by pastor david
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Must we always be popular? There seems to be an innate desire in all of us to be liked and loved by almost everyone. To think that there are those who do not like us is often a crushing blow to our inflated ego!
Let me say very quickly that trying to live in such a way that people like us and enjoy our company is a good thing! The Scriptures teach us that we earn the right to be heard and to share the Gospel with our unbelieving friends when we have a pleasant and winsome personality.
However, the message of the Gospel, when presented in its entirety, is not always pleasant and is not always readily received by those who have no personal relationship with Christ.
The Gospel contains both good news and bad news. The bad news is that we are all sinners, separated from God, and headed for a hopeless eternity. The good news is that Christ has paid the price for our wicked ways and has provided salvation to all who will turn from their sins and acknowledge Christ’s Lordship in their lives. (Romans 10:9-10)
All of which begs the question, “Am I willing to be unpopular in order to tell the truth and warn others about that horrible place called hell, which was prepared for the Devil and his angels?”
I am not suggesting that we should be harsh and hostile when sharing the “Good News” of Jesus Christ but that we should be honest, giving people the whole truth, right from the very beginning. Telling a half-truth is a lie and a lie will never produce the kind of disciples described in the New Testament.
Unfortunately, this compulsion to be popular has also worked its way into the fabric of many churches and church leaders. In their desire to be popular, to be well spoken of, and to maintain high attendance numbers, they have sacrificed the purity and simplicity of the Gospel and told half-truths. They preach only the good news and never the bad news.
Believe me, I understand that the Gospel means “good news” and should be presented as such. However, the “good news” is not good unless presented in contrast with the bad. In other words, why do I need a Savior if I do not know that I am a sinner? What does Christ’s sacrifice on the cross mean to me if I am unaware that my sinful condition has alienated me from God? The “good news” is only good news in contrast to the bad news and the gospel, when presented in its entirety, contains both!
Yet, presenting that message is not always going to make you the most popular person on the block or at your place of employment. Nor will that make yours the church that is breaking all the attendance records in town! I am not suggesting that we should try to be unpopular but that we should be willing to be unpopular, if that is what it takes to present the gospel honestly and completely.
As a Pastor, I had to come to a conclusion long ago that was very difficult for me to accept. I had to come to grips with that fact that if I was going to preach the Word of God faithfully and expositionally, I would not always be popular, might not have the most popular church in town, and would probably not necessarily have a very large church. If the Lord blesses me with those things, that’s fine but I am not expecting it.
This is not difficult for me to accept now but in the early stages of my ministry, when the fires of zeal burned almost out of control, these truths seemed to pour cold water on the blaze of enthusiasm. Yet, time and trials have proven all of these things to be true.
The Apostle Paul writes, in 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” I am glad Paul did not say that it is required in stewards that one be found “popular”. We are not required to be popular but we are required to be “faithful” to Christ and to the Gospel.
Yes, we should be willing to be unpopular, if that is what it takes to present the gospel honestly and completely.
"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
These words were spoken to Joshua after the death of Moses, Israel's leader (Joshua 1:1). God had selected Joshua as Moses' successor (Joshua 1:2-4). The future, for Israel and their new leader, would be filled with great opposition as they marched into Canaan. But, opposition in the Christian life is always a sign of opportunity (Joshua 1:5-7).
Chuck Swindoll once said, "Life is filled with great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations".
Israel's future was too important to leave to chance. The Messiah would come from this nation. The wisdom of man would be insufficient to lead the people of God. Therefore, God left Joshua specific instructions regarding the standard by which His people were to live and a map (Global Positioning System) that would guide them.
In these encouraging words to Joshua we can readily see . . .
1. A Specific Principle To Be Obeyed. (Joshua 1:8a)
"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night." "This Book of the Law" refers to the book, which was written by Moses containing the first five books of the Bible we have today. This is commonly known as the "Pentateuch."
Here God says...
According to W. E. Vines, the word translated "meditate" is "found only 25 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, it seems to be a term reflecting the sighing and low sounds one may make while musing, at least as the ancients practiced it."
Along with The Specific Principle To Be Obeyed there is in this text…
2. A Special Pattern To Be Observed. (Joshua 1:8b)
"That you may observe to do according to all that is written in it."
Rev. Willard Wilcox used to say, "Breaking the law is like breaking plate glass; the largest or smallest rock will shatter the whole law." We have a duty to obey the whole law!
