THE CONTINUOUS DEBT OF LOVE (Part 3 of 3)

This three week journey has taken us from an exploration of the cross, Christ’s sacrifice, and what it really represents; to the knowledge of what our debt to Him – our continuous debt- really is. We learned that this debt can only be repaid with Love. Love God. Love our neighbors. Because it is in loving our neighbors that we prove our love for God.

Now, the journey has now brought us to this point. The point of “how”? How exactly do we do this.

I will not be sharing with you today anything that you have not heard preached before. My prayer is that I share it with you in a way that hopefully you have never considered it before.

I’m in my sixth year of writing the Handmaid’s Blog. The sixth year began in September of 2014. The following month, I came to a decision. That I was no longer going to publish the Handmaid’s Blog through this particular forum. The decision was based on the belief that I had to find other avenues where it could get a wider, and possibly more interactive exposure. As a result, there was no posting in November.

I’d prayed about this decision, and I truly felt that the Lord was in agreement, therefore, I was at peace. At least I thought I was.

One day I was having a discussion with my friend. During the course of the discussion, we talked about many things pertaining to human behavior and the expectations of Christianity. Primarily, service, and the way the Lord really requires us to serve Him. We came to a common conclusion: We’ve been following the wrong Blueprint.

As I stated in part 2 of this series, Followers of Christ are constantly being asked to “live in Christ”, “Be like Christ”. We also established in Part 2 that, “Being like Christ” is humanly impossible. Another thing that followers are constantly being urged to do is to “Pursue Righteousness”. Which literally translates to “Stop living sinful lives”. It’s very good and biblically accurate advice. The only problem that accompanies those particular sermons is that the “righteousness” that we are being asked to pursue is usually “Acts of righteousness”. Let’s be honest. When we see someone who we consider to be doing it correctly, or someone we call in Christianese “A mighty man/woman of God”, we base that summation of their spiritual gifts: preaching, evangelism, gifts of prophecy, humanitarianism, zeal for service, courage to “speak out for Christ and for the faith”, boldness to call people out on their sinfulness, and so on. It is these attributes that cause us to look at someone with admiration and have us desiring to be as they are.

Is that truly what the Word of God instructs us to do? Are those what the Lord is really asking us to emulate? The acts? These were the questions that we asked ourselves.

Did the Lord, with regard to these references that I made about “Being like Christ” and “Acts of Righteousness, not already give us a Blueprint for living? For Christianity? For righteousness?

1 Corinthians 13: 1-3 tells us:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

According to the Word of God, His gifts do not save us. The gift of prophecy, evangelism, zeal, faith, philanthropy, humanitarianism, discipline, wisdom, courage, dedication, etc, do not save us. Those things are all given to us. Unmerited. By God. Therefore, in and of themselves, they cannot save us, or even lead us to righteousness. No matter how well we excel in them.

But, the one thing that can save us is the one thing that we are not necessarily born in, but do come into the knowledge of at some point in our lives. This thing is also something that is and has been widely, over the years, been attributed to different feelings and emotions. But the one spoken of here in 1 Corinthians 13 is the one true definition of the word.

The word is Love. Or Charity, as used in some translations of the bible. But the definition of that term Love/Charity, is synonymous with the personality of God. It means “Giving”. It means “For the sake of others”. It means “For another’s benefit”.

There’s been a resounding theme for many months as far as the inspiration for many of the Blog posts of this year. It was in the past few weeks that I made the connection. The topics in the past few months include:

Pursue Love

In Love We are Saved

Love: God’s Way

Casters of Stones

His Anguish

I posted a Blog in August titled “In Christ We Conquer Ourselves”. You may find it a tad strange, but, I’d completely forgotten about this Blog post and the testimony that inspired it. It was a piece about no longer fighting our own battles, instead, surrendering every weakness to Christ.

But, I realized today that I left out one vital key in that Blog post.

The “How?”

You might be asking what the “How” component of surrender really is. Doesn’t it mean simply giving it all to Christ?

My response to that would be:

What is the “all” exactly, that we are giving to Christ? And how do we surrender this “all”?

I mentioned a “Blueprint” earlier. I also mentioned that I’d taken steps to no longer post this Blog on this forum. But in that discussion with my friend that day, the Lord revealed two things to me:

1.The resounding message of the importance of Love is not an accident. Nor is it coincidental. Just when I wanted to give up this assignment: when the enemy was about to succeed in causing me to despair and question whether I was being effective, God reminded me yet again of this message of love and why it needs to be shared.

2. Surrendering to Christ is not a passive act. Surrender is very active. It means to cease and desist from an action. The truth about ceasing one act however means that another act is to be initiated simultaneously in its place. To surrender also means to give one’s self over to another to do with them what they will. So, in my Blog post, I mentioned what I knew the Lord was asking me do desist from. But, I never considered what He was asking me to begin doing instead. That is where the “Blueprint” comes in.

