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Protecting Against Age-Related Mental Decline

26.   Health Benefits of Prayer

 

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Source: The Journals of Gerontology Series – Researchers at Yale University School of Medicine studied more than 2,000 people over age 65 and found that those who attended religious services and/or fellowships were less likely  to lose their mental  faculties in the following few years. Religious people and/or spiritual people were also less likely to become physically disabled.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Hebrews 13:1-3 stated, “1 Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. 2 Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! 3 Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies The first command is: continue to love each other with true Christian love. The early Christians faced persecution and hatred from the world; hopefully, within the church and in the fellowship of believers, they should be able to find love and encouragement. The church ought to be a haven for believers. The command for believers to love one another was not new (see Leviticus 19:18; John 13:34-35). We as Born-Again Christian believers are to love one another based on our Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrificial love for us. Such love brings people to Christ and will keep believers strong and united in a world hostile to God. Our Lord Jesus Christ was a living example of God’s love, and we are to be living examples of JLord esus’ love (see also Romans 12:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22; 2 Peter 1:7).

The second command is to show hospitality to strangers. This kind of hospitality was important because inns of that day were expensive, as well as being centers for pagan practices and criminal activities. This hospitality also helped spread the Gospel because traveling missionaries would be able to go to more places and minister to more people if they did not have to stay in inns. These “strangers” to be entertained, however, were not to be people who worked against God’s Kingdom; that is, believers were not to welcome false teachers into their homes (2 John 1:10-11; 3 John 1:5-9). A further encouragement to this kind of hospitality comes from the biblical record that, through their hospitality, some have entertained angels without realizing it. This happened to Abraham (Genesis 18:1-14) and Lot (Genesis 19:1-3). That hospitality was given to and received by angels shows the importance of the hospitality Christians ought to give one another. It is better to offer hospitality generously than to miss the chance to entertain angels.

The third command focuses on those in prison. This instruction was already alluded to in 10:32-34. Believers are to have empathy for prisoners, especially for (but not limited to) Christians imprisoned for their faith. Our Lord Jesus Christ said that His followers would represent Him as they visited people in prison (Matthew 25:36). Others who were mistreated—beaten, robbed, assaulted, humiliated—also needed to be remembered.

THE PRIORITY OF PRAYER by Dr. Charles Stanley of InTouch Ministries https://www.intouch.org/watch/the-priority-of-prayer

Protecting Teens Against Meningitis

25.   Health Benefits of Prayer

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Source: British Medical Journal – Researchers at the University of London in England examined nearly 300 patients between the ages of 15 and 19 and found that attending religious services and/or fellowships was associated with approximately 90 (%) percent less likelihood of meningitis (inflammation of the membranes of the brain and spinal cord). Such a risk reduction was slightly greater  than the associated with meningtis vaccine.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) 2 Corinthians 12:9 stated, “9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies Our Lord Jesus’ answer to Paul’s prayer is the theme of 2 Corinthians: Jesus Christ’s gracious favor is what empowered Paul’s ministry, despite his own inadequacies and failures. Although Paul’s request wasn’t granted, Lord Jesus assured Him that He would continue to work through Paul in his weakness. In fact, Jesus Christ’s power worked best there. So in response, Paul accepted that Lord Jesus Christ, in His divine wisdom, knew what was best for him. Paul would not boast in being healed, but he would boast about his weaknesses, for it was through his weaknesses that Lord Jesus Christ could powerfully work through him.

THE PRIORITY OF PRAYER by Dr. Charles Stanley of InTouch Ministries https://www.intouch.org/watch/the-priority-of-prayer

Lowering Blood Pressure

24.   Health Benefits of Prayer

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Source: International Journal of of Psychiatry Medicine – Researchers at Duke University tracked nearly 4,000 people age 65 and older and found 40 percent less risk of elevated blood pressure among those who prayed or studied the Bible daily and attended religious services and/or fellowships at least once a week. Another study of nearly 15,000 American adults showed that regular attendance at religious services and/or fellowships was associated with lower blood pressure.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Hebrews 4:12-13 stated, “12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – God will discern whether or not we make every effort (Hebrews 4:11) and whether or not we have truly come to faith in Jesus Christ; nothing in all creation can hide from Him. We may fool ourselves or other Christians with our spiritual lives, but we cannot deceive God. He knows who we really are because the Word of God is full of living power. The Word of God cannot be taken for granted or disobeyed. The Israelites who rebelled learned the hard way that when God speaks, they must listen. Going against God means facing judgment and death.

