Nourishment

A friend sent me an email about the 8 Days of God Speaking event from godspeaking.com and asked if I wanted to do it. I didn’t sign up when she sent it but I remembered today, the first day of it, and signed up. Which resulted in an email I got around dinner time with the first passages. It is designed to be broken up into a morning reading and an evening reading but since I signed up late I listened to the whole 60 minute reading of Genesis 1-15. The timing was perfect. I decided I would listen as I started to make dinner for SG and I, since Boone was working late. We had a gathering at our house yesterday and have lots of leftover hamburgers so that was the plan for dinner (along with cheese dip and leftover cupcakes…). As I’m listening to the reading of God’s Word, I heard seven words that took me to my knees in repentance.  The seven words are “The serpent deceived me and I ate”  Genesis 3:13. Tears filled my eyes and those seven words kept playing over and over in my head.

Earlier this morning, after feeling the affects of my health, and weight, and tiredness I prayed for God to take this burden. I cannot do this in my own strength but the power of Christ lives in me and I knew God could give me the perspective I need and the willingness to obey and the discipline to do it. None of these things I can achieve on my own. I have tried and strived but this morning I needed to give this 100% over to God. He has been bringing me to this place for a while, I make a good effort and then something trips me up. A few days missed of exercise turns into a few weeks. One splurge meal turns into a sugar addiction gone wild. This morning I prayed those words that Paul understood as well about our sin nature. Our flesh. “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” Romans‬ ‭7:15‬ ‭NASB‬‬. And more importantly Christ understood this and warned his disciples and gave them these words of great wisdom “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”Matthew‬ ‭26:41‬ ‭NASB‬‬. The key in this verse to me is the praying. There is so much that happens in consistent, humble, fervent prayer. Praise, thankfulness, answers, and fellowship with God is what happens. I have not been putting on the full armor of God and it is affecting me in this area of my food idol.

So all that to say, when I heard the words “the serpent deceived me and I ate”, it just reached my core and was an answer to my prayer.  Satan, the enemy, wants to deceive me and my flesh wants to listen. The enemy wants me overweight, he wants me tired, he wants me cranky, he wants me moody, he wants me weighed down, he wants my body run down,  which are all things that eating incorrectly and not exercising makes me feel. After a good couple of years of running consistently, eating well and feeling GREAT, I have come to a place where I am in the worst health I’ve ever been. The enemy wants me to give up and give in and say “I can’t stop, I can’t put it down, I can’t resist, it’s in my house, I am too weak.” God’s truth repels all those lies. Satan wants me to be in the world, he wants me to indulge my eyes, my wallet and my mouth in the things of this world. The sugary indulgences that make me sick, the fatted idol that I carry in my gut, the poison that tastes good for a moment. He wants this so I will doubt, so I will be ineffective, so I will not be energized to use the gifts God has given me. He wants this as a foothold to get to me. What does God want? “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans‬ ‭12:1-2‬ ‭NASB‬‬.

“If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans‬ ‭8:10-11‬ ‭NASB‬‬.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭NASB‬‬.

In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.”1 Timothy‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭NASB.‬‬
I AM a new creature, in Christ. God HAS raised me from my death in sin, to life in His righteousness. I CAN be nourished on His Words and the faith of the truth of the gospel and that IS enough. I was deceived and I ate, but God heard my prayer and prepared my heart to hear His Word. That reminded me that He knew back when Eve first sinned and ate the forbidden fruit that she was going to do it and He already had a plan in place that led to Christ, redemption, and salvation. He knows my struggles and He made a way. He is knocking my idols down one by one. Food is up to bat. He wants me to be free from striving and to believe that what He has for me, what Christ accomplished in His death and resurrection is enough. When I compare that to a donut, it is just insane!! But He knows and there is no condemnation, there is only a hand reaching down to me, there is only love, there is only a way that leads to Him as I put on my armor that I already have and put on the strength that I already have in Him.

I love how God delivered this to me, through an email and an invitation from a friend to listen to 8 days of God’s Word being read. I know she didn’t know about my prayer this morning what it would lead me to on the very first day but God’s Word and the Holy Spirit has no limits, no boundaries, and reaches us exactly when and exactly how we need it. And she does know that. My God is more powerful than Satan, His truth is more powerful than the enemy’s lies. Christ overcame. It has already happened. The Holy Spirit brings that power to overcome in us. Praise God!

Lord Jesus, I pray in Your powerful name that the spirit of striving would be broken off every one of us. We declare we are free of all striving, set free by the blood of Jesus, and made and kept free by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Holy Spirit, we give You permission to overwhelm us with Your presence and remind us anytime we begin to strive that we have nothing to prove or gain as we already have everything in our identity and inheritance in Jesus Christ. Thank You, Abba Father, that we belong to You. That we are in Christ and He is in You. In the name of Jesus, amen! -Dineen Miller. (spirituallyunequalmarriage.com).

A friend prayed this prayer on her blog last week and I read it today for the first time. It was so fitting, because I don’t want this to be about striving. I just want it to be about yielding to what I already have in Christ and who I am because of Him. Nothing to prove or gain. Oh what an amazing Father we have! Thank you God for your goodness and message of mercy and grace and truth you rain down on me as I look into your Word and cry out your name.

