June 22, 2017

Amen

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You have given us a new name
The sons and daughters of Your righteousness

And You have taken all of our shame
And given us the gift of holiness

Lord we’re crying out for faith
To believe the words You say

You say we are loved
You say we belong to You
Your Grace is enough
Nothing more that we can do
You say we’ve been bought
By Your blood, by Your blood
And all that we can say
Is Amen
Amen

You have given us a new hope
An anchor for the soul that shall not fail

Jesus we believe Your truth shines
Yes in the darkest night You shall prevail

Lord we’re crying out for faith
To believe the words You say

Amen, Your word is true
Amen, we trust in You

Steven Curtis Chapman
written along with Rend Collective
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A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy.
I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.
John 10:10

Jesus…the one Name that takes away all fear and shame.  He is the Hope that we hold on to and the Anchor that keeps us grounded.

The enemy comes at us in so many ways, especially this time of year when our focus gets a little off. We should be thinking of how awesome it is that Jesus came as a small baby to save us from sin. Instead we get so frustrated and overwhelmed because we have so much to buy and it always feels like it is never enough.

What if we had kept Christmas about Him—would we be a bit happier, more joyful?  What if we gave instead of received?  What if we praised Him for His provision instead of petitioning for more? What if we just rested in Him this season and soaked in the love that He has for us.  And reminded ourselves that HE is always for us. {Can I get an Amen?}

So today, I pray that hope prevails in your life…and that Jesus fills you with peace and love…and that you spread it to all that will listen.  And, if you do not have a relationship with Him…and IF you want to know this Jesus, He is here for you!  Just pray this prayer today…

Jesus, come into my heart.  I know that I am a sinner and I need forgiveness.  I believe You died for me.  I want to live with You as Lord of my Life!  In Jesus’ name, amen.

He Still Fulfills

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In those days Mary set out and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah where she entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped inside her,  and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  Then she exclaimed with a loud cry:

“You are the most blessed of women, and your child will be blessed!

How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me!  She who has believed is blessed because what was spoken to her by the Lord will be fulfilled!”

Luke 1:39-45

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I remember the months before each one of my children were born…and the excitement and fear all wrapped into one emotion.  And what made it even better?  If a few friends were pregnant at the same time, too.  There is something about sharing those times.  And Mary was no different.

Yes, she was carrying the Savior of the world but she was also just a girl, a simple one at that, excited about sharing this time with her cousin who was also with child.  The children would be cousins and friends.  I imagine their conversations went late into the night.  Talks of swollen feet and aching backs.  Maybe of how ready they were to meet each baby.  Yes, they were ready!

“How could this happen to me, the mother of my Lord should come to me?”  Elizabeth got to touch the belly where Jesus was.  And today, He lives inside of us.  We are the blessed ones.  We are the ones full of joy.  So what will we do with it—this excitement?  Who will we share the good news with?  There is a hurting world that has lost some of it’s hope.  And we know that Jesus is the answer  to it all.

Yes, He  came as a small little baby but grew into a man who would lead a group of disciples. They would love Him so much that they would leave it all behind, just to follow Him wherever He would go. He would give sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf.  He would love the least of these, feeling more at home with them. He loved all people so much that He would ultimately die for each one. Even you!  He is coming again here to earth to take us to Heaven to live there forever. I get chills just thinking about it.

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But there are some who are still lost and hurting this Christmas season.  If this is you, and you don’t know Jesus, I urge you to pray this prayer with me.

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner and I need a Savior. I am so tired of doing this on my own. I believe that Jesus is Your Son and that He died to take away all sin, including mine. I will get to live with You forever. Please forgive me for my sins. I trust You now with my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

A New Christmas

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Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from His roots will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
And He will delight in the fear of the LORD,
And He will not judge by what His eyes see,
Nor make a decision by what His ears hear;
But with righteousness He will judge the poor,
And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth;
And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.
Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins,
And faithfulness the belt about His waist.

