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Monthly Archives: September 2011

A Conspiracy Against Me!

Jere. 11:9,19 &21 And the LORD said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem.19) But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered.21) Therefore thus saith the LORD of the men of Anathoth, that seek thy life…”     

Have you ever felt like everyone was out to get you, spreading lies about you and speaking against your name? This is for those times when you face great opposition and feel like there is no remedy or reason for your situation.  

In this passage, the prophet Jeremiah is facing this very situation. He has been preaching against sin, telling people how the word of God tells them to live; he is  calling out by name the “sins” of his generation and because of this the people turned against him; even the people of Anathoth.  Anathoth was the birthplace of Jeremiah. This meant his family, friends, countrymen and even the government was conspiring against him. This must have felt very lonely for this man of God. Here he was doing what God asked him to do and the people of his own land hated him for it.

God assured Jeremiah that he would deal with his enemies, but in His time. God said in Jere.11:23 “…I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their visitation.” Meaning, I will deal with them some “year” but not now. Have you ever wanted God to move right away, but instead your problems seemed to drag on and on. This is where Jeremiah was at, and in Jeremiah 12:1 the prophet says to God himself “Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments…” Jeremiah is saying to God, God I know your decisions are righteous but I need to talk to you about your most recent decision about waiting to judge my enemies.  

In his frustration Jeremiah calls out the punishment (Jere.12:2-4) he feels God should visit upon his enemies immediately….DEATH! God responds in verse 5 with a very interesting and straightforward response:  “If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan? Jeremiah 12:5” In plain terms, God is saying to Jeremiah, If you can’t handle this little problem (the footmen) what are you going to do when the horsemen (meaning cavalry, or a stronger enemy) charge after you. And furthermore, what will you do when the Jordan River floods over your entire land (prophesying of the day when Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar would conquer Jerusalem) and sweeps you away?   

Often times we think our problems are the “End of the World”; not to say they are not important to us but are they really the end of the world and civilization as we know it? We experience some ridicule from family and co-workers for serving God and going to church; we are told we cannot hand out gospel tracts in our town without a permit (so get a permit); we experience financial difficulty that makes us question whether or not we are going to give God his tenth, we face family issues, vehicle problems, health issues….and the list goes on. These would be the “footmen” God mentioned to Jeremiah. They are an enemy, but a small one. What will you do when the horsemen come? When the government closes your church, seizes you home or splits up and imprisons your family for the gospel’s sake…will you still trust God then? Or what about the “swelling Jordan”, What if our entire country collapsed! Government, financial structure, electric plants, communication centers, defense departments ect…what would you do if our country was bought out by or dissolved into another country (it happened to Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 1)? Would you still trust God then?

I am not trying to scare you with doom & gloom, but we need to trust God in the little problems of life, so we can learn to trust him in the big problems when they come. Grow closer to God and trust him more now while you are only fighting the footmen.  Remember these truths the next time you face a trial.

1.       Every time you face a trial and trust God, you come out stronger on the other side. Small doses of a virus will eventually make you immune to its sickness.  

2.       In trials we learn to appreciate the basics of our Christian Faith. We discover that prayer, Bible reading and church attendance are a main source of strength to us in our Christian walk.

3.       Trials teach us to prioritize and put important things first. Our hobbies and special interests often take a backseat when we are fighting for our lives.

4.       Trials cause us to grow closer to God and trust him more. Adversities will make us appreciate and love God more.

5.       Trials reveal our weak areas and prompt us to work on strengthening them.

6.       Trials will reveal our true friends and allow us to develop stronger bonds with them.

7.       Trials cleanse us of sins. Sometimes it takes us reaching a place of desperation that causes us to cast the sin out of our life in order for God to hear us and answer or prayers. Isaiah 59:1-2  Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:  2  But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. Psalms 66:18  If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

8.       God’s way is always the best way. Jeremiah did face great adversity, but God was with him every step of the way. God delivered him from the prison and the evil men, and along the way God revealed his great love to Jeremiah. In the end, Jeremiah loved and trusted his Lord even more. In his book Lamentations Jeremiah wrote: 

“This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.  22  It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  23  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.  24  The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.  25  The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.  26  It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. Lamentations 3:21-26” 

 

 

 
 

The Parental Care of our God

“As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you… Isaiah 66:13”

God made a promise to comfort his people. The word “comfort” means to be sorry for, to have compassion for, to pity or console another person. When God looks at his children, his parental nature desires to comfort any hurt, dispel any grief and quiet any storm that may trouble his precious young. Since Jesus Christ has returned to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father; he comforts his children through the person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is now our comforter and the Bible says he will abide with us forever.  John 14:16  And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

Although God is our heavenly father, he says he will comfort as a mother comforteth….How does a mother comfort her young? What kind of comfort does she interpose upon her troubled children?