1 Corinthians 13:4-12

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

In order to forgive and not retaliate, and not lose my temper, I have to learn to suffer long, and be patient. In order to not complain, or revenge, I must learn to endure and be humble. In order to not demand the things that I feel I am deserving of, or be impatient with the mannerisms of others, I must learn to be tolerant, and not self-seeking. In order to not reach my wits end, or get easily provoked, I must learn to endure.

The problem with stopping an action, and not replacing that stopped action with a new action is that there is a void that gets created. And if that space is not filled with something good, we will, in a short time, revert to those bad actions that we supposedly stopped. If we do not practice the new actions and let them become our nature, then, those old actions that we are far more familiar with will always come back.

The “Blueprint”, the pattern, the “Way” is God’s Love. It tells us what to do, and what not to do. Better still, it tells us how to do it..

Because these are the attributes of Love. The attributes of God.

We serve One God in 3 persons. God the father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And just to prove the unity of the Trinity, even in this message of Love, let’s take a look at:

The Beatitudes, Christ’s sermon on the Mount taken from Matthew 5:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

and

The Fruit of the Spirit taken from Galatians 5:22

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Do we see the unity of the 3 messages? All messages that are centered on denying one’s self, while simultaneously, acting on behalf of another.

That is the “How” of God’s Love.

We do not receive Christ in love. We receive Him in faith. We first believe. It is only as we come to know Him better, that we come to love Him.

We are born with spiritual gifts, talents and abilities. We don’t choose them. They’re given to us. If we do not possess them, no matter how much we desire them, we can’t have them.

But, unlike spiritual gifts which we either have or not have, we are born with both the capacity to love, and the capacity to hate. It is here, that a choice is required. It is here that what we desire makes all the difference.

Deuteronomy 30:19 says:

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.

That is why that 1 Corinthians tells us in the first 3 verses that none of those spiritual gifts that are bestowed upon us can save us or make us righteous. It is only in the conscious choice to love or not love that we are either saved or condemned.

Brethren, James 2 tells us that faith without works is dead. By works, Christ is not referring to acts of charity. Even unbelievers do that. He’s referring to acts that come from a heart of charity. A heart of love. A selfless heart. A heart like God’s. Those are the works that prove that we believe!

1 Corinthians 13:14 says:

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Why is love the greatest? Have you ever asked yourself?

God does not have faith. He is God. He doesn’t need to believe in anything.

God does not need to hope in anything. Again, He is God.

But, God loves. He has love. He is Love. He created us with love. Jesus bought us back from a death sentence with Love. So, love is life. That’s why He asks us to choose life! Choose love! That we may live!

Love is not burdensome, brethren. If we say we can’t do it, it’s not for lack of ability. It’s for lack of desire. Unfortunately, if we refuse to choose life; to choose Love, then by default, we truly are choosing death. May His Spirit keep us from such a choice.

As we go into this new year, by His divine grace, brethren, let us come to God and ask God to return our hearts back to Him. To return our focus to Him. To what His Word truly says. We spend our entire lives learning ways to be, to act, to take care of ourselves, to protect ourselves, to fight our battles, to win our battles, to judge, to condemn, to criticize, to demand, focusing on the temporal things. We have to now unlearn “our” ways and start learning “Christ’s” ways. As followers, we are desperate to be righteous. We are eager to wear that banner of Christianity. But Christ did not come to earth to live. He came to die! He came to give Himself away. Step by step, piece by piece, word by word, miracle by miracle, message by message, revelation by revelation, lash by lash, stagger by stagger, nail by nail, until his last breath. Our old ways, our

comfortable ways, the ways that are not part of His Blueprint, have to die. His way, the way of God’s love, our new way, is how we now have to live. He’s already given us the Blueprint. He’s already given us the empowerment. What are we waiting for?

Now to Him who is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.

As always, please share your thoughts that you might encourage your brethren.

In Christ.

The handmaid at His feet.

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NOT MY STANDARD. GOD’S STANDARD

I cannot deal with my fellow man according to how they deal with me. I can only deal with them according to how God deals with me.

How has/does God deal with me?

In Love.

God deals with me in Love.

Therefore, I must deal in love:

The love of mercy
The love of patience
The love of forgiveness
The love of kindness
The love of endurance
The love of temperance
The love of long suffering
The love of selflessness
The love that isn’t envious
The love that isn’t vindictive
The love that isn’t malicious
The love that isn’t rude
The love that isn’t provoked to anger
The love that isn’t proud
The love that doesn’t rejoice in iniquity
The love that sacrifices it’s well being for the sake of another

This Love has to be as natural and as important to us as air is to our lungs.

Literally.

Think about it.

Do we think about breathing?

No.

We just breathe.

We inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.

We don’t do the conversion in our heads before we breathe. We don’t control the process.

We simply do what God has given us the ability to do, with the components of the air that He has provided.