Isaiah 11:1-5

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I sit and look at twinkling lights and smelling an apple cinnamon candle burning.  It is a bit cold here too which makes it feel more like the Christmas season.  My eyes wander over to the clay nativity—the true meaning of this whole holiday—and I am teary.  I cannot believe that God the Father loves me this much, that He sent this baby into the world to walk as a man and ultimately to take my place in death, so I could live.  He did the same for you, too!

When you read this, what comes to your mind? Do you even realize the depth of His love for you?  Because of the birth of Jesus, every sin that you have committed, or ever will commit has been forgiven.

There is nothing that you could ever do
that would make Him love you any more or any less.

Read the Scripture above again and see how Jesus is described. “The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon Him” and “He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear” sounds like perfect grace to me.  And we don’t deserve any of it.  Does this give you hope today?

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I know that there are some today who don’t know much about Jesus. Perhaps Christmas has never been anything more than presents and gathering with family…wreaths on the windows and a lighted tree.  But God wants so much more for you. He wants a Christmas that is filled with Him and the story of the birth of His Son.  Jesus changes everything!  If you receive Him today then your life will never be the same!  Will you accept Him today?  Will this be a Christmas to remember?  If you said yes, then pray this simple prayer with me:

Dear Father, I know that I am a sinner and I need Jesus to be my Savior.  Forgive me of my sins and help me to start over.  I want to be fully alive.  Thank You for loving me enough to not leave me this way.  I believe that You, Jesus, died to save me from myself.   Walk with me daily.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

{If you prayed this today, please comment and let us know!
We want to celebrate with you!}

When You Give Thanks For Everything

encouragementbloggraphicromans15And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He said,
‘Take this, and divide it among yourselves.
For I tell you that from now on I will not drink
of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.’
And He took bread, and when He had given thanks,
He broke it and gave it to them, saying,
‘This is my Body, which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.’
And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying,
‘This cup that is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood.’
Luke 22:17–20 [also Matthew 26:27 and Mark 14:23]

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And so following Jesus’s pattern, Paul in Acts 27:35 “…took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it…”  ‘Tis the season….What would your answer be?  Yes, this is the beginning of the holiday season.  A time of joy and excitement.  Families gather together at the same table, all over the country and feast on turkey and dressing and sweet potatoes and so much more.  We will eat until we can’t eat anymore…and then some.  The television will be set to football (and probably more than one game at a time will be watched). But I wonder, will we remember the ‘why’ of all of this?

Will we remember that if Jesus had not come to this earth, to walk as a man and perform miracle after miracle, healing the sick and restoring sight to the blind, that we wouldn’t have the kind of life that we have now?  I imagine that joy and peace wouldn’t be present either…but I don’t even want to imagine it, do you?

In the verse above, Jesus gave thanks, before He gave them the bread and wine, at the Last Supper.  Shouldn’t we do the same?  Even if your life is broken, like the bread, giving thanks can change it all.  It might not change the actual circumstance, but it will open up your heart to joy and gratitude.

  • If you don’t get that promotion or that dream job, you can still give thanks…God has something totally for you and better than you could ever imagine.
  • If you don’t marry that man (or woman) that you just know is for you, thank God!  He has someone for you that is so amazing and you may not even know him (or her) yet.
  • If you are at the end of your rope and nothing in your life looks like you imagined or hoped for. In fact, it is not even close to what all your friends around you have…I pray that you give thanks.

Your life is so important to God and He wants so much for you…giving thanks opens doors that you never knew would open.  You are trusting your Father to do what He does best’—and thanking Him is trusting Him.  I heard this saying this week:

Worry and worship cannot exist together
…I choose worship!  What about you?

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Do you know Jesus? If you haven’t asked Him to be your Lord and Savior, then I urge you to pray this prayer with me:

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner.  I need forgiveness.  I believe that You sent Your Son Jesus, to die on the Cross, to save me from my sins.  I ask that You come into my life and live and be my Lord.  Thank You for forgiving me. Help me to keep walking with You and trusting You. Help me to live a life close to You.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Take This Cup

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They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”  He took Peter, James and John along with Him, and He began to be deeply distressed and troubled.  “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” He said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”  Going a little farther, He fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from Him.  “Abba, Father,” He said, “everything is possible for You. Take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.”  Then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” He said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour?  Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Once more He went away and prayed the same thing.  When He came back, He again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.  They did not know what to say to Him.  Returning the third time, He said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough!  The hour has come….

