What’s In a Promise, part 2

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The promises of God have purposes far beyond just getting what we want.

Scripture of the Day:

2 Peter 1:4

“By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”

The Purpose of Promises

Ever wonder why we have promises? Why do we need them? What is their purpose? Why couldn’t we just have all that we need?

When my children were little and really excited about something they could hardly wait for, they would sometimes look at me with their innocent, big eyes and ask, “promise?”. My kids knew that I would not say or promise something if I did not mean it. I wanted them to know that they could count on my being trustworthy in an uncertain world. They just wanted affirmation that it was going to happen.

Our Father is the same – only He has the means to fulfill all His promises where circumstances can throw our promises into a tailspin of delay.

The promises of man are often self-focused and materialistic in the pursuit of comfort. It is not evil to desire some comfort, but it can become a stumbling block if that is our desire above God’s purposes.

Faithfulness. God gives us His promises with a motivation much different than ours. He desires for us to be people of hope, living worthy lives yearning after His promises. When we look toward the fulfillment of His plan, we are not sitting idle, but become a faithful people. If every promise we ever had was already fulfilled, we would have nothing to look forward to and grow complacent.

Eternal Salvation. His goal is the pursuit of our souls with His promises. Drawing us near, He uses His promises for an eternal means. In trusting in His promises we do not waste time investing in temporary promises. Promises of the world are often formed in sin, but the promises of God are redeeming with purposes far beyond just getting what we want. His promises lead to the salvation of our souls.

Relationship. God wants us to trust in Him and to rely on Him, not ourselves. This is relationship. King Hezekiah demonstrates this relationship of trusting in God’s promises so well. The Bible says that there was none like him in his trust of God (2 Kings 18:5). Threatened by the king of Assyria who defeated everyone else, it would seem easy to fear and hard to trust, but Hezekiah staunchly placed his trust in God and the LORD was with Him. Even so, Hezekiah also had his moments of asking God to affirm His promises just like my children did (2 Kings 20). He was sick and going to die. Trusting God’s promise for healing was a real test in the face of such pain. So he asked for a sign. He did not ask with unbelief, but needed reassurance – God wants to give us His reassurance, too, as we wait eagerly on Him and walk in relationship with Him.

Sometimes a deep yearning of our hearts is never realized while other times promises are fulfilled that we never dreamed would happen. In both instances, we learn to trust our God is wise in all of His promises and the timing of the fulfillment of them.

It hurts while we wait and we can wonder what the purpose is of such pain. This is where faith comes in. Looking beyond the promises we hope for, we look to the One Who made them and His character –  then we understand. A God Who would leave the comforts of Heaven and choose suffering would ask us to do the same – set aside our purposes for His.

That God chose to patiently live a life on earth to achieve His purposes does not mean that God is not compassionate for our suffering and longing. He is growing our character and us into being a people after His own heart Who live worthy lives on purpose for His glory.

Lord, thank You for Your promises and for being a faithful God. Help us to be a people characterized by trust that is a witness to this world.

The Mediator of Salvation

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Jesus intercedes for us as one who walked in the flesh among us – our compassionate mediator.

Scriptures of the Day:

Hebrews 9:15, 24

15 And so he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the eternal inheritance he has promised, since he died to set them free from the violations committed under the first covenant.  24  For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with hands – the representation of the true sanctuarybut into heaven itself, and he appears now in God’s presence for us. 25 And he did not enter to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the sanctuary year after year with blood that is not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the consummation of the ages to put away sin by his sacrifice.

1 Timothy 2:5-6

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.”

Job 16:19-21

19 Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. 20 My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; 21 and he contends with God on behalf of man as a man pleads for his friend.  

Countless are the feats Christ accomplished in coming in the flesh.  Each facet of His work on earth becomes more precious to me, when I consider them!  Having endured through a painful court process, the word, mediator has a special significance to me.  Sometimes in life we feel there is no hope, no end to our turmoil.  When we feel like no one is on our side, Christ is our compassionate Mediator.

We can never underestimate the one Who owns the thousand cattle on a hill, Who is completely knowledgeable of all things, and by the way, is on our side if we are His.  Even more amazing, He is on all sides, surveying and working all things together.  His purpose is that all might know and believe and He uses everything to draw us nearer to Him.

