When God Is Absent

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And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:28-32)

When God Is Absent

There is a lot of cruelty in the world. Sadness is always just a breath away when out of nowhere tragedy comes. It can be from natural disasters or disease but so much comes from the hatred of man against man. The world of Noah was destroyed because the height of wickedness had become a pungent odor of death in the nostrils of God and He had had enough. Eight souls were saved but wickedness remained. Grace came through Jesus Christ giving man the ray of light to cleanse his soul of the putridity of the carnal mind. Sin continues to plague the spirit of men and drives the passions of those who fill the world with sexual immorality, murder, strife and unloving in their actions towards one another. Senseless acts of murder spread across the headlines almost daily. Death is not a sacred fear but a wanton act of one man’s wrath upon unsuspecting victims. Life is filled with plans, joys and accomplishments but taken away in the split second of the hatred of one man against another. Everyone asks the questions of why and why now and why here. The answer is profound and simple. When the world removes the Creator from the forefront of their minds, the world becomes a godless and unholy world. God in the world creates godliness; God removed creates a godless world. One plus one equals two and the world without God equals chaos.

The question of murder has nothing to do with religion. Killing innocent men who are serving their community is not explained by some deep theological analysis of how man perceives God and how man defines the acts of religion over the random acts of murder. Paul said the problem lies in the denial of God and the exercise to remove the idea of God from the mind. Murder comes from a heart void of the knowledge of eternity and the consequences of facing the Creator of all men. The blackness of hatred does not allow the presence of God to live in the heart. Serving the fleshly carnal desires of lusts and murder is where a man finds himself when he denies the reality of God. There is a righteous judgment coming but most do not believe. The world forms God into its own image refusing to acknowledge the true nature of the one Lord. Sin is the result. God can only be worshiped in one fashion and that is according to His will, His way and His word. Religion is not the definition of truth – the word of God is truth. The world does not need more religion. It needs God!

Tragedy is without warning. In the most inconspicuous times and places the hatred of man will rise up to show the fruit sown from a world that demands God be removed. There is an outcry against the senseless deaths of the innocent but there is no call for a return to God. Failing to keep God in the heart will breed more and more murder, immorality, hatred of parents, unloving souls who fill the world with the passions of strife, deceit and evil thinking. Man has always had two choices to follow and the consequence of that choice determines the history he will live. A world that denies God will be a world of anarchy and hatred. Murder comes from a heart void of God. The second choice is to embrace the knowledge of an eternal Creator who knows what is right and what is wrong. Retaining God in the mind will bring the peace men seek. And then there is the final reality. The remnant of God’s people will have to endure in a world that will seldom change. Satan’s hold on the hearts of men is sure. He will have has way until the coming of Jesus Christ and then he will be judged. The greatest tragedy is the souls he will take with him to the eternal fires of hell. Until that time our prayers are with the downtrodden and all those impacted by the sadness of death. May God grant His peace on our hearts and give us hope in the coming of His Son – soon.

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Open My Eyes

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GIMEL: Deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live and keep Your word. Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law. I am a stranger in the earth; do not hide Your commandments from me. My soul breaks with longing for Your judgments at all times. You rebuke the proud — the cursed, who stray from Your commandments. Remove from me reproach and contempt, for I have kept Your testimonies. Princes also sit and speak against me, but Your servant meditates on Your statutes. Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors. (Psalm 119:17-24)

Open My Eyes

The third letter of the Hebrew alphabet the psalmist writes in prose is GIMEL. It is a portion of the psalm that seeks to know and see everything offered by the Lord to give knowledge and understanding to the heart. Examining the word of God is a precious commodity that serves the willing heart a harvest of blessings. There is a delight in spending time in the midst of the mind of God. Life comes from dwelling upon the pages of divine words revealed to a man that hungers for knowledge of God. The admonitions to deal bountifully, open the eyes, do not hide, and remove reproach and contempt all speak to a willing heart that loves to dwell in the midst of the word of God. One of the most important traits of those who seek the Lord is a deeper longing to know more about the divine will. The psalmist knows that to live is to keep the words of God and this can only be done by the bountiful blessings showered upon his life by the Father. It is a good thing to be blessed by the Lord. There are so many amazing things to find in the word of God. The author does not look upon the knowledge of God’s word as a tiresome or laborious exercise. He loves the time spent in the Book, rejoicing with the knowledge he gains from a study of the word.