Mark 14:32-42

All He asked them to do was to stay awake and pray with Him.  Jesus, on the night before He was to die, went to the garden to pray.  Actually to speak to His Father…and maybe get a different solution to this saving thing.  Who could blame Him, really.  But as we all know, God did not change His mind.

In this prayer of Jesus’, we see Him totally surrendering Himself to the complete sovereignty of God even though His heart is longing for something different.  Jesus totally trusts in the One Who holds it all in His loving hands. And, ultimately, God’s plan was carried out and it was perfect.  Are you struggling with the same thing—asking God to take this cup from you but, if not, then surrendering to His will?

I know it is hard to look at ourselves and examine our own hearts.  There may be something that God is asking you to do and, with all your heart, you don’t want to.   You find yourself begging Him, pleading with Him, to take this cup from you.  But, if He doesn’t, are you okay  with His answer?  I can tell you from experience that you should be.  Because He loves His children so much that He only wants the very best for us.  Yes, there are sometimes painful things we must do…but when we surrender to Him, and do what He asks, we will be blessed.

But what if you never see the benefit?  You may not on this side of Heaven; but I do know that one day it will all be revealed in His time.  Just pray, seek His face, and trust—that no matter what it is on earth that He is asking—He will not harm you, but will bless you forever.

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Do you know this Jesus that I am telling you about?  If not, I pray that today you will get to know Him and ask Him into your life so that you will be made new!  I ask that You pray this prayer with me…

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner.  I am so tired of doing things my way and hurting.  Today, I surrender.  I believe that Jesus is Your Son and He died on the Cross to save me from sin.  I ask that Jesus come into my heart to live and walk with me through this life.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Come To The Water

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjvCome to the water all who are thirsty
Come and drink
Come to the table all who are hungry
Come and feast

Those who are weary, those who are needy
Come receive
Come to the river,come to the river
Taste and see

Oh, oh my soul thirst for you
You alone

I will taste and see that you are good
Good to me

 HouseFires
Tony Brown, Pat Barrett, Nate Moore, Dave Dalton

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This song played over and over in my thoughts this week because I was extremely thirsty.  Sometimes as women, we pour into so many and do so much for others, that we forget that we, too, need refreshment from Jesus. Isaiah 55:1 says; “Come, everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters; and you without money, come, buy, and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost!”  He’s calling us all!

In the story of Mary and Martha, as we know, one is busy running around doing and the other is sitting at Jesus’ feet, just soaking it all in. At the end of the gathering, who is the one that is most filled?  I don’t mean physical food and water, my friend, I mean spiritual, long lasting and filling.  This is what He desires for us.  This world can really deplete and literally take all that we have.   The only way to survive, no..rather, thrive is with Jesus.

Are you wondering how?  His Word is living water.  It is so full of substance that will fill and will last.  This is how we can sit at Jesus’ feet today—by turning off the TV, muting the cell phone, taking a break from social media, and just listening to Him.  Some of us are really active in our churches.  We may even lead full-time ministries and that is awesome!  But if we, as leaders, are not in tune with Him, we will have nothing worth anything to give.

Listen closely to the words of this song…close your eyes and meditate on them.  Pray and ask God to show you the areas in your life that need watering.  Ask Him to reveal the dry areas that can only be quenched by the Spirit of God.  Then sit at His feet and soak Him in.  And, if you don’t know Him or if you have moved away from Him, I ask that you pray this prayer with me:

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Dear God, I know I am a sinner.  I need forgiveness that only You can give.  I am tired of doing the same things over and over.  I believe that Jesus is Your Son and that He is the Savior of the world.  He died for me!  I ask that Jesus come into my heart to live.  Help me to grow to know You and to let You change me. Thank You for this new life.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

A New Name

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Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit
and understand what He is saying to the churches.
‘To everyone who is victorious,
I will give some of the manna

that has been hidden away in Heaven.
And I will give to each one a white stone,
and on the stone will be engraved a new name
that no one understands except the one who receives it.’
Revelation 2:17 NLT

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What kind of names do you call yourself?  When I was in trouble as a child, I was called by all my names, my FULL name.  I remember one time begging my mom to change my name to some name I read in a book. Eventually she convinced me that my name was carefully chosen when I was born and that it was given with love. When I looked up the meaning of “Kimberly”, it said something about a forest, or wood clearing…so I went to my middle name which is “Ann.”  It means grace.  Oh, do I need some!

