Purposeful Faith

Tag - future

5 Ways The Devil is Scheming To Nab You

Devil

Hey, little child of God, I have something to tell you, so listen up.

Happiness is over there. Do you see it? Go ahead, suck in what it could be. Feel it. Relish in it. Why not? Don’t you deserve it – for all you have suffered? Aren’t you tired of being stuck?

I mean, look at you! You idiot!

You marginal fool, why aren’t you doing anything,
something,
to change everything?

You are stuck in a church that is not ideal.
You are stuck in a house you don’t want to be in.
You are stuck with a family who doesn’t get you.
You are stuck with a job that is horrible.
You are stuck with friends that don’t really care.
You are stuck in a life that constrains.
You are stuck with kids who are unruly and disobedient.
You are stuck with a spouse who irritates.
You are stuck with a body that is ugly.
You are stuck with health issues that you can’t beat.
You are stuck with pressures and problems.
You are stuck being overweight.

Look at you, your life is horrible. I think, I really think, you should have so much more.

Psst…did you know? It doesn’t have to stay this way…you can do things about it. Now listen up before your whole life is ruined, before all the marbles are dumped on your head and before you find yourself in a burnt heap of ashes, here is my charge for you:

1. Take control. What God hasn’t stepped in to do, you can do. Those he hasn’t changed, force them to change. Drive your power in.

2. Seek happy at all costs. If something doesn’t make you happy, flee from it to find frolicking fun elsewhere. You only live once, you don’t want to sit around missing out. Fulfill your desires and feel good.

3. Remind yourself of all you don’t have. 

“You dumb idiot. While everyone else is getting ahead, you are falling backwards. Do something about it. It’s not like you are that good of a Christian anyway; you always mess up. You failure. Give up.”

Speak like this to yourself and you will be bound to get somewhere.

4. If you can’t get what you want, find another way to make yourself feel good.

Drugs, sex, alcohol, shopping, porn, controlling, demoralizing, taunting, instigating, stealing, worry, abusing – it doesn’t really matter – just fill your deep need to numb the real belief you are unloved, uncared for and shipwrecked. The moment of controlled power will feel intoxicating.

5. Put yourself first. You are the only one who can fulfill your deep needs. You have to fight hard to get what you want. Defend yourself, arm yourself, distance yourself and put up an armored stronghold around your body. You are a walking fortress; keep it that way or you will be ruined. Shoot, if necessary.

Other quick tips:

– Keep your eyes on what you see before you; make a snap judgement and abide by feelings.
– Don’t let the word “patience” fool; God really isn’t working for you.
– Don’t serve anything, or anyone, that doesn’t lead to success.
– There’s no one who can come through – like you can.
– You’ll miss out if you don’t grab the world’s cup tightly – and suck it up.
– Put yourself first, no one else will take care of you.
– Get super wise and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
– Mock those who are poor in spirit, “Weaklings!”
– Doubt “hope” and stick with “despair” and you’ll fill up with indulgences of the world, for sure.
– Embrace shades of grey and blurred lines between good and evil – you can rationalize things that way.

devil

With this, applause to you! Cheers for you! Great glory to your work! Great progress to your name! Great power to your charge! Great impact to your step! You will do it; you will find pleasure in all you ever wanted, in the enticements and in the lure of your eye.

You know you want it.
So, step in, grab it and bite –
it is the best apple you will ever eat,
even it it makes your blood run cold,
even if 10 minutes after you feel nauseated,
even if the shame adds thirty layers of chains to your hide,
even if you trap yourself into a box you can’t seem to claw your chained way out of,
at least you will have joy for a moment, ecstasy for a minute and rule for an hour.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. Jo. 10:10

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Just “Lose It” In Front of God

In Front of God

What does your face to the outside world show? Mine is a wide smile, almost busting at the seams with the joy of the Lord that’s ready to flood the floor before you with a floral arrangement of happy, loved and adored.

And, many times I do feel that way.

Yet, other times are
sad times,
dejected times,
anxious times,
frustrated times and
I-don’t-know times.

How about you? What does your inside face look like? What does it really say about you?

Stopping to really think, can mean the difference between
making a lie out of your faith and starting to walk by real faith.

Let me explain.

Our life mantra is usually: Keep the exterior shiny. The paint pretty. The hedges cut. The grass trimmed. The leaves blown. The exterior of the house beautiful.

The ultimate goal is: Make sure you really believe when you drive up to your house, people aren’t falling off their rocker.

Yet, God sees past our outsides, doesn’t he? Even when we try to so carefully hide what is wildly out of control within our own house.

