Our God Is An Awesome God

awesome God

In Judah God is known; His name is great in Israel. In Salem also is His tabernacle, and His dwelling place in Zion. There He broke the arrows of the bow, the shield and sword of battle.

 You are more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey. The stouthearted were plundered; they have sunk into their sleep; and none of the mighty men have found the use of their hands. At Your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse were cast into a dead sleep. You, Yourself, are to be feared; and who may stand in Your presence when once You are angry? You caused judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared and was still, when God arose to judgment, to deliver all the oppressed of the earth.

Surely the wrath of man shall praise You; with the remainder of wrath You shall gird Yourself. Make vows to the Lord your God, and pay them; let all who are around Him bring presents to Him who ought to be feared. He shall cut off the spirit of princes; He is awesome to the kings of the earth.

 (Psalm 76; To the Chief Musician. On Stringed Instruments. A Psalm of Asaph. A Song.)

Our God Is An Awesome God

The image of God has always been a problem for man to appreciate in light of His whole character and nature. It is difficult to look at the Lord God as one who is a wrathful being or one that would punish and inflict harm on man because He is such a loving and kind God. If man accepts the wrathful nature of God it seems to make God a terrible Creator who only wants to bring about destruction upon men. What is lost in the recreation of the Lord into the image of man is the reason so many stories of God’s wrath on man are true – man is a rebellious creature. An unruly child may complain to his father of the constant discipline meted against him while at the same time forgetting if the child would do the father’s will there would be less to punish. God is a wrathful God. He has never denied that and constantly reminds man through history that life is found in obedience. The psalmist Asaph declared the majesty of God in judgment against the rebellion of men as righteousness and truth. All the Lord does shows what an awesome God He is and all men must learn to fear and adore the greatness of the Lord God.

There are none who can stand against the Lord. The glory and excellence of God exceeds anything man can create. Nature declares the majesty of the Creator and His power throughout all ages. The mighty men of earth are puny standing before the work of the Lord. There are no horses or chariots devised by men that can overwhelm the power of God. When the full might of the Egyptian army came against the Hebrews at the Red Sea, the Lord God brought the waters upon them and destroyed every man, horse and chariot. Pharaoh’s most formidable and fearful army was nothing compared to the might of God’s power. God is to be feared! Who can stand in the presence of an angry God like the Lord God Almighty? He destroyed the whole world in the days of Noah killing everything that had the breath of life save eight souls. Who would dare not fear this judgment of the Lord upon the world? When God arises to judge there is silence as His power is opened upon the unrighteous and glory when He delivers the oppressed. He is an awesome God.

The greatest power of man will be subservient to the power of the Lord God. Nothing man can do can challenge the wrath of God. Salvation is found in vowing allegiance to the Lord and obeying His will alone. History has shown what happens when men do not fear the Lord. There is no hope for the foolishness of those who seek to become their own gods. God is an awesome God because His majesty is far above the power of man. Worship is directed to God because He is so great, mighty and powerful and man is to serve Him. Fearing God is a healthy relationship to know how awesome the Creator and Maker of the world should be understood. He has the power to cut off the pride of men in a moment. Nations rise and fall according to His will. No king is as great as the power of God. God is an awesome God in His glory, majesty, might, power and love to show all men who He is. Fear Him for who He is. Love Him because of what He is. His name is great. Praise God.

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The Confession Of Christ Jesus

sunrise brilliant

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate. (1 Timothy 6:12-13)