We owe it to our bodies staying alive to breathe.  In fact, our bodies cannot stay alive if we do not.

Breathing to our physical bodies is natural.  What happens when we don’t breathe?

Even when we hold our breath.

We struggle.  It gets uncomfortable.  Our bodies start to collapse,  and ultimately,  we die.

As Christians,  the act of Love also has to be as natural to our ‘spiritual  bodies’ as breathing is to our natural bodies.

If we withhold practicing Love from our spiritual bodies, we will react adversely. The same way our natural bodies react when denied of oxygen.

Likewise, if we withhold Love for a significant amount of time, our spiritual bodies, too, will suffer, and ultimately die.

The death in this aspect is the total and complete severance from the Holy Spirit.  To be disconnected from the Holy Spirit is also to be disconnected from Christ. Which then means that we are disconnected from God.

Philippians 2:13 says: “For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

It is the Lord who imparts in us, by His Spirit, the desire to obey His will. Therefore, if He causes us to desire it, He also gives us the ability to obey it, and to actually work it out in our active lives.

God’s will for us is simple.

He asks of us one thing, and one thing only:

And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

For all of the adjustments to our lives that we try to make, and fail, this commandment, the commandment that Christ gave as the only commandments that we should focus on, is all that we are truly required to do.

The aspects of ourselves that we desire to change, but are powerless to, are God’s responsibility.  This, however. It’s commandment of love is OUR responsibility.  Hence, it is a commandment to us.

Brethren, it’s one thing if everything that you are reading here makes no sense to you, or if you flat out reject it or disagree with it. If that is the case, then, that’s another matter altogether.

But if the Lord has given it to us to understand the message of the love/charity that is referred to in 1 Corinthians 13, then, He has given it to us, and equipped us that we may work it out.

Work out the practice of Love.

As easily and effortlessly as we breathe, we have to practice Love just as effortlessly.

Deal with everyone,  and every situation in/with the requirement of love that is needed.

As we do not and cannot withhold oxygen from our lungs and bodies, as Christians/true believers in the Resurrected Christ, we cannot afford to withhold the natural application of Love in our lives.

That was the very example that Christ came down to show is. To teach us. That we may learn of Him.

The real, practical, possible application of Love.

To love the Lord our God with all that is us, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

This is His commandment.
This is His will.
This is the working out of our salvation.

The working out of our salvation,  brethren, is a steady process. It is a building up. But it is also a breaking down.

Christ came down to us. To teach us. To help us. Therefore, when it comes to the working out of our salvation, He does not ask us to start out by “ascending”. He asks us to first “descend”.  To descend from the belief that we can do it on our own. We must acknowledge our inability to do it on our own. It is then, in the acknowledgement of our helplessness, that Christ helps us.

Therefore,  brethren,  if we say that our lives are focused on doing the will of God (a focus that can exist only when He puts it in us), then, we know that His will is that we obey His commandments.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

Now to him who is able to keep us from falling and to present us without blemish before the presence of His glory with rejoicing. To the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and for ever. Amen.

In Christ,
The handmaid at His feet.

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Remember Me

Christians all over the world are observing Passion Week in some form or another. Passion Week is the week leading up to Easter/Resurrection Sunday. It begins on Palm Sunday. During Passion Week, the significance of different aspects of Jesus’ life, walk, fellowship with His disciples, His betrayal, conviction, scourging, carrying His cross, and crucifixion are remembered, explored, commemorated, etc.

It is an important remembrance.

As I thought about the events that Christians/believers remember/commemorate, the observance of Passover came to mind.

According to the Bible, Passover is explained as:

Exodus 12 – Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and

unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’s passover.

This, and many other passages in the Old Testament, depict just how important The Feast of Passover is. It’s purpose. It’s significance.

Which is why these verses from Luke 22 really caused me to examine myself.

Luke 22: 1-2

Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people.

Here was the time of the Feast of Passover approaching. A time of somber reflection. A time of thanksgiving to God. Yet, here were the chief priests and scribes, the religious leaders, the “holy men”, plotting to kill Jesus

I marvel at this because, the Passover, just like the Holy Week, are very serious and significant observances. The goal, to me, is to remember not only what happened during the time that we are keeping in rememberance, but the ‘why’. In addition to the “why”, there’s another very important consideration: What does that mean to “me”? What does

this event, that I’m commemorating, do for me personally? How does it affect me? How is it supposed to affect “me”? What is the personal message in here for me?

So, if this type of reflection is supposed to be going on/was going on with the chief priests and scribes, how can “plotting to kill” someone even come up?

How can hatred, unforgiveness, intolerance, resentment, wickedness, malice, selfishness, wrath, self-centerdness, etc, even have room to thrive in us, at all, during these holy observances?

Yet they do! Actively. Naturally. Abundantly. Unremorsefully.

So, if that’s the case, what is the purpose of our observance?

