The Price of Contentment

For the world, contentment cost nothing more than what money can afford.
A divine contentment was purchased by the blood of Christ; for those who are His followers, born of His Spirit. The love of God was revealed for His children by the death of His Son; purchasing and redeeming us from the bondage of sin and death (Romans 8:2). We are born to a living hope by His abundant mercy and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; to an inheritance in Him that no one can take away (1 Peter 1:3-4).
It is a legacy that we do not deserve, could not pay for, nor earn by any good work.
Not to be content with the finished work of Christ that assures and provides a pardon from sin, and an abundant life in Him, is to doubt this free gift of His own righteousness for us and to live without Him.
“You Are Not Your Own”
“You have been bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). God so loved us, desired us, sired us and made us His own, to lavish His grace, His provisions, His protection, His goodness, His own life for us, in us, and through us. To His own glory He has shined His light into our hearts to shine through us His grace, mercy and power. He has given us all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) through Christ His Son (Romans 8:32).
He has given all for us to reflect His presence, His goodness and His wealth in and upon us. He has spread abroad His love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which He has given us (Romans 5:5).
Our Response to His Sacrifice and Mercy
In response to His sacrifice and mercy in taking our sin and punishment upon Himself, Paul urges, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2
Here is the reality of a life of contentment according to His will. His sacrificial death works through us for a sacrificial life devoted to serving Him and others while He is preparing us to share His glory. True contentment cost Jesus His life, and it costs us ours. He denied Himself for us to give us eternal life in Him. To experience this life of contentment we deny ourselves for Christ’s sake. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Galatians 2:20 
Understanding the Terms of Sacrifice
Eternal life in Christ begins when we are born of His Spirit; a new heart and spirit are joined to Christ from that moment. Eternal life is not experienced just when we die, but here, now, and forever. The new birth, faith and repentance separate us from the world’s way of life. We are no longer our own, being conformed to this world, but sanctified, being transformed by the renewing of our minds, and growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ until He calls us home to be with Him.
Jesus paid the price for our contentment. Presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice  means that we have received, understand, accept, and enter into the covenant of life that is ours in His death and resurrection.
Gracious Father, We thank you for your covenant of redemption and grace made with Christ, your Son, before the foundation of the world. We praise you for the work of your Holy Spirit in revealing and fulfilling your covenant with us. Enable us to know the power of Christ’s resurrection through the continued work of the gospel, bringing us to submission and surrender of all that we are, so as to live in covenant with you, in Christ, now and forever. In Jesus’ name we pray and thank you. Amen.

An Incarnation for a New Creation

“The Incarnation of the Son of God is the terminology used to describe what happened when the second person of the Trinity, the eternal Son of God, “became flesh” as he was miraculously conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary according to the Bible. In the incarnation, the divine nature of the Son was perfectly united with human nature in one divine Person. This person, Jesus Christ, was both “truly God and truly man.” Theopidia

The Incarnation

“In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.
And the word became flesh
and dwelt among us.”

John 1:1, 14

For what purpose? Could not God from heaven continue His supernatural work by His own Spirit as He had in the Old Testament?

There are many Biblical references to explain why God chose to manifest Himself in the person of Jesus Christ.

The Mediation

Just as there were prophets, priests, and kings in the old covenant as mediators between God and His people, they were not capable to accomplish God’s plan. His intention for the first creation was to have human beings bearing His image. That image was marred, distorted by disobedience to His Word; the relationship that He desired was put on hold.

So, there was a need and the plan for a mediation, which meant that there had to be a dual role, and so Jesus, the second person of the Trinity was born to be the mediator between God and men.

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”
1 Timothy 2:5

He came to fulfill the law, something no other human could do. (Matthew 5:17) As a mediator, He first had to do what the first man failed to do ~ obey the Creator. He had to show a full obedience to the word and will of the law. For thirty-three years He proved His humanity, by being tempted as we are, yet without sin, so that as our sacrifice, He would be offered as a permanent sacrifice for all who believe in Him.

All the promises of God are revealed and fulfilled in Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:20)

God made Him to be our “Go To” for all things. What the law could not do for us, in us, or through us, He does in us through Christ.

Jesus’ words:
He reveals that He was the “bread of life” ~ “the bread of God who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (John6:33-35)

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

The one whose birth the shepherds attended, became the good Shepherd .