-FYI, I had a salad for dinner 🙂

 

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My God

I’ve been studying the Old Testament for a while now. I am making my way through slowly. As I am progressing chronologically, something is happening.  I am learning more and more the point of WHY I am drawn to His Word; because I am getting to know Him. As I am reading and studying a shift is happening. There is less “oh wow, that is similar to my situation”, or “I see how I can apply that to my life” and there is now more of this– “Wow, that is MY God. Praise YOU, what a ______God I serve!” There are so many attributes and characteristics of God we can fill in the blank with. THAT is what I can apply to my life. THAT is what cultivates a trust and a faith which produces joy and peace.  I can see my sin in David’s choices, yes. I can see my sin in the Israelite’s continued idolatry, yes. But I can see Christ’s redemption of my sin and I can see God’s plan of forgiveness of my sin through this study of the Old Testament that points only to a loving and merciful God.

Several sets of verses in 2 Samuel have really struck me this week and sunk into me and shown me who He is. The first one is this-

 “and after that God was moved by prayer for the land.” 2 Samuel‬ ‭21:14‬b

and again in the last verse of 2 Samuel “David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. Thus the LORD was moved by prayer for the land, and the plague was held back from Israel.” 2 Samuel‬ ‭24:25‬.

God is moved by our prayers. Read that slowly. We know this. We know we are called to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  But do we know to the point of urgency? I was overwhelmed by this fact because I read it on the same day that I kept getting messages and emails from people about their loved ones who are lost, unbelievers turning their back to God. It is more than I can bear at times, thinking of those I love who aren’t saved (in my own home, my husband doesn’t believe in God) and then now having a growing list from friends who have family members they want prayer for that are lost. There is a whole world of people we don’t even know who aren’t saved. This should move us to tears. It is more than we can bear, but it is not too much for Christ to bear. This should move us to our knees, on our face, crying out to God for these souls. In all of this though we can be comforted. Even if we don’t understand how it all works and even if we don’t know the answer to our prayers. We can be comforted because we know who we are praying to! We can be comforted because God is moved by prayer for the land. That is my God. I trust.

In Chapter 24 we come to the census and the second set of verses I learned from.  David commands Joab to take a census.

“…Go, number Israel and Judah.” The king said to Joab the commander of the army who was with him, “Go about now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and register the people, that I may know the number of the people.” 2 Samuel‬ ‭24:1-2‬ ‭NASB‬‬.

Once David got his magic number, he was convicted of what he had done. A census isn’t sin, but his motive was. His sin of pride and disbelief. Assurance that his mighty army was there in case he needed them, assurance of the great empire he had amassed, assured that he was secure and had an army to rely on. He was relying on “man” power, not God. Quickly though, you can see David realized his error and repented.

“Now David’s heart troubled him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, please take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.”” 2 Samuel‬ ‭24:10‬ ‭NASB‬‬.

I can learn from this in many ways. What do I “count” in my life to help me feel secure. For some it is money, for some it is knowledge, for others it can be how many friends they have, how well your kids are doing, etc…Or I can see this scenario and praise God that He can quickly bring us to repentance as He did David when we are walking closely with Him. The stronger my relationship is, the greater my humility before the Lord, the quicker and more abundantly I see my sin and can repent from it. That is God’s mercy! Yet, that still isn’t my favorite part of this census lesson. My favorite part is that when given a choice by God, of the consequence David would suffer for His census sin, David chose the one that would come directly from the hand of the Lord, not man.

“Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us now fall into the hand of the LORD for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” 2 Samuel‬ ‭24:14‬ ‭NASB‬‬.

WHY did David choose that?? Because he knew His God. He knew his God was more merciful than man. So I can know that I can go to Him with anything, repent, and I am already forgiven, my sin removed as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).  He lavishes me with mercy, even in my consequences. THAT is my God. I trust.

I’ve heard and listened to teaching about studying God’s Word more comprehensively and less like a “seek and find” book.  It is so true. I know this concept and the more I do it and practice it the more I can get it from my head to my heart. The Old Testament, especially to a new believer, can seem overwhelming, daunting, not applicable, confusing, but oh friends, it doesn’t have to be!! “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭3:16-17‬ ‭NASB‬‬. ALL scripture. Not just red letters, not just New Testament, ALL scripture. If you ask God to open your eyes and your heart to His Word, He will. Believe me He will. The only way I have any desire to commit to reading His Word, understanding it, getting to know Him through it, is because I begged Him to show me. I still have to do that. It is not a chore, it is not a checklist, it doesn’t make your salvation more secure, it shouldn’t produce guilt or pride. It is about getting to know the God who sacrificed everything for you.

Please Lord, help me thirst for You!

He WILL answer you and He will continue to show you and you will see new things everyday. Whether you have been reading the Bible for 40 years or 4 days, He will show you and grow you as you see Him more and more. I am fairly new to studying His Word, and I am so excited for the next day I have, God willing, to do it again. Get in there, just start. Go slowly, not just searching for how it can be applied to you or a specific situation (which there are times it can!) but read it to get to know your God. THAT will change you, THAT can be applied everyday, THAT can assure you when times are hard, THAT can help you persevere. Let Him overwhelm you with the truths of who He is. Let Him draw you in to the amazing relationship He wants with you as you take one more step towards Him. As you get to know your God you will see His love, His plan, His Son, His sacrifice, His redemption, and His glory!

Open It

“On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?””
‭‭Mark‬ ‭4:35-41‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’ve read this passage in the Bible, loved this passage, quoted this passage, memorized part of it, but recently saw it in a whole new light. I love that aspect of the Holy Spirit, that He illuminates His Word which reaches us on a deeper level and sheds light in a new way to our understanding of Christ and our relationship with Him.

