Abraham A Good Start

(Genesis 20: 1-13)

We saw though he had a good start there was still a lot of work to be done in his life. He stepped out in faith simply on God’s word. (A plus)Then when Abram came to this land that God had promised, because he was doing what God had told him to do, he probably didn’t expect to encounter such obstacles as famine or enemies. (A test)What we find with Abraham instead of following God and His plan, he relied on what he learned as a pagan idol worshipper. Do it yourself. (A failure)

Forsaking the path of faith, for whatever reason, always brings its own complications. There is no knowing how low a saint will sink when he is out of touch with God. 

Through the Gospels, you will find example after example where Jesus will put people in a position where they must choose. All of us here are going to make a choice today. Many of you including myself God has been intimately pursuing you. Some are becoming better.  Letting God strip away the things that camouflage themselves as good and Godly. Some seem to become bitter. Holding on with a tenacious spirit the desire to be right instead of righteous. To be heard instead of Holy. To be brash instead of broken. 

Still, we choose which way we want to go.

In our scripture today we find Abraham choosing.

  • The rerun. Unbelief 
    • (V2) don’t know for sure why he journeyed south but did. 
    • No matter how you cut it up, no matter how you justify it, the issue that arises in Abraham’s life still boils down to unbelief. Jesus had some hard words for the sin of unbelief, using what we spoke about last week.
      • (Mt 10:14-15) And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. (15) Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.
      • Unbelief is the foundation that all disobedience is built on.
    • The problem for us is the same as Abraham. We like what we see as the easy way. We don’t really want to trust God and wait and rely on Him.
      • We speculate and figure out all the different ways we can afford to carry on without faith. Here at church, at work, in our homes.
    • How many when it comes to our church finance have already thought; what if we cut this out, don’t have this, and do away with that?
      •  Then how many have done what God has already told us to do. Witness and live in such a way that God brings others in not that we cut things but actually add things?
      • You know why this is not appealing to some? You think we’re doing too much already because it is cutting into your world time, or making you feel guilty.
      • Many of us have been greatly impacted by the less is more movement found in our churches today. What I mean is many self-professing believers only want to invest and spend a minimum amount of time doing things with the church. Mainly because it interferes with their real life.  
    • When we fail to believe God it always brings confusion and despair.
      • (Pr 3:1-2) ¶ My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: (2) For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. 
      • I have used this on several occasions. When we believe God, He adds to us length of days. Time to get done what needs to get done, time to enjoy this life.
      • He also adds to us long life. Time on top of time to enjoy the blessings He gives.
      • But you have to trust Him and His word to get this.
    • In Abe’s life, the fear came from a false sense of righteous discernment, which generated unbelief.
      •  Look in verse (V11). Is this not the pot calling the kettle black? 
      • Here was Abraham lying or worse partial truth, and once again bringing his wife down with him and thinking this king and his subjects were acting ungodly.
      • Religious pride is what kept the leaders in Jesus’s day from seeing and receiving the blessing and it is the same today. 
    • (Pr 3:3-4) Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: (4) So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
      • You can only show mercy if you have received it. You can only share the truth if you know it.
  • The repeat. God’s plan of action.
    • Before God delivered fully on the promise of a son, He brought Abraham back to an issue he faced earlier on in his journeys. 
      • The first time this couple went south so did their testimony. It was the lack of trusting God that sent them and the lack of trusting God that got them in trouble with the Pharaoh.  
      • Now God was allowing him to be back in the same situation. 
      • A time to choose.
    • Seems often like many a believer comes to the point in their life they feel they can coast. They’ve taught, preached, studied, and led. They have sung, served, sacrificed, and suffered. 
      • For the believer, we cannot coast for one minute. We will have all of eternity to rest and relish the victories, but only this short life to work and win them.   
    • There are those here who God has dealt mercifully with you on areas of sin in your life. It might be in the area of pride, selfishness, lust, greed, etc. but you are still being hounded by the same ole thing.
      •  A time to choose.
      • God has so much more in store for you. Not that He hasn’t done and is doing far more than you deserve but like as was recorded of Jesus’ hometown folks. (Mt 13:58) And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

Oswald Chambers said “ if we really believed that God meant what He said, just imagine what we would be like! Do I really dare to let God be to me all that He will be?

Are you here with some unfinished business?

  • Many of us have been raised or raised our own young’uns with the gathering of the body, the church is important unless it conflicts with what I want to do mentality.

A Bunch from Abram

(Genesis 13:5-9)

Last week we took time to discover a fatherly lesson from Lot. A lesson in what not to do. I would like to camp here one more day and look at a bunch of what to do’s from Abram.

We have been looking at the life of Abram and how it relates to the Christian walk. We have seen how he started out with a handicap to begin with which we will see come back and be a sore spot a little later. 

We were privy to an event in Abrams life where he didn’t trust God with his new life and fell back on his old ways which produced some serious and embarrassing issues. 

Here in the 13th chapter thankfully we see him returning to where he abandoned God’s truth. When it comes to restoring the passion in your life there are some things you must do.

Remember, repent and return. This is where we find Abram today in the process of restoring the passion. It is here we are able to look in and see how the mind of a spiritual man functions.

Remember the sore spot I spoke about, the one Abram thought he had to hang on to? Well it’s beginning to fester.

And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.

And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together.

And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.

And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.

Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.

Genesis 13:5-9
  • Worrying circumstances.
    • We all have them, sometimes its marriage, sometimes its sickness, financial, family. Most of the time it’s a combination of theses and others. Having issues in life is not always a sign of our failure as it is life.
      • How we go about handling these issues is a different matter.
    • God’s word is full of directives here.