It’s very easy to acknowledge, during this period the sacrifice that God made for us. It is easy to acknowledge that Jesus died for our sins. It is easy to commemorate the “ceremony” of this season. But, let us ask ourselves, brethren, are we allowing the “Purpose” of the season have effect in us? Are we considering it’s significance to us personally? Is the reason for the season, meaning, the essence of the sacrifice doing something in us?

Are we, in the midst of the “observance” receiving and surrendering to the reason behind what we observe?

Or are we, like the Chief Priests and scribes, the religious people, through our refusal and resistance to understand the essence of His sacrifice, and the acceptance of the way we observe it as the right way, looking for a way to kill Him?

It’s a consideration worth making. A question worth asking. If the Truth is really important to us.

Now unto him that is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

In Christ.

The handmaid at His feet.

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WHEN THOU ART CONVERTED (3 OF 3)

We are all familiar with the story of the temptation of Christ in the wilderness, as told in Matthew 4. We also know that the story concluded with Jesus not yielding to Satan’s temptation.

Now let us contrast that with the other huge temptation story that we are also familiar with. Adam and Eve’s temptation in the Garden of Eden. In this story, we are also familiar with the conclusion. Eve fell. Adam fell. Man kind fell.

Over the centuries, when these two stories are put side by side and compared, many have come to the seemingly obvious reason being: Man is man. It’s easy for man to fall. We are just flesh and blood after all. But this was Jesus. He couldn’t fall!

That isn’t really true. Is it?

There is an error that we Christians make when looking at Christ and His life when He walked upon the earth. Many a time, in gest, and when correcting others, we say things such as: Jesus said to forgive, Jesus said to practice patience, Jesus said to turn the other cheek, etc. To which, when we find ourselves unable or unwilling to do these things, say, “Well, I’m not Jesus”.

Why do we separate Jesus the man from Jesus the Messiah. King of Kings. Is there really any difference?

Here are 2 important points to consider.

1. Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, came, as man, in flesh and blood, to die for our sins. He could only qualify as a propitiation for sin if he himself were sinless. Unblemished. Were he to have been found with a single spot of sin, He could not have qualified for the job. The deal would have been off.

2. Jesus did not come down to earth to learn the way. To navigate the way. He came down to show us the way.

So, what was He really showing us? What is “the way”?

Believing in Christ is significant. As is confessing Him with our mouths. there is, however, a deeper component to “believing in Him”. It is not simply acknowledging who He is that makes up belief, but understanding what He came to do, and most importantly, HOW He came to do it.

We say, “Jesus died for my sins, and that is how I am saved”.

How was it possible? How was it possible that He was able to be the propitiation?

How was it possible that was able to be “Him who knew no sin”, when He was flesh and blood just as we are. Also, how is it possible for Him say to us (you and me) “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” Matthew 5:48, when we are clearly imperfect?

The “How” is the vital part of the message of Salvation that many Christians either gloss over, or truly have no idea how to answer if asked. Because it is this “How” that is the reason we are saved.

We constantly hear – Follow Christ. Imitate Christ – Yet, we Christians struggle with every, single form of external sin that exists. Repeatedly.

So, what are we missing?

Why is it so hard?

Why did Adam and Eve fall where Jesus did not?

For starters, the answer is not “because He’s Jesus”. Because that would imply that He had some sort of unfair advantage that we do not possess. Which in essence denotes cheating. We know that cannot be. Because not only would “unfairness” be grounds for Satan to have an accusation against God, but it would have, again, disqualified Him from being the Propitiation.

The “How” Jesus Christ came to show us the way of Becoming Perfectly Aligned to God.

He came to show us that to make it through this world, we must be in sync with God.

Perfectly aligned to Him.

In oneness with Him. “I and my Father are one” John 10:30

Let us go back to the comparison of the two temptations.

One yielded while the other did not. For one reason, and one reason only.

One turned aside from the will of God, and the other did not.

One turned aside from the specific instruction of God, and the other did not.

Don’t take my word for it. Go to the text and read exactly what Satan said in both temptations, and what the response/action of the person(s) being tempted was:

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,

6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

Compare the responses.

Where Adam and Eve responded to the serpent, not with the specific Words of God which had instructed:

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

But instead, turned aside from God, considered within themselves what the serpent said, and made a decision independent of God.

Jesus, on the other hand, gave Satan’s words/proposal/offers no consideration whatsoever. But, instead, responded with the very Words of God. He never turned aside from the instruction of His Father.

It was a choice.

A choice to remain perfectly aligned with the same presence of God that Adam and Eve had the opportunity to remain aligned with. They chose instead to consider Satan, and listen to themselves after he had influenced their thoughts.

Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. John 14:10

I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. John 5:30

For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. John 6:38

These bible passages all speak clearly to one thing:

Jesus’ single minded devotion to the will and instruction of God.