At first, the main part of this I zeroed in on was “Peace, Be still!” or another translation “Hush, be still.” Knowing the powerful and mighty attribute of Jesus that allows Him to command the sea was my focus. If He can do that He can do anything! Knowing I need to believe that He can calm anything raging in me or in the world. Knowing that if Christ is in my boat, I will be okay. Yet, I didn’t look past what happened after the sea calmed.

But NOW I have a new favorite part of this verse that has made me get this knowledge from my head to my heart in a much deeper and meaningful way….verse 35 says, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” That seemingly simply statement from Christ jolted my heart in a whole new way when I read it. It is not simply that Jesus can calm a sea, it isn’t simply that we should have faith He can do that, it isn’t simply that we should be comforted and at peace when Jesus is in our boat, it is that when Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior of our lives says He is going to do something, all aspects of our faith should rest in that.

If He says we are going to the other side then we are going.

If anything comes to us in the middle of the sea, that shouldn’t change our faith on the fixed goal of what Christ said He will do. It is another example of why we should be studying and reading God’s Word as a whole and in context, not just pulling out verse 39, ‘Peace, be still!”. There is great power in verse 39 and there is a wonderful picture of who Christ is in verse 39, but for me that knowledge goes deeper when in context of verse 35 at the beginning of this scene and after the storm. Mark 5:1,  “They came to the other side of the sea… ” – They arrived!

Do you see? Do you see why it is important to open the Bible, to study it, to read it, as a whole. Yes there are times that just knowing Christ can calm anything that rages around us is a comfort to me, the Holy Spirit can use that verse for sure in my life. But I rejoice greatly that the Holy Spirit grows my knowledge and understanding by illuminating another layer to this well known miracle. That leads to a stronger view of who Christ is which leads to a growing relationship with Him which leads to a deeper faith which leads to movement in sanctification, ALL by His grace ALL leading to the glory of God on display!

The application of this verse is now much more significant for me as well. Do you live in a spiritually unequal marriage? Do you impatiently tell God that you’ve had enough and want to jump out of the boat and swim to the shore by yourself? Or do you stand firm in the middle of it praising God for Jesus in the boat with you. The shore is coming. Do you struggle with parenting your children? Are you trying to stick your weak, feeble arms out of the boat and paddle your children to the shore yourself? Or can you rest in the fact that the only one who can save them is Christ, not you. The shore is coming. Do you suffer from anxiety and fear because you cannot control the _____ (insert the trial you are going through here)  and that scares you? Do you try to hold an umbrella up over yourself and cower and tremble in the storm? Or do you see your hope is in Christ alone who has asked you to step out into the light and trust Him. The shore is coming. NOTHING will stop what Christ is going to do in our lives. NOTHING can separate you from the glory and eternity that is coming. He simply asks us to trust that.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans‬ ‭8:38-39‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬
This miracle in Mark can hold the weight of these other verses. The shore is coming, we are getting to the other side because Jesus says we are. So we can believe He will complete it, we can believe nothing can separate us, and we can believe the peace of God will guard us.

The more this happens in His Word the more work God is doing in my heart. So I MUST open His Word, we must! Do you see why? Do you see the work He can do when we study the living, breathing Word of God? Do you see how it is active and alive and the Holy Spirit works mighty wonders when we fix our eyes and our minds on these glorious words? The more the Holy Spirit illuminates scripture for me, like what happened in Mark, the more my appetite will grow, the more the Word will conform me, the more I will fall in love with my Savior, again ALL by the grace of God. This book is about God. This book shows us who He is, how much He loves us and the hope we can have in our Savior. This book is the most incredible gift anyone can receive. Open it, tear it wide open with more anticipation than Christmas morning or any other pretty thing wrapped in a bow. Take refuge in Him by opening and studying the gift He has given us.

“Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭30:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Perspective

I have been struggling with SG. Big time. It has been ugly. I have been ugly, she has dug in her heels. I have grown weary, overwhelmed, and have sobbed heavily two nights this past week. Crying to my husband, crying out to God, I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO. Well as I was seeing my sin in this and asking God to change me, to show me how to love her like He does, being honest that I CANNOT love her like Christ without having the strength of Christ in me. All of this led to some amazing answers from God. I was reading Psalms 105 last night and wrote down some things I CAN do when I feel like I don’t know what to do. I CAN…

Give thanks
Call upon Him
Make known His deeds
Sing praises
Speak of His wonders
Seek His face
Remember His wonders and His words

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:16-18‬ ‭

I realized I was getting caught into the trap of speaking about it a lot (to my husband and a friend on the phone, and at a play date) instead of trusting God in the middle of this. I was presenting a defeated attitude. I was wanting concrete examples of exactly what to do in the middle of a tantrum or testing or battle of wills. I realized every child is different, what one parent says may not work for mine and every parent has their own sin issues in the middle of their parenting. So a specific example from another parent may not take into account my sin in the situation. Psalms 73 is a good example of what God says I can do. He has been bringing me back to this word so often this year; PERSPECTIVE.

“If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children. But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.”Psalms‬ ‭73:15-17‬.

This speaks of how the wicked seem to be winning and prospering, until the godly man goes into the temple and remembers the end God has for wicked ways. The flaming arrows of doubt thrown at me, the hopeless feeling the enemy wants me to have, the idea that this will NEVER end, the thought that I will always be losing this battle of parenting are all rooted in the wrong perspective; it seemed to me a wearisome task, UNTIL I went to God, THEN I discerned. I was “speaking thus” more than I was going “into the sanctuary”. I can focus too much on the evil and wicked of the situation which produces worry and fear. He has already overcome evil, it is finished! By renewing my faith, by going into the temple, praying, seeking God and repenting of my sin in the situation, then my perspective is changed and corrected by God’s promises. PERSPECTIVE.