But often times, we call ourselves lots of other names that really aren’t chosen for us at all, especially by our heavenly Father.  We may call ourselves ‘ugly’ or ‘stupid.’  Or maybe someone else called you something early on in your life, and it stuck and you can’t seem to get it out of your head.  If this is you today then I encourage you to write those names down on paper and one by one throw them away in the trash replacing them with the names that your Father has given you.  For example,

He has called you His beloved
He has called you a treasure
He has called you royalty
(But most importantly) He has called you loved, and He has called you His

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.”
Isaiah 43:1

At the end of this time here on earth, the Lord will give each of us a new name which will be written on a white stone.  The Bible tells us it will be a name that only Jesus knows.

That name will represent what Christ was to you, and only you, here on this earth.  What is He to you?  For me…

  • He is my Stronghold in times of trouble.
  • He is my Provider in times of need.
  • He is my Deliverer when I am in over my head
  • He is my patient, long-suffering Lord that loves me with all that He is.

{And the list really goes on and on depending on my circumstances.}

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If you don’t know all that He is to you then I challenge you to get to know His character.  Read His Word and get to know His heart for you.  At the end of each day, write down all that He was to you that day. As you journal, go back and see all the ways He saves you and loves you.  And if you don’t know Him at all…and you really want to…I ask that you pray this simple prayer with me and cross the line from death to life.  Pray this…

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner.  I need a Savior.  I believe that Jesus is Your Son and that He died on the Cross to save me from my sins.  I want You to come into my life today and be my Lord.  Walk with me through this life.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Keep Your Eyes On Me

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Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowd. After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray.  Later that night, He was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.  Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.  When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified.  “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.  But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”  “Lord, if it’s You,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to You on the water.”  “Come,” He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and beginning to sink cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” He said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.  Then those who were in the boat worshipped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”

Matthew 14:22-33 NIV

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How many times have you heard this story?  (If you’ve grown up in church, I know you’ve probably seen a felt board or two with this story demonstrated.)  These stories never get old though.

In this story, Jesus had just finished performing miracles and He sent His disciples on ahead of Him in a boat.  As they continued on, there came a storm and winds.  Then Jesus started to walk out there to them…yes…He walked on water.  In fact, the disciples thought He was a ghost!  The thing to remember is—Jesus knew that there was a storm coming but He sent them on anyway.  Maybe it was that He wanted to prove to them that He was stronger than any storm.

Jesus really is bigger than what you are going through.  And He knew, too, exactly where you would be today.  Are you going to trust Him?  What if He asks you to walk on water…like He asked Peter?  Would you stay afloat with your eyes on Him or would you sink in your circumstances?  Oh, friend, Jesus wants so much for you to trust Him, and to look to Him, and know that He is able to calm any storm or still those crashing waves around you.  Take that first step of faith today and walk out onto the water and meet your Savior!  Then, like Peter, you will say “Truly You are the Son of God!”

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Do you know Him?  He knows you and He wants you to know Him.  I hope you will pray this with me today…

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner and I need a Savior.  I believe that Jesus is Your Son and that He died on the Cross for my sins.  So I ask You to come into my heart and be Lord of my life.  Help me to walk closer to You.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

A Beautiful Jar of Clay

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We now have this light shining in our hearts,
but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars
containing this great treasure.
This makes it clear that our great power
is from God, not from ourselves.
We are pressed on every side by troubles,
but we are not crushed.
We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.
We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God.
We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.
Through suffering, our bodies continue
to share in the death of Jesus
so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
2 Corinthians 4:7-11 NLT

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There is so much brokenness in this world.  Look at the headlines every day…Christians are being tortured daily; children are being taken from their mothers; there is hunger and poverty…and the list goes on.  I’m sure if you went anywhere today, you passed a wife that cries every night because her husband is leaving or a father who is working so hard yet not being able to provide.  I know hard…and I know the One Who mends the hearts of all these people.  It is Jesus.