Writing to Timothy, the Apostle Paul encourages him to…“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15)
Along with The Specific Principle To Be Obeyed and A Special Pattern To Be Observed, we also see in this text…
3. A Significant Promise To Be Outpoured. (Joshua 1:8c)
"For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success."
The promise is conditional - as most of God's promises are. The Lord promises…
"Way" means "trodden path." You will have wisdom to make wise choices about your future: choices about your career, your church, your education, your family, etc.
"What is success?" you ask. Success is discovering and doing God's will for your life. (Prov. 2:6 NKJV) "For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding."
Lord, the road of my life is often filled with perilous curves, dangerously steep mountains, and dark valleys. It seems the devil usually causes it to rain or snow and the air is not infrequently filled with fog.
To be honest with you, sometimes I can't even see if I am on the right road at all, much less, if I am going in the right direction. Thank You for Your road map, the Bible and thank You that "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105 NKJV). Amen.
"And He [Christ] is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence."
What is the most important thing in your life right now? What do you want most in life? Most of us know what the answer should be but the issue is, what is really most important to you right now.
If you are not sure how to answer that question, just look to see how you are spending your time and your money. Based on where and how you spend most of your time, what or who is number one in your life right now?
I use the phrase number one because that is what the word "preeminence" means. The Apostle Paul told the church at Colossi that Christ was to have "preeminence" in their lives. What a monumental statement that is.
1. There Are Many Who Give Christ a Place in Their Life. (1:18)
Christ is on their list. To them Christ is just one of many things that occupy a place in their lives. He is right up there with P. T. A., Little League, golf, cooking, paying bills, working, and a thousand other encumbrances.
2. There Are Some Who Give Christ Prominence in Their Life. (1:18)
For them Christ is not only on the list but He is very near the top. He is right up there with family, job, and education.
To prove His prominence in their life, all you have to do is look for them on Sunday morning. Where will you find them? In church, where else? They may even give their tithes each week. Wow!
However, Christ will occupy only one place in your life and mine!
3. There Are a Few Who Give Christ Preeminence in Their Life. (1:18)
"That in all things He may have the preeminence"
In how many things is He to have "Preeminence"? The answer? "All things". Christ will never be satisfied with a place in your life or even prominence in your life. The only place for Him is "preeminence".
Turn to (Phil 2:5-11 NKJV), where we see …
(Romans 14:9 NKJV) "For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living."
If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all!
(Matthew 6:24 NKJV) "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."
It is impossible to accept Jesus as Savior if you do not acknowledge Him as Lord.
(Romans 10:9 NKJV) "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
Who is this Person you are accepting? The Person is the Lord Jesus. "Jesus" is His name and "Lord" is His title. You cannot separate the two.
How does one keep the main thing the main thing? You do so by daily acknowledging Christ's Lordship in all your life.
Let’s take inventory. Is Christ Lord of your . . .
Christ must come first in your life. Your spouse must be next, followed by your children. Then, all the other people and projects that fill your life must be prioritized. In the Garden of Eden, Adam had a personal relationship with God first. Then, the Lord gave him Eve. Why didn't God create Adam, Eve, and 2.4 children simultaneously?
It is because God wanted Adam to enter into an intimate relationship with Him first. Only after God was preeminent in Adam's life did the Lord give him a helper, Eve. When Eve arrived on the scene, she knew immediately that the intimacy she experienced with Adam was rivaled only by the intimacy of Adam's relationship to God. Later, when children were born to Adam and Eve, they grew up knowing that God was to have preeminence in their lives as well.
Lord, on _________________ (fill in the date), I received You as my Lord and Savior. Today, I reaffirm my original decision. In my life, You have preeminence! Obviously, that does not mean I am perfect, as You well know. Yet, in my heart and hopefully in my everyday life, You are number one - the Preeminent One. Amen
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."
For more than ten years, the Lord has been repeatedly emphasizing one essential truth in my life. Again and again, from a variety of Scriptures, God has been teachings me one simple and yet profound principle. That often-repeated axiom is this:
All that God does or allows is designed to drive us to greater dependence upon Him.
The wise writer of Proverbs, in Proverbs 3:5-6, under the inspiration and superintendence of the Holy Spirit, underscores this truth when he warns us, "lean not on your own understanding" and commands us, "in all your ways acknowledge Him". This is the essence of trusting "in the Lord with all your heart".