I realized also when I was speaking to her, instructing her, disciplining her, I was preaching back to myself. Every time I would say “it’s not obedience if you don’t do it the first time.” “Your heart is being selfish right now, let’s pray for God to change that.” “My job is to keep you safe and teach you what the best choice is”. Those things were haunting my head and I was feeling the weight of them, as God wants those things for me as well. I was not being obedient in two areas.I kept making excuses and going back to them.

The main one being Facebook. It is so silly but it was causing me to sin. Staying off of Facebook always resulted in an abundance of positive things but then I would get sucked back in, being deceived that is was good and I had good reasons for being on it. Since the word obedience comes out of my mouth daily to my daughter I felt the weight of my disobedience and decided the next right thing to do was to hear what God was showing me, over and over and over again. Ah so stubborn (ME not her). So this morning I deactivated my account. Can I just tell you when that thought first entered my mind I was fearful. Anxious. No, not that! What about all my pictures and memories? What about my blog, how will I share it? What about people on there that I only communicate with through Facebook? What about information I will miss out on? Quickly, God replaced those fears with the truth. What about your obedience to Me? What about your children and your role as mom? What about getting back to sending people cards and calling them and really connecting? What about you trusting me with your writing and how I want to use it? What about your sanctification?

So this morning I am free.

“And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.”Mark‬ ‭9:43

I‬ ‭cut off that hand that consumed me. It feels good. God is connecting some dots for me. Yesterday was an amazing day with SG. We only had one little incident when leaving a play date where she ran away and disobeyed. That’s okay. I don’t want her to feel pressured to be perfect. I want her to be His! I don’t want her have all the answers about her behavior, I want her to know the One who does. I don’t want her to get “better and better” at doing and being good, I want her to know that apart from Christ she can do nothing. I don’t want her to hear the word obedience more than she sees the word love in action.   HIS love. That is my job, to show her and tell her about Christ’s love for us. Today I know will be another great day. Not because it will be perfect, but because God is in control, He always has been and He always will be and He has lifted my eyes to where my help comes from! He has reminded me of His grace and that SG will learn that as well through her mistakes, not through her perfection. I have written about this before, and I will probably write about it again, as God continues to confront me and HELP me as He is glorified in it all.

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:58‬ ‭

The next mom you come across that has kids still in the home, give her a big hug and a sweet whisper that her labor is not in vain, she needs it.

(Feel free to share. My name isn’t on FB anymore but I am fine with the blog being shared there).

My Delight

I’ve had some parenting challenges this week. Also known as, sanctification. Anybody else with me on that??!! I love the struggles though, (in the moment, maybe not so much) because God uses it all for growth, for sanctification, for cleaning out the yucky mucky stuff in me. In general, I pray often for my parenting skills, for my patience to increase, for my anger and frustration to decrease. My lesson this week in all of it…the praying in general isn’t enough. I am consistent with praying for God to help me in parenting.. What isn’t consistent is the praying in the moment. Stopping myself when I feel that stomach churning, heat rising, “I’ve had enough” feeling, gurgling and bubbling as I am fighting not to erupt. As one of SG’s book says, My mouth is a volcano! So in those moments, before the erupting, before I even let that feeling have movement and power inside of me, what should I do???

I received many, many, confirming lessons of what to do. Again, I LOVE it, God pouring truth all around me so that I can’t miss it, at every angle, every book, every scripture, every sermon, there was a teaching point for me from God about this subject. It is so AWESOME when that happens. I want to honor and obey what He showed me. He loves me and so perfectly ministered to me in my sin, so that I could learn and turn from it. Learn and turn!

I am reading the Old Testament and have come to 1 Samuel. 1 Samuel 23 is a section where Saul is coming after David and David is also dealing with the Philistines who are fighting Keilah, a city in Judah. In these situations, what does David do? What was my big lesson God delivered through these verses? David ASKED, over and over, specifically, about EACH situation. A brief account of verses 1-15 and the questions and answers…

David – Should I go?
God – Go and attack

David – inquired again
God – Arise and go

David-Will Saul come down
God – He will come down

David – will they surrender me into his hands
God – yes

God answered David and guided him because HE ASKED. I need to seek God’s wisdom and believe and trust He will give it to me in each situation. Just as God did for David, He will tell me when to fight the giants and when to flee the evil pursuing me. He will tell me when to lay low in the shadows in humility and when to speak up. He will tell me when to stand up and when to back down. He will tell me when to give grace and when to stand firm. I need to ask for wisdom in each particular situation not just in general. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”James‬ ‭1:5. And even more importantly I need to just go to God in that moment so I can remember who He is. I always remember who He is when I am on my knees, when I am low to the ground, the ME is taken out of the situation and HE is injected into it. ‬‬‬‬