I use the word “instruction” because when working according to the will of another, one’s actions are carried out soley based on the dictate of the one whose will one is obeying.

Christ came down for a mission. His instructions we spoken to Him; inside of Him; within Him, by the Spirit of His Father that He stayed closely aligned to.

The alignment is in the devotion to obey.

The alignment is in the very obedience.

“Not my will but yours”.

Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. John 14:19-21.

Christ passing through this world, affected and tempted by the very same devil who affects us and tempts us today, yet, remaining without sin, was possible only because He remained aligned to the Father who was in Him. Jesus is telling us that He was able to overcome because His Father abode in Him, and He in His Father. Therefore, as He has poured His life out for us, to receive the gift of that life, all we need to do is abide in Him. Then He, along with The Father who abode in Him will too abide in us!

The Holy Ghost is the presence; the nature; the very personality of Jesus Christ. The same Jesus, the One who endured the very same temptation of Satan as we do today, and won. Which was “How” He was able to be the Propitiation for us.

Jesus Christ is saying “I did it by devoting myself to the will of The Father, abiding in Him, and NEVER turning aside to any other voice. EVEN MY OWN. I considered not my own needs; not my own comfort; not my own feelings; not my own rights and entitlements; not my own popularity; not my own glory; not my own happiness, not my own cares; not my own advancement; not my own reputation; not my own honor; not my own respect; not my own suffering. I simply obeyed what my Father asked me to do”.

Abiding in Christ is a wilful and active process, brethren. We have to remain vigilant, and commit ourselves actively to the Holy Ghost.

WE MUST DIE DAILY

“And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” 1 Corinthians 15:30-31.

WE MUST TAKE UP OUR CROSS DAILY

“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” Luke 9:23-24

Jesus said to Simon Peter “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren”

Meaning:

When you surrender to me; when you count yourself as absolutely nothing except an empty vessel with only one desire:

To Be Filled With Me.

You will then carry out my will solely for the sake of your brethren, as I carried out my Father’s will solely for your sakes.

The evidence of conversion is not what people see on the outside.

“For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” Luke 7:33-34

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’sbones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matt. 23:25-28

The evidence of conversion is the shift that happens on the inside.

We stop looking to the comforts, gains, and benefits of this world as succour.

We stop looking to ourselves for wisdom, knowledge and understanding.

We turn aside completely from every, single source, and turn to Christ.

Then, we will be able to say as Jesus did in John 4:34

“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.”

Or as Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:7-8

“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”

This, brethren, is Conversion:

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20

PRAYER:

May the Spirit of Christ tear down every resistance to true conversion in us. May He undo every damaging lie, belief, and stumbling block in our lives that the enemy put there, and we not only turned towards, but accepted as God’s truth. May the light of the Salvation of Christ, drive out every shadow of lies and deceit, that Satan has used to keep us in bondage. May your Spirit of Truth, Lord Jesus, bring us into the liberty of oneness with you. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Now to Him who is able to keep us from stumbling, and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power. Both now and forever. Amen.

In Christ,

The handmaid at His feet.

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HARDEN NOT YOUR HEART

As humans, whenever we are going through a trying time, we are desperate for encouragement. When our hearts have been broken, or we have been hurt, the line of encouragement that usually strengthens us falls into the realm of “fortifying ourselves” in some sort of way.

The general belief is that a hardening of the heart is the best way to heal a wounded heart.

I, too, believed this for the longest time.

It has proven, however, to not only be false, but to be one of Satan’s biggest and most successful tools of deceit.

Hardening one’s heart doesn’t decrease the hurt. It preserves it. It darkens it. Which turns it into a different hurt altogether.

Why don’t we like to feel pain?

Why do we shy from suffering?

Why do we hate the people who hurt us?

Why do we believe that the harder/colder/meaner/ more vindictive we are towards them, the faster and better we will heal?

If we are Christians, and profess to have put our lives in God’s hands, why do we run from hurt?

The solution for the pain of a broken heart, brethren, is not a hardening of the heart. The same hardening that we believe is blocking the pain, becomes the very hardening that blocks love.

God’s love.

In case we are under any delusions, allow me to state it plainly:

There is NO WAY we can harbor an ounce of hatred/anger/malice/hostility/resentment/bitterness/unforgiveness, towards ANYBODY in our hearts, and profess to love God.

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE!

1 John 4:20 – If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

Here is the danger of hardening one’s heart for any reason at all.

Matthew 15: 18-19 says: “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies”.

Therefore, when we wilfully (under the influence of Satan) harden our hearts, we keep all of these things inside it – evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness,

blasphemies, hatred, malice, anger, unforgiveness, resentment, bitterness. Which in turn keeps the Spirit of God which produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control out of our hearts.

When the flesh (our nature that is susceptible to sin) tells us to harden ourselves in order to keep people from: hurting us, from taking advantage of us, from treating us in ways that we don’t deserve, from not giving us that which we are due, from disrespecting us, from mal-treating us: Satan, is again, deceiving us into believing that that is how the Lord prescribes that we protect ourselves.