“People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Sam. 16:7

He sees right in, through the windows, past the locked doors, beyond the fresh coat of smiley paint. He sees the unorganized, chaotic, apprehensive and unsure cabinets of our heart.

And, he still loves. He still wants us. He doesn’t care, laugh and stare. But, he says, “Come, child, draw your heart closer to the center of my love, the hearth of all life change.”

Here, he proves stuff, valuable stuff, needed-to-hear stuff:

He proves he is not a love me, love me not type of God
willing to drop us off in timbucktoo when we don’t know what to do.

He proves he loves the downtrodden and simply draws near to them. He loves truth and every time – no matter how others perceive us – he calls us to it.

He proves that people who share pain, are actually more liked by others. Which is even proven by studies that say, we like those who are like us – not perfect.

Then, as we get real with our own circumstances, pain, fears, dejection – we see what we hold is not some oddity of yuck, but what is common to nearly all men. We see that our pain can be used for other’s gain. We see that our fears are the calling card to let others in to speak reality over our lives.

We hear God almost assuring our status by his very Word over us.

It sounds something like this: “The details of your body, your make-up, your home are not hidden from me. Don’t you know I made you in a secret places? I saw your eyes before you were born, your mind before you knew it and the details of your day before you breathed. (Ps. 139:15-16). I have so much love for you, because I am rich in mercies. Even when you die all the time to your own failings, still, my grace saves you again and then again. Consider it a gift to the one I dearly love (Eph. 2:4-9). Keep your arms open to this gift, so you can unwrap all its beauty. Time and time again it proves the one that I have destined you to be like, my own son, Jesus (Ro. 8:29). You are becoming. It is a valuable process. Don’t detest it, but remember that I have prepared good works in advance for you to walk in (Eph. 2:10). I care about your journey. Don’t let your insides discredit my heart for you. I love you the way I made you – always and forever. No feeling can ever change that.”

Knowing these things, changes so many things.

If God fully loves us, does it matter if man – does or doesn’t?

God’s love sets us free to the snare of man’s opinion in a way where we can actually love man.

Instead of walking into church being Mr. or Ms. Gregarious, after suffering the worst argument ever – we tell the truth.

Instead of informing others to walk with the “joy of the Lord,” after we are walking in the depressions of parenthood, we can instead reach out for help.

Instead of answering with, “I am fabulous,” when health issues are about to plunge a loved one into pain, we can be open in a way where we hear the response, “I understand, that is happening to me too.”

When God knows our inners, he makes us into faith-reliant winners. Not perfectly happy ones, not halo-covered ones, not sparkly and glittery ones, but ones, like Jesus, ones acquainted with suffering. The real deal.

Then, suddenly, we see it isn’t so much about pretty houses, manicured yards, images of glowing Christianity, but it is all about the fire of God inside and the smell of bacon that permeates the mess of chaotic.  And, we look around to say, “God is good – all the time. No matter how, I feel, he IS. And that is enough.”

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Winning Your Battles: 2 Strategies

Winning Your Battles

What precedes victory?
What sets up a strategy that wins?
What helps solidify an unsure direction?

You probably haven’t heard this explained this way before. Or, maybe you have and have written its power off because it seems too simple, too ordinary and too commonplace. But, activating our hearts in these small two steps, often activates our hearts in new hope.

Let’s look at King Jehoshaphat, named “Yahweh has judged.”
Sound like a scary name?
It would to me. I would probably hide from myself with a name like that.

But, you see, Yahweh had judged him in a good way.

And He not only judged, but also in many cases he also blessed – because Jehoshaphat removed idols, cleaned up the land, purified hearts in truth and focused hearts on the one true God. Sure, he made a mistake or two, but his heart was right.

Mistakes come and mistakes go, but a heart sold out for God, is one God blesses.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Mt. 5:6

Yet, despite his goodness, Jehoshaphat had enemy Moabite armies stacked up to his neck.

Notice, God doesn’t remove hardships from good people –
often, he confronts us with them to release us from them.

Jehoshaphat certainly wasn’t spared – and he wasn’t so scared he couldn’t move.
He pushed harder against the force that wanted to push him down.
Did he realize he would grow stronger in faith by being faithful?

Like Jehoshaphat, our help isn’t found in our artillery,
but it’s found in humility before our God.

Pushing into God pushes us into his plan.

Suddenly we see – God’s deliverance is always had –
it is just a matter of when.

When we push into God, we get all we need to proceed.

So, what did “Yahweh has judged” do to push in when the forces of the Moabites stood against?

2 Things:

1. He prayed: Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. 2 Chron. 20:3-4

Notice that although he felt “alarmed,” he still “resolved.”