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

Psalm 55:22

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Matthew 6:25

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

1 Peter 5:7

    • God’s word never contradicts itself.
      •  This is in no way shape or form, saying don’t work or provide but is speaking of trusting God. Don’t place priority on these worldly things. 
      • It is best expressed when He states:  (Mt 6:33) But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
    • Here in our scripture we find a good problem but none the less a problem.
      • God had richly blessed these two men and it had become too much for the land to bare.
  • We saw why and what a carnal man decided last week.
    • Because Lot was: Weak in his devotions, Worldly in his desires. He was:
  • Wrong decisions: 
    • A person who is weak in their devotion, worldly in their desires, is going to be wrong in their decisions. 
      • The next thing we see in Lot’s life is he set his tent towards Sodom. Very important to see this. He didn’t start off in Sodom just let it occupy his mind. It won’t be long before he is right in the midst of it.

So today what would one who trusted God do?

  • A divine resolution. A spiritual man’s approach to life.
    • An old cliché’: We most often hear “don’t just stand there do something.” But when it comes to God’s word we most often see “don’t just do something stand there.”
      • Abram had been promised by God that this was going to be his land. He could have stood for his rights and demanded that Lot go find his own land.
      • His reaction to the problem at hand was: wait. He had learned all too well what happens when a child of God takes matters into his own hand. A lesson that will be repeated in his life.
      • When confronted with worrying circumstances that seemed to be crying out for immediate action he waited. He was sure God would soon make his way clear.
    • An old sore. Abram made Lot a problem of his own choosing. God had specifically told hold him to leave his father’s house and kindred.
      • That one thing he held on to that he thought he needed or thought he was being a help to was now starting to demand attention.
      • They always do.  Abram was now learning how to deal with things God’s way. 
      • The first thing we see as a spiritual man Abram surrenders his personal rights.
    • He deals with spiritual directness.
      • Look at the wording in verse 8: between me and thee. He named himself first as though he was the cause of the trouble.
      • He came directly to the point and called the problem what it was strife. He wasn’t giving the devil any room to run.  
      • He wasn’t willing to give God a bad name in front of their wicked neighbors. (V.7)
    • He dealt with spiritual discernment.
      • “We are brethren,” the things that unite us are far more important than the things that divide us.
      • Would to God we as believers could reach that point in our spiritual journey.
    • He dealt with spiritual dignity:
      • Sovereignly he was the stronger. Socially he was the senior. Spiritually he was the securer.
      • Abram put aside his rights and let Lot choose. He took whatever was left. Why do you ask? Because his confidence was not in a land or an economy but God.
  • Whose does your thought pattern resemble? The carnal or the spiritual?
    • As born-again believers, the bible tells us: Ro 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
      • Lot filled his mind with the things of this world. His lifestyle and decisions suffered for it. 
      • God blessed Abram. Where the world would have called him a fool for giving up the good land. God had a better plan.
    • He has a better plan for you if you will trust Him.

A Little About Lot

(Gen.13:1-8)

The only way a man is ever counted righteous by God is by believing.

(Ro 4:3) For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed in God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Abraham wasn’t righteous because of good name, good deed,s or good looks. God counted him righteous because he took Him at His word. He believed Him.

Look here:

(2Pe 2:7-8) ¶ And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:

(8) (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)

Somewhere along the line Lot trusted God. We are not told about this but never the less it is evident according to scripture.

Let’s be honest, in our estimation of what we know about Lot, righteous would probably be the last adjective we would use to describe him. If it were not the fact that the Holy Spirit notes that Lot was righteous, many of us would list him under fan not follower.

Two questions people have to ask themselves:

    Heaven or hell? Once that is settled the next follows.

    Heaven or earth?

The devil attempts to persuade believers the second question does not matter as long as they are saved they can try everything this world offers.

Lot is the example of the enormous cost of choosing to live for worldly gain.