Brethren, it is a lie.

God does NOT ask us to protect ourselves by “toughening up”.

God does not ask us to protect ourselves by hardening. By building an impenetrable fortress around ourselves.

He asks us to surrender ourselves to Him.

To let Him protect us.

To let Him build an impenetrable fortress around us.

And brethren, that in no way, shape or form tells us that we will not get hurt!

We walk around, beating our chests, professing to want to be like Christ. Yet, when the opportunity comes to identify ourseloves with the title of “Man of Sorrows” we all scream “God forbid”!

Christ came anticipating the one purpose that His Father sent Him for – to die for sins that He did not commit. A painful, and brutal death.

And to the very people who gave Him up, betrayed Him, denied Him, and nailed Him to that cross, He NEVER hardened His heart against them.

Instead He said “Forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

We cannot obey God if there is an ounce of hardening in our hearts towards another person.

We are offended by people hurting us because we believe that we deserve to be loved better.

Loved better by whom?

Why are we charging imperfect man/woman with imperfect love when we have a perfect God who already loves us perfectly.

If God’s love is enough and good enough, why are we at a loss when man’s love isnt?

Are you suffering? Have you been hurt? Betrayed? Has your heart been broken? Are you feeling victimized/unappreciated/wronged?

Pray to God. Ask Jesus to remove the pride of even believing that you have a right to punish other for not receiving those things from your heart.

If you are in Christ, then, He knew that you would be exactly where you are today.

He knew you would be as hurt as you are today.

He knew you would have gone through everything that you’ve been through up until this minute.

Do you really believe that He expects you to hold another man/woman accountable for your joy? Your peace? Your fulfillment?

Ask Him to forgive you for not trusting Him.

Ask Him to forgive you for protecting yourself, instead of surrendering to Him to protect you.

Ask Him to forgive you for placing the love of man/woman over His love.

Ask Him to allow your heart to receive His healing love. His peace that passes all understanding.

Then, as God promised in Ezekiel 36: 25-27

Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

This heart that the Lord speaks of is receptive to His Spirit. Because it is His Spirit that puts it into us.

The old heart, that Satan was able to influence with hardening and the lust for human love, will be replaced with a new heart. Soft. Warm. Totally influenced by the Love of God.

Put Satan to shame today. Reject the lies that he has been feeding you about why hardening your heart makes it easier. It doesn’t.

Now unto him that is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

In Christ.

The handmaid at His feet.

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WHEN THOU ART CONVERTED. (Part 2)

We do not separate ourselves. God separates us.

Similarly, we do not control the process of our conversion. Only God can do that.

There are, however, questions that we need to ask ourselves.

Do we need conversion?

Do we desire to be converted?

Yet, there is a question that even supersedes those:

What is it that I need to be converted from, and what do I desire to be converted into?

Do we know?

What do you long for where Christ is concerned?

Not the things that Christ can do for you or give you.

What, where Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God incarnate, The Messiah, Savior, The Good Shepherd, The Lamb of God, do you long for?

When you say “I have accepted Christ”, what are you really accepting?

What do you understand that you are accepting?

What is your goal and purpose for accepting Him?

In accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, where are you looking to go from, and to get to?

Why is there a need for you to accept Him at all???

What is accepting Him supposed to do for “you”?

These questions may seem elementary, but, have you ever analyzed your “Christianity” along these lines?

In Part 1 of this discussion, our reference scripture was taken from Luke 22: 31-32

“And the Lord said, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

When Christ said “When thou art converted”, what was He referring to?

What was Peter supposed to be converted from?

Converted to?

Think about what led to that statement.

They were at supper. Peter was swearing his allegiance to Jesus. Professing his love and loyalty. Why did he need to be converted?

Was he not already a disciple?

Was he not already a follower of Jesus?

Had Jesus not already called him?

Was he not already performing miracles in the name of Jesus Christ?

Was he not already seeing, tasting, and reaping of the goodness of Christ?

So, why did Peter need conversion?

More importantly, what constituted the conversion?

Let us go to John 21.

After Jesus had been crucified and he reappeared to His disciples, Peter had returned to his prior vocation. Keep in mind that Peter had been a fisherman. Catching fish was all he knew. He was comfortable with it. The way of the fisherman was his way. So, after the huge haul of fish was pulled in, Jesus asked him in verse 15 “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these”?

Jesus wasn’t asking him as far as the love of passion or affection was concerned, Jesus was asking “Do you love “you” – following your comforts, your understanding, the things you know and trust more than me? The Me you have seen, the Me you have come to believe in, the Me who you do not fully understand yet, but still believe in…”

“Will you follow that “Me” that you know, but not fully, or will you follow the “you” that you know well”?

To which we know that Peter responded that he loved Jesus.

