. But among those poor whom we should banquet is our own soul.

Here is the poem, taken from LenTree for George Herbert, an online day-by-day Lenten devotion consisting of readings from Herbert’s poetry:
Lent​
Welcome dear feast of Lent: who loves not thee,He loves not Temperance, or Authority,



But is composed of passion.

The Scriptures bid us fast; the Church says, now:
Give to your Mother, what you would allow
To every Corporation.

* * *​
It ‘s true, we cannot reach Christ’s fortieth day;
Yet to go part of that religious way,
Is better than to rest:
We cannot reach our Savior’s purity;
Yet are bid, Be holy ev’n as he.
In both let ‘s do our best.

Who goes in the way which Christ has gone,
Is much more sure to meet with him, than one
Who travels the by-ways:
Perhaps my God, though he be far before,
May turn, and take me by the hand, and more
May strengthen my decays.

Yet Lord instruct us to improve our fast
By starving sin and taking such repast
As may our faults control:
That ev’ry man may revel at his door,
Not in his parlor; banqueting the poor,
And among those his soul.

May you have a blessed Lent, a time of “revel” in which you banquet your soul.
 

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Generous Asset
Ask, Seek, Knock
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

Matthew 7:7,8 NIV

__________________

And it shall come to pass,
that before they call, I will answer;
and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.

Isaiah 65:24 KJV

__________________

Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

John 14:13-15 NASB

__________________

"He will call upon Me,
and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.

Psalm 91:15 NASB

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 
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