  • Lot’s choice
    • Lot must have been captivated by Uncle Abe’s dynamic faith. His sold-out, all-in commitment to God.
      • He had traveled many miles with God directing each step.
    • God had allowed both to prosper.
      • All was grits and gravy then the dispute.
  • The dispute(V7)
    • Seems to be one of Satan’s favorite ploy. 
      • Distract, divide, destroy.
    • Distracted by materialism.
      • What they had, their possession was not the problem.
        • How they handled them was.
        • They took their eye off God. Fell back to their way of handling things.
    • Division.
      • Now no longer unity with one vision but two.
    • You can almost hear the talk around the campfire.
      • Not sure Abe had their best interest at heart.
      • Been listening far too long to people trying to make them something they’re not.
    • Destruction: look close at (V7)again
      • … and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.
      • Two believers living amid a crooked and perverse generation and their testimony for God was being destroyed.
    • We all have “Ites” in our lives.
      • Friends, family, coworkers watching (yes they are watching) to see what now…
    • Abe being a man of integrity did right. 
      • Still, there was a scar.
  • The decision. God had deeded all the land over to Abram. Abram gave Lot the choice. He would take what was leftover. Why did Lot choose the land he did? Here is my thought on it.
    • He was weak in his devotion.
      • (V4)You see where the Holy Spirit recorded that Abram built an altar to God. A place where he came and worshipped.
      • You never see or even catch a drift that Lot desired to build an altar or think of a place to worship.
        • You simply gather that went through life day to day without any personal time with God.
        • You will never make Godly choices if you never learn what God will choose.
      • It’s not a wonder that Lot’s life and the life of the family he leads was a mess.
        • None of us can live the way God desires, demands without spending quality time with Him daily
        • We just continue to race across the sea of life running aground, trying to dodge shipwrecks until we become one.
    • He was worldly in his desires.
      • Lot was heaven-born and heaven-bound but had bought into the world.
      • When Abram spoke to Lot about separation that should have thrown up flags.
        • How many times we miss the flags.
    • He had a religious reason and a real reason for choosing
      • Look at (V10) look like the Garden of Eden.
        • It is so easy to spiritualize things.
      • Reality. It reminded him of sin-soaked Egypt
    • He was wrong in his decisions. 
      • He thought he was stronger in his faith than he was.
        • (1Co 10:12) Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
        • An unguarded strength is a double weakness.
      • Notice that the Holy Spirit added a significant comment to Lot’s choice.
        • (V13)But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.
      • God had already marked Sodom for judgment.
        • It was the last place Lot should have been.
        • But because he had NO spiritual anchor. NO real discernment. He was drawn into the shallows of Sodom. 
      • Listen! If you are being good and respectful only because of your parents. They won’t always be around.
        • If the only thing keeping you from throwing in the towel is your name in the community, your position, you’re standing. All of these will fade.
        • If you have no spiritual anchor son or later your life will wind up wrecked upon the rocks.
  • Lot’s chains. Lot wanted the world. God let him have it.
    • Lot moved his family to Sodom.
      • His children grew up with the popular Sodomites instead of saints.
      • His wife became influenced by the Sodomites’ customs instead of serving the Savior.
    • Anyone who moves out of the will of God WILL reap what they sow.
      • (Pr 21:16) ¶ The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.
      • Lot was no exception.
    • War broke out, Sodom was defeated. Lot and his whole family were taken captive. Marched off to the slave market.
      • This is where we find many church members today.
    • Lot’s chains were a direct result of his choice.
      • How do you think his children felt as they were pushed podded and poked and there was nothing he could do. 
      • His wife was treated as an object at a yard sale.
    • Sadly, some here even, letting the hero attitude kick in. “ better hope I don’t get lose.”
      • But we do little to keep them from being enslaved now.
    • Many of us men enslave them to our shallow attempt of being religious.
      • Showing them God is only important when we need Him.
    • As they say: sin takes you farther than you want to go. Keeps you longer than you want to stay and costs you more than you want to pay.
      • Lot’s choices impacted his whole family. So does yours.
    • Lot’s choice provided chains, but God provided another chance.
  • Lot’s chance.
    • Abram was told the story. He armed himself, his people and went and taught the outlaws how to lose.
      • Lot’s chains were removed. His family was restored. His life renewed.
      • Imagine if Lot admitted his sin. Believe God had better for him. Confessed before all those wicked people what God had allowed and done. 
      • What could have been the outcome?
    • Lot chose to go back. To take Sodom instead of the Savior.
      • You don’t have to.

Even if your choices have placed your heart in chains. God wants to provide you another chance. 

Come to him.

Abram: Picture of the Believer

                                                                       Genesis 12:6-

Remembering who God has chosen to use for His work. 

(1Co 1:25-29) Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (26) For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:(27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (28) And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: (29) That no flesh should glory in his presence.

Abram was an inhabitant of Ur, an important center of moon worship on the Great Euphrates. He is from the Godly line of Shem but most probable like his neighbors he is an idolatrous pagan. Though most of his ancestry has been forgotten, God has not forgotten.

What we see in the life of Abram is a picture of the life of the believer.  We have spoken of the statement of faith. The statement of faith, or call of salvation, is always followed by the call of separation. In the life of Abram God told him to leave his, country, his kindred, and his father’s house.

Separation is a lesson in faith and a lesson in obedience.

We will continue and look at the step of faith, the path of faith, the fight of faith.

  • The step of faith.(V4)
    • Abram took a step of faith.
      • Credit is given where credit is due. He left everything that he was accustom to. He went out on faith. He was being led by God to a place unknown to him.
    • He did two things. He pitched his tent, he built an altar.
      • Canaan was home to the descendants of the cursed son of Ham. These were a nasty barbaric people. By Abram’s actions he was showing them he planned on staying and he planned on worshipping.
    • Often folks start off well, but like a shooting star burn brightly one minute and fizzle out the next.
      • Abram had great intentions on living well for the Lord, but once in the land he was hit with a double blow. He discovered the land was inhabited by the foe, the Canaanite was there and there was a famine.
    • Many a new believer has found disappointment at the start of their new journey.
      • Things might have started good. Peace, friends, able to see blessing that has been around.
      • Then somebody lets you down, (somebody close). Persecution arises, you see Christians have faults, begin to realize the old nature is still very much alive and wanting control.
    • When Abram came to this land, because he was doing what God had told him to do, probably didn’t expect to encounter such obstacles.
      • In the gospel of Mark we have an account of the disciples in a mess. (Mr 4:37) And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. But just a little before that we have the 35th verse .(Mr 4:35) ¶ And the same day, when the even was come, he (Jesus)saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.
      • Jesus was the one who put them there. He knew what was ahead but yet went on why?
      • Just like Abram, they were learning that where the child of God finds their blessing is where they also find their battles.
    • But Abram looked for a different solution. Escape.
      • Something of utmost importance here. We never see God telling him to leave. Fact of the matter we see God telling him “I give this land to you.”
      • Far too often, we find ourselves doing the same thing. Instead of seeing God’s blessing, we feel this can’t be right because it’s hard so we leave.
    • Forsaking the path of faith, for whatever reason, always brings its own complications. A whole series of events now followed Abram. Each one stemmed from his lack of trust in God.
  • Shift in faith.
    • There is no knowing how low a saint will sink when he is out of touch with God.
      • Sin makes the brave, cowards, makes the smart, stupid, and makes the cautious, carless.
    • (In V.11-13) we see one of the most treacherous, cowardly acts, seen in the pages of the bible.
      • It is performed by one whom you would not think is capable of plunging so low. But because of his reluctance to trust God he is on a downward path.
      • Sad thing about our choices they affect everyone we come in contact with.
    • Abram asked his wife to lie. Put her in danger of committing sin against God, put her in danger of defiling herself, because he was concerned with his own welfare.
      • So much for being a hero.
    • What we see is instead of Abram following God and His plan, he relied on what he learned as a pagan idol worshipper. Do it yourself.
      • So Abrams choice first had a negative impact on his wife but it doesn’t stop there.
    • The very thing that Abram was trying to avoid burst upon him like a storm.
      • Remember now; Abram was escaping what he thought was a mistake and he was making it better, he was fixing it. The good life was in Egypt that has to be where God wants me.
    • Pharaoh took Sarai and prepared her to be in his Harem. God took Pharaoh and prepared him to teach Abram a lesson.
      • God plagued the house of Pharaoh. It doesn’t say how but Pharaoh put two and two together and it equaled Abram.
        • So Abram choice affected his wife and Pharaoh and all Pharaoh’s house.
  • A smear on faith.
    • (v2-3) God had intended Abram to be a blessing to others, but because he rejected God’s way and substituted his own way, everything he touched seemed to turn bitter.
      • Abram in his holier than thou attitude was found to be the one the Egyptians needed to worry about not the other way around.
      • Pharaoh was more honorable then Abram.
    • It started with not trusting God. Then blind direction, then lying, belittling others, till the shame fell back on him.
      • You could almost hear the Pharaoh, “if that’s a believer I hope I never meet another one.”
    • Many a believer has left a bitter taste in the mouth of this lost world, all because we fail to trust God.
  • It was a hard and painful lesson but God brought Abram back to the beginning back to the path that was laid out.
    • A lot of folks keep going in circles. God has a big beautiful plan for you but we keep trusting ourselves to fix it. Make it right.
      • (Pr 21:16) ¶ The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.
      • Today quit wandering. Come back, or come home.            