Matthew 23:37  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

 1.      She Comforts with her Presence

A child can sense its mother. When the tears flow, a child placed in the presence of its mother will regain composure and be comforted. Christ comforted Mary, the grieving sister of Lazarus with his presence at their home.  John 11:21-22  Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.  22  But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

 2.      She comforts with her Touch

A scrape on the knee can be a terrible wound to a scared child, but one touch of mothers hand brings calm to the troubled soul. A pat on the back, a soft stroke threw the hair and the most disturbed child will become calm. When Christ puts his glorious hand on a situation in our lives he drives away all problems and fears.

  • Matthew 8:3  And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
  • Matthew 8:15  And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.
  • Matthew 20:34  So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.

 3.      She comforts with her Voice

The loudest cry can be stilled with the subtle, soft voice of a tending mother. The same voice that spoke the worlds into existence is the same voice that calms the child of creation still today; he that made the waters controls the waters. There is not a “troubled water” you will ever face, that God cannot calm. 

  • Genesis 1:9  And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
  • Mark 4:39 &41  And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 41  And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

 4.      She comforts with her Strength

Any mother worth her weight would fight to defend her young. At first trouble the mother hen gathers her chickens under her wings to protect them from the harsh elements or intruders. Likewise, Jesus stands ready to help all those that will come into the safety of his wings.

  • Matthew 23:37  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not”

5.      She comforts with her Faithfulness 

A mother teaches her children valuable truths that will help them throughout life. Even when they don’t understand, she is faithful to re-teach the lesson until they can help themselves. God also loves his people with a faithful love; Jeremiah refers to it as an “everlasting love”. God brought his people out of the deserts of sin so he could nurture and train up a nation that would glorify and please him. The mother eagle stirs up and provokes her young to take flight, to get out of the nest and become what they were born to be, but she is always close by to bear them on her wings in case they fall. Likewise, God is never far from any one of his precious children. 

  • Deuteronomy 32:9-12  For the LORD’S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.  10  He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.  11  As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:  12  So the LORD alone did lead him…

It is very evident that God is a faithful father to us; it is only right that we be faithful children to him. Move closer to your Savior, read his word more, pray often, go to his church regularly when the doors are open, serve him daily and help his lost sheep find their way back to his fold. Invest all your resources into his eternal work and he will always provide when you have need. Be a faithful and obedient child to a faithful and overwhelmingly generous Father. 

 

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Devotional Reading

 

A Root of Bitterness

Hebrews 12:15  Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

 The root is a very important part of any plant. It is the plants source of food and nutrients that cause the plants to grow and produce fruit. In short, the root is the life source of the plant. Protecting and nurturing roots are good if your growing vegetables or flowers, but the Bible says a root of bitterness will grow trouble in your life and cause many other people around you to be defiled.    

The Bible describes bitterness as a “root” for several reasons, here are a few.

1. Bitterness often roots itself deep in the life of its victims. Bitterness can lie so deep, that it can even go undetected for years; then without warning it springs up and causes trouble. The phrase “springs up” means suddenly and without warning; even surprising the person in whom it springs up.   

2. Like a root wrapping through the ground, bitterness often wraps itself around many different areas of your life. Bitterness will wrap around your physical, psychological and spiritual members; causing trouble and making it difficult for you to reason and sort through situations of life. Bitterness entangles & consumes your life, not letting go easily.

3. A root grows & matures beneath the earth’s surface for sometime before becoming visible.  Likewise, bitterness will mature in the soil of your heart and without warning “spring up” to cause trouble.  You will never see bitterness until it is often too late.

4. Good roots are one thing, but bad roots are another. While the root of a tomato plant produces tasty fruit, the root of a weed will wrap around a healthy plant and choke it out. Bitterness will choke out anything good in your life; it will trouble & rob you of any fruitfulness, joy and friendships you may otherwise experience.