The Word of God is living, life-changing, and dynamic as it works in us. The demands of the Word of God require decisions. We not only listen to it, we let it shape our lives. Because the Word of God is living, it applied to these first-century Jewish Christians, and it applies as well as to Christians today. Most books may appear to be dusty artifacts just sitting on a shelf, but the Word of God collected in Scripture vibrates with life.

The Word of God penetrates through our outer facade and reveals what lies deep inside. The metaphor of the sharpest knife pictures the Word of God cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires, revealing what we really are on the inside. Nothing can be hidden from God; neither can we hide from ourselves if we sincerely study the Word of God. It reaches deep past our outer life as a knife passes through skin.

Two thoughts are presented by the phrase, everything is naked and exposed before his eyes. (1) We cannot give excuses, justifications, or reasons – everything is seen for exactly what it is. No one can deceive God. (2) We are exposed, powerless, and defenseless before God. The Word refers to the paralyzing grip of a wrestler in a choke hold. The Word of God penetrates like a sword, exposing us to God Himself to whom we must explain all that we have done. All people must give an account to God, but without trappings and rationalizations. These Words give warning that believers must be careful not to drift away, but to obey God wholeheartedly. God is the final Judge. This verse paves the way for the following section describing Jesus Christ as our High Priest. With our lives laid bare before God, we would be hopelessly lost without Christ. Because He took our judgment and serves as our advocate with God, we can rest secure with God.

THE PRIORITY OF PRAYER by Dr. Charles Stanley of InTouch Ministries https://www.intouch.org/watch/the-priority-of-prayer

Lowering Kids’ Anxiety Before Surgery

23.   Health Benefits of Prayer

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Source: Anaesthesia and Intensive Care – A test group of 120 children ages 5 to 12 were tested while they were waiting to receive anesthesia for surgery. Those children whose mothers were religious were less anxious.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Philippians 4:6 stated, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – Attitudes of joy and gentleness, combined with constant awareness of Christ’s return, should dispel any worry. Believers should not set aside life’s responsibilities so as not to worry about them; Paul was focusing on believers’ attitudes in daily life and as they faced opposition and persecution. Christians are to be responsible for their needs and their families and to care about and be concerned for others, but they are not to worry (Matthew 6:25-34).
Worrying is bad because it is a subtle form of distrust in God. When believers worry, they are saying that they don’t trust that God will provide and they doubt that He cares or that He can handle their situation. Paul offered prayer as an antidote to worry. Instead, pray about everything. Prayer combats worry by allowing us catharsis or to release of pent-up feelings and repressed emotions. We can off-load our stress onto God. Paul said to take all the energy that is used in worrying and put it into prayer. This includes praying about everything. No request is too small, difficult, or inconsequential to God. Paul encouraged the believers to pray about what they need and then to thank God for all He has done. It may seem impossible not to worry about anything, but Paul explained that this can happen if Born-Again Christian believers truly give their worries to God. Worry and prayer cannot coexist.

THE PRIORITY OF PRAYER by Dr. Charles Stanley of InTouch Ministries https://www.intouch.org/watch/the-priority-of-prayer