God Wants My Time

By: Stephanie Sanchez

Please hear my heart even if the words don’t make much sense and possibly come across as a bit abrasive. 

Some of you know my story. Most of you think you know it and have me figured out. Some of you know just bits and pieces along with what the gossips tell you. All of you only know what I want you to know along with a tid bit or two that leaked during a moment of vulnerability. Well, I am feeling a bit vulnerable and a bit fed up. So, let me share what’s on my heart. Maybe then you will understand.

I tell the story of “becoming a Christian” with a bit of humor and a lot of sarcasm. At 4 years old I was fully aware of what I was asking for when I muttered a few words while kneeling next to my bed with my eyes closed… a few extra minutes not having to go to bed. It was a stall tactic and I got what I wanted that night.

It wasn’t until several years later, in my early 20s, when God finally got a hold of my heart. I always joke saying I came back kicking and screaming. Well, that’s not entirely true, at least not how you probably pictured it in your mind as you shook your head and walked away. Oh, I was kicking and screaming and crying and pitching a fit. Not at God, but at myself. My world was literally falling apart. I knew the thoughts I had had in my teen years along with the things I did. And yes, there was a significant amount of shame associated with pretty much all of it. 

Well, at the point where I finally turned to God I was married with a toddler and baby. My marriage was on the verge of divorce. I couldn’t afford to work (childcare costs and lack of training/schooling). It was one emotional roller coaster after another. And (in my mind) nobody understood me. I was falling apart from the inside out and seemed like the devil himself was digging my grave while laughing hysterically. 

It was at the moment when I was at my absolute lowest with all my shortcomings and failings flashing like neon signs before my eyes that I truly felt God lift me out of that pit. I knew from that moment on that I was His and whatever He wanted from me I would gladly give. You know what he asked of me? Time. He wanted my time. How it would be used, He would show me later. But, He asked me to give Him my time.

Photo by Jordan Benton on Pexels.com

I grew up in church. It’s a fact that I come from a very, very long line of Bible believing Christians. I did an ancestry search/study several years ago and found out this actually dates back to the 1600’s. (This won’t save you, by the way. Ask me about that later and I will gladly explain.) So, to say that I knew what was expected of me is a pretty obvious statement. I knew everything I was supposed to “do.” Well then, why was God only asking for only my time?

It took several weeks to find the congregation God wanted me to be apart of. All the while my Mom is a crying, blubbering, excited mess. The power of a fervently praying parent is nothing to shake a stick at. 

When I did discover where God wanted me, it was almost immediately that I found where God wanted to use my time, EVERYWHERE. So, that’s what I did. If there was a need I filled it, usually subbing in the nursery or Sunday School when they were short handed. 

It was a rare Sunday when everyone showed up ready to serve and I could rest. But, I never grieved anyone over it. It was a joy to serve and give God my time, just like he asked. I didn’t know it at the time, but this would become a model for later in life. I thoroughly enjoy working in the school system as a substitute teacher. Even on the rough days.

Sure there are ages and stages that I prefer over others, but if it is asked of me I go. That is really all God has asked of His children. You see, time is key. Time in His word. Time praying and talking with Him. Time serving His church. Time loving the lost. The thing is, none of His work can be completed if His children don’t give their time. 

Your time is precious to God. Do you trust Him enough to let go of your time and allow God to use your time in the best way possible? Even if it means giving your time to tasks you don’t like or enjoy? 

Are you willing to give God your time?

The Family Unit

(Gen.1:26-28),

(Gen.2:18,21-24)

(Gen. 4)

We have seen the first created human beings becoming parents and raisng young’uns. A little while in this thing called life we see one becoming a murder. One being murdered. One turning to God.

We live in a society today that has little regard for the honor and sanctity of marriage as God designed it. In an effort to undermine the sacred values in which this great nation was founded on; Satan has made an all-out attack on the family. It is evidenced in the number of divorces among Christian families, the number of those who feel cohabitation is alright under certain circumstances. It is evidenced in the way God’s people have failed to esteem the lofty position of marriage and family due to compromise.