The Confession Of Christ Jesus

Pontius Pilate was procurator or governor of Judea during the days of Jesus. He wielded the might of the Roman army against the people of Jerusalem and surrounding community. Little is known of Pilate in history but his place is forever marked in the annals of divine writ as the one who delivered Jesus to be crucified. The Jews brought Jesus before the court of Pilate seeking the Roman execution to crucify the man from Nazareth. Pilate found no fault in Jesus and was determined to release Him but the crowd dissuaded his efforts. During His interrogation of the Christ, Pilate told Jesus it was within his power by Roman law to kill or release Jesus. The Lord was unafraid of the threats of Pilate and boldly declared His Kingship with His Father. Jesus told Pilate the power that delivered Him to the Roman court was greater than Pilate himself and the Father was ruling in all of the affairs of men. This was a bold statement from a lowly Jewish son of a carpenter to a Roman ruler. Jesus was not afraid of Pilate and the whole of the Roman Empire even though the Lord knew the outcome would be death on a cross. The scene of Jesus shackled before the elite of Roman power in Jerusalem is a remarkable contrast of the futility of man and the power of God. Standing before the creation was the Creator declaring His trust in the work of His Father. There was nothing that Pilate could do that would change the will of God in allowing men to crucify His only begotten Son. Everything that happened that day was in the divine will of God’s scheme to redeem men – including Pilate – from the darkness of sin.

Jesus showed great courage the day he faced Pilate and the power of Roman law. It may be easy to think of the Lord as doing what He had to do because He had to do it. Paul reminds us of the great faith Jesus had witnessing the good confession before Pilate. The Lord knew what would happen if He kept the will of His Father. At the beginning of His ministry Satan had come to Jesus and offered Him an easy way to glory. The temptation to take the path of least resistance was a powerful tool used by the devil to attack Jesus. Before Pilate the temptation to deny His Father was increased with the dread of scourging and crucifixion. Jesus made His confession before the Roman despot and courageously died as His Father willed. The apostle Peter had earlier denied the Lord when he was challenged. What a contrast in the weakness of men and the courage of the Son of God to withstand the threats of Pilate.

Timothy had to learn how to fight against the temptations to weaken in the presence of persecution. Paul exhorted him to fight the good fight of faith because there was going to be a fight. The world is opposed to righteousness and truth. Those who desire to live godly in an ungodly world will be persecuted. Without the courage to stand for righteousness, the soul will fall prey to the weakness of denial. Jesus made the good confession before Pilate because He was unafraid of what Pilate could do to Him. The Lord understood the plan of His Father and was willing to suffer for a moment to receive the reward that was eternal. He laid hold on eternal life – not the momentary affliction of the cross. Faith strengthens the heart to know that what happens here is nothing compared to what is coming there. Confessing Christ is proclaiming allegiance to the will of the Father in the face of ridicule, chastisement, threats and mockery because faith is built upon the love of God regardless of the threats of men.

Confessing the good faith before others is letting Jesus live in our lives every day. No one who is a child of God should ever be ashamed of others knowing they are a Christian. Courage fills the hearts of those who stand where Jesus stood and make the good confession. God is the one who gives life to all and He is the Creator, Maker and Sustainer of the world. It is by His power the world exists and He holds the breath of man in His hand. Trusting in His love and power affirms in the spirit of man that nothing that happens in this world will be as great as the glory to be received by those who hold fast their faith to the end. Jesus is the example of great courage and faith as He faced the cruel hand of the cross. He is our pattern to follow that even if we must face a cruel hand of persecution – our faith will stand with Jesus. Let our voices blend with His in declaring our trust and devotion to serve the will of the Father. Let no man be ashamed to suffer as a Christian. The world must hear our voice.

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Rahab The Prostitute

rahab woman

Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there. (Joshua 2:1)

Rahab The Prostitute

The Bible is filled with some very unusual stories. None as when the children of Israel approach Canaan sending spies into the land and the men finding refuge from a harlot. The presence of the Israelite’s has not gone unnoticed and the king of Jericho has raised the alarm. He has also been told spies have entered his city and discovers that a prostitute is harboring the Hebrews. Sending word to Rahab he demands the men brought to him. She tells the king the men had escaped during the night and scouts should be sent out immediately to find the spies. The city is sealed as the king’s men pursue the spies that in fact are hiding on the rooftop of the harlot. Rahab comes to the two men and tells a marvelous story of God’s grace upon a woman who sold sexual favors to men. The woman of Jericho is a Gentile who has heard of the incredible stories of the people who escaped from Egypt. She is familiar with the story of how the Red Sea had dried up (forty years before) when the Hebrews left out of Egypt. The military victories of Israel against the two kings of the Amorites are well known. Because of these stories the people of the land were fainthearted at the coming of the nation of Israel. Rahab tells the men the terror of Israel had fallen upon all the people. In a remarkable statement of grace, she tells the men she knows the Lord God has given the land to them. Rahab begs for the life of her family when the war comes. The men assure her that she and her family will be spared. When the Israelite’s come against Jericho, the entire city is destroyed and the inhabitants killed save Rahab and her father’s household. The promise was kept.