Enhancing Satisfaction With Life By Giving Cheerfully

22.   Health Benefits of Prayer

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Source: Psychosomatic Medicine – Giving help brought about greater benefits than receiving help. Helping others through one’s religious activities increases satisfaction and improves one’s outlook on physical and spiritual lives.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Galatians 6:7-10 stated, “7 Don’t be misled – you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. 8 Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – This sentence, inserted within Paul’s flow of thought regarding money, gives a general principle about the attitudes of kindness, giving, and sharing. While people can deceive one another, and even themselves, about their motives and attitudes for giving, they cannot deceive God. Paul said that these believers themselves must not be misled. People can’t ignore God and get away with it. What they sow, they will reap. Sow means “spread, utilize, invest.” Whatever we use as key values determines the course of our life. Jesus taught the importance of investing our time and utilizing our resources wisely for the Kingdom (Matthew 6:19-21).
While believers have received God’s special blessings and promises, God does not change the positive and negative of the natural law that people will reap what they sow. From farming to finances, this saying holds true (Proverbs 22:8). A farmer plants corn and grows corn; he should not expect nor desire anything else. Believers must decide what crop they want and plant accordingly, for what they get back will be directly related to what they put in, as Paul explains in the next verse.

Believers who use their lives and sow their resources to satisfy their own sinful desires will earn a harvest of decay and death. Those who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of God (Galatians 5:21). When we sow to the flesh, we bring these seeds of destruction into our life. Born-Again Christian believers who sow their resources and invest their lives to please the Holy Spirit have a far different harvest. They will reap everlasting life.

How do we sow “to please the Holy Spirit”? When we use our resources to grow spiritually and to support the Lord’s work so that others can enter the Kingdom and grow spiritually, we are sowing to please the Holy Spirit. Why? Because our harvest results in spiritual growth and souls reached for the Kingdom; thus, our harvest lasts forever. This kind of stewardship of our resources can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit controls a believer’s life, the results are amazing. As Galatians 5:22-23 pointed out, the fruit borne in a believer is life-changing. That change will affect the believer’s handling of money, use of talent, and investment of time.

While good works will never earn salvation, Paul did encourage believers to persist in doing what is good. While we do good, we should not get discouraged and give up. To continue the analogy of sowing and reaping, a farmer will have no harvest to reap if he becomes too weary to labor in the fields or if he gives up altogether. The harvest will not reap itself. Every aspect of farming, planting, maintaining, and finally the harvesting takes hard work. So, too, Born-Again Christian believers must not become discouraged and give up when they follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance, grow spiritually, and do good for God’s Kingdom. While it may seem at times like a losing battle [Corona Virus/COVID-19], we are assured that we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time, in God’s timetable.

What kind of harvest did the apostle have in mind? A Christian will reap a harvest of present blessings: the fruit of the Spirit, well-instructed believers, restored sinners, and mutual support. But ultimately he or she will reap the harvest of eternal life in the Holy Spirit (Galatians 6:8). Though the appropriate time is the time of God’s own choosing, Paul was most likely referring to the time of the fulfillment of God’s promises at Christ’s second coming (1 Timothy 6:15).

Every time we have the opportunity to do good, we should do it. The timing for doing good is always right. The opportunity is not optional. We are to treat it as strategically placed by God in our path. Our settings may continually change, but each one will bring a fresh opportunity for helping and serving.

God calls Born-Again Christian believers to do good to everyone, believers and nonbelievers alike. The fruit of the Holy Spirit must be shared with both the Christian and the non-Christian world. Some fields may be very difficult to “work,” but our purpose should be to sow goodness anyway!

If Paul still had in mind our financial responsibility, we should be willing to help others financially whenever we are able. But we should focus particularly on the needs of our Christian brothers and sisters. The Christian family extends far beyond the walls of a particular church or the limits of a particular denomination to include all true believers.

When Paul told individual believers to “do good,” he spoke to their responsibility in the community as well as in the church. The church is not meant to become merely a social agency, but individual believers can work together in meeting social needs, giving time and resources as God calls and enables them. Sowing seeds of kindness to those in need expresses our Lord Jesus Christ’s love and prepares hearts to receive the Gospel.
He left the Galatians with a strong word-picture of the Cross of Jesus Christ. The decision that faced his readers was not really between two competing voices of authority; rather, the choice was between denying the Cross or finding through it the only true Way [Jesus Christ] of life [see John 14:6 below]