So the question is this. Is marriage is still viable in modern society? The answer is yes. Marriage is still the best Idea because it is God’s Idea. He created it, designed it, established it and define it parameters. God established marriage as a permanent relationship, the union of two separate people – a man and woman -Into “one flesh”. God established it as the first and most foundational and fundamental building block of society. The Bible contains God’s principles and plan for achieving quality and health in family life. If we want to experience marriage the way it was designed to be, first of all we need a vital relationship with God and also we must take very seriously the Bible as it relates to the family.

I would like for us to take a fresh look at God’s design for the family, to reestablish a Godly standard and perspective to this divine institution we are allowed to be a part of. I would like for those of us who have faltered in keeping with the Holy-Standards of God design for family to be road blocks, steering others away from the traps we have succumbed to.

  • Where did the idea of family originate? In the very heart of God.
    • In the Garden, God Himself instituted and ordained marriage at the very beginning of human history.
      • The world has no authority over marriage or what it consist of.
      • God did not create marriage to be an Alice and Eve or an Adam and Steve event. He created woman for man and man for women, and I for one am glad of it.
    • The homosexual agenda has invaded our homes through what is promoted as entertainment, our schools though fear of law suits, even our minds through the new toleration movement.
      • The world has deemed it an alternative lifestyle, whereas the bible has declared it as any other sin; rebellion against a Holy Creator.
    • Since the plan didn’t sweep across the world the way they had hoped for, there are many who still stand for the truth and teach it to their children and grandchildren, they had to devise another component to their plot.
      •  Gender neutral. 
    • The humanistic heterosexual movement of cohabitation has done just as much if not more damage.
      • Because it is not viewed in the same light as a homosexual couple it is more acceptable to many.
      •  Marriage is not a piece of paper or a ceremony. It is the creation submitting and surrendering to the ordain plan from the creator God.
      • Sadly, time and time again it has been proven that couples who live together have a higher rate of divorce, yet still they feel it wont happen to them.
    • The feminist movement (Gen 3:16) (that came out of women being tired of being treated like second class citizens) has had a devastating impact on the family. 
      • Like any movement that separates itself from God’s truth it goes to far one way or another. A quick look around will reveal there are far less men today and way more substitutes.
    • According to Scripture marriage is ordained by God as an intimate and permanent partnership between a man and a woman in which the two become one in the whole of life.
      •  Marriage is the sacred and lifelong union of a man and a woman giving themselves to each other in love and trust. 
      • Anything other is derived from vain, depraved imagination.
    • Next to salvation, Marriage is the most important affair in one’s life.
      • We can conclude from this account in Genesis that marriage is God’s idea, designed and instituted by the Creator.
    • Why did God create marriage?
    • (Ge 2:18) And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. 
    • In these verses we also discover that at the heart of God’s design for marriage is companionship and intimacy.
      • To enjoy one another’s company. Doing things together.
    • So many start out separate.
      • Prenuptial agreements, bank accounts, lands…
        • I understand sometimes one can’t handle money and you need to set up some safe guards. Lands often are tied with other family, but if you can’t trust the gal or guy with what you have; children, money, things, you’re an idiot if you marry them.
      • This is the idea behind what God said( Ge 2:24) Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
        • It takes work, it takes sacrifice, it takes dying to self.
        • Satisfying marriage is all giving and no taking.
      • Marriage is a gift from our heavenly Father given so that husband and wife may enrich and encourage each other in every area of their life together
    • Marriage is for procreation, to continue the human race. But also God designed sexual expression to help married couples build intimacy and permanent bond.
      • Not just to raise children, but Godly children. God spoke specifically how we are to teach, train and be examples for our children.
        • Seems like a trend I see in many parents life is once their son or daughter say a prayer, get baptized their concerns begin to alter.
        • It becomes more important for them to have friends, be popular, have etiquette, be kool,  than to be disciplined spiritually, understand God is calling us to be Holy, which brings true lasting happiness
      • Here is a sobering statement. Why do our kids act like…
        • Their modeling what they see before them.
    • Another startling thing becoming very evident, parents are not parenting.
      • Because of this worlds pressure and demand placed on the family in most household, both parents work.
      • Young’uns are placed in day cares or others houses.
      • Then when time is given them instead of coaching, training, teaching, they just tell their kids to do a task and rarely check to see how or even if it gets done.
      • Parenting takes time and investment rather you work or not.
    • Marriage is the firmest foundation for building a family and then society and Nation.
      • Marriage mirrors God’s covenant relationship with His people.
        • God desires that we develop and nurture a personal, interactive relationship with Him.
    • Marriage Is A Platform To Practice The Same Qualities Or Characteristics Of Christ.
      • Remember, Marriage is the sacred and lifelong union of a man and a woman giving themselves to each other in love and trust.
      • Marriage is the full expression and design of God’s image in human beings. 
      • Marriage is created out of divine order, is based on a covenant relationship, reflects our relationship with God and truly has a greater impact in our lives than many have assumed.
      • It signifies the mystery of the union between Christ and the Church.
  • The Main Purpose Of Marriage Is That Through Your Marriage You Become Transformed To The Image Of Jesus Christ.

I know there are many who have suffered divorce, broken relationships all this messed up world has to offer. We know according to God’s word He hates divorce. You know what He hates all sin and has made a remedy for it. Through the blood of Jesus you can find forgiveness and cleansing. You’re not second rate, not threw away. 

The Fruit of Sin

(Genesis 4:1-7)

As we examined the creation of man last week we noticed we were God’s crowning achievement. From clay in His hands, to thorns in His side, right to the apple of His eye.