There are many things hard to understand in the world and the only avenue of truth must come from the mind of God. Seeking the Lord requires a willingness to ask for the wisdom of the Father to open the eyes to the wondrous things from His law. An admission of frailty is acknowledged to discern the Father’s truth but it is coupled with a prayer that the commandments would not be hidden from a heart that longs for and desires for the judgments of God. There is passion in the soul of the one who has a deep desire to know God’s word. Understanding the will of the Lord is a daily exercise of communion in the mind of God. Love is not words alone but the action of a heart that loves to hear and read the commandments of the Lord. There are many who have no desire for His judgments. The proud have no love for truth. Those who stray from the commandments of the Lord have no hunger for His word. Thirsting after righteousness will only come from a heart that is filled with a love for the precepts of divine law. The word of God rebukes, chastens, admonishes and challenges the mind to obey the only hope of salvation. The word of the Lord is the only way, the only truth and the only light.

The psalmist entreats the Lord to let His word guide the heart so that he will be free from the reproach and contempt of disobedience. One of the most important elements of prayer is seeking the guidance of the Father to order the steps in a perfect way. A humble heart will beg the blessings of God to remove scorn and contempt because the way of righteousness will bring persecution from the unrighteous. Those who oppose the will of God prosecute the soul to give up, deny and turn away the heart from the word. The need of endurance in the face of trial will find its worth in taking heed according to the word of God. Meditating upon the statutes of God will give courage, strength and steadfastness. Keeping the faith is standing firm on the words of the divine Father who is the author and Lord of truth and righteousness. There is no other truth. What is right is right because the word of God establishes what is right. Upon that truth the servant of God meditates and thinks and no word of man deposes the will to follow human wisdom. The testimonies of God are the delight of the soul as the person of God takes joy in reading His word. As a trusting counselor the law of the Lord is a safe guide to all things in life. If you want to be happy, delight in the word of God.

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Jesus Christ B. E.

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And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. (John 17:3-5)

Jesus Christ B. E.

The shadow of the Christ was heavy on the heart of Jesus as He delivered a final message to his disciples. He knew what would happen in a very short time as Judas would betray Him and He would be arrested then lead away to suffer scourging and crucifixion. It was a watershed moment in the life of God’s Son. All of the plans and design of redeeming man was coming down to this critical time. Jesus had to go through the cross to see His Father again. It would be a terrible experience of agony, suffering and incredible pain. In His fleshly body of humanity the Son of God felt the weight of His decision to drink the cup of suffering. There were feelings of agonizing trepidation at the offering of the cross. Jesus would spend time in the deepest prayers He had ever offered. An angel would be needed to strengthen Him. Jesus Christ was experiencing something unimaginable for who He was and where He had come. The complete reality of what happened to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and a place called Golgotha can only be understood from the viewpoint of where the Son of God had come before He was flesh. Jesus Christ was finishing the work He came to do and He begged His Father to glorify Him wrapped in the glory the two shared before the world was. Jesus Christ before earth – how to explain.

John began his gospel message declaring that Jesus was the word and the word was with God and He was God. Jesus was in the beginning with God and all of creation was formed by His hand – the hand of Jesus Christ. There was a glory Jesus had with God the Father before the world was formed from the abyss of darkness. There are no words in the human language that can fully describe what that glory would be. All the writers of holy writ can say about Jesus Christ before earth is that He shared the glory of God and was God. This knowledge must be believed but to understand is an incredible journey of trusting faith to know that someone so great, powerful, beautiful and magnificent left the glory of the Father to embrace carnal human flesh. It is harder to understand why. There are simple answers like the love of God sending His only begotten Son to die for the miserable creation that rebelled, rejected and repudiated everything the Father gave to man. But does anyone really grasp what that means in its full context? John 3:16 is quoted so often that its meaning is lost in realizing what Jesus left to become a man. He left the glory of His Father. He speaks about it hours before He is to die. This glory is something that the Son of God longs to embrace once again. His desire is to go home and be with His Father sharing in the indescribable glory of the presence of His Father.

Here is the difference in what Jesus is longing for and what the children of God look with great anticipation. The saved are longing to share the glory for the first time with a God they have never seen, spoken face to face or felt the presence of in their whole lives. All of the feelings and emotions of salvation are wrapped in the blanket of faith to love a God whom they have not seen. The glory shared by those on earth comes from the attempts to worship the Father in spirit and truth without ever experiencing the realities of that worship in His presence. Man is limited in the best of his adoration of the Father. Jesus shared glory with the Father before time began. He had seen the Father face to face and felt His love, grace, mercy and kindness. There was nothing Jesus did not know about the Almighty Lord God. However it can be described to tell what glory Jesus shared with the Father it will never be understood in human terms. There are no words. But Jesus knew and He longed to share in that glory once again. And that makes His sacrifice so much more incredible that He would leave the pure light of Heaven to come to a world filled with the darkness of sin and die for a worm such as man. Paul would later describe how that Jesus did not consider it be robbery to be equal with God but emptied Himself and took the form of a slave in the likeness of man to die for the failure of all men. There are no words to understand Jesus Christ before earth. But He came and He died and all men who seek Jesus will find the path to the Father opened by the blood of the One who left the glory of God to perfect man.