“The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
John 10:28

“For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world — to bear witness to the truth.
Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

John 18:37

John’s words:

“… he appeared to take away sins… 1 John 3:5

“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:b

From the writer of Hebrews we learn that Jesus, in sharing flesh and blood, partaking of the same life as ours would, through death, destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver those who were subject to fear of death and the judgment of God. (Hebrews 2:10-15; 1 John 4:17-19)

The New Creation

Jesus, having lived a holy life, became the Lamb of sacrifice for our sins, He took upon Himself our sin and punishment, in exchange for His righteousness. (Romans 3:21-26; Romans 6:23: 2 Corinthians 5:21)images

Through His life and death we are given a new life by the power of His Holy Spirit; sent by the Father to draw us to Christ, He gives us a new heart and spirit. Through the written word of God, the Spirit reveals the living Word in us, and we are born again as a new creation. (Ezekiel 36:26; John 3:3-8; 1 Peter 1:3,21; 2 Corinthians 4:6-7;  2 Corinthians 5:17-19; James 1:18)

He fulfills the image of the Father in us. (Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 3:18)

“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
1 Corinthians 15:21-22

In 1 Corinthians 15 we learn that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. There is first a natural body, a man of dust, inherited from Adam the first man. The spiritual, imperishable man is Jesus Christ, the man of heaven and those who are of heaven ~ born of His Spirit. (John 1:12-13)

“Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”
(1 Corinthians 15:42-49)

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons.
(Galatians 4:4-7)

“Emmanuel” ~ God with us was the prophecy of Isaiah 8:10.  “And they shall call his name Immanuel.” Matthew 1:23

“The promised seed shall be Immanuel, God with us; let that word comfort you that God is with us. The strongest consolations, in time of trouble, are those which are borrowed from Christ, our relation to him, our interest in him, and our expectations of him and from him.” Matthew Henry

(There are so many more references in each of these categories of the incarnation, mediation, and new creation. A book has been written already. Please comment with some of your favorites.)

Dear Father, reveal and fulfill your plan for our salvation in and through our Lord Jesus Christ, by the power of your Holy Spirit in us ~ to your glory and our joy.  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
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We Shall Behold Him!

For this, our daughter, Lee’s, 50th birthday, we created this video with the song she recorded as a teen-ager.  Until today, no one but Jerry and I, and one of her daughters, has heard her sing this.

We share it here as part of our family legacy, and with the hope that any who hear and see this video, will be blessed and encouraged in their faith and the promises that we have in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, now and for eternity.

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you for your sovereign will and grace to plan, provide, and prepare us for that time when we shall see Christ as He is in all His glory, and seeing Him as He is, be made into His likeness for eternity.  Thank you for Garageband, ITunes, IMovie, YouTube and WordPress, all of which you made possible for us as means to share your grace and your glory.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Lyrics and music by Dottie Rambo
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Every Good and Perfect Gift

 il_570xN.419352322_i603“Coming down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no variableness, nor shadow of turning.”

Wrapped in the gift of life are many other gifts that we ordinarily take for granted. If we think only of what we can hold in our hands we miss the best gifts.

Blessings of the Father came this morning with the realization that I can still breathe, hear, and see, taste and smell, reach out and touch, and experience a touch from something and someone else.

These are good gifts in themselves, needed for this life. Every gift is from God our creator. They all come as a package. With these gifts come other gifts that He has prepared for those who love Him; and these are the perfect gifts, needed for another life, a life that is eternal.

The gifts the heavenly Father gives to His children are irrevocable and non-returnable. They come within a covenant that describes the gifts and with instructions for how to use them. These are the precious and perfect gifts that are treasured now and always. We live in awe of His giving such gifts to the children of men; and to us personally.

In his book Heaven Opened ~ The Riches of God’s Covenant, Richard Alleine speaks of a covenant of grace beyond what man can imagine, one that only God, the Father, can reveal. These include God’s giving us Himself, Christ, His Holy Spirit. His kingdom, the earth, the angels of light, with all the means of salvation and much more.

The Father who knew us before the foundation of the world, created us to be noble vessels, earthen vessels that would receive His gifts graciously, reverently, spontaneously, and thankfully; and use them accordingly.

The Greatest Gift
The greatest gift to all mankind is love. This is the gift we desire from others, also. Everybody loves something. In order to know what and how to love we need other gifts, especially the gift of wisdom that James speaks of in the first chapter of his letter. God gave the ordinary good gifts to be used in experiencing a relationship with Him and others. With the gift of His wisdom our senses are trained, as He wants them to be used.