I have stopped and prayed before in the middle of a “moment” as I call them with SG but I haven’t been consistent in this and I think I was waiting too long into the escalation of the situation to pray. So I quickly began practicing this. Twice I was able to stop myself as I felt a battle brewing with the 4 year old. The first time I went to a separate room to pray. After praying I knew I needed to show grace in that instance. I had taken her blanky away (it was her least favorite one as she had already lost her favorite and her “back up” favorite). While praying I was reminded that God gives me the very best, even thought my actions and works are like filthy rags, He cloaks me and showers me with white pristine garments of righteousness. “It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Revelation‬ ‭19:8‬. I went into SG’s room, with her favorite blanket, and covered her up with it. She asked why I was giving it to her since she had lost it as a consequence. So I explained that I was giving her grace, just as God does. Instead of taking away her third blanket, I was going to give her the very best blanket as God did for us when He gave us His Son Jesus. She did soften and smile. The “moment” was over and we were able to hug and pray. God kept that theme running in my head even after this particular time because this past Sunday we studied this verse; He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.””Zechariah‬ ‭3:4‬. Wow, such affirmation that I was able to hear and understand what God wanted me to do with that blanket last week. “”The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding.”Proverbs‬ ‭4:7‬.‬‬‬

The second time I stopped and prayed right there in her room. I did not know what to do with her disobedience. She was refusing to do something that I couldn’t physically make her do. Her tantrum increased and got louder when she was sent to her room and had her consequence of losing something. So I just knelt down and prayed, asking God for wisdom and patience. I left the room knowing I needed to stand firm on this one. “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”Proverbs‬ ‭22:6‬. She did calm down, came to me on her own, and apologized with a humble heart. She still had her consequence but again we were able to get to a place of understanding and calm so that she could be taught.‬

Some of the words used to describe David’s actions in the 1 Saumel 23 passages are “inquire, asked, inquired once more, prayed…”. Those are words God breathed into the Bible for us to learn from. I MUST inquire, I MUST ask, I MUST pray. Not only in the moment but I must prepare BEFOREHAND by soaking up His Word. I wouldn’t have received this wisdom from God if I hadn’t read those words. Even in the sermon and books that conveyed the messages to me as well it was the scripture in the sermon and the books that God used to help me. It’s God’s Word that has never failed me. It’s God Word that shows me Christ’s example and preaches the gospel to me daily. It’s God’s Word that gives me wisdom when I don’t understand. “The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.”Psalms‬ ‭19:7-8‬

I pray that Psalm 119:24 is a deep rooted truth in all of our lives and if not, that by God’s grace He will open up His Word to you with mighty understanding and conviction so that you will thirst for it daily!

Your testimonies also are my delight; They are my counselors. Psalm 119:24.

Fallow Ground

Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD Until He comes to rain righteousness on you.” Hosea‬ ‭10:12‬ .

After a season of struggling with new routines, new parenting obstacles, and just longing for more intimacy with God, I came to this verse and started to study it and received such a beautiful step forward in the desires of my heart.

Land was allowed to remain “fallow”, unsown for a period of time in order to restore its fertility. During that time it was fallow it was prone to become overgrown with weeds and thorns. So a farmer must break up his fallow ground to prevent the weeds from taking over before he could sow seed that would then bear fruit. Wow. I get it! What is in my heart? What could be creeping in that could prevent God’s seeds of righteousness to bear fruit in my life? How am I contributing to any hardness of my soil?

After examination of my life there are two main areas, that can more quickly than any other, contribute to an unproductive life for God’s kingdom.

1. Not being in His Word.

2. Not communicating with Him in prayer.

There are many other things we can neglect that could harden us; not fellowshipping with other believers, not being a part of a church body, not sharing our testimony or witnessing to others, not using our spiritual gifts, being convicted but disobeying or ignoring,  not prioritizing our life God’s way (God, husband, children). For me, being in His Word and communicating with Him in a true repentant-driven, praise-giving, humble in stature prayer posture, can quickly break up any fallow ground.

“For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem, “Break up your fallow ground, And do not sow among thorns.” Jeremiah‬ ‭4:3‬ .

This looks like TOTAL commitment to God and an openness to His ways. I often tell my daughter I need to see that “yes ma’am” attitude. I want to have that same attitude to my Father in heaven.  A “yes Lord!” attitude of obedience and submission. Just as my daughter struggles with her obedience, and needs to be reminded, isn’t our God so loving that He sent Christ, as our perfect example to look to, as our reminder of the righteousness we have in Him.

  “So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.”Hosea‬ ‭6:3‬.

I love this. The certainty of knowing this. The solid foundation of our faith in Christ. How did I live life without having this before I was saved?! I wasn’t living, I was dying. I am so thankful God shows us how to break up our hard soil, prepares us for the seeds of righteousness He is sowing in our lives, and then… brings the rain. God pours down and lavishes us with the rain!

Are you one of those that loves the brilliance of what “after the rain” means? That smell. The smell after a rain shower. Manufacturers try to bottle that smell in our body washes and soaps and candles. That sweet smell is like the sweet aroma of our lives as we walk and follow Christ. It is pleasing to the Lord. Also the world looks different after a rain storm. The brightness, the clarity, the brilliance of color as our life is washed clean of any dull, lukewarm, stale practices and is replaced with a  fulfilling and satisfying relationship with Christ!

“Drip down, O heavens, from above, And let the clouds pour down righteousness; Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, And righteousness spring up with it. I, the LORD, have created it.”Isaiah‬ ‭45:8‬.

Lord break up the fallow ground of my heart that harbors any bitterness or unrepentant sin. Break up the fallow ground so weeds of impurity, immorality, and idolatry won’t take root. As I go to you Lord, in your Word and on my knees, I praise you knowing you will pour down and lavish me with the rain of your righteousness, you will shower me with your mercy and your grace,  as I follow Christ and bear fruit for your Kingdom! Rain down Lord, rain down!