I have a funny image in my head now – of someone playing multiple roles vicariously.  An airline representative checks in your baggage and sells you a ticket.  The same individual guides you onto the plane.  Now if this person said they were the pilot, I might rethink hopping on that flight.  We might have various roles simultaneously, too – I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, employee, worship leader . . . the list goes on and on.

Some roles I do better than others, and sometimes juggling all I have to be and do is hard. But Christ accomplishes multiple roles perfectly.  He is the Righteous Judge with Whom we will one day answer, our Savior, LORD, Comforter, Healer, the Mediator defending us, who ultimately paid our sin debt, too. The list of Who He is never ends.

When Christ came as the bridge between man and God and ascended to Heaven after completing His work on earth, He did not abdicate His role as mediator.  He still intercedes for His children and does so as one who walked in the flesh among us – He is a compassionate mediator.  This Christmas may we reflect on Christ, our Mediator.  Without His willingly choosing to represent us before our Father, Almighty God, we could not have fellowship with Him.

Lord, thank you for coming not just as a perfect babe, but as a peacemaker, mediating our relationship with God.  Only You could fulfill that role.

Do You Know Him?

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

God does not make us choose Him, but our Holy God bids the unholy to come, drawing us near with His forgiveness and mercy.

Scripture of the Day:

Luke 4:34

“Ha!  Leave us alone, Jesus the Nazarene!  Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are – the Holy One of God.”

Such a small statement, and yet so profound.  Even the demons knew who Jesus was and shuddered – but that knowledge did not equate to salvation for them.  When confronted with the God of this universe this evil spirit did not want to be in His presence.  Evil cannot be in the presence of God without being consumed or having atonement for sin.  Fear and rejection of God was the only choice for this demon.  How do we respond to seeing this gift of God? Are we fearful, do we think He wants to harm us, like the demons, or do we recognize the gift of His goodness, embrace His acceptance and come to know Him?

When my kids were little, they would try and sneak a look at the gifts before I wrapped them.  As they got older, they might resort to peeling back the tape just enough to catch a glimpse, or to shaking the item to gauge what it was.  They could not wait to see what gifts were given to them.  It is that yearning that I want to keep fervent in my heart, when I think of seeing Jesus when He returns and when I meditate on what it must have been like to gaze at the King of kings as a baby.  A precious gift, bundled in swaddling clothes was the redemption of all mankind – if we accepted the gift.

Now all these years later we know what a gift that first Christmas was.  We can know that Jesus is God, but that is not the same as knowing Him.  Sin brings fear of sure condemnation, but perfect love casts out all fear.  When confronted with our sin by a Holy God, we have a choice – to bow down and worship Him, confessing our sins and receiving mercy, or to pridefully pretend we do not need His salvation.

Our Holy God does not make us know Him, but came to an unholy people as an infant to bid us to come and know Him, drawing us near with His forgiveness and mercy.

He established His law that we might see our need of Him, and He set the expectations for how we were to live for His glory. He wants us to know Him and how very much He loves us, for this is what we were made for. This Christmas, even though the story has been heard so many times, we can still with anticipation come to learn more of our living Savior and know Him more.  He truly is the gift that keeps on giving, long after other gifts have faded.

Lord, help us to understand what You accomplished when You came to this earth.  May we know You and not just know about you.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 30 – Faith

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The Christian faith is formed in a living faith based on grace and forgiveness.

Scripture of the Day:

Hebrews 11:1

“Now faith is being confident of what we hope for, convinced about things we do not see.”

In concluding 30 days of gratitude, I realize there is vastly too much to be grateful for that could never be fully expressed. But today I am grateful for the gift of faith. How is it that I came to believe? That God would have mercy on me? It was God alone Who opened my eyes to see and understand His amazing salvation and God alone Who overcame my unbelief. And I am grateful beyond words.

This faith is a conviction deep within our souls despite not seeing fully what we hope for. Though it is tested, the confirmation in our souls is not swayed by the storms of this life. The storms of this life only serve to strengthen our faith as it is built on Christ.

When God first opened my eyes to understand His salvation, people around me said it was a crutch. I was mocked and persecuted and it only made me believe all the more. This lost world mocks faith yet has a faith, as well – in the creation rather than in the Creator.

This false faith formed in manmade, dead religion, is based on fleshly pursuits and good works that a fallen people could never fully achieve. The Christian faith is formed in a living faith based on grace and forgiveness by a God Who knew we could never be good enough to please a Holy God.