Do you “resolve to inquire of the Lord” when alarm bells sound?
Offering the resolve of your heart, your mind, your soul and your strength, will resolve them to God’s will. 

2. He worshipped & trusted: You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you…‘If calamity comes upon us…we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’
2 Chron. 20:6, 9

Seeing God in his true place sets his true ways into place – in us.

Looking up helps the things around, not bring us down.

Remembering Jesus’ victory locks our heart into His victory too.

What might true and faithful worship, in the face of battle, do for you? In the face of finances? In the face of arguments? In the face of poor health? In the face of fear? In the face of wayward children?

Let’s see what it did for Jehoshaphat…

Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel…as he stood in the assembly.  He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chron. 20:14-15

The Spirit showed up. God gave instructions on how to win and he also gave his presence that said, “I will be with you.”

When we seek God, we find him. 
When we find his face, he faces us with real truth.
When we know where our help comes from, our help often comes.

What I love even more is how Jehoshaphat literally headed foot-by-foot into war.

“Give thanks to the Lord,
    for his love endures forever.”

As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.  2 Chron. 20:21-22

What if our battlegrounds became praying and praising grounds?

​What would go do in us, through us and for us?

This sounds like unstoppable, not easily defeated, winning faith.

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The Joy Found Four Steps Back

Joy Found

I started running around a little.
Seeing other people.
Jumping in with them only to realize I shouldn’t be doing it.

Well, it is actually not as bad as it sounds, but it is actually still really bad. You see, I got online and started looking at all the people doing more than me. I started looking at how God is using them, gifting them and providing for them.

I saw their glow – and my mediocrity.
Their gifts – and my struggles.
Their smiles – and my sadness.

Like an album of poised perfection, as they radiated –  all my faults were punctuated.  Facebook seemed to exclaim, “Your really not that special.”

I hate it when it does that, don’t you? It can be an obnoxious friend. It’s shiny albums so often lead to dirty shame.

They have that? I wanted that too.
They went there? Why not me God?
They accomplished that? I will never.

Tsunamis in motion cannot be stopped; the hand of a human man doesn’t have the strength to hold them back. The thoughts roll in and they seem to take us down.

The stuff I have? It’s cruddy.
My clothes? They’re ugly.
My summer trips? They are small fry.
My status. It’s average.

How do I stop feeling this way God?

I don’t want to live like a pauper amidst your riches.

I don’t want to live thinking you won’t pull through,
when you already have.

I don’t want to live coveting,
when your life-injection power is found in praying.

How do I flip the switch of my hungry soul
to access the power of your nourishing being?

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully-grown brings forth death. James 1:14-15

God’s truth: By the time we have gotten to sin,
we have arrived too late.

The holiness party is long gone;
it was found 4 steps back.

Here is how it works:

1. We have a desire. I want more happiness and more riches and more recognition.

2. It tempts us. Kelly, don’t you deserve more happiness, more riches and more recognition?

3. It lures us.  Look at them. See what they have. See what you don’t.

4. It gives birth to sin.  Covet! Envy! Judge! Be prideful!

5. It leads to death.  Take what should be yours, at any cost. Put to death the temple within.

We beat sin not at the point of sin (#4), but at the point of disbelief (#1).

What is the impetus to your disbelief?
What little whispers coerce dissatisfaction in your life?

For me, it’s the whisper that I deserve to be happy, like really happy, slideshow-picture-perfect happy, glow-in-the-eye happy, arms-wrapped-around-each-other-so-tight-your-shoulders-get-smooshed happy.

MapQuest better send me there! A straight shot and no accidents please! That would throw off my happy meter.

It’s the whisper that small beginnings don’t count.
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” Zech. 4:10

Even the disciples started as fisherman so they could understand the words, “Be fishers of men.”
David started by first being faithful to sheep.
The tiny amount of loaves and fish were only the beginning of God’s miracle.
God rejoices in the motion of faith-reliant beginnings.

It’s the whisper (and quite an embarrassing one) that I need you to love me. I kind of want that – for you to see all of me and say “Oh, wow, that girl, that gal, Kelly, she has it. I want to be her friend. I want to know her.”

Jesus died open handed and he calls us to
open the hands of our desires, our longings and our hopes to him.

The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing. Prov. 10:28

Then I see what is really in my hands – nothing.
And who entirely fills them – Him.

I can:

Deal with sin and be delivered from pain.
Run to him like a prodigal child runs to a long-lost daddy.
Be shocked by radiant truth that liberates needy hearts.
Suck in his gift of always-love that never runs out as I open my heart.

When we find God, we find what our heart was always searching for.

I want that. Do you?