The Wait

I have a friend who cannot wait. Literally, she cannot wait for the ending. She Googles movies before she watches them so she knows how it ends. She reads the end of the book first. She doesn’t like surprises. She wants to know when and where it will all happen. I was reminded of this while continuing my study in the Old Testament. I came to the part recently of the Israelites, ALMOST to the Promised Land. In Deuteronomy 11 Moses is preparing them and reminding them of the laws and commands and words of the Lord. For you are about to cross the Jordan to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall possess it and live in it, and you shall be careful to do all the statutes and the judgements which I am setting before you today. Deuteronomy 11:31. I knew the outcome but still in reading those verses I was filled with the anticipation of it, and wondered if they felt that too. Was the air electric with praise and thanksgiving? Were they just beside themselves, so close they could taste it? Were they hasty and rushed and ready for it to hurry up and get here? Were they trying to look ahead and “google” the outcome? Twenty two chapters later, a new book began and finally in Joshua 3 they crossed the Jordan!! Even when I know the outcome, the promise, I can get impatient, instead of trusting what His perfect Word tells me. Not one of the good promises which the Lord has made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass. Joshua 21:45.

God knows we will be tempted to turn away, to not trust whole heartedly 100% and that we can be tempted to worship other things in the waiting. Beware that your hearts are not deceived and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them. Deuteronomy 11:16.. I can be tempted to worship the gods of “more”, “comfort”, and “now”. I want more spiritual growth quicker and faster. I want the comfort of knowing that family members will be saved. I want my circumstances to change now. There are things I am waiting on and in all of these areas of “the wait” I can see God using them to grow my trust, to prune and shape ugly things out of me, to reach and encourage others. He is delivering on His promises, in His perfect timing and His perfect way. Kingdom work is being done! Just as the Israelites were being taught to trust God all those years before the Promised Land, everything we are going through now is preparing us and others for our time with Him!!

One of the verses I love is short and simple and may just be a literal physical direction from God but to me it speaks of His perfect knowledge and sovereignty of when and where we need to do what and how. You have circled this mountain long enough, now turn north. Deuteronomy 2:3. Oh friends, I know some of you have been circling the same mountain, waiting. Fill your heart with all the many verses God speaks about the beauty of the wait. The trust He is growing, the longing for Him He is increasing, the humility that will be used to serve Him and His people, it is all good for us. For me, when I have a “NO LORD, NOT THIS, I DON’T WANT TO!!”moment, He leads me by His grace, to a place where I surrender and say “Yes Lord, I trust You.” That doesn’t always happen as immediately as I would like, but it is a promise He keeps. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain. Hebrews 6:19. The covenant standard isn’t the law anymore but is faith and hope in Christ!!! When we have that we cannot fail, and God never leaves us! Serving the Lord with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things is the standard in Deuteronomy 28:47. The abundance of all things isn’t money or physical blessing it is an abundance of humility, abundance of peace, and abundance of righteousness. When we are waiting, when we are circling the mountain, and are serving with joy and gladness God is giving us those abundant riches spiritually on earth as we wait for the return of Christ and our complete sanctification. How GOOD of Him to grow us now, how LOVING of Him to give us circumstances to grow our trust and faith in Him so we can share it with others. Friends, I pray that you will be encouraged in the wait, and with great anticipation of what God has when He tells you it is time to turn north!

He is Strong

I have started Judges this morning, and a theme has come forward. More like a big exclamation point!!!!!!!!! with arrows screaming >>>>>>>>”LOOK AT THIS HOLLY, MEDITATE ON THIS, I HAVE SOMETHING TO SHOW YOU”. Do you ever get messages from God like that when you are reading His Word? This morning I knew was going to be a “writing” morning for me, God made that clear.

The Israelites have been delivered to the promised land. They have been given their inheritance, their land, and have begun to conquer the land by God’s hand. A little background in Exodus shows God told them “I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hands and you will drive them out before you.” Exodus 23:31. This is a promise from God. Then in verses 32-33 He commands them “You shall make no covenant with them or their gods. They shall not live in your land because they will make you sin against me. For if you serve their gods it will be a snare to you.”

If God promises He will deliver, if He says you WILL drive them out of your land, it should happen, right? Fast forward to Judges 1:19 “but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley because they had iron chariots.” This seems reasonable, the Canaanites had superior weapons, iron chariots, so in this instance they just couldn’t quite drive them out of the land. This is where it began. The lesson. This is where I saw that the Israelites started trusting in their flesh to accomplish the task, and didn’t have faith in God’s power, that is when it failed. The excuses began, “it’s just too hard”, “they are too strong”, “I’m doing the best I can”, which then leads to the slippery slope of “will it really hurt if they stay here”, “we can still control them into forced labor”, “I can still honor you God, but live amongst something that could make me sin”. See where this is going? What have I let stay inhabited in my life, my heart, my thoughts, because I thought the iron chains of its hold on me were too strong, or that it is just my personality, or it really isn’t hurting me, or any other excuses I come up with other than obedience. Where do I stop trusting in God and his might and power lived out in my life and instead try to work through my flesh only and try to conquer things my way or think I can ignore them?

Is God always right? He is. Judges 2:11-12 tells us the Israelites “did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals, and they forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them.” God knows what is GOOD for us and what is not. He wants to protect us from those snares and traps and slippery slopes.