Solomon in Proverbs 1:7 said that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. The fear of God is also a perfect gift from above, coming down from the Father of lights. Light is a gift. It was the first gift, spoken by God at the beginning of creation. He is the father of all light, both physical and spiritual. Revelation of Himself comes with this light, so that in awe and fear we hear His voice, see Him, and know Him as God Almighty, the creator and sustainer of the universe. In our encounter with this spiritual light there is a judgment of our condition as a sinner before Him. This light is revealed as Jesus Christ, His Son, and by the gift of His Holy Spirit we are drawn to Him. In this instance we are given the gifts of a new heart and a new spirit. These are His means of communicating this new life with the fear and wisdom that we need.

By the gift of His grace, and in His kindness and goodness, He instills the gift of faith in the new heart and brings us in repentance to receive the gifts of justification, righteousness, forgiveness, redemption, with all the atoning factors of a Father’s love. In our adoption, all other gifts that are ours in Christ are revealed and distributed, as He wants to give. There is nothing lacking for a child of His.

 “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all,
how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

Romans 8:32

The Storehouse of All Gifts
In Jesus Christ, the Son, is the storehouse of all His gifts. He has made Him to be to us and for us all things, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. He is the gift of eternal life to all who receive Him.

“That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love,
to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding
and the knowledge of God’s mystery, 
which is Christ,
in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Colossians 2:2-3

Throughout this life we have the continual blessing of the gifts that are waiting for us to discover. Every day is a new revelation of His gifts to us in Christ Jesus, our Lord. There is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, temperance, His holiness, His righteousness, His truth, His humility, His fullness, the fullness of His Spirit, the fullness of Christ, who, in us is the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27) and all the heavenly gifts that are prepared for us there.

Dear Father, take these good gifts, the gifts that you have given us, that we may see, hear, and receive the greatest gift of your love in Jesus Christ, your Son, with all the other gifts wrapped in Him. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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Living and Leaving a Legacy

 In Christ, we, as God’s children, have an inheritance, imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us. (1 Peter 1:4) We learn of this inheritance in His last will and testament. In Christ, His death and resurrection, He has secured His own inheritance for us. (Hebrews 9:15) A child does not work for a parent’s blessing. It is the legacy given from one generation to the next.

Through us God gives physical life, but we cannot give the blessing of eternal life to our children; so how can we leave this legacy to them? It must be by example and sample. We can only leave the imprint of what we have learned and point them to the will that is recorded in God’s Word for all His children.

Footprints and Handprints
We leave footprints wherever we go. Children and other people see these. We can lead them to where Christ is in His Word, in His worship, in His service.   We leave handprints on what we touch, in how we touch others, holding forth the word of life; touching them with our hands and arms gently and lovingly in their times of need.

Heartprints
The greatest and most lasting impression is the heartprint. 0003KDWe may, in passing speak a word or leave a loving touch; this is but a sample. But the time spent with our children gives them assurance of who we are as God’s children, and the inheritance that we have in Christ. The example we set before them in a lifetime is proof of the work of God in our hearts. The light that is shined into our hearts shines through us revealing who God is and who we are. This is the work of God’s heart in and through ours that proves that we are His. This heartprint is left in different ways; four of which we will mention here ~ in humility, contentment, joy, endurance.

Humility
There is no pride in the legacy that is ours. We have not worked for it; nor do we deserve it. The only means of knowing and receiving this promise of inheritance in and with Christ is by His own desire; through grace, revealing and giving us a new heart through which He pours into us His own love for us. Recently in reading Charles Spurgeon’s sermon, The Meek and Lowly One, I realized that the love of God would never have been known, or available to us, except through Christ’s meekness and lowliness of heart. Others will not see the love of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, except through our humble estate in Christ. We may speak and read God’s Word to our children, but they must see it in us, alive and active through humble hearts and lives.

Contentment
We, who have this legacy, are content in all of this life, living in faith and trust, for the inheritance that is promised for the future. Children learn that true life is not in this world, nor the things of this world. With our seeking those things above where Christ is seated at the right heand of God; our affections set on things above, not on the things of the earth they see what the world cannot promise, nor be to them. They learn to look for life and contentment beyond the world and themselves.

Joy
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;”  Philippians 4:4-5

There is no true joy apart from Christ; not in ourselves, others, or anything in this world. When Christ fills our every longing; when He is all and everything to us; when He is our life there is joy beyond what the world knows. He is the joy of our legacy. We joy in what we have; and Christ is the greatest joy in heaven and earth, for us who know of our inheritance in him.

Endurance
The legacy of ours in Christ includes perseverance. Who would not endure to the end of this life, through thick and thin, that has the promise of such an inheritance waiting for us. Those who are wealthy according to the world’s standards are known by their wealth and how they spend it. Children of wealthy parents live in hope of their legacy. You know them by who they are and how they live.