Rahab’s story could end there but it does not. She would marry into the Israelite nation to a man named Salmon and have children who had many children. The lineage of the Jericho prostitute becomes one of the most remarkable stories in the Bible. Rahab and Salmon have a son named Boaz who will marry a Gentile woman from Moab named Ruth who will have a grandson called David. From this lineage, Rahab will be included in a genealogy that comes to the birth of a little baby boy born in Bethlehem named Jesus. The ancestry of the Son of God includes a woman who was a prostitute. Three women stand out in the genealogy of Jesus: Tamar (who was guilty of incest), Rahab the harlot and Ruth the Moabites. All of these women are in direct line of the genealogy of Jesus Christ. How fitting that God’s Son would show that He is the Savior of all men and that all men can find grace in the eyes of the Lord with the evidence of His own family lineage. Some men would want to hide the knowledge of a prostitute being in the family crest. God shows His love by leaving an example of what His grace can do in the lives of people – even a heathen prostitute.

Rahab became a devoted believer to the one true God. The Hebrew writer will extol her faith when she received the spies and will be included in the chapter of faith with Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jacob and her grandson, David. James will write about how the faith of Rahab was justified by her works in protecting the spies. The prostitute, harlot, sexually indiscriminate woman of Jericho is remembered for her faith in God and taking her place in the direct lineage of Jesus Christ. Praise God for His powerful love, mercy and grace upon Rahab. She stands as a symbol of God’s undying love for all people regardless of what they have become. Sadly she is remembered as a harlot although she gave up her ungodliness. The consequence of sin may never remove the stigma but God removes the sin. It took great faith and courage to trust in the spies but she was rewarded because of her faith. She saved her father, her mother, her brothers and all she had because she trusted in the Lord. Rahab was a harlot. God’s grace turned the heart of a harlot to be in a special place among the annals of holy scrip remembered for three thousand years to all men.

A final lesson must be told in the story of Rahab. Prostitution is a demeaning and horrible life. The reason she was in this life is unknown. What mattered most is her faith in God and trust in His word. God was faithful and she was saved. Few people have experienced the base and worthless life of a prostitute but the grace of God can save anyone. Rahab was created in the image of God just like any man or woman. She changed that glory to the pleasure of the flesh. Faith brought her out of that life and God raised her up to be a glorious woman. If God can save Rahab in her harlotry, what can He do in my life? She changed her life because she believed in the power of God to bring about that change. There is nothing that I have done that God will not forgive if only I come to the power of the blood of Jesus and let His cleansing blood heal my sinful heart. Her faith and obedience justified her and my faith and obedience will justify me. Including Rahab in the genealogy of Jesus was not a coincidence or mistake. It was a message of grace for all men to see the Son of God came to save all men (and women).

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Collecting Dust On A Shelf

2018-winter-olympics-medals-2

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)

Collecting Dust On A Shelf

The Olympics represent the pinnacle of an athletes dream to compete and win gold, silver or bronze in their chosen field of expertise. This requires many, many years of sacrifice, devotion and constant practice to hone skills to perfection on a level beyond their competitors. Few make the Olympic team and fewer still achieve the platforms of victory. For those who win their medals it is the zenith of their lives to bask in the glow of a momentary glory as heroes of their countrymen. Returning to their homeland a great excitement of recognition will surround them as lifelong dreams are realized. The gold medals will be displayed with pride along with the silver and bronze medals to the excitement of all who see them. And then something happens that has been repeated in every generation since the beginning of time. The curtain falls and the memories of Olympic victories fade to black on the screen of time and few take notice of the achievements as life returns to normal. Names are forgotten, achievements inscribed in books seldom read and medals collect dust or lost through carelessness. The moment of personal victory is nothing more than a perishable memory lost on the sands of time.