We might be tempted to question the accuracy of the truth stated above in light of the all the tragedies, troubles, and temptations in the world around us. However, in spite of how difficult it might be to believe what God is saying, these situations should always remind us that there is a God who is still in control of this universe and everything in it. To add an exclamation point to the original premise and to help us see the scale of God’s control over His creation, the Psalmist said, “The Lord sat enthroned at the Flood” (Psalm 29:10). There has never been devastation on the earth as horrific and deadly as the great Flood, recorded in the Book of Genesis, and the Psalmist David said that God was seated on His Throne, even in the midst of this catastrophic event.
If God allows such things as wars, disease, tragedies, and upheavals in nature like earthquakes and tsunamis, then He apparently does so for a reason. I would never pretend to understand all God's reasoning in these matters but one thing is clear from the Scriptures. God wants the men, women, boys, and girls He created to live in constant and trusting reliance upon Him.
Again, I do not pretend to know all the answers to those questions but I know that one of the benefits was a greater dependence upon God in the lives of those involved. I also know that what is true on an international, national, and Biblical scale is also true on a personal scale. Why is God allowing you to face the difficulties you are facing right now?
Think about it. What has God been doing or allowing in your life in recent days? Whether the things that came to your mind were good, bad, somewhere in between, please know that God has a purpose for your life and a plan to bring about that intended goal.
However, His purpose and plan for our lives will never be realized to its fullest potential until we learn to live in complete reliance upon Him. As we learn to live with increasing confidence in Him, we are progressively "conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29). This always brings glory to "the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise" (1 Timothy 1:17).
With this kind of dependence upon God and His sovereignty, there is always greater peace and more sublime tranquility than you have ever known.
"Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”
Prayer! Prayer is a very real concern in my own personal life. A survey by Christianity Today revealed that the average Pastor prays only three minutes a day. Another survey showed that 93% of students preparing for the ministry in a well-known theological college confessed that they had no devotional life at all! My only comment here is that the curse of prayer-less preachers is powerless pulpits and problem pews!
However, prayer should not only be the priority of ministers, but also the priority of the members as well! It should be the equal concern of both pastors and parishioners!
That being said, should not each of us set aside a specific time each day for prayer? It was the Apostle Paul who cried out, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering”. (Philippians 3:10) The only way to “know Him” is to spend time with Him each day – listening to Him through His Word and then responding to Him through personal prayer.
God speaks to us through His Word and we speak to Him in prayer. That is called a dialogue!
Henry Ward Beecher said, “Let the day have a blessed baptism by giving your first waking thoughts to God”. It was the great expositor, Dr. Stephen Olford, who said, “If we want to pray well, we should pray early”.
When do you pray? Jesus prayed the first thing each morning. For some, the question might be, “Do you pray?”
The great Biblical characters we so often look to as examples of Godliness, prearranged their schedules to give God the first hours of their day.
• Abraham rose early in the morning to worship. Gen. 2:3
• Jacob rose early in the morning to make his vows. Gen. 28:18
• Joshua rose early in the morning to sanctify himself. Josh. 3:1
• Gideon rose early to seek God’s answer. Judges 6:38
• Samuel rose early to ask for guidance. I Sam. 9:26
• David rose early in the morning to battle for God. I Sam. 17:20
• Jesus rose early to spend time with His Father. Mark 1:35
This kind of prayer calls for solitude and silence.
Dr. F. E. Marsh put it this way, “The shining face of Moses did not come from a hurried call to heaven’s gate; it was obtained by dwelling in the Lord’s presence for forty days”.
Please understand that I am not throwing stones of guilt at you. I am simply challenging and reminding us, myself included, of the priority and privilege of prayer. Church, can we say with Christ’s disciples, “Lord, teach us to pray”? (Luke 11:1)
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Growing up as I did in the home of Christian parents and the home of a Baptist deacon, I attended church regularly. Actually, it was beyond regularly. You see, when I was a child we attended Tuesday evening Youth Meeting, Wednesday evening Prayer Meeting, Saturday evening Evangelistic Service, Sunday morning Sunday School, Sunday morning Worship Service, and Sunday evening Worship Service. Whew, I’m tired just thinking about it.
However, if I had it to do over again, I would not change a thing because, among the many things I learned about the Bible, I also learned to worship. I had the wonderful privilege of sitting with my parents and observing them and others worship Christ from the heart. Ironically, it was at a Sunday evening worship service that I gave my life to Christ!
Obviously, my parents and the leaders of the church where I grew up were familiar and obedient to the passage above. They did not “forsake the assembling” of themselves together and for that I am thankful.
The interesting part of the passage to me is the phrase, “and so much the more as you see the Day approaching”. Apparently, church attendance – the fellowshipping of ourselves together as believers – is more important today than it was when I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. The reason is obvious. It is because we are closer to that approaching “Day” than ever. That “Day”, refers to the day of the return of Christ and all that follows.