Paul prayed for the early Christians that God would reveal His legacy to them, “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,” Ephesians 1:18

God’s children know the promise that Christ spoke to His disciples.

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  (Luke 12:32) There is enough of His kingdom and His glory to share with all His children. In response to His will we seek His kingdom and His righteousness.

If we are to live it we must continue in faith to know Him and the legacy that is promised. We don’t dawdle away our time and assets that He gives us here. We live it, we even fight for it; and teach our children, so that they can, in God’s timing and His way, know, and with a new heart respond in faith and repentance; and receive the promise.

 “As long as there is breath in our bodies, let us serve Christ; as long as we can think, as long as we can speak, as long as we can work, let us serve him, let us even serve him with our last gasp; and, if it be possible, let us try to set some work going that will glorify him when we are dead and gone. Let us scatter some seed that may spring up when we are sleeping beneath the hillock in the cemetery.” Charles Spurgeon

Dear Father, enable us to continue in faith and obedience to your will, to live and teach what you have promised us as your children. Let us live as children whose Father supplies all our needs according to your riches in glory, which is only a sample of what you have promised. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Laying Hold of Eternal Life

0001LALiving in a world of oblivion we see and experience life that is out of focus with true life. By reading God’s Word we see the life that God meant for us to live. At the same time we realize that it is more than man is able to do. His commands are not just requests, but what He expects from what He has made as His own. As humans created to bear His image He has proved that we are unable to be His image-bearers. Every creature, since the beginning, has failed the test. God’s righteousness is beyond the scale of any human being who walks the face of the earth and breathes the air that He created and sustains for us.

He knew this beforehand, and so did not leave us hopeless in our oblivion. Andrew Murray, in his book Waiting on God, states that God’s commands are what He promises to do.

With this in mind let us look at how He enables us to lay hold on eternal life, not just for the time to come, but for a clear vision of this life on earth now. We can understand this laying hold through four means; appropriation, procurement, apprehension, and approbation. This are relative to how we obtain and hold possession of the physical things that we own; and so we can apply them here.

Appropriation
Appropriation is “something set aside for a particular use.” Even as governments or businesses plan for certain projects, we lay aside money for what we want to purchase.  Before time began God made plans, in covenant with His Son, Jesus Christ, for our redemption. In the fullness of time, according to the Father’s will, Jesus was born, becoming one of us. The covenant was ratified when Jesus died. “It is finished” was His proclamation for the procurement of those to whom He would give new life. But, how would we know; and so lay hold?

 Procurement
To procure means to “obtain.” Synonyms are to “get” “lay hold of” “acquire” “secure” and “buy.”  Procurement is “the action of obtaining or procuring something.”  Eternal life is not only off our scale of experiencing, and understanding, because of our oblivious state; but beyond our obtaining. We can buy almost anything we want in this world, except another life. This life is the only one we have, and is daily wasting away. Without help we will eventually die, and then eternity will no longer be an oblivious state, but a reality of what life is without God, for those who did not “against the time to come, lay hold of eternal life.”  It is not that we are able to buy another life, but that the procurement is God’s deal, so to speak. He wants His people for Himself. He made provisions and plans for the purchase of His people. With the life and blood of Christ, without our knowing, or our consent He bought us, as His sons and daughters.

Apprehension
The word apprehension has two meanings, “anxiety” is not the one we refer to, but the second, which is “capture.” Like sheep we continue in oblivion until the Holy Spirit shines the light into our hearts of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. We will never find our way to God, but by His drawing us to Christ (John 6:44-45) or finding us in our sin and misery reveals our condition and need for Him. From the beginning He always knows where we are and will pursue until He lays hold of us. jesus_rescues_sheep3_301x500

The Shepherd looks for His sheep until He finds them and brings them into His fold. Can we refuse His care? Not in the condition that He finds us. He apprehends in exactly the time of His choosing, when we are helpless and hopeless, seeing ourselves as we are, in need of a shepherd. He then opens our eyes to see Him as He is, the giver of life.