It is called joy – feeling-ruling, comparison-busting, overpowering joy.

It sees Him, who hands out his best.
Eye on the prize, it knows who is active and adorned.
It envisions the heavenly banquet table of camaraderie waiting.
It sits in a place of hardship with a smile of gratitude.
It often grows from pain (earthly crosses and nails water it).

It’s unlike any album on Facebook.

It is unlike any heart that seeks a new and shiny
bridegroom or idol online.

It is unlike anything we could scavenge up on earth.

It’s joy in the all-consuming presence of the one who consumes our deepest longings. It’s atypical, absolute and anesthetizing.

It’s fruit that keeps on satiating and replenishing our soul’s ravage hunger. It keeps us going.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 
​because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Ja. 1:2–3

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Slammed With A Shot of Pain

A Shot of Pain

Mommy, I am going to play doctor. This came as no surprise to me as we had just returned from the doctor’s office, but what came next totally hit me.

“Sit.” Mikey said in a high pitched doctor voice, “Here little honey, here’s a sticker for you, sweet thing. Choose out which one you like. I hope you like it. Now, I am going to stick you with this shot.”

Mikey slams the shot straight down into my leg.

Ouch! He hit the nail on the head (or the shot on the target) with this one. This is exactly what that doctor did, and sometimes, how I feel my God treats me too.

He seems to woo me with words of “I am with you. I won’t leave you. I will help you. You are my daughter, my precious, the one I want to give good things to,” only to stick me a minute later with pain.

He speaks, “Kelly, my darling, I love you so much. I am here for you.” only to slam me with a trial.

Sometimes it just hurts.

Do you really love me God? If so, why do you have to hurt me like that?

Surely, I know this verse: “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.” Job 1:21 

I know it, but do I have to like it?

The second part often plagues me as too hard to do…

“May the name of the LORD be praised.” Job 1:21

How do you praise when you can’t lift your sore arms above your head?

When they are much more comfortable on your hips, where they can ponder his methods rather than his truth?

But, as our eyes stare off in the distance figuring out how we ended up where we are, we see the long road – the road to heaven – and the road of Calvary, that Jesus endured.

He never said it was going to be easy. But, he said – for it – one day, we would be exceedingly blessed.

When we focus our eyes on his truth over our shots of pain, we start to remember verses like:

These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (Jo. 16:33)

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; Romans 5:3

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 

But the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you. 1 Peter 5:10

Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love him. James 1:12 

What we see is that the pain, but what God sees the abundant produce he is growing.

Sure, we feel agony in the moment,
but when our little bud pushes through the tough ground,
we finally see what God was always working on –
 fruit – ample fruit.

Fruit that endures past this sliver of life called earth.

Fruit that makes it all worth it, that teaches us something far greater than the lessons learned on the easy road.

Do you see it starting to pop up?

Peace, a sight of eternity, patience, a knowledge God is working for us, a shift to perfection, establishment, strength and a settled heart.

As our fruit multiplies on earth, so it does in heaven as God sets his banqueting table that awaits us after we have run our race with perseverance.

Our trials are not for naught, they are for gain.

While it sometimes seems God delivers a shot of venom to knocks us off our feet, he is always in the process of shooting us with love, hope, a future and peace. That is his business and that is his game – always and forever.

Even more, his shots protect us from a world that wants to drag our heart away from spiritual health and reliance on God.

God has a plan. He always has and he always will.

Your pain and brokenness is just the beginning of God’s beautiful restructuring.

With God, our trials inject new hope. They reset our focus to eternity. They are the antibody to complacency.

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Expecting a Dream

Expecting a Dream

What happens when your mind is dead set on expecting a dream?

You visualize the smiling and congratulatory faces as it comes true.
You hear the cheers of acclaim wildly reverberating in your heart.
You can only imagine how things would change, “If…”

You see it – your heart could finally lay down and rejoice, find relaxation and peace, if only…

This is how it works for me.

My dreams seem to hold the power to be the
Creator and Originator of my present anxious feelings. 

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Mt. 7:7

Surely, God loves to hear my prayers,
I think he just doesn’t want to have to lay his eyes on my idols.

So often, I have grabbed on to the future’s potential like a kid trying to grab hold of a cloud. I have tried to hug what was never mine to begin with. I have tried to own what was miles away, as if by continuing to see it and reach it and demand it and cry about it and keep my eyes set on it and daydream about it and talk about it- it will never have the chance to fade away.

But, sometimes it does.

It just vaporates. It just disappears.

And then I am left devastated, demolished and simply agitated
at God for abandoning me.

Does the God of peace intend this turbulence of our hearts?