Each day God’s word is a love letter to His people, inviting them to go deeper with Him. Come be a “fool” alongside me and find the greatest joy of your life. Michael Card says it well in “God’s Own Fool” – Christ humbled Himself to reach His people with the message of the cross – foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God.

Lord, thank You for the gift of faith and enabling us to know You – Our God.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 26 – Imputed Holiness

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The Holy One chose to be treated as unHoly to bear every single one of our sins to make us Holy and to be able to stand before a Holy God.

Scripture of the Day:

Genesis 15:6

“Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”

Philippians 3:9

“And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”

2 Corinthians 5:21

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

1 Corinthians 1:30

“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”

Hebrews 10:10

“For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.”

When I was first saved, discovering the miracle of Christ making me Holy completely overwhelmed me. It still does. That I could in one moment be darkened in my understanding and in the next moment be able to see my sinful condition was a miracle.

Suddenly there was a desire to be Holy. That day of salvation I threw away all my former music and craved to be like Him. I broke up with my boyfriend and chose not to date. Radical transformation because of a radical gift of salvation.

I began to grasp what it meant to be justified before a Holy God. I could not ascribe to His Holiness, so He covered me with His. Just-As-If-I-Never-Sinned. Wow. We who are in Christ are “at-one” with Him. The “atone”ment cover which conceals our sins is Christ Himself.

The Holy One chose to be treated as unHoly to bear every single one of our sins to make us Holy and to be able to stand before a Holy God. For all eternity we will be in His presence because of what Christ accomplished in his death and resurrection. Holiness imputed to the unholy ones.

This Holiness given freely was so costly, so undeserved. Those who are unclean, with sin as red as scarlet, are made as white as snow simply because they choose to believe. What a gift I am forever grateful for.

Lord, thank You for purifying our minds and hearts, our entire beings with the blood of Your precious Son, Jesus. May we never forget the cost and live lives worthy of His great sacrifice.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 21 – The Patience of God

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Some consider it cruel that God would permit consequences when we sin, but this, too, is a demonstration of His patience.

Scriptures of the Day:

2 Peter 3:9

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

Jeremiah 44:22

“The LORD could no longer bear your evil deeds and the abominations that you committed. Therefore your land has become a desolation and a waste and a curse, without inhabitant, as it is this day.”

Since the beginning of time, God has patiently been drawing us to Himself, revealing our sin that we might come to repentance and renounce our ways. The weary pattern of our stubborn sin and His merciful redemption is repeated incessantly, revealing God’s great patience. As we wind up in the mud pit again and again, darkened by our own counsel, He picks us up, dusts us off and sets His love on us again and again and again.

In His great kindness and patience, we are not consumed. All have fallen short of the glory of God. All have been offered salvation, but not all have accepted it.

Some have been in awe over the patience of Job, but it cannot even be compared with the patience of our God. Job complained of his plight, while God willingly chose His own suffering to win our hearts.

What patience of God to see our wickedness and to triumph over it with mercy. With mercy. Our flesh would not do as much. Such lavish patience is foreign, undeserved in our eyes. But then so is His amazing grace.

Patience is not permission to sin without consequence. It is not the abuse of grace or the casual acceptance of such an astonishing sacrifice on our part. Some consider it cruel that God would permit consequences when we sin, but this, too, is a demonstration of His patience. It is in the suffering for our sins that our eyes can be opened to recognize our sin and our need of God. Even in our failures, God works patiently to redeem them and us with His mighty salvation.

Oh patient God, lover of our souls! Lord, You are so patient, longsuffering and kind. Thank You for opening our eyes to understand how great Your salvation is. May we never take for granted Your mercy and live lives worthy of Your great sacrifice.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 9 – Salvation/Forgiveness

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

God stepped into time and flesh and radically demonstrated His love for us all.

Scripture of the Day:

James 1:18

“By his sovereign plan he gave us birth through the message of truth, that we would be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”

1 Peter 1:23

“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.”

2 Timothy 1:9

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.”

Acts 4:12

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Created in the image of God, we lost our way and worshiped something less worthy – the creation itself. How it must have hurt the heart of our Creator that we would not see how much He loves us and choose to live as objects of wrath rather than as His children.

But God.