Then Jesus said “feed my sheep”.

That is what Jesus referenced in Luke 22, He had said “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren”.

Now let us fast forward to the book of Acts, at the event of the Pentecost. Mind you, Peter, after denying Christ, wept bitterly. Then, after the crucifixion, he went back to his old vocation.

Now, at Pentecost, came the Comforter. The gift of the Holy Ghost, and the scripture tells us in Acts 2:14 “But Peter, standing up with the 11, lifted up his voice and said unto them…”. Also, in Acts 3, that same Peter said:

“And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”

This was the same Peter, who had but a short time before denied Christ three times. Then, in the despondence of Christ’s crucifixion, returned to the man he used to be before Jesus called him to discipleship.

Now, here he was, boldly, and accurately, expounding the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

What a transformation!

What a conversion!

We believe that the call to conversion means to stop doing things or start doing things. But, conversion means only one thing:

Love Christ more than you love yourself!

Trust Christ more than you trust yourself!

Abandon yourself, and everything that you have held onto as your crutch.

Especially where Christianity is concerned. Acknowledge that the only thing that you know, with certainty, is that Jesus is Lord. That He alone – Him, His Person, His Spirit, His Being- is the only way, truth and life.

Conversion takes us from “Lord, I want to do it your way” to “Lord, do it your way in me”.

From “Lord, I want to do this, that and the other in/for you”, to “Lord, do what you want with me, and through me, however you choose to”.

If you are perplexed right now, then you are on the right track.

The “How” is supposed to be perplexing. Because it is not for us to know the “How”. We are only responsible for believing in the “Who”: Jesus Christ!

The “How” is completely up to Him.

God’s “How” for Abraham was to leave the land he knew for a foreign land.

God’s “How” for Moses was to face the King of Egypt equipped simply with a staff in his hand.

God’s “How” for Paul was to go from Pharisee to Apostle and bring the gentiles into the way of the truth.

Those “Hows” were determined by God.

The job of each person called was simply to answer, believe, and surrender to the instruction of the “How” as dictated by God.

Keep in mind, the “How” of each of these examples used, and all those in the bible was a way that was completely different and contrary to the way that they were used to/familiar/comfortable with.

God wants your “who” for His “Who”.

That is surrender. Not giving up acts. Giving up Control!

Anything else is “trusting in our way, leaning on our own understanding, listening to our voice”.

If we still trust in anything (especially our voices and our understanding) other than His Total All Knowing, Unsearchable, Supremacy, as our “Director”, then we are yet to relinquish our “who”.

If we are still trying to figure out any aspects of “Where do I go from here, what do I do next”, then, we are still trying to figure out our “How”. That means we have not relinquished our “who”.

In Luke 9:23, Jesus says “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

Think about it. Peter denied Christ. In essence he said “I do not know Jesus”. “I have no knowledge of Him whatsoever”.

When we are aske by Jesus to “Deny yourself’, it has nothing to do with abstinence from anything.

He is asking us to tell that “Governing of self” that rules and directs everything that is us “I do not know you”. “I have no knowledge of you, whatsoever”.

The reason, brethren, we cannot govern ourselves is that our “Selves” is susceptible to the temptation of Satan.

Satan can deceive us, Satan CAN NOT DECEIVE CHRIST!

As long as we listen to our “Self” is governing, Satan WILL rule every action eventually. Because the nature of man is a nature that is prone to sin.

The nature of Jesus Christ is NOT prone to sin!

FIRE YOUR GOVERNMENT!

Fire yourself from the governing of you. Then, completely submit the vessel that is “You” to Christ to govern.

HE will direct. He will lead.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20.

However, all of this can ONLY happen if we surrender our very selves to Him.

When Peter rose up to speak in the book of Acts, it wasn’t Peter who was speaking. It was Christ in the person of the Holy Ghost speaking through Peter. Peter had been converted.

So, brethren, what are you still holding on to?

What part of your “who” are you insisting on holding on to? Refusing to let go of?

Don’t forget, prior to Peter’s conversion, Jesus told Him that “Satan has asked to sift you like wheat”?

Do you think that your struggle is any less a sifting?

But praise be to Jesus as He continues to pray for us.

However, though we cannot convert ourselves, it is we who have to acknowledge the need for conversion.

Jesus is asking you today. “Do you love me more than these”?

Do you still love “you” more than “Him”?

Now unto him that is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

In Christ.

The handmaid at His Feet.

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WHEN THOU ART CONVERTED (Part 1)

If we really trust God, and believe that nothing can happen without Him allowing it to happen, then why do we focus so much on our trials and tribulations instead of focusing on what God is trying to reveal to us about ourselves in this trial and tribulation?

Why do we dread trials and tribulations altogether?

For every Chosen one of God, there is always a conversion at the end of every trying experience.

We look at the goal of conversion to mean “I no longer do this, that, etc”.