I went through a really trying time when my kids were younger.  It was a time that sometimes I wish I didn’t have to remember.  The memories sometimes are too much and I find myself wanting to erase them all.  But as messy as I see it, God sees it as a ministry that will give others hope and faith.  If I made it through and found joy and peace and restoration on the other side, then so can you.

Read the verses above; a jar that has cracks and holes can allow light to enter in those places.  And, as His children, we are never crushed!  We will always be able to withstand because we have Him to hold us together.  If your story is not the one you would have written for yourself, then thank Him for it anyway.  Our God is good and all He gives is good.  Your story may save someone else one day.  And God says if one person meets Jesus because of your story, then it was all worth it.  It may mean the difference between life and death for that person.

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Now, more than ever, we need Him.  And reading and studying His Word will help you know Him more and know His true character.  I just want you to know that all hope is found in Jesus!  Do you know Him?  Are you tired of running and hurting?  He wants to save you!  I ask you to pray this prayer with me:

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner and I need a Savior.  I believe that Jesus is Your Son and that He died for my sins—all of them.  I want You to be Lord of my life.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

He Is My Rock

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Since You are my Rock and my Fortress,
for the sake of Your Name, lead and guide me.
Psalm 31:3

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The verse today comes from one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Psalms.  Might I suggest that you read verses 1-8?  Here we see David asking God for deliverance from his enemies.  He is trudging along right now and life is really not going very good for him.  {Can you relate?}  See, back in the days of David, people were only aware of the hardships and trials that were going on right around them.  But today, we get to see worldwide disasters day-by-day on TV right in our kitchens!  We see so much violence and poverty and hatred that the good out there, well, it never makes the news.

So what does it do to us when we hear crisis after crisis?  Does it harden our hearts?  If so, don’t you think it is a defense—a wall that we have built around our hearts because of fear?  We build wall upon wall to keep from feeling the hurt.  But those same walls that keep things from coming in…they also keep love from coming out.  What if those walls become like a prison?  This is not what God wants for us.  He wants us to know that He is so able to help in our time of need.

We spend a whole lot of time, though, trying to avoid every kind of pain.  Including prayers begging God to deliver us or a friend or a family member from hardship that will cause them (or ourselves) hurt.  Isn’t that what God wants us to do—to ask? The answer is yes.  But the idea is not to live a life without any hurt and pain but rather to have God with us always…in the midst of it all…and to see His glory in all that happens around us.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.
Each time He said, “My grace is all you need.
My power works best in weakness.”
So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ can work through me.
That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults,
hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NLT

If God can bring glory to Himself without allowing us any pain, He really will!  But when He can’t, be ready for a little pain.  And know this: it will be worth it !!!

Yet what we suffer now is nothing
compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.
Romans 8:18 NLT

God sent Jesus to come so that we might have life and have it abundantly.  But living behind a wall of fear isn’t the life that God intended for us.  The walls that we have built to keep pain away must be replaced with God.  He is to be our Fortress and He alone can protect us from evil.  He is the Rock that we must build our home on and not on the shifting sand of this world.

And we must not become so hard that we forget to love and are not able to feel anything for others anymore.  God wants us to love and to love so much!  And when there is hurt and pain then we are to have compassion, and to call on His name.  He will come near—He promises.  Oh, I pray that we will not let this world change us; but that we will let God break down barriers to get to us.  May we remember that we will bend, but we will not break because we are His….

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Where are you today…are you living behind walls that need to come down?  Jesus can do this for you.  If you don’t have Him as your Savior, I hope today you will pray this simple prayer with me and cross the line to life!

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner.  I am so tired of hurting. I need forgiveness.  I believe that Jesus is Your Son and He died for me on the Cross with my sins on Him.  He is the Savior and I want Him to be Lord of my life.  Come into my heart today. In Jesus’ name, amen.