Stepped into time and flesh and radically demonstrated His love again, wooing us back to Himself. I am forever grateful that God would cover our sins with His own blood and restore us into a relationship with the One Who made us.

This lavish love and redemption from God fills us with 

Joy  –  affects our

Eternity    –  Leads to our

Salvation  –   Transforms the sin

Underneath – and makes us

Sons and daughters of the King of kings!

When we consider so great a salvation that He has given to us, we have to proclaim that He is Worthy of worship! My new song, “You are Worthy” depicts our need to worship one Who is greater than ourselves and the peace we find in so doing.

Lord, thank You for forgiving our sin and the guilt of our sin, setting us free to live for You! You are Worthy of worship!

Day 1: Salvation is Here

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Hope would be meaningless if we did not have a living God Who makes and fulfills His promises.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Peter 1:3-6

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Ever feel like salvation looks a little different than what you had hoped for? I mean, if we are on the Jesus team now, life should be unicorns and roses without the thorns, right? Or maybe you haven’t accepted the free gift of salvation yet because you are not sure you can hope in one more thing that will possibly let you down.

Seriously, life can send us some hard times and it is not enough to quote some nice sounding sayings to get us through it all. Our hope in God can begin to falter when we pray and we pray and circumstances don’t change. Where is God when life hurts? Why doesn’t He choose to end our pain sometimes?

It seems wrong to question, but in all honesty, the only path to healing and finding genuine hope is to walk through the door of pain and seek to understand the heart of God in it all.

It is in the moment of our angst and grief that we find more than comfort in God’s Word and His presence. We discover a purpose and a hope far less superficial than the quest for a perfectly pain-free life, and God surprises us with a living hope in Him.

If you have ever wondered where God was when you discovered the most horrific, painful truth that shattered your life and family, or your home was foreclosed, or when you suffer with multiple illnesses, or your marriage ends in divorce or your pregnancy ends in miscarriage . . . the list goes on and on with the disappointments life can bring . . . you are not alone. I’ve wondered, too, when I walked through all of the things I just mentioned. But that wondering has been transformed into a wonder at how awesome God is – even when life hurts.

Religiously saying He is there or won’t give us more than we can handle doesn’t cut it when the sky is falling. He is not just there when we suffer – He chose the suffering we seek to avoid – because He loves us so much. When He chose to be rejected by men, spat upon and to bear our punishment, the Bible says He had joy. He endured His suffering knowing firmly the hope He had. In His immense suffering, He knew what He was accomplishing in that suffering – the salvation of many.

So it is with us. When we suffer and long for our deliverance, long for just a glimmer of hope again, God is accomplishing something far greater than relief from our temporary pain. He is changing our hope and making us into His image, but He also gives grace in our time of need.

To be human is to hope – to hope and believe in an ultimate good end. God uniquely made us with a craving for hope and something more than we see around us. This is not ingratitude, but a longing placed there by a sovereign God, who knew we needed to be people of Hope to live worthy lives.

He does not tell us to hope and then crush our dreams. Hope would be meaningless if we did not have a living God Who makes and fulfills His promises. Hope is an overused word that can lose its meaning, unless we begin to look deeper into what this hope is really like that God has for us.

The Scripture above says that when we are saved we are saved into a living hope. Not just a concept, nor a thing to strive for – this hope is alive and given to us. Our hope is alive because our Savior is alive. This does not mean the removal of pain or sorrow, but it does mean He will rescue us. It might be a mighty deliverance that brings Him glory or it might mean an awesome testimony of His enablement throughout. The irony of God’s salvation is that God does not always save us from our troubles, but He often saves us through our troubles.

Some of the most amazing men of God in the Bible died, never having seen their hope fulfilled, yet their hope was certain. Their hope was beyond the grave and eternal.

When we feel without hope, it is in that moment that our hope is in the wrong place. Don’t get me wrong – it is not wrong to hope to see the goodness of God in the land of the living – the Psalmist echoed the same heart cry – but when our hope is in Him alone, we are no longer disappointed.

There is an awe that God will somehow use the mess to bless and also glorify Himself. He promises to. Instead of hoping I will no longer have to suffer, I now hope that I can honor God in every situation that arises.