That is not the goal of conversion. It is a byproduct of conversion. But not the goal.

A disciplined person can cease and desist from a wide variety of actions and behaviors. Not only can they do it, but they can preach it on a platform that will rival the self- righteousness of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

The conversion of being a Christian refers not to the cessation of certain acts, but to the replacement of a ruling disposition, which causes the person to perform certain acts or cleave to certain behaviors and thought processes. “It is no longer I who live”…

The absolute danger of making the platform of our conversion to be the acts that we’ve stopped committing is that those resolves will be tried and tested. With fire. And when we fail (for if that is the foundation, we will surely fail), we become devastated and begin to question God.

As humans, we act in line with what we know and how we know it. The same goes for our virtues. They are built on our strengths. This is why temptation is directed toward our weaknesses. Because we know this, we then, with respect to our weaknesses, are quick to pull out that umbrella of grace and pop it open with a quickness. “Well, God knows I’m not perfect…”, “I’ve always been this way”…

When we try and fail at “conversion”, meaning we have tried to desist but keep coming back, we somehow make peace with those ‘weaknesses’, shrug our shoulders and say “God knows my heart”.

It is true that God knows our heart. He also knows that this heart is ground zero for every evil imagination that man is capable of. So, saying “God knows my heart should not be a platform on which we should sit comfortably. It is a platform on which we should be terrified.

Because the evil things that we are capable of, that even we are not aware of, God is aware of them all!

Mark 7:21-23 says: For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Jeremiah 17:9 says: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Therefore, we can never effectively process our conversion.

Luke 22: 31-34 says: And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.

When Peter made the statement of being ready to go into prison and as far as death for Jesus, he spoke from his love. He spoke from his zeal. He spoke from the conscious part of his mind and heart. Yet, there he was, a short time later, in the midst of cursing and swearing, denying the very Christ whom he had, but a short time prior, sworn to die for.

Peter didn’t lie. He simply did not know what he was capable of.

But, Christ knew. And that was why He prayed for Peter.

Jesus prayed for Peter because the platform of his conversion had nothing to do with what he did, said or thought. The platform of Peter’s conversion was the breaking of everything Peter did by power, might, zeal, and conviction.

God does not want us to stop stealing, lying, etc. So that we can say we don’t lie or steal. God does not ask us to go through our database and recognize the “things” that we should stop doing.

He wants us to recognize that our whole system of recognizing, identifying and choosing of our “vices” is flawed. It flawed because WE govern it. And anything that is governed by the sinful nature of man is FLAWED!

What God does not need us to do is come before Him saying “I want to stop stealing, or I want to do more…”

He wants us to come before Him and say “I recognize that I am totally and completely wretched! Not the parts of me that I recognize, but ALL OF ME!”

If we are unable to come before God in our totality, and in broken, gut-wrenching, remorse, confess our total, and complete wretchedness before Him, then, we are NOT ready for conversion.

As long as we are adamant that we are partially good; that we have attained a righteous status- especially in part- then we are NOT ready to be converted.

Christ cannot convert us partially. He can only TOTALLY convert us.

His Spirit cannot partially guide us. We can only invite Him to take over all of us. A total possession. Which can only result in a total conversion.

Here’s the truth. If the Spirit of Christ rules in us, then it is Christ Himself who rules in us. If Christ rules in us, then, we cannot do, or be, anything or anyone that is contrary to Him.

If we are still struggling with outward manifestations that are contrary to Christ, then the inward “ruling” can NOT be Christ. It is impossible. The Spirit of God cannot work against the Word of God or the nature of God.

Hebrews 12:1 says: Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the SIN WHICH DOTH SO EASILY BESET US, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.

So, does struggling mean we are removed from Christ?

Absolutely not!

The indication of a “struggle” is the evidence that the Lord is making us aware of something. A discomfort with a norm has now set in. If we are truly children of God, and there is a way about us that is not pleasing to God, rest assured that He will cause that thing to cause you great discomfort until you, with your own mouth, tell Him that you wish it taken away from you.

But when we get this prompting, brethren, it is important to note:

1. If you accept it; embrace it and say “speak Lord your servant is listening”, He will take you deep within yourself. To reveal to you dark, ugly places that you didn’t know were there.

2. You must embrace this “Refining”. Every gritty, lonely, humiliating, painful, enlightening, uplifting, inch of it. Because we have to come face to face with that which is within us. That keeps us from being in oneness with Christ.

Prayer Points:

* Ask the Holy Ghost to take control of your conversion.

* Ask the Lord to tear down every known and unknown resistance in and around you.

* Ask the Lord to shut down every intellect/intelligence/carnal wisdom that tries to insert itself into your spiritual conversion.

* As Christ prayed for Peter “that his faith fail not”, ask Christ to pray for you, that your faith fail not”. So that when we are converted, we, too, may strengthen our brethren.

Now unto him that is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

In Christ.
The handmaid at His feet.

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