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Remarkable Saints

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Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (Philippians 4:21-23)

Remarkable Saints

The Roman Empire was an iron giant that ruled the world for nearly 1500 years. It was ruled by harsh despots who imposed Roman law with the cruel hand of military might. Chosen as the fullness of time for the coming of God’s Son, it became the seed bed of the spread of Christianity to the world lasting for more than two thousand years. History is filled with the horrific deeds of the men who imposed imperial force on its citizens subjecting them to live in fear of death. None were as grand a master at the manipulation of power than Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; better known as Nero. He murdered his mother along with thousands of citizens during his reign. The Great fire of Rome lasted six days and seven nights where it is said he sang as 10 of 14 districts of the city were destroyed. Assassination plots were met with wholesale slaughter of the innocents including Seneca, his close adviser. Nero found his place in history as the author tyranny and extravagance. And yet – found in his household were saints of God.

It is difficult to know the depth of influence the gospel had in the house of Caesar. Paul’s closing remarks in his letter to Philippi hint of those who were part of the palace where Nero lived either as family members of the Caesar or slaves and freemen. In either case, the realization that Paul would publicly announce the existence of children of God living in the household of a morally bankrupt man like Nero exalts the power of the gospel to be in the most unlikely place. That would seem to be the last place in the world that Christians would be found yet the gospel had the power to bloom in the harshest of environments. Against impossible odds the news of Christ drifted through the halls of Nero’s palace. Lives were changed to believe that Jesus was the Son of God and live with the hope of eternal life – in the household of Caesar. W. M. Taylor writes, “Christianity is not a thing of locality but of character. There are plants which will bloom in some latitudes and die in others, but Christianity can live where man can live, because it consists in the loyalty of the heart and life to Christ. Obadiah kept his conscience in the house of Ahab, Daniel his in the court of Babylon, Nehemiah his in the Persian palace. As Jonathan Edwards says, ‘The grace of God can live where neither you nor I can.’ In the abodes of poverty humble Christians are living as near to God as Enoch. Even yet, if we care to look for it, we may find the lily among thorns.”

Earlier in his letter to the Philippian church, Paul spoke of the impact of the gospel becoming evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest as he sat in a Roman prison. The gospel is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes and that message can find its way into the most unlikely places. When men limit the power of the gospel to only those deemed worthy of its redemption the story of salvation is hindered. The household of Caesar had Christian’s living in its midst. These saints of God were subjected to the world of political intrigue, immorality, decadence and perversion but they kept their faith in God. What seems impossible for man is possible with God. His word can penetrate the darkest corners of Satan’s world and change hearts. Man is the one who limits the power of Christ. Paul affirms in his brief closing remark there is nowhere the message of Christ cannot change lives – even in the household of Nero.

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Faith With A Foundation

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As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7)

Faith With A Foundation

The life of a Christian has a beginning and it is there the most important part of the hope of the Christian begins. Building faith is a daily exercise of walking after the pattern of the Lord, establishing practices and principles that will build courage and devotion that will form an edifice of righteousness in the heart of the individual. It is a continual process nurtured by a constant rooting and building of character changed into the image of God. Paul exhorts the saints in Colosse to walk after the will of Christ but this cannot be done without the proper foundation. Faith alone can never last. If a building is constructed without a solid footing or underpinning it will fall. A solid foundation will keep the structure from being destroyed. Receiving the Christ into the heart is a time of joy and rejoicing in the redemption of the soul. However, if the spirit is not rooted and built upon in Christ, faith will fail and the hopes of the child of God will diminish. Jesus ended the sermon on the mountain with the admonition there are two kinds of soils to build faith upon: the solid rock or the shifting sands. The house of faith built upon the sand has no foundation and will easily be toppled. Building on the rock will give security to the heart to believe, obey and rejoice in the face of great trial. Faith must be rooted and grounded like a mighty oak that will bend in the wind but never fall.