If this is indeed true, and it is, why is the attendance of the average church member so sporadic, so erratic? Is it really too much to expect those who claim the Name of Christ to attend church regularly, unless providentially hindered. Is attending every Sunday now so out of the ordinary that those who do so are seen as Super Saints?
I certainly understand that there are times when it is impossible to attend. Sometimes sickness, travel, work, and other interruptions keep us from attending as much as we would like. However, that should be the exception – that providential hindrance to which I referred earlier.
“Are we going to Church today?” is a question that should never be asked in the committed Christian’s home. Faithful attendance to the house of God should be such a pattern in your home that your family and friends know exactly where you will be at church time.
Yes, church attendance is more important today than ever. Let’s make obedience to the Lord in this matter a priority. Not only will you be blessed but God will also be glorified!
"Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; And if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.”
What is spiritual maturity? Are you spiritually mature? Spiritual maturity is, "The growth process of becoming more like Jesus Christ. It is an ongoing process of surrender and obedience."
Paul begins the passage above by addressing those who are "mature". It translates the Greek word, "telios" meaning, "to end or complete". The same Greek word is used in (James 1:4) "But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect (telios-mature) and complete, lacking nothing."
Keep in mind, however, that Paul has already declared, in (Philippians 3:12-13), that he has not yet arrived at this point of maturity and Christ-likeness: “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended…”
Herein lies the Paradox of Spiritual Maturity. In other words, only a maturing person will recognize his immaturity (Philippians 3:12) “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended…” We are moving toward maturity, as we recognize our immaturity and seek to move forward in our Christian development. Please understand that the more Christ-like we become, the more we realize how little like Christ we really are. Dr. Lehman Strauss said, "It is a work of the mature mind that recognizes its immaturity." In other words, as we recognize our immaturity and seek to move forward in our Christian development, we are moving toward maturity.
The real question is not, "Are you spiritually mature?" but "Are you maturing spiritually?"
You might say, "I've been a Christian for many years. Surely I am spiritually mature." Well, the years you have been a Christian tell how long you have been on the road but not how far you have traveled. Many are like the Hebrew Christians addressed in (Hebrews 5:12), "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food."
May I kindly say that you are never too old to grow up? It makes no difference if you have been a believer for just a few months or for many years, let us keep moving forward toward the goal of Christ-likeness and spiritual maturity.
“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
December 6th is a very special day for me. If you have heard me preach for very long you will recall my mentioning December 6, 1959 as my birthday. Oh, it’s not my physical birthday but my spiritual birthday.
You see, on Sunday evening December 6, 1959, at the Welch Ave. Free Will Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio, after the pastor’s sermon, I walked down the aisle and knelt at the altar. Since the previous Sunday, God had been convicting and convincing my heart that I was a sinner and needed a Savior. No one prayed with me (although my mother knelt beside me and prayed but never said a word). No one shared the Romans Road or the Four Spiritual Laws or anything else for that matter. It was just the Lord and I.
I remember distinctly the prayer I prayed that cold, winter night, while my mother prayed and the congregation sang, “Just As I Am”. Over and over I repeated, “God forgive me! Please forgive me!” It was that simple, because I knew I was a sinner and in need of His forgiveness.
After a few minutes, my mother and I stood and the music stopped. It was then that the Pastor did something I didn’t expect. He asked, “David, do you have a testimony you would like to give?” I was eight years old! What would I have to say? But spontaneously, without having ever given it a thought, I found myself saying through my joyful sobs, “I’m glad I’m a Christian and I want you to pray for my brother that he would get saved too”.
Since then God has fulfilled His promise in the verse sited above. He has been faithful to keep me safe in His arms and to continue His work in me, even during the times that I was not faithful to Him. He kept His promise to “never leave me nor forsake me” (Hebrews 13:5) and to “supply all my needs according to His riches in glory” (Philippians 4:19). His work of sanctification is still going on today, as He helps me grow in my relationship with Christ each day.
You might ask, “But how did you know that Christ had indeed come to live in your heart and life?” That’s a good question. As I ponder the answer, two thoughts come to mind.
Very often, I allow my mind to take me back to that cold winter night – not because I am entertaining doubt but to remember and rejoice in what God did for me; and is still doing for, in, and through me. One day, I will thank the Lord face to face for His magnificent gift of salvation.