Life is filled with moments of personal achievements that set records, change lives and leave lasting marks of accomplishments but to no avail in the larger picture of what is really important. Men will spend a lifetime to obtain a gold medal that will hang on a wall until taken down by another generation and forgotten. The challenge of life has always been to realize the victories of this life fade into dust. Trophies collect dust on shelves that once were held in great honor. Medals, banners, awards and achievements are all forgotten. Monuments are raised to honor the heroes of the days until they crumble into dust. The great equalizer of all men is the hand of death that shows the nature of obtaining the greatest victories in this world are worthless. No man escapes the grave and time is the master of fate. When a man spends his whole life to obtain a gold medal he gains nothing more than a piece of metal that perishes. What he fails to realize is he possesses something that is imperishable and of greater value.

God created man in His own image. Man is an eternal creature designed to glorify the Father and to live without end. Everything the Lord created in the beginning will perish in time – including time. Death strips man of his earthly glory leaving everything behind. What remains is the true nature of God’s creation and that is an eternal existence. Paul reminds the disciples that athletes compete in games to receive a crown that fades in time. The champions of the Corinthian games received a wreath made from olive trees or pine that would soon fade away. This was to show the victor what they won today would soon lose its beauty and fade. It was of little value in time. Seeking the imperishable crown of eternal glory would never fade. Eternal life is the joy of those who seek something that will never perish. Death will take away the glories of life but awaken the joys of eternity. Life comes to an end. Eternity never ends. The roar of the crowds for the Olympic champions will fade into distant memories. Hearing the praises of God throughout the eternal ages will never end. All of the victories of earth will be destroyed; the joy of Heaven eternal.

Men will exhaust themselves seeking after the joys of a world that is fading away. The crown of worldly riches is the life goal of many. Having the best things of life, enjoying the pleasures of the flesh, drinking deep from the well of knowledge and spending every moment of life to gain more and more consumes the hearts of those who fail to see how worthless earthly gain will be. Like the faded garlands of yesterday that crumble in time, nothing remains. Life is short and all men will stand before the Lord God. There will be no Olympic medals, first place trophies or great riches when man stands bare before his Creator. All he will have is what he had in the beginning – his eternal life. He came into the world with nothing and he leaves with nothing. God breathed into man an eternal soul and that is all he will have in death. What has a man profited if he gained the whole world and lost his soul? He gained an empty crown. Real happiness will be found in the eternal life promised in Jesus Christ and Him alone. The crown of life will never perish, fade away or be removed. Strive for this crown and you will receive the greatest reward of all.

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God Has No Pleasure In What Sin Does

SIN_KILLS_SIGN

“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!” (Ezekiel 18:30-32)

God Has No Pleasure In What Sin Does

There is no joy in the sorrow of wickedness. Sin is rebellion against the holiness of a righteous God and a repudiation of His character. Man was created for the glory of God and he took his glory turning it from the righteousness of a faithful Creator to use for selfish pleasures. There has always been a choice for man to choose good or evil from the trees in the midst of Eden or a place called Golgotha where sin killed the Son of God. The world was formed by the hand of a divine architect with a purpose to show the eternal wisdom of the Almighty Father among His people. It did not take long for Satan to destroy Eden, drive Cain to commit murder and destroy every living being save eight in the days of Noah. The nation of Israel was the apple of God’s eye but the devil wormed his evil pleasures into their hearts and destroyed the nation of the Lord. Ezekiel was burdened with preaching to the captives in the land of Babylon with the same message their fathers had heard. Sin has consequences. Israel as a nation was destroyed by sin with the ten northern tribes long before vanishing across the fields of Assyrian domination and now Babylon was finishing the work of God against Judah. The people needed to understand they were responsible for their own plight but the Lord had not forgotten them. There was still the mercy and love of God to take back those who would turn to Him and restore righteousness to the land.