5. Bitterness will not only choke out your life, but will also “defile” many of the other people around you. Weed Roots do not keep to themselves; they choke out and rob nutrients from other plants. Often times it is the smaller, weaker plants that are hurt by the Bitter Root. I have seen many older Christians make bad decisions because of bitterness and badly hurt younger believers to the point of them dropping out of church. Bitterness will use you to corrupt, discourage and defile the lives of other people around you. It will ruin your church, community and personal relationships.

Bitterness can be overcome and avoided by taking heed to Biblical counsel. Consider this passage:

1. Look diligently. We must guard our lives from allowing bitterness to rule and destroy us from within. God wanted Israel to guard themselves against any bitterness that would pull them away from serving Him.  Deuteronomy 29:18  Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;” Solomon warns his son in Proverbs 4:23  Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”  Be cautious in not letting any bitterness take root in your heart and life. Weed the garden of your heart on a regular basis.

The best way to avoid the Bitter Root Problem is to have a Better Fruit Product. Live your life serving Christ and bringing lost souls to Him and you will not have any time for bitterness to grow in you. You will be so happy in serving your Savior; the Bitter Root will have to pass you by.  By guarding yourself against, greed, envy, anger, un-forgiveness or any other such thing that would promote bitterness in your life; you are preparing the soil of your heart to produce a mature and fruitful Christian that is sure to be pleasing unto the Lord.

 

 
 

“The Greatest Thing You Could Hope For”

Philippians 1:20  According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. 

Paul’s greatest hope and concern in his life was that Christ would be magnified (to make big) in his body. Paul was willing to have Christ magnified in his body even if it meant him dying to glorify God; his only concern was living a life that promoted, exalted and made Christ BIG in the eyes of others. What is the main concern for your life? What is it that you wake up in the morning thinking “I have to do this”? I don’t believe we can reach the maximum potential of our Christian walk until we answer this question of our priorities. As I look at this passage I see several things that would help Paul achieve his goal of making Christ BIG in his life:

1. Paul Set Expectations for Himself: so often we cater to our slothful humanity and never push ourselves to achieve goals. Mediocrity and Status Quo become the norm in our lives. We do everything in our power to stay within our comfort zone. However, through his disciplined lifestyle, Paul expected to magnify Christ. Magnifying Christ was something that he did on purpose by setting expectations for his life. Set goals on a regular basis that when they are reached, others will see a BIG picture of Christ in your life.

2. Paul Determined to Never Be Ashamed of Christ: how often do we miss the opportunity to point others to Christ because we were ashamed?  We felt out of place, even embarrassed to mention our church, faith or savior. Paul made up his mind that he would boldly take every opportunity offered to him to make much of Christ. If you are going to be a Christian, then be a Christian wherever you are. Look for opportunities to pass out a gospel tract or mention the good things of God; live a holy life in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Be bold for Christ. You will be amazed at the number of people that are ready & waiting to hear what you have to say.

3. Paul Lived a Consistent Lifestyle: Paul said he would use boldness “as always” What does “as always” mean? It means, like he has done in the past and does on a regular basis. It is hard to magnify God when one week we go to church and the next week we stay home for whatever reason. It’s hard to bring glory to God on your job when one day you’re reading your Bible at break and the next day you’re using ungodly words toward a co-worker that wronged you. It is hard to make Christ BIG in your life when one week you’re praying, trusting God and reading your Bible and the next week you hardly pick up the Book or talk to God. Paul’s consistency guaranteed that he would make an impact for Christ. Determine now, to live a consistent Christian life.

4. Paul was Totally Committed to His Goal:Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.” Paul said that he “shall” magnify Christ no matter the cost. God is looking for people who are sold out lock, stock and barrel for his cause. It’s hard to magnify Christ if our heart is not in it. How far are you willing to go for Christ? How precious is his dear cause to you? What if God’s work would cost you time, money, your personal goals, your health & comfort or more like it did the Apostle Paul, would God be worth it then? We need to make up our minds to march out of our comfort zones and into the work of our dear Savior. The soldier that makes the biggest difference in the battle is the one who is willing to die for the cause. May we die to self and to the “glitter” of this world, and seek earnestly to magnify Christ in our lives.  