Receiving the word of God requires walking in the word of God. This becomes a pattern of life, a way of thinking and a manner of decision making. Faith is built upon the exercise of walking in the light to see the will of God. The one who stands in one place will not grow. Those who sit upon the promises will have little faith in the power of God. The life of the Christian is the active pursuit of the word of Christ. Walking in Christ is walking in His footsteps. The heart is filled with the love of God through knowledge that guides the mouth to speak words of grace, the heart to feel compassion of grace and the hands to be busy in the diligent work of serving the Lord. There is an abundant life of activity in the life of the Christian. Daily growth is evident. It is impossible to walk in Christ and not grow. Failure to grow indicates a lack of activity in Christ. One of the long term effects of not walking in Christ is the inability to become rooted in Him. Walking creates roots and roots are necessary for building a life of faith.

Having a strong root system gives any tree the ability to withstand anything that comes against it. When the child of God seeks to build a solid root system of trust in the Lord, nothing in life will destroy them. There will be storms and trials but the heart of the Christian will safely trust in the Lord. The roots allow a strong building to be created in the grace of God because the heart is walking by faith in Christ. This edifice of faith will be evident to all as the roots silently strengthen the position of the heart and like a light shining on a hill, be an example to all who see it. Rooted in Christ and being built up in Him will establish the life of the Christian in the faith of God. Faith will come from the knowledge of the word of God strengthening the structure of the building as the heart abounds with thanksgiving. The tree of righteousness is firmly rooted building a strong trunk of faith that branches out with the abundant blessings of God. Faith is secure. There is hope and there is the joy of eternal promise. Walk in Christ. Create the roots of righteousness. Build on the solid rock of Jesus Christ. Establish faith in God. Abound with a heart of thanksgiving.

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Life Changes

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By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Hebrews 11:8-10)

Life Changes

The certainty of life is the reality of the uncertainty of life. There are changes that come in life that are planned and unplanned. Those we plan for are viewed as necessary directions we want to go in order to accomplish some task or dream. What is hard is when the unplanned changes come in life throwing all of the planned ideals in disarray. The true measure of the character of a man is how he handles the unplanned changes in life to make himself a better person. Abram grew up in the Ur of the Chaldeans before moving with his father to Haran. For seventy-five years he served his God with faithfulness and was just a common man among common people. The day came when the Lord spoke to Abram and told him to leave his home for a land that would be shown to him with promises that would partially be fulfilled in his life. He did not hesitate. Abram and Sarai left their home and followed the instructions of the Lord not knowing where they were going or how the promises of God would work out. He was told that he would have a heritage which must have seemed unlikely considering his age and the age of Sarai. He did not hesitate. Leaving what he had known for seventy-five years, Abram embarked on a journey of faith. His life had changed in ways he could never have foreseen. He would wander for the rest of his life through the land of Canaan and Egypt, bear a son by Sarai’s handmaiden and then miraculously give birth to another son through Sarai who was ninety years of age; himself one hundred. There would be the time God requires Abram to offer his son as a burnt offering. He did not hesitate. Abram lived to the age of one hundred seventy five and the last one hundred years of his life was change after change after change. What never changed was his faith in God.

There are many stories in the Bible of lives that were changed in dramatic fashion. Joseph was sold as a slave at the age of seventeen and his life was never the same. Moses was the prized son of the Pharaoh for forty years until he killed a man and became a fugitive and vagabond in a foreign land. At the age of eighty while tending his herd the Lord appeared and changed his life once again. He would spend the final forty years of his life leading a rebellious and stubborn nation of Israel to a land he would never set foot on. David was a shepherd boy who would be thrust into the national limelight after killing an enemy giant and become the hated enemy of the king he loved. Later in life a moment’s reckless folly with the wife of one of his mighty men would fell the great kingdom of David into chaos. Amos was a herdsman and dresser of sycamore trees in the village of Tekoa not far from Jerusalem. From obscurity as a shepherd he became one of the great reformers of his day trying to bring God’s people to repentance. Daniel and his three friends lived with all the high hopes of young Jewish men of his day until they were carried away into Babylonian captivity.

Four fishermen in the time of Jesus left the only life they knew to follow an itinerant preacher who was the greatest miracle worker men had ever seen. He told them they would become fishers of men and along with a handful of others turned the world upside down. Matthew left his secure job of collecting taxes to follow Jesus. Saul of Tarsus was a powerful force in the Jewish world enjoying fame, fortune and inexhaustible authority until he met the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. His life would never be the same. Timothy and Luke became constant travelling companions of the apostle Paul going places they would never have dreamed their lives would take them. Thousands of people left homes to preach the gospel of Christ and many more died because they believed with all their hearts a man from Nazareth was the Son of God. Changes. Life changes. They all experienced changes in life that were unforeseen. They did not hesitate and they did not falter. God called and they answered.