God promises us we have the power to obey Him in all instances, because when we are saved, when we place our faith in Christ, we have the same power that raised Him from the dead. God gives us the grace through Christ to cover all of our sins, our covenant is secure, God will never leave us, but letting our minds wander away from the fixed truth of His power and might in us, produces disobedience and sin. I am weak but He is strong. The little kids song teaches us that, and His Word is full of that strength that is now part of us! Isaiah 40:29 says “He gives strength to the weary , and to him who lacks might He increases power.” That is why Paul can boast about his weaknesses, that is where the power is perfected. (2Corinthians 12:9). But it is HIM, it is not of us. He has me there. My heart is prostrate on the ground in awe of His goodness as I cry out to Him for humility and to take “ me” out of the equation, at the same time my soul is standing tall by the Holy Spirit giving me strength through the power of Christ in me to be ready and obedient. He is teaching me about His strength that is in me, EXACTLY, at the time I need it more than ever. I wasn’t searching for a lesson in God’s power this morning but that is what He gave me. He is cleaning out my heart and reminding me there is no excuse for sin, no matter what “hard” life circumstance I am in. I must be in tuned to His Word, to His whispers, of how to live my life so when it gets to the really tough parts my belief in His power will produce obedience. Examples of this in my life look like this….

Put your phone down, look at your family, be present.(Proverbs 31:27)
Don’t open your mouth and say that. (Philippians 2:14)
Don’t let your mind wander to that place. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Don’t look/read/watch/listen to that. (1 Corinthians 6:12)
Get up, you need Me more than sleep. (Psalm 1:2-3)

When I ignore those reminders from God, then I am giving up and saying the iron chariots are too strong to defeat.

As we wade further into this journey of adoption for our family I continue to see God’s faithfulness in preparing me. We will have two boys staying with us for two weeks starting December 25. A gift from the Lord for sure! I don’t know if God is preparing me to be the mom of these two boys or if He is preparing me to only have them for a few weeks to foster. I don’t know if He is preparing me to have strength for going from mom to one child suddenly to mom of three children in a matter of months or if He is growing my faith and strength through Him for the loss I will feel when they leave. But He is preparing me. Today, this lesson of His power in our lives to accomplish ANY task He gives us and the destruction that comes if we don’t, is a perfectly timed lesson. The comfort that gives me, the firm foundation of hope that gives me, is proof of God’s overwhelming love for me. Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised!

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:18-23.

Emmanuel

I went to bed last night and woke up this morning feeling some bitterness and “I don’t understandness” creeping back in my heart. I did think about emailing a mentor to “vent” those feelings in the hopes she would console me and give me words of wisdom. I realized thought, there is no conversation I can have with someone that can give me the comfort that praying on my knees can. There is no person to turn to right now that can wrap their arms around me and make me feel better like my Father in heaven can. He is who I need to be turning to. Is He not faithful to deliver that? He is! Every time! Is He not merciful enough to take away my anger and hurt and bitterness? He is! Every time! So instead of calling someone, I went to the text, after I went to my Father on my knees praising Him for what He was about to deliver. Instead of just asking for an answer and asking for comfort I was able to praise Him and thank Him for the answer and comfort He was about to give me! By His grace, I was also able to see my flesh and my disobedience by letting frustration and bitterness and anxiousness come into my heart. Be anxious for NOTHING, but by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let you request be made known to God and the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7. That is exactly what I need; His peace to guard my heart.

I picked up in my Old Testament study and immediately saw where I thought my focus needed to be. May the Lord, the God of the spirit of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation, who will go out and come in before them, and who will lead them out and bring them in, so that the congregation of the Lord will not be like sheep which have no shepherd. Numbers 27:16-17. I need to be praying for the man that God is preparing to come be our new shepherd at our church. I need to be praying for the current pastors we have who are stepping up in a more visible role as shepherds and teachers. I need to be praying for my heart to be open and inviting to whoever our new server of God’s Word is so he doesn’t feel like he has shoes to fill that are too big. But then…

He saw a large crowd and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and He began to teach them many things. Mark 6:34. We have a shepherd! We have THE Shepherd! He is Emmanuel, He is WITH US. He will and can teach us and change us and grow us as we go to His Word, whether it is on a Sunday or a Tuesday, whether it is by a visiting pastor or a new teaching pastor, God is with us! We are NOT without a Shepherd. We are not without earthly shepherds either. We have the gift of multiple, capable, humble, pastors in our church who are doing just that. The sermon last Sunday was POWERFUL and delivered by a man God used to give us what we needed after a week of goodbyes. He gave us assurance that we WILL receive the Word of God and we WILL receive the gospel message every week. God delivered in a mighty way as we wondered, “what’s next?” They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. Ezeckial 34:5. This is NOT us. Satan wants to scatter us, He wants to devour us. He wants to use the words of others to confuse us. Our Shepherd has not left us. We have faith in the Son of God and He is leading us beside quiet waters. He is guiding us in the paths of righteousness.