Judgment came from the will of God as the Babylonians oppressed Judah. This was all done by the hand of the Lord because He was bringing judgment upon a rebellious nation. It was not a coincidence these things were happening. God wanted Judah to know their misery was punishment for their rebellion. The age old message of redemption was given to Judah once again – repent and turn. There was no reason they should continue in this useless exercise of wickedness. No matter how far down the road they had gone, the Lord offers a way of escape if only they would change their hearts and turn back to Him. Who can understand the infinite mercy of a loving God committed to removing all sin if only the heart would change and turn to Him? What man has never quite grasped about the character of sin is that God hates it. He hates what it has done to His glorious creation. It was not the plan of God to destroy man but to save him. Sin brings death. God gives life. The Lord hates what sin has done to man and He has no desire to punish man pleading with him to cast away rebellion. If only the love of God could be clearly seen by sinful man. God’s grace would usher the contrite heart back into the love of a compassionate and forgiving Father.

Man must make a decision. Ezekiel exhorts the people to cast away their sins and get a new heart and a new spirit. The road to recovery begins with removing the shackles of sin seeking a heart renewed in the Lord with a new spirit to serve the Father. This is how sin is dealt with. Man cannot overcome sin until he removes it from his presence. Satan is a powerful foe and without resisting, putting away, eradicating sin man is helpless. A major downfall to defeating sin is refusing to rid self of the transgressor. It must be taken away. The alcoholic will never recover with a glass in his hand. Overcoming the lust of pornography can never be accomplished without the removal of temptation. Speaking the truth can be the only language of the one seeking renewal. Getting rid of the offense is the first step. Then a new heart and new spirit must be developed. The incredible mercy of God tells all men that nothing is hopeless if the heart is changed and renewed. There is no reason to die because God is willing to forgive if only the heart returns. Remember the prodigal son came home to a loving father. The Lord has no pleasure in the death of those who destroy themselves with sin. It was not His plan; He does not desire it and He will forgive if one repents. What does God want? Turn and live. Anyone can do it if they are willing. The forgiveness of God is so great that He will forgive. Turn and live – you can do this!

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Committing To A Faithful Creator

God-Is-Faithful

Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator. (1 Peter 4:19)

Committing To A Faithful Creator

In the beginning God created all the heavens and the earth. When He finished with His grand scheme of creation, the Lord God looked upon His work and declared it very good. Everything formed by the hand of God had a purpose and design. Creation was unfolded in a precise manner as each day of creation became dependent upon the previous. Light was created before the firmament, plants, animals and heavenly bodies because everything requires the source of light for life. Man was created last as the first of creation. As the Creator of the world, the Lord is the master designer with each particle of His design accomplishing the purpose He intended. When Peter exhorts the saints to face bravely the persecution of being a Christian, he appeals to the nature of God as being the Creator for the brethren to have hope and confidence. At first glance it might be considered in times of peril the Holy Spirit would use the idea of trusting in God as a “Savior” or “Lord” or an endearing term of courage to rally the faith of those facing persecution. Rather, the soul needs to commit to God as to a faithful Creator if they are to suffer persecution as a Christian.

The Holy Spirit does not mince words when He guides the writings of holy scrip. All of God’s people have suffered the humiliation of oppression since the beginning of time. Living in a world of darkness is difficult for those who profess the light of God. Peter instructs the first century disciples to bear up under the heavy trials of standing for truth and righteousness before a world filled with hatred, jealousy and wrath. The fiery trials of persecution would come by separating themselves from the wickedness of the world. Their lives would be holy, pure and devoted to obedience to the word of God and the world would not understand. Peter’s appeal is to remember that like the creation of the world, God has a design and a purpose for everything He establishes. Facing the cruel hand of suffering as a Christian is in the creative design and purpose of God.