Abram obeyed because he had faith in the changes in his life were for the glory of God. He looked upon those challenges as tools to increase his trust in the Lord he served faithfully when there were few changes. He did not know where he was going but he knew he was going with the Lord. His faith took him to dwell in tents and move from place to place because his life was rooted in the firm conviction that God would take care of him. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the reality of what cannot be seen because God has made the promises and God has seen what needs to be done. There are many changes we experience in life. No matter the change or challenge we must resolve to face those vicissitudes with the strong faith of Abram and all those who faced change but never changed their faith in God. Be assured life will be filled with paths never dreamed before or planned by always remembering the sunlight that shines upon each path comes from the grace and love of God. Trust in Him for direction and hope. He will never leave those who follow His will.

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A Psalm For The Young Man

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How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes. With my lips I have declared all the judgments of Your mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word. (Psalm 119:9-16)

A Psalm For The Young Man

The second letter of the Hebrew alphabet is called “Bet” (rhymes with “mate”) and has the sound of ‘b’ as in ‘boy.’ Psalm 119 is a compilation of twenty-two poems from the Hebrew alphabet declaring the incredible power of the word of God. Each section of the psalm is unique in its structure and message. The second section declares the personal nature of God’s word upon the heart. Specifically it seeks to guide the young man to know how important the knowledge of the Creator is needed in his life. There is much turbulence in the spirit of youth and without direction and guidance many dangers lurk about that will destroy the reputation, character and heart. The psalmists exhorts all young people to take careful examination of the word of God embedding its divine message into their minds so they will be safe from harm.

Youth is filled with frivolity. The Lord does not dismiss the spirit of young people encouraging them to live a joyful life with the recognition of the consequences that will be reaped in the future. How can young people enjoy their lives and keep themselves unspotted from the influence of the world about them? The Bible. The word of God is the answer for young people. Taking heed to the word of God is the means of building character. It takes the whole heart devoted to know the will of the Lord guiding the feet on the treacherous paths of life. Many youth wander into dangerous waters finding only peril and destruction. The commandments of God are not given as cruel boundaries but safety measures to protect the soul from harm. This requires diligence on the part of the young man to hide the word of God in his heart so he will not sin against the Lord. Young people need to know the law of God because that is the measure of right and wrong. Parents must instill in their children the love of God and interest in His word to instruct them into righteousness. Sin will always be a plague on the hearts of men but the word of God is the only answer to how to battle unrighteousness.

Young people should know the word of God so they can bless the Lord that protects them. There is value in knowing mathematics, science, vocabulary and all of the foundations of knowledge but the most important information contained within the pages of one book is the statues and judgments of the Lord. Young men and women must be taught to love the word of God as the basis of life and from which comes truth. Their language should be sprinkled with the words of God rejoicing in the way His word fills their hearts. The result will be young people who are happy to know the eternal truths of the mind of God. Their lives will not be focused on seeking out the riches of the world but the treasures of heaven. The trinkets of this world will perish but the word of the Lord abides forever.

The challenge for young people (and old) is the word of God requires a diligent heart. There are four things required to make the word of the Lord a joyful part of life: mediation, contemplation, delighting and remembering. The psalmist admonishes the young man to meditate on the precepts of God. This is ruminating on the principles, laws, teachings and stories of holy writ. Thinking often about the word of the Lord builds trust in the promises of God. It is important to spend some time thinking about the word of God. Contemplating on the word of God means to have respect for the value of its instructions and ways. Fixing the eye on the message of God’s love will change the heart of the young man. He will see from God’s point of view how he should live. That comes from contemplation. There can be little growth if the heart does not delight in spending time in the word of God. One of the dangers for young and old alike is viewing the Bible as a drudgery or burden. In order for God to be alive in the heart it requires a love and delight in wanting to know more and more about the statutes of righteousness. Delighting in the statutes of God will change the outlook and ‘uplook’ of life. Happy people are those who find joy in reading the word of God. Finally it is necessary to remember the promises of God and not forget His word. Constant study will fortify the mind against the wiles of the devil. Remembering the word of God will be a light to the path in a world of darkness. Young men and women must learn to remember the word of God and trust its message as a guide in life. How can a young man cleanse his way. THE WORD OF GOD.

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