  • Grace inacted
    • The ending of the story was the best part. 
      • God moved in to rescue the wretched hopeless creatures who had fallen so low. He did so in grace.
      •  Salvation is always by grace.
    • Adam like the rest of us tried to cover up his shame. 
      • He and his wife made a covering of fig leaves but soon discovered that his own self-effort would not do in the presence of God.
    • God who had been providing everything they needed, provided them with a covering.
      •  Right there in the garden; a place that had known nothing but tranquility and security blood was shed for the first time.
    • They must have stood there horrified as they saw the animal slaughtered. 
      • Here is this thing called death.
      • Its life removed its covering taken and made theirs. It was the first dramatic illustration of the ultimate cost of Calvary. Sin is a radical disease and calls for a radical cure.
  • To save this fallen pair God acted in grace but He also acted by governing. 
    • In the garden there still remained the tree of life. 
      • To the rebellious nature it sounds as if God was worried for His own protection.
      •  In truth, the reason God forced the couple out and placed the Cherubim there to protect the gate was once again, our protection. 
    • If they had of eaten of that tree they would have lived forever in their sins. 
      • They would have become like the fallen angels, incapable of death forever locked in their guilt, their shame and the penalty of sin. 
      • It would have been impossible to re-right the broken relationship. 
      • Impossible to find repentance, but God in his infinite mercy and abundant grace protected us from ourselves.
    • One of the effects sin has had on creation is the distortion of the mind.
      •  Without the power of the Holy-Spirit we see up as down, left as right, Holy as hellish, righteous as rebellious. 
      • The first offspring of Adam and Eve reveal that caricature. 

In chapter (4:1-7) We see the root of sin producing the fruit of sin.

  • A man
    • Eve thinks she has delivered the Christ. God had already promised a seed that would bruise the serpents head. It shows that they had not yet learned the depth of sins pit.
      •  It takes you farther than you want to go, keeps you longer then you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay.
    • It is apparent these two boys were brought up knowing of God and sin and the whole garden scene.
      •  The bible says in (Heb 11:4) By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
      • (Ro 10:17) So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
    • In verse 3 “ Cain brought” is the idea of an appointed place. It would indicate they had been instructed.
      • As we look at this account lets us remember they are without excuse. Though it is not wrote down for us to see it is apparent that over time they had been introduced to what God expected.
  • A man-centered scheme. The bible says: (Pr 16:2) All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.
    • God made the first sacrifice to cover man’s shame. 
      • We can figure since God spoke to Noah (Chp.9) and then told Moses to write (Le 17:11) For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
      •  It was the standard.
    • Cain ignored all that. 
      • He brought what he wanted to bring. To worship how he thought was best.
      • So began the philosophy that salvation had to be earned, that it had to be merited, purchased at the cost of one’s own effort.
      • Cain brought to God fruit which he labored over, toiled.
    • The notion that good works merit salvation is at the heart of every false religion on earth and in the heart of every cult of Christendom.
    • Though Cain’s offering was impressive and beautiful in its outward form,
      • It was founded on error and on willful disobedience to God’s truth.  
      • It is bluntly called by God “the way of Cain: and marked down as apostasy.(Jude11)
  • A man-centered sacrifice:
    • Don’t miss this. 
      • Cain’s offering was undoubtedly costly. It may have been more costly than Able’s.
      •  It was the result of toil, effort, hard work, persistence, and careful thought.
    • You could imagine, the most beautiful flowers, the sweetest aroma filled the air.
      •  The biggest, brightest, ripest fruit the earth had to offer. 
      • It was the best of the best. It was for God.
    • Cain did not come by faith, trusting and taking God at His word. 
      • He came on his own.
    • He was willing to worship.
      • But on his own terms. 
    • His plan made since to him. 
      • Couldn’t see why it would not be good enough.
    • The bible does not record any thought on Cain’s part that what he was doing was an offence to God.
      •  Not that he didn’t know but he justified it in his mind.
    • Just as the animal in the garden was a foreshadowing of the atonement of Christ that would cover our transgression.
      •  Every sacrifice was pointing to the sacrificial Lamb of God.
    •  Cain’s offering was the beginning of the world’s attempt to please God.
      • Doing it our way. Our time. 
      •  The giving of everything except self.
  • A man-centered satisfaction:
    • Cain could stand back and survey his offering with pride.
      • You can almost hear him. ‘There! That should please Him. That cost me a great deal, it’s beautiful. I have done my best, even God couldn’t expect more than that.
    • It was all wrapped up in what he thought God should want. 
      • Sound familiar? A lot like today
    • It was purely man-centered not God centered.( Pr 16:25 )There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
      • The difference between Cain and Able, between the religious and the real. Is not in the person themselves but in the object they trust.
    •  The one follows their heart. Their feelings. 
      • Derived from a mind stained by sin.
    • The other follows God’s word.
      • Accepts what and how God provides for them.
  • A mercy-centered plea.
    • Even after Cain chose to come his way God continued to pursue a relationship with him.
      • The bible says: (2Pe 3:9) The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance 
    • God invited Cain to come the right way.(V7)
      • (Ge 4:7) If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
    • How many perish.
      • Not because God is not seeking reconciliation and offering The Way, but they refuse and instead hold to their way 
    • How many are paralyzed by sins strike and infect all those around them, not because God is not calling them back. 
      • But they refuse to repent God’s way. Instead, like Cain bring what they think God should want.

God’s inviting you today.

Why am I?

A few weeks ago we started the “Not a Fan” book by Kyle Idleman for our Life Group class on Sunday nights. Usually we have a Life Group at 5 pm and then an evening service at 6 pm. Well as usual, during the winter and every few years, church attendance drops on Sunday nights. So we decided to try something different this time around and combined the two services. Also my father-n-law, a.k.a. the pastor, had surgery recently. You see how this worked right?
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The book is good. It hits on some hard questions. Questions we as complacent North American Christians don’t want to think about and probably haven’t even considered until digging into this book. The main question or theme is, “Are you a fan or a follower of Jesus Christ?” Throughout, the book helps you understand the difference and to determine where you are in your walk. I’ll admit I have my fan moments and days, then conviction sets in and I remember and am reminded why I’m a follower. Those truths that have rooted me in my faith of who Jesus is to me are what makes me a follower. They are unique to each person, because each person is different. There stories are unique unto themselves.