If we will apply Paul’s Life Principles to our own life, we will enjoy a more happy and productive Christian life. Our family and church will be blessed, and the cause of Christ will flourish around us.

 

 
 

Living Above Criticism

2 Timothy 4:14-15 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:  15  Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.

It is obvious from this passage that Alexander did not like the apostle Paul. In fact, he made his ministry and life very hard at times; opposing and twisting Paul’s words with every chance he got. Critics often work like this, they spend their time on you; “getting you” becomes their main objective and chief purpose in life. How do you deal with this kind of person, someone that is always twisting your words and opposing your good works?

I see several lessons in that passage that teach us how Paul lived above his critics.

1. Paul Put It in God’s Hands: Paul said the Lord would “reward him” for what he does to me. Give your critics to God; let God work out the details of the situation. Often times, when we are dealing with critics and criticism, our biggest headaches ironically do not come from the criticism, but from our “hair pulling” efforts to get back at the critic or in defending ourselves. Again, let God work out the details.

2. Paul Never Slandered a Critic, He Took the High Road: We never see Paul bashing his critic. The only thing he does here is warn other believers about this potentially poisonous snake in the grass. But no where do we see Paul going into detail and going out of his way to publish the details of the situation. If Paul had Face Book, Blogs or other Social Networking capabilities, he would not have waged a “Word War” with his critic. Criticizing a critic only reduces you to their level, take the High road with Christ.

3. Paul Knew the Critic was Really Opposing God: Paul said Alexander attacked his words. By this, Paul is referring to the gospel message he preached. So in fact Alexander was opposing God’s words that he gave to Paul to preach. Jesus told us that people would hate us because they hated him first and that because we endorse Christ they would oppose us. Don’t take criticism personally, develop tough ministry skin; be tender enough to love people but tough enough to take the critics. Don’t be easily offended and quit, keep on keeping on for our Lord.  

4. Paul’s Pure Testimony Limited His Critic: Notice in vs. 14 that God is going to punish or deal with Alexander because of his “works”. This shows us Alexander was a man of bad deeds worthy of punishment. But in verse 15 the only thing Alexander had against Paul was his “words” This shows us that Paul lived above reproach. His enemy did not have any legitimate dirt to call him out on. Alexander could not criticize Paul based on his works, he could only twist and oppose his words. Critics may lie about us and twist our conversations, but if we live a godly lifestyle they will only have their “made up version” of who we are to criticize. The rest of the world will see the truth that we live out before them day by day.  Live holy; don’t give critics something to talk about!

 

 

Soul Surfer?

I recently received an add from a local Christian bookstore advertizing a new movie entitled “Soul Surfer.”  I have heard a lot of talk among Christians about this movie, and its positive influence so I will give my thoughts. I want to preface this opinion with my sympathies to the family & young lady who lost her arm in the real life event that this movie is based on. This is not an opinion about the family or the girl, only for the movie and its content. I have not seen the movie, only the trailer and add, which were enough to come to these conclusions.

 As a pastor I try to give a biblical insight to as many things that would influence people as I can. Not that I am the final authority; Gods word is our authority and Rule, I am only a messenger for him.  Here are some scriptures that will lead our thinking.  

2 Kings 17:15  And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them. 

2 Corinthians 6:17  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

1 John 2:15-17  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  17  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Psalms 101:3  I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.

Any movie that would promote people running around half naked I am against. This may be an inspirational story, but it is not an appropriate movie for any Christian. The bathing suit is nothing but glorified and colorful underwear.  Just because there is water and sand doesn’t make this practice fitting behavior for God’s people. Think of everyone showing up at your work in their underwear, or at the grocery store or church! What if you invited company to your home, and there in front of your wife and children they show up in their underwear. You say it’s not the same, you’re at home not the beach, and there is no sand or water. Ok, say you live where there is sand and water; do you want your company showing up for dinner in their underwear? It’s wrong no matter where you are. We are to be separate from the world; we are to be modest in our dress and apparel no matter where we are.

This is a great tragedy in our day. The world and the church are to much the same. There are very little lines between God’s people and the world. God calls his people to be different! Who will be different, who will raise their family in the old paths and the good way? It is my opinion that this movie and others like it are an abomination to the holy things of God. Christians should not watch it nor glorify the sin it promotes. Please stand for truth, stand for Christ and what is right.