John 14:6 says, Jesus told him, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ replied: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Jesus’ response shows that the destination is not a physical place but a person (the Father), and that the way to that destination is another person (the Son). Jesus is the Way to the Father; Jesus is the Truth (or reality) of all God’s promises; and Jesus is the Life as He joins His divine life to ours, both now and eternally. Jesus is the Way that leads to the Truth and Life.
Our Lord Jesus’ exclusive claim is unmistakable. It forces an unconditional response. Lord Jesus Christ invites people to accept or reject Him, making it clear that partial acceptance is rejection. His self-description invalidates alternative plans of salvation. Some would say that a single way is entirely too restrictive. But that attitude fails to see the desperate state of the human condition. That there is a way at all is evidence of God’s grace and love. The state of human rebellion can be seen in this: We are like people drowning at sea who are graciously thrown a life-saving rope but who respond by insisting that we deserve a choice of several ropes along with the option of swimming to safety if we so choose.

THE PRIORITY OF PRAYER by Dr. Charles Stanley of InTouch Ministries https://www.intouch.org/watch/the-priority-of-prayer

Lowering Men’s Risk for Fatal Heart Disease

21.   Health Benefits of Prayer

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Source: American Journal of Epidemiology – Men between the ages of 42 and 77 who lacked close friends or a social network and did not attend religious services had significantly increased risk of death from heart disease.

Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) Acts 10:23-24 stated, “23 So Peter invited the men to stay for the night. The next day he went with them, accompanied by some of the brothers from Joppa. 24 They arrived in Caesarea the following day. Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends.”

Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – Peter had been staying at the house of Simon the leatherworker. Peter continued to remove barriers: not only was he staying in a place that his prejudices would have previously prohibited (see Acts 9:42-43), he went a step further by inviting Gentiles into that home to be his guests. This kind of fellowship would have been unacceptable to a strict Jew. A sheet had been let down from heaven, and Peter’s eyes were being opened.

Peter was wise to take with him some other believers from Joppa (six believers, according to Acts 11:12). Some things, particularly changes as radical as Peter suspected were on the horizon, were better observed firsthand rather than explained secondhand. Possibly Peter knew that it was easier for him to accept this new Gentile openness to the Gospel because he had been present at the “Samaritan Pentecost” (Acts 8:15-17). If God were truly doing something new, it would be best that other believers could see it as well. The eagerness and expectation of Cornelius was obvious, for he called together his relatives and close friends, probably many, considering Cornelius’s reputation for kindness and piety.

THE PRIORITY OF PRAYER by Dr. Charles Stanley of InTouch Ministries https://www.intouch.org/watch/the-priority-of-prayer

Spirit of Forgiveness

PHILEMON – The Whole Chapter 1:1-25

Greetings from Paul

1 This letter is from Paul, a prisoner for preaching the Good News about Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy. I am writing to Philemon, our beloved co-worker, 2 and to our sister Apphia, and to our fellow soldier Archippus, and to the church that meets in your house. 3 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

Paul’s Thanksgiving and Prayer

4 I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, 5 because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. 6 And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. 7 Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.

Paul’s Appeal for Onesimus

8 That is why I am boldly asking a favor of you. I could demand it in the name of Christ because it is the right thing for you to do. 9 But because of our love, I prefer simply to ask you. Consider this as a request from me – Paul, an old man and now also a prisoner for the sake of Christ Jesus. 10 I appeal to you to show kindness to my child, Onesimus. I became his father in the faith while here in prison. 11 Onesimus hasn’t been of much use to you in the past, but now he is very useful to both of us. 12 I am sending him back to you, and with him comes my own heart.

13 I wanted to keep him here with me while I am in these chains for preaching the Good News, and he would have helped me on your behalf. 14 But I didn’t want to do anything without your consent. I wanted you to help because you were willing, not because you were forced. 15 It seems Onesimus ran away for a little while so that you could have him back forever. 16 He is no longer like a slave to you. He is more than a slave, for he is a beloved brother, especially to me. Now he will mean much more to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord. 

17 So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it. And I won’t mention that you owe me your very soul!

20 Yes, my brother, please do me this favor for the Lord’s sake. Give me this encouragement in Christ.

21 I am confident as I write this letter that you will do what I ask and even more! 22 One more thing – please prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that God will answer your prayers and let me return to you soon.