I love at the end of each chapter there are personal stories titled “not a fan”. They are from people who are followers of Christ, telling why they became that way and still are. Last night we finished up Chapter 4 and our class leader, who also loves these stories, ended with a question, “Why are you a follower? If you were asked to write one of these, what would it say, just a thought.”

So, why am I a follower?

The minute he asked that my immediate answer, in my mind of course, was “Because He has never left me!” As loud as the day is long. He has never left me! The little girl inside me, 6 years old, freckle faced and brown hair stood up and yelled at the top of her lungs, “He has never left me, everyone leaves me, they all leave, even if they said they loved me and would never leave, it doesn’t matter they did anyway. They walked out the door and left, they died, they ran away, they didn’t want me, they didn’t care and they left! He has never left me! He doesn’t care if I say the wrong thing or break something or if I cry too much. He doesn’t care if I don’t love him the most all the time. He doesn’t care if I don’t put him first all the time, He doesn’t even care if I scream and yell at Him because the people who left me have broken my heart, He has still never left me!” Yeah that little girl right there is why I am a follower.

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So many people throughout my life have left. When I say left, I feel like I need to clarify. I mean walked out of my life, in some form or fashion, whether it was physical, mental or emotional (yes you can be in the same room with a child and still that child can feel alone), having nothing to do with me as a child and then later on as a teen. My life as an adult, I have made some decisions, too, of my own to leave people I love due to their life choices and the negative effects it had on me and my immediate family.  Even those closest to my heart, dearest to my heart, had their own personal selfish desires and would not or could not put me first, and in the end they left me.

My Papa passed away 6 years ago, he could not stay with me, he to had to leave. Yes I will see him again, but it still hurts and that pain of being left is strong with this one. Even now in our church, since I have been a member for a good 10 years, I find it hard to become attached to new members. I feel horrible sometimes because I don’t want to come off as cold, and I do pray that God heals my heart. People these days, who claim to be Christians and followers of Christ have no problem doing what I call “church hopping”. Which is going from one church to another because they don’t agree or they got their feelings hurt or they didn’t like the music, what was preached cause it felt like it was directed at them. Yeah that is a heart problem not a church problem. This means you have a problem loving other people and you really don’t understand the Word of God. I can’t get close to these people, they will leave. Sorry, soap box rant over now. Back on subject

Jesus has never left me. He has never left that little girl. Even though there are times when He is not first in my life, and times when, yes I totally forget about Him because I am so caught up in the world, yet He is still with me. Those moments of shear agony when my heart renders a cry of pain that no words can describe and no one is around to hear, He hears me. He holds me and He comforts me. He always has. So when I look back on my life and even forward because it will happen when my children leave for college and get married, though that will be a happier time of leaving, He will still be with me. More loved ones will pass away and friends will leave for their on personal reasons and selfish desires because, well other peoples’ worlds don’t revolve around me, (I do understand that, I am not that selfish) He will still be with me, even in death and new life. That is the best part, right there. I hope you caught that.

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(Something I will miss! Legos, Yes Legos! This is Baby Dinosaur who was found during a shake down before entering daycare one morning! He was confiscated from Jedi Skywalker’s pockets and jailed in Mommy’s purse until bail could be posted after school.)

I can’t express to you how much it means to that little freckle faced, brown haired girl, with tear filled eyes, staring at a door, out a window or sitting on her bed alone and knowing that He has never left her and He never will!

My name is Holly Walker, and I am not a fan.

I encourage you to grab a copy of this book. It will make you think about things you might not have considered before. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and I hope you have a great day. May His Son shine on you and yours!

Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand

Isaiah 41:10photography of woman surrounded by sunflowers

Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

Ordinary Days

This past week our close nit community of North Florida was rocked to its core by the senseless death of two young men. Out to lunch while on duty, just a regular day on the job. For most people a regular day on the job is never life threatening. When they go anywhere, most people don’t worry about where they sit in the restaurant or how many people are there or think about the exits. For those who wear a uniform though a regular day on the job is always life threatening. The minute they made the decision in life to put on that uniform and accept that badge is the minute the definition of a regular day changed.

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Following the news and Sheriff Bobby Schultz unparalleled press released, everyone’s heart across this area was broken. On Friday most of us wore blue to honor the fallen and show love and support for the loved ones left behind. Most of us have probably sat around trying to figure out what on Earth went wrong and how could this happen in Little Ol’ Trenton?

Governor Matt Bevin has a video going around and I watched it recently. There is actually more than one. Of course he is being questioned about gun control. He corrects the other people in the discussion though and explains to them that it has nothing to do with guns. People have had guns since guns were invented. Twenty years ago people had guns in their vehicles at school and on them at school. It was no big deal. The problem is that the value of life no longer exist. We as a society do not value life. He went on to name some examples such as abortion, school shootings just because someone got turned down for prom, gang violence, video game violence along with music that has violent lyrics. 100 years ago people would have chopped off their arms to save a child’s life or to heal a loved one, they would have given anything to have the resources we have today. Our society as a whole has taken for granted the life, health, healing, vitality, freedom and in general all the wonderful things the last century has brought us.

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I’ve been watching Dr. Quinn recently along with some of the older western stuff, just something to listen to while folding clothes. Those small towns use to have to send off to big cities for a U. S. Marshall or a Judge anytime they had criminal problems. Or they had to advertise for a sheriff and hope someone with integrity and courage stepped up that wouldn’t turn into the town drunk or a tyrant. This is another thing we take for granted. In a matter of minutes I can have a deputy sheriff at my door steps if I need one. I don’t have to wait six months for one. So why has our society gone from begging for law enforcement, to killing them out right for no reason, just because.