Approbation
Approbation means, “approval.” Synonymns are “consent” and “praise,” Our redemption has been since before the foundation of the world, and revealed when God comes to us, gives us a new heart and spirit and a new life in Christ, and brings us in Christ to Himself,. By faith and repentance we turn and respond in praise to His calling and living, laying hold of eternal life in Him. A new foundation is laid up in heaven for that time to come. A new home is being built for those who are in Christ. He continues to hold onto us and we hold onto Him in obedience of faith, seeing and seeking His kingdom and His righteousness throughout this life, separated and continuing in the state of sanctification, as He prepares us for that day when He will say, “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matthew 25:23)

Dear Father, having nothing of our own, but what you planned for us before time began, we praise you.  By the same power that you apprehended us, let us live with thankful hearts in obedience of faith.  Let that light that you shined into our hearts shine through us that others may see what is true life.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

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Indebted To Love

Although pilgrims in an alien land, we still must depend on those offices and laws that are part of this land. We own property according the rules that govern. We have the privileges that enable us to freely go about our daily business; although some of the these are being threatened. According to the apostle Paul’s teaching in Romans 13:1-7 we must, while citizens here, live in respect and obedience, knowing that all is under the rule of our mighty God and King; and all things work for good to those who are His. Many Christians have problems with paying taxes and respecting those who rule over us. If we look back to Matthew 17:24 and Mark 12:13-17 we get a clear picture from our Lord Jesus Christ of this duty to earthly authorities.

In Romans 13:8-19 we see the great debt that we owe. This debt is much greater than any physical debt that requires our respect and our money. The comparison takes us beyond the scale of even our nation’s debt. To owe nothing but to love each other seems a simple thing; and an easy thing to do. But, when we contemplate the true meaning of this debt we see that it is a debt that we cannot pay. We are not able, even as Christians, to love, as we ought. The first commandment, “to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength” is the commandment that we all break.

As I meditated on these verses after hearing our pastor’s sermon on this passage there was a realization that the love that we owe is like money that we don’t have.  To love as we are commanded to love requires a source beyond our own ability, is exhaustive, and one that supplies us every moment, every day. This only comes from a heavenly Father who loves, through His Son who came to give us this love, and His Holy Spirit who works this love through us supernaturally.

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New Love, True Love,
There is much in this world that is called love. The sons of God exhibit a different love that the world can never know except as they see it in us. We truly love, as we know this love, received by the power of the Holy Spirit. The new heart and new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26) are filled with this love.

In Christ this love is the expression of eternal life. It is the living water springing up within us to everlasting life. (John 4:10, 14)

By the birth of the Holy Spirit love, it is the flow of rivers of living water. (John 3:3; 7:38-39)

How can we not love, if we are recipients of God’s love?
The power of the gospel that Paul speaks of in Romans 1:16-17 is the power that saves us from the power of oppression, anger, and hate. The obedience of faith is the proof of God’s saving power ~ proof of our salvation ~ working in and through us. The righteousness that comes by faith expresses itself in all that we receive, beginning with the first fruit of the Spirit ~ Love.

The power of the gospel was first expressed in the omnipotent love that transcended the heavens and the earth; coming down in the form of God’s Son. Giving Him as our means of new life, through His righteous life and perfect obedience, we receive in faith the power of this love to love as He loved. It is not our own. We cannot pay what we do not have. “To love” begins with loving God and “loving each other.” He was writing to the Roman believers. Only believers can understand and express this love.

Resource
We must examine our resources. Many buy, in extravagance, things they do not have money to pay. We think, perhaps, that we have the resources of love that are commanded of us when in essence our hearts are bone dry, lacking the resources that we need.
It grieves my heart to think that those who claim the love of Christ, His suffering and His sacrifice show no sign of His love in their hearts and lives.

We are called to His Word to daily receive the abundance of love that is needed to live in this world. It is the resource that will lead us through this wilderness to the Paradise that is promised to those who are loved of God.

Do you know this love? Do you testify to it daily in your relationship to the heavenly Father? Does this love flow from a new and daily replenished heart and soul? Do you love freely in Christ; or do you hold resentments against others?

Paul in the latter part of this chapter points out the need to awaken; to cast off the works of darkness; to put on the armor of light. He lists the natural character of the citizens of this world, including quarreling and jealousy, which are the opposite of faith and love.

But, put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (vs.14)

 There is a difference in the nature of the world and the kingdom of God. The love of Christ is the proof in us ~ Christ in you, the hope of glory ~ the witness of God’s love in us, that we are born of His kingdom. Love is His nature and practice in this world in preparation for the next. Both John 3:16 and 1 John 3:16 speak of this love.

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,”

 “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us:
and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

 Dear Father, prove your love to us, in and through us. Make the light of your love the brightest, the greatest, and most powerful thing in each of us. This true love would light up this world. Thank you for the power of your love in us, through us, and to others. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

“O, The Deep, Deep, Love of Jesus”

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