Here are some things to consider while making your entertainment choices:

  1. Will this honor God 
  2. Will this set a godly example for others to follow
  3. Will this bring me closer to God
  4. Will this make me more like Christ
  5. Would I ask Christ to take part in this
  6. Will I be a stronger Christian if I follow the examples set forth in this film
  7. Will I be able to praise God in this entertainment, could I thank him for what I’ve learned

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2011 in The Pastor Recommends

 

God’s Intention for Trials

John 11:14-15  Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.  15  And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe…”

It was possible for Jesus to travel to Bethany in time to save Lazarus’s life, but as we see in this scripture he had different intentions. Healing someone is a wonderful miracle but let’s face it, raising someone from the dead is a far better & stronger display of power. Jesus told the disciples he was glad that Lazarus died so that he could raise him from death and increase their faith. It almost sounds rude and inconsiderate that Christ was glad that Lazarus died; after all, Lazarus and his family were a great blessing to Christ and his disciples on many occasions as they passed by his home in Bethany. It wasn’t rude; Jesus just had different intentions for this situation, intentions that the disciples couldn’t see.

There are times in our lives that we wonder, “What is God thinking” we even wonder if he is on our team or the other team. Trials have many negative impacts in our lives, trials:

  1. Cause us to doubt in our God (his love, care, ability and power)
  2. Blind us from remembering God’s past provisions in our lives
  3. Can cause selfishness and self-pity, when things are not the way we want them
  4. Distract us from God’s truth and cause us to make bad decisions
  5. Cause us to lose faith in God’s way; we neglect church, ministry work and others
  6. Tend to isolate us from the people that care about us and would help us
  7.  Discourage us from Bible study, prayer & quiet time with God

Mary & Martha, the two sisters of Lazarus had a way to solve the problem of their brother being sick; they would ask Jesus to heal him. They had one intention for the situation but God had another. In the end, their faith was stronger and they understood that Gods way is always the best way. If we take a closer look at this passage, we will see that just as Jesus had different intentions for Lazarus’s situation, he also has different intentions for each of his children today.

Raising Lazarus from the dead was the ultimate display of God’s power in Christ. God alone gives and takes life; therefore, by Christ raising Lazarus from the dead, it showed that he was the true Son of God. A healing could not always show this power, some may have doubted, but there was no doubting Gods power when he raised a four day old dead man from the grave. Sometimes God has to let the situation get to the point that it is clearly beyond our power to fix, so that when he moves there is no doubting it was him alone who worked it out.

Most importantly, raising Lazarus from the dead would increase the people’s faith more than a healing would. God’s people hear of his power, read of his miracles and taste of his goodness so often we have become calloused to his divine working in our lives. We can be so blessed with his goodness that it is possible for us to forget that it’s God’s hand that is working in our lives bringing us those blessings we desire and need. If we’re not careful, we can become self-sufficient to the point that we stop glorifying God for the things he gives. We can develop a proud attitude that leads us to self-reliance instead of Savior-reliance. When this happens, often sins carry us away. We start forgetting the things of God and lean more to the things of the world. When we are not reliant upon God, there is only the world and flesh to call upon for help & satisfaction. But God in his love wants to prevent this. God allows trials to come so he can work a “notable miracle” (Acts4:16) in our lives so our faith will again be restored in Him alone and we move to the next level in our Christian walk.

God intends for us to trust him, love him and obey him. He knows this is best for his children, so even if he has to allow a trial to come so he can deliver a blessing, then in his love he will do it if this is what it takes for us to be conformed to his image and trust him fully once again.  Rest assured that whatever comes from the hand of God is also controlled by the hand of God. To the disciples and his sisters, Lazarus was dead; to Jesus, he was only waiting; waiting for the voice of the Almighty that would awaken him from sleep, glorify the Father in heaven and increase the people’s faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus knew full well what he was doing in Lazarus’ life and he knows exactly what is best for you and me today. So the next time you find yourself in trouble, remember God has different intentions than sometimes we cannot see. God’s way may not always be the most understandable to us at first, but it is always the best way in the end.

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2011 in Devotional Reading

 
 
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