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The next afternoon Jesse Clay was scrolling through his Facebook. He’s always showing me recipes or funny memes. So half the time when we are on the couch, or settling down for the night, I can’t look at my phone cause I’m looking at his. So while he is scrolling along, he pasted Taylor Lindsey’s girlfriend’s post. She had written a post for the most part I think just grieving and remembering, wanting to share some of who he was. I couldn’t read it, I got past the second or third line and turned away. I found something else to do. I could not sit there and read a letter/post I pray I will never have to write.

No he doesn’t where green, but he does wear a uniform. He does wear a badge. Bad guys with guns see a badge and a thin blue line. They see someone between them and their goal. I may be half a sleep when he leaves at 5:15 in the morning but I pray every time he walks out that door. I know that he may never come back. Anyone one who has a loved one, whether husband, wife, son, daughter, sister, brother, you know what I am talking about. You get a call that a riot is going down, or that an inmate has escape, or a chopper has been called or the ambulance is on the way to the prison or the Sheriff’s department, your heart drops out of your chest so fast you can’t breath. You feel like Dumbo’s mom just dropped kicked you into the next dimension. The asthma attack you are having isn’t over until you can talk to them. Then you can breath again. For a little while anyway.

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For all those out there who want to, as Sheriff Schultz puts it “demonize” law enforcement, take a good look around. Just because they are wearing normal clothes doesn’t mean anything. The minute they are in a crowd, they are what I call “switched on”. This means that they are very aware of their surroundings and everything going on. They don’t rest or relax. They have people to protect. The families of these willing to serve pay a high price as well. You try finding a vacation spot with not a lot of people, that still has a lot of fun stuff to do.

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There are those who have taken advantage of the badge, dragging it through the mud. There are 1,000 times more honorable men and women out there laying it down just so you can sleep a little better at night. Remember they are human, they have bad days, they have families that don’t always cooperate and sometimes wash red sweaters with their uniforms or put salt in the tea instead of sugar. This could potential make for a bad attitude for the day. That being said, take it into consideration the next time you see some one in a badge, they may not be serving their country the same way as those in our military, but they are serving us, right here at home, day in, day out, over worked, under paid, dealing with the loonies nobody else is willing to.

When all is said and done, after putting up with everything they do during the day, the nasty, the druggy, dirty, awfulness of it all, they come home to us. If we are lucky they make it home before supper time, if we aren’t lucky and they had to work overtime then at least they made it home.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of our fallen! My heart breaks for the sorrow you are feeling. The words I have can never heal your hearts. May you find the peace that surpasses all understanding, and may God’s Grace abound in your life!

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What’s it about!?

I’ve always found it hard to talk about Jesus with my family, or anything to do with my faith really. I suppose it’s not that I’m embarrassed about Jesus himself but that I don’t want to say the wrong thing to my family that would make them not like Jesus. Like that’s possible.

I can’t think for a second that I’m the first person to ever have these fears. In fact, in Mark 6:4 we find Jesus dealing with this exact thing, his family and their preconceived ideas of him. He had gone home to preach the message. These people, knowing who he was and where he had come from, heard the message but didn’t believe. They knew this kid, how could he know any of this stuff or have any authority to teach this.

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Similar to Jesus’ home town, we too, get blind to the truth before us. We know our bible, we know what it says, we go to church and all the functions involved with it. Our ears become dull after a time, and we become complacent, not really living the word just going through the motions. So when the Word is spoken new to us, in a different light, we don’t always accept it. I’m not saying that we just up and take everyone at their word who is preaching Jesus, always read your Bible and know what is says. I’m saying that we are created for relationships, with Jesus and the family he has given us. Not just the one we were born into but the church family we are received into as Born Again Christians. We are to gather with our families and worship.

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We have church every Sunday and Wednesday. We have classes and different subjects that we study, just for the purpose of understanding God’s word and really getting to know him better. I think though, sometimes we get lost in the trivial matters and the particulars, we forget that we aren’t meant to understand everything God does. Jesus’ hometown missed the message, the truth, the way, the light, all because they already knew who he was. The whole Bible is about Jesus, from cover to cover! Every study we do should lead us back to HIM! It’s ok to have a discussion on a matter of words and meanings of a particular passage, but in the end, people knowing the love of Jesus and his saving grace, his mercy, that’s what matters.

I’ve heard recently that some are tired and burnt out and weary. What if Jesus would have been too tired and burnt out to preach to 5000 and then feed them, or to weary to carry a cross to Calvary, what if he just didn’t have the patience to deal with other people. You know he didn’t at times, he would often go and pray by himself in quiet, seeking his father for renewing of his spirit. My main photo for this post is of a beautiful woman who touched many lives with her kindness, love and her occasional abrupt approach to matters. Similar to Jesus she didn’t beat around the bush she got right to the point. She also did it with love. She managed more than once to put me in my place while letting me know I was loved. Knowing that, I got a lot to learn. She never quit though, she was always going. If there was something going on to tell people about Jesus, this lady was first in line to sign up to help. What if she had gotten burnt our before Jesus called her home? How many of us would have missed out on, or not be as far along in our relationship with Jesus, if it wasn’t for her courage and faith to keep going?

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It’s not easy dealing with a world that’s not our home or the people in it honestly. So when you get to the lowest of low just call home. The problem with that, don’t wait till you’re that far down, that you can’t even get to your knees.

I started off talking about sharing Jesus with family because it’s something that I struggle with. There are some things Jesus tells us to do in the Bible where our friends and family are concerned that are not always the easiest. My point in all this, if you think no one has ever dealt with what you are dealing with and there isn’t anyone who can help you, you are dead wrong. You are short changing yourself, selling yourself short and not allowing God’s people to work in your life.

We as humans, as Christians are made for relationships, the key to all that is making and developing the right ones. Starting with Jesus!

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