By the way, Christians back in those days took professions of faith very seriously. About four or five weeks later, in the middle of January in Ohio, I was baptized in the Olentangy River that runs along The Ohio State University. Maybe that’s why am I still an Ohio State fan. “Was it cold?” you ask. Well, let’s just say that God didn’t perform any thermal miracles that day. Yes, it was cold! We didn’t have to break the ice as some used to do but ice formed on my clothes on the way back to the car!
What God did for that little eight-year-old boy fifty-eight years ago set me on a course that I would never have found on my own. I am rejoicing today in God’s awesome gift of justification and sanctification. I’m thankful that Christ saves us from the penalty of past sins, the power of present sins, and will one day save us from the presence, propensity, and possibility of sin.
Rejoice with me as I celebrate my spiritual birthday and think back to the day you came to know Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:12)
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.”
Do you expect to go through life without ever being hurt? Of course not! You have lived and loved long enough to know that you will be hurt and, sometimes, by those closest to you. Everyone gets wronged and offended by others. There is no way around it. That much is obvious.
However, I want to challenge you to consider another observation that may not be quite so easy to accept. As radio host Nancy Leigh Demoss says, “The outcome of our lives is not determined by what happens to us but by how we respond to what happens to us”.[i]
I am reminded of Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
The Apostle is not saying that everything that happens to us is good but that God has the ability to take all our circumstances, the pleasant and the unpleasant, the just and the unjust, and turn them around for our good and for His glory.
I am not suggesting that these wounds do not leave scars, but these injustices, horrendous as they may be, do not have the power to control the outcome of our lives as believers, if we respond Biblically.
Ephesians 4:32 reminds us that, “God in Christ forgave you.”
1. The believer is forgiven.
This is the starting point – we are forgiven. Oh how we should thank God that all our sins have been…
ü Removed from us: (Psalm 103:12) “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
ü Blotted out: (Isaiah 44:22) “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, And like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you."
ü Cast into the depths of the sea: (Micah 7:19) “He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”
ü Remembered against us no more (Hebrews 10:17) "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."
Hallelujah! We are forgiven! Therefore, says Ephesians 4:32, we are to be “forgiving one another”.
2. The believer is to be forgiving.
There are essentially two ways of responding to life’s hurts and unfair experiences. The first and natural response is to become a debt collector. We set out to make the offender pay for what he has done. But the problem is that being a debt collector does more than keep our offender in debtors’ prison; it put us in prison as well.
However, there is another way. As an alternative to being debt collectors, God calls us to the pure, powerful choice of forgiveness and, when possible, reconciliation. Keep in mind that…
No sin against you is as horrific as your sin against God.
Yes, I said “choice”. Forgiveness is a choice. It is a step of obedience to Christ. Regardless of your feelings, make the choice today to forgive your offender(s). Then, you will discover that, over time, your emotions will catch up with your choices.
Feelings follow choices.
When emotions like hurt, anger, resentment, and thoughts of revenge arise within us, we can remind ourselves that on a specific day we, in obedience to our forgiving Savior, chose to forgive the indignity that conjures up so many unpleasant feelings.
Steve Canfield, with Life Actions Ministries, suggests five steps to follow in order to free oneself from the prison of bitterness and resentment.
1. Make a list of the people who have wronged you.
2. Confess to God, and then the offender, any wrong responses you may have had (e.g. hatred, bitterness, gossip). (Acts 24:16)
3. Thank God for each person who has wounded you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
4. As Christ has forgiven you, fully forgive each offender and offense. (Colossians 3:13)
5. Rebuild relationships and confirm your Christian love to the people on your list. (2 Corinthians 2:8)
The Lord Jesus was very clear and direct when He said, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25
One portion of the Lord’s model prayer is very dangerous to pray. Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” What if God’s forgiveness of us was in direct proportion to our forgiveness of others? If we do not forgive those who have “trespassed against us” then we are telling God not to “forgive us”. Can you seriously offer such a prayer to God? John Wesley said that kind of prayer was, “daring God to do His worst”.
Jesus calls us to embrace His love and accept responsibility for extending His gracious forgiveness to others. He wants us to apply the forgiveness we have received from God to our relationships with others. In so doing, we become partners with God in extending forgiveness to lost, sinful, rebellious people.
We show the world the reality of our faith by our shockingly gracious response to those who sin against us. The light of Christ shines ever so brightly when we obey His command to forgive one another.
[i] Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Choosing Forgiveness, Moody Publishers © 2006
Pastor David Boggs
I hope these occasional posts will encourage and challenge you as we grow in Christ together.
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