I realize that in the times I expected big bucks, big cheers and big sensational feelings – I missed my big God. I missed the quiet moment of expecting his comfort, his leading and his power as he tried to guide my heart down a different path. I missed the powerful show of his presence in small ache of my heart as I cried out for “more”- because my eyes were set on “my dream.”

How often do we say, “I’m not looking at you God. I want this!”?

Why does it feel that what we claim, should be ours? Front Seat, I called it!

As if when we do enough “knee-time” God sees exactly how dream-worthy we are. Can’t he see I am doing the “hard time?”

I think God made me a dreamer. Not for my glory, but for his. Not for my wild imaginings, but for his outpourings.

My ways lead to foolery. (Prov. 12:15)
My ways seem right and end in death (Prov. 14:12)
I may chart my course, but the Lord owns my footsteps. (Prov. 16:9)

If God owns the way I head, how can I war against him?

Ask not – what are my dreams, ask what are his dreams – for me?

His will will be done, no matter how much I hold “my will” hostage, saying “you’re not going anywhere.” And, even if my will is permitted, in the end my heart will suffer the damage.

God loves us. He loves our dreams. He loves our passion. Even more, he loves our heart.

May the internal knitting of our dreams always be stitched up tight into the fabric of his love, his grace and his power. May the patches of our hope link together solely through the power of his Spirit in us. May our ears be inclined to listen and our eyes be inclined to see – his paths, his heart to love and his example of death when he desired life.

The paths of humility.

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Ja. 4:6

Where do you want us to go God? Not our will, but your will (truly, honestly, hopefully) be done. We know, by our own power we will fall straight down and bruise our knee. We can’t get out of ourself, but with you – and your example of Jesus – we can get back up again and walk towards your purposes by your Spirit that removes the old us, from the new us. Amen.

the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Ps. 147:11

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Linking up with 5 Minute Friday and Susan B. Mead.

Dealing With A Scary Future

Scary Future

Just a short while ago, my husband and I were traveling in Texas. We didn’t know the area so well, so when our GPS service broke, we shifted into high-anxiety mode.  We were driving roads that we didn’t know. We had no idea where we were headed, but we most assuredly figured it was all the wrong way.

Have you ever been there? Lost?

In a place of not knowing?

What your future holds?
How God will do it?
Where he will send you?
How he will take you?

The unknown is scary.

It threatens today’s joys with tomorrow’s pain.
It whispers words of fear over faith.
It steals the joy of the moment and replaces it with the stress of questions.

For my family, it wasn’t so much that we thought our life was in danger, but it was that we felt aimless, we felt misdirected and we felt lost.

Underneath the surface worries and anxieties, we felt out of control. We lost our power to handle things, to know, to handle and to plan.

What future seems lost and unknown to you?

A decision?
A living location?
A marriage?
A relationship?
Finances?
Life issues?

God knows.

But, in his all-knowing, all-loving and all-powerful way, he decided we shouldn’t.

He hasn’t left us though.
He goes with us.

And, perhaps, what we thought was lost is really found as we turn to God in the midst of uncharted territory.

Because here we get an opportunity to “try on” the glasses of faith. And as we do, our vision sharpens.

Instead of seeing all we can’t grasp, we start seeing the one who grasps everything with perfection – God.
As we see our lack of control, into vision comes the one who controls all our life’s controls.
As we see the maker, we see how he can make all things in our lives work for good.

“I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.” – Amazing Grace 

It’s in the “not knowing” that brings us to our knees in prayer, to lift our hands in honor, to surrender our heart with abandon. Then, we start seeing truth. We start to realize that even when we had sight, we were always lost – without Him.

There is power in admitting you are fully lost without Jesus.

Because then, rather than living lost in the abyss of an unknown future, we can start living lost in the awe of a deeply known Savior.

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

Imagine:

Through the black darkness of the valley Jesus walks with you saying, “Do not fear.” 

Even though evil seems to lurk around every corner, God rests his hand on your shoulder, saying, “I am the world’s holder.”

As passing shadows, shoot from right to left, Jesus speaks, “These things, too, shall pass, but my love endures forever.”

As death comes in the night, God offers you his rod and his staff.  You know you will find your way, not because you can see, but because you are being led by his always-vision, that sees you through any situation.

The God of comfort is leading, guiding and holding you now – and forevermore.

My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. Ps 119.50

We may feel lost, without GPS, but one thing remains true – Jesus will see us through. And, we don’t have to see, in order to believe that God is for us, with us and will never abandon us. No matter what dark roads lurk, we remain secure in Him – yesterday, today and tomorrow.

For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor. 5:7

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