During one of the greatest sorrows of my life, I was crying out to God and asking Him why He let someone else’s sins destroy my life and why I was suffering consequences for their sins. “I wasn’t angry when I bore your sins” was the answer. God forgive me. I had forgotten about His glory and felt forgotten by my loving Father, when He was inviting me to get hope and strength from Him in the midst of the fire.

On the day God drew me to Himself, I was saved from eternal suffering, but my circumstances did not change. I was submerged into a litany of newfound persecution, but my heart was full of hope. This is the mystery of a supernatural hope – it does not depend on anything this world has, but is firmly anchored in God alone.

This hope is anchored in a future salvation that is yet to be fully revealed. It is not anchored in a problem-free, perfect life on earth.

As we explore this hope together, the verse above reminds us that this salvation is a living hope. Our salvation is a constant hope that we look to and can depend on. It never fades, it is certain. It is a relationship with the God Who made us.

One last promise to keep us going – Jesus is interceding for us. He knows we get discouraged. He will not fail us and will restore our hope if we will just hang on to His word and promises.

Hebrews 7:25: “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”

Truthful Tuesday: One Faith For All

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

His love is too great to permit a sinful lifestyle that enslaves His children.

Scriptures of the Day:

Ephesians 4:5-6

“There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.”

1 Corinthians 8:6

“But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we live for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life.”

Acts 4:12

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

John 14:6

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'”

Matthew 7:13

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Tears fill my eyes as I see Scripture after Scripture telling of only one way to be saved and contemplate the goodness of God that He would make a way, yet so many refuse to accept God’s goodness.

In our pride, we would like to have our way. We think we know best. We think we are deserving of salvation because we are on the throne of our souls.

The standard shifts to accommodate all, yet then no standard remains at all.

It seems fair that we should be able to create our own religion and beliefs, our own list of dos and don’ts. The humanistic philosophy that everyone should be included and everything should be tolerated and allowed seems to make sense. One size fits all. But we, the Created, are not in a position of telling the Creator how things should be done.

In our desire to justify our sin and make ourselves acceptable before a Holy God, we crave a standard that is relativistic and pluralistic. In this thinking, we believe all can be saved. But what is this salvation? Salvation from our sins, not a salvation that allows sins. A great salvation that would cover over our sins but also transform our hearts and minds to be like His.

God is not unloving to have a standard. He would be unloving not to. To have a clear understanding of our need of a Holy God is kind. Further, it is not exclusive to say there is one way, it would be cruel to lie and say all paths lead to God. They simply don’t. God’s word says it over and over again.

There is one Faith, and this is not an ecumenical statement, not a pluralistic view, but a call to the reality that we have One God and One Faith. So simple, yet so many stumble over this reality.

In His incredible mercy, God extended salvation to the entire world, but many miss it. For fear of judgment from the one true faith, people flock to their brand of religion that fits their personality and what they want, when all they would have to do to be accepted is believe and admit that they are unholy, in need of salvation from our Holy God, and ask God for forgiveness.

The one Who laid down His life to bear our iniquity – every single sin – that we could stand in His presence and know our Father – His love is too great to permit a sinful lifestyle that enslaves His children. He paid too high a price to set us free. Too big a sacrifice to allow us to believe in a religion that is a lie, which requires us to try and earn our own salvation. He already bought us with His own blood.

“Jesus paid it all. All to Him we owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, but He washed us white as snow.”

Oh God, may everyone who reads this posting today know that they can be saved and accept Your salvation. Open the eyes of all who read to know that they are loved and cherished and don’t have to live in sin any longer. Remove the liberal view which tries to condone our lifestyle and justify self. We are sinful, wretched, lost without You. Thank you, oh God, for your free gift of salvation which cost the life of Your beloved Son, our Savior!

Scriptural Saturday: Chosen in Christ

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Some Scriptures to meditate on as we prepare for the Sabbath tomorrow. He has chosen us in love to know Him and to do His work. We see evidence of this salvation at work in our lives. How amazing is that? Our salvation is sure. Our calling known from before the foundations of the earth. He has called, equipped and will fulfill His perfect will in us. Wow, what a God. What a salvation.

1 Thessalonions 1:4

“For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.”

Ephesians 1:4-5

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”

Need some verses to meditate on to confirm your salvation in Christ? Click here.

Lord, we worship You and thank You for your salvation. May we endeavor to work for Your glory and remember that work is a gift from You that You will enable us to do.