It is very difficult to see the hand of God working in the life of one who is enduring persecution but when the heart is committed to knowing the Lord has a purpose in all He has created, hope springs forth with a peace that passes understanding. Those who suffer are to do good – not evil. God created His righteous people to be the light of righteousness. Why does He allow His people to suffer at the hands of ungodly men? When Jesus suffered the humiliating death of crucifixion what did the centurion say when he saw the Lord die? Jesus committed His soul to the Father and died according to the design and purpose of His Father. The centurion said, “Certainly this was a righteous man.” If anyone suffers as a Christian, they must commit their souls to God and trust Him as a faithful Creator.

Facing persecution can only come from those who see God as the Creator and trusting that in all things He is a faithful Creator who will bring about everything He has promised. God is always faithful and will bring to pass what He has promised. He has never failed in His promises. The righteous man Job learned the faithfulness of God when he faced insurmountable trials. As a faithful Creator, the Lord worked in the lives of Abraham, Moses, David and His Son Jesus Christ. All creation cries out the design of God is for His glory, wisdom and power. Suffering as a Christian is the design of the Creator who has made faithful promises of eternal life for those who commit their souls to Him. Looking to the Father with the confidence He will never fail His children, those hearts that face sorrow, trials, tribulations and heartaches can have the courage to endure all things for His glory. Jesus faced the cross with joy because He knew His Father was faithful. And He was right! Why should we believe anything less? God has a purpose for my life. Let me show the glory of God by committing my soul to His purpose and design. To God be the glory.

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Our God Bears Our Burden Daily

psalm 68 19

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. (Psalm 68:19)

Our God Bears Our Burden Daily

The joy of being a child of God is the knowledge that all of the trials, troubles and tribulations of life are carried by the Father. There are many things in the journey of life that can overwhelm the spirit of man. Sin constantly bombards the soul with the insidious desires of the flesh, the challenges of the mortal body can try the spirit, and the ever changing process of life will task the soul. Life can be a difficult journey. Anxieties can fill the heart if left unguarded. Worry will consume the days with uncertainty and fear. Satan works very hard to discourage the will of man to distrust God and challenge His place in their lives. Sadly the devil succeeds often and men fail to wait for the deliverance of God. David proclaims in his psalm the praise of serving a God who is the author of his deliverance and salvation. The Father is to be blessed because He not only delivers His children from the fears of life but He does it on a daily basis. Protection comes from the throne of God every day.

Each day brings its own challenges. Preparing to go to work is a daily event fraught with the uncertainty of what the day will bring. Heading off to school can be a daunting task for many young people. The uncertainties of a new day can weigh heavy on the minds of those who are walking in the deep shadows of sorrow and pain. Concerns for the future and regrets of the past can haunt the mind. God is there and will always be there for His children. He is a God of every day willing to bear the burdens of His children. This does not mean that life will be without pain and sorrow. As long as the earth remains, the seasons of life will be filled with joy and happiness and grief and tragedy. The Father has never promised that His children will be immune to disease, natural disasters, evil or persecution. His promise is to bear the burden for us so that it will not overwhelm us. And He will do that daily.

Trusting in God to carry the burden is allowing Him to take the burden. It is a natural response to trust the power of self more than God. Prayers may seem unanswered in our need for immediate gratification thinking the Lord is not hearing us. How the Father responds to our needs is only in His mind but the promise of His daily provisions is real. Allowing the presence of God to fill our daily lives will give us a blessed assurance He will care for us. Giving our burdens to Him allows us to focus on our relationship with Him and one another. The answers will come from His daily provisions. Knowing He has the wisdom to work His will in our lives gives us the confidence to trust in the providential care of His plan for us. As our Father, He knows what we need and He also knows what we do not need. David expressed in his psalm that trusting in the Lord will be like lying down among the sheepfolds, like the wings of a dove covered with silver and her feathers with yellow gold. Beautiful blessings will follow those who trust in the Lord and wait for the Father to fill the daily needs and carry the burdens of life each day. Whatever burden you have today let God provide His rest. The burdens you face tomorrow He will gladly take. If you have burdens of yesterday the Father can remove them by His loving grace and forgiveness. Let God command your strength. He has all the power and might to take all of your burdens and give you rest. And He will do it every day. Blessed be God.

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