Those first lessons when I go to God’s Word are good, but there is usually something more to be done, pruning and refining that isn’t on the surface. As I was led to Job 1:21 I was thinking of the gift I had been given and how that gift had been taken away. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Bless be the name of the Lord. That sums up what I need to wash over my heart. God decides when and what and who and how He gives us blessings. When those are taken away His name is still Lord. Bless be the name of the Lord! We deserve none of the gifts we receive. Yet our cup OVERFLOWS with them. We have been given the gift of eternity! We have been given the gift of a relationship with God! We have been given the gift of His Word, and His presence as we pray and get to know Him through His perfect manuscript. This trial I find myself in needs perspective. This trial of losing a faithful, passionate, gospel-teaching, brother and friend in Christ needs perspective. I in no way want to downplay the loss because I would never want to downplay the powerful ministry and way in which God has used this man in our church and in my life. I am hurting over this loss. I only want to highlight perspective. I was able to have this gift. Though only for a few short years, I still had it. Let him go be a gift to others. This trial needs perspective. There is a young girl in our church who has been diagnosed with cancer for a second time after a year of remission. She is singing God’s praises. My trial needs perspective. I am reminded after an email this morning, there are men in prison, dying from their sin, who have family, who are torn apart, who feel as if no one sees their worth. Our trial needs perspective. There are Christians dying, because they are Christians. They do not back down for one second in their faith and proclaiming Jesus as their Lord. My trial needs perspective. We go to an air conditioned beautiful church. We have faithful God honoring men leading us. We have a community of believers surrounding us. We have any avenue we can think of to dig deep into His Word with fellow believers; Women’s Bible study, MOMS, Lifegroups, Men’s Institute, classes offered for training in Evangelism, Discipling, Soul Care, Well Conferences, we are surrounded by solid teaching and ways to learn and grow. OUR CUP OVERFLOWS with ways God wants to teach us and speak to us through these ministries and teachers. My trial needs perspective and I need to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called as Ephesians 4:1 tells us. We are called to make disciples and be followers of Christ. We are not called to just sit in church and listen to a great pastor. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 1 Peter 4:10. Let’s serve one another with zeal! Let’s serve our church and our community as the City on a Hill that God put us here to be. I love you friends. I love this church. God is Emmanuel and He IS with us!

My Shepherd

This week has been hard. I am dealing with a pastor’s sudden move and I have been grieving and overcome with that loss. I have seen pastors go before, but I considered him and his family friends, and they were the first pastoral family I have had in my life since God has brought me to salvation. There have been a lot of emotions tied up in that.

I have been going to God’s Word for comfort and assurance and I know my faith is  strong. Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like; he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock. And when a flood occurred, the torrent broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. Luke 6:47-48. I felt the flood and torrent coming, but I am not shaken because my foundation is secure.

I have been going to God’s Word seeking unity and peace for our church. So much of my study time this week has been focused on that and I have read and meditated and prayed over many scriptures for my heart and the rest of the body of Christ to be of the same Spirit united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Now may God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:5-6.

On top of this, God wanted to teach me and refine me more, another way He used this situation for good. My husband began a difficult conversation with me about being judgmental. This stemmed from a conversation about someone he knows who I questioned if they were saved because they bore no fruit and just attended church. Also with some discussions we have had about the changes taking place in my church home, and some negative opinions I have received from some friends outside of my church, and my response to them, he told me that there seems to be a judgmental nature in me. He said “as someone who is a Christian, you seem to be passing a lot of judgment.” Ouch. I have been hurting this week and I thought I needed to be comforted but instead I was being pruned. PRAISE GOD FOR THAT! It has really made me look at myself and examine and yes I have been judgmental. That is the exact opposite of what I want to present to my husband and my Savior, and I cried some more over that realization. As much as I want him to see Christ in me, what he saw in this case was hypocrisy. When God shows us our sin though, he makes a way for us to turn from it. When he shows us our sin and brings us to repentance he forgives us. It is out of love He does this and thank God He does! The sweetest blessing in all of this is that He used my unbelieving husband to deliver that message to me. God once again is making a way for my atheist husband to lead me to spiritual refinement and repentance! I was able to tell my husband he is right about my judgmental attitude and that it was sin and that is why I need a Savior! I told him my being a Christian doesn’t mean I am perfect it means I recognize my need to be saved from my sin and I trust in Jesus Christ to do that! Even though seeing my sin was painful, I ALWAYS look forward to those conversations He allows between my husband and I. I was able to text my husband the following day and thank him for the ugly part of me he pointed out and I told him I was putting on love and quoted this scripture. Beyond all these things, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Colossians 3:14-15.

I have been studying the Old Testament chronologically but this week I didn’t go there. I felt like I needed to be searching out words of comfort and unity in the Bible so I put my other study on hold. But after feeling grief again yesterday I decided to pick back up in Numbers where I left on, I prayed for God to deliver in a might way in His Word whatever it was He wanted to show me, and oh He did! In Numbers 20 I received so many lessons in trusting God, His Word will suffice, offending God’s holiness with rash decisions, great leaders will still falter, putting too much confidence in self, impatience at the direction a leader may take us, (poor Moses and his grumbling Israelites!), complaining, and the great message in Numbers 21 about after coming to repentance over sin (which happened after being bitten, ouch, like I was when I heard my husband’s words), and looking at the serpent symbol on the pole they would live, ( looking to Christ on the cross for forgiveness gives us life!). Then the big message came as I was led to John 6 in one of the footnotes. John 6:32-35- Truly, truly I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world. John 6:45 – It is written in the prophets “and they shall all be taught of God.” Only those who learn from God come to salvation, and all who learn from Him are saved.

The bread of life comes from God, not His servant. The teaching comes from God, not his servant. I still have ALL I need. The teaching, the message, will still come from God as it always has. My overwhelming grief at the exit of one of our pastors was bordering on worshipping a man instead of God. God gave me a gut check and a lesson that started in Numbers and ended in John. I can miss my friends, I can be thankful for all the wonderful truths and messages delivered by his person, but the Holy Spirit is my teacher and ultimately who I learn from and that will never be taken from me. I will praise God because He tells me to. I will pray because He tells me to and I will be thankful in this because He tells me to. The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds. Psalm 145:17.

Finally brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:11-14.