Paul’s Final Greetings

23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. 24 So do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my co-workers. 25 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Life Applications to Every Verse:

Verse 1 > Although neither Paul nor Timothy had visited the church in Colosse, they had, during their earlier travels, met individual Colossians such as Epaphras, Philemon, Archippus, and Apphia who, after their conversion, had returned with the Gospel to their native city. So Philemon was a friend and fellow believer. But this letter does not present doctrine or give commands; instead, it is a request on behalf of another believer. Paul chose to introduce himself in this letter as being in prison for preaching the Good News about our Lord Christ Jesus. This is the only one of Paul’s letters where he used such an introduction.

Timothy visited Paul frequently during his imprisonment (see also Colossians 1:1) and was with Paul in Rome when he wrote this letter. Timothy was not imprisoned with Paul, but he had stayed in Rome to encourage Paul and to help with ministry needs. Although mentioned in the salutation, Timothy is not considered a coauthor. Paul wrote in the first person throughout this letter (the same is true for the letter to the Philippians).

Philemon was a wealthy Greek landowner living in Colosse. He had been converted under Paul’s ministry (Philemon 1:19), perhaps in Ephesus or some other city where he had met and talked with Paul. During Paul’s years of ministry in nearby Ephesus, Philemon had been building up the Colossian church, which would meet in his home (Philemon 1:2). Thus Paul considered him a much loved coworker. Like most wealthy landowners of ancient times, Philemon owned slaves. Onesimus, the subject of this letter, was one of those slaves.

Verse 2 – Apphia probably was Philemon’s wife or another close relative who helped manage his household; otherwise, she would not have been greeted with Philemon in a letter concerning a domestic matter. At this time, women handled the day-to-day responsibilities of the slaves. Thus, the final decision about Onesimus would have been as much her choice as Philemon’s. Paul greeted Apphia as our sister, that is, a sister in the Christian faith. Archippus may have been Philemon’s son, or perhaps an elder in the Colossian church (at the end of the letter to the Colossians, Paul had given special encouragement to a man named Archippus; see Colossians 4:17). In either case, Paul included him as a recipient of the letter, possibly so that Archippus would read the letter with Philemon and encourage him to take Paul’s advice.

The early churches always met in people’s homes. Because of sporadic persecutions and the great expense involved, church buildings were not constructed at this time (church buildings were not built until the third century). Many congregations were small enough that the entire church could meet in one home. Because Philemon was one of those who had worked to begin the church at Colosse, it was natural that believers would meet in his house. The church could refer to the entire body of believers, although it seems unlikely because Paul had been writing a letter to the entire Colossian church at this same time. It may have been that, as in any large city even today, smaller groups of believers met regularly in various private homes. One group met in Philemon’s home; some met in other believers’ homes, such as Nympha’s. Paul had greeted Nympha and the church in her house in Colossians 4:15. (For references to other house churches, see Romans 16:5 and 1 Corinthians 16:19-20.)

Because of the personal nature of this letter, Paul apparently chose not to include his instructions to Philemon in his general letter to the Colossians. Paul greeted the believers who met in Philemon’s home because Paul knew that not only would this group know about the runaway slave, but they would also become Onesimus’s “family” upon his return as a new believer. The church would need to understand Paul’s request and Philemon’s response to it. Then there would be no gossip, and they could immediately and lovingly accept Onesimus into their fellowship.

Verse 3 > Paul used grace and peace as a standard greeting in all his letters. “Grace” is God’s undeserved favor – His loving-kindness shown to sinners whereby He saves them and gives them strength to live for Him; “peace” refers to the peace that Christ made between sinners and God through His death on the cross. Peace refers to that inner assurance and tranquility that God places in a person, producing confidence and contentment in Christ. Only God can grant such wonderful gifts.

The phrase God our Father focuses on the family relationship among all believers as God’s children. In the context of this letter, Paul was emphasizing the family relationship that the master, Philemon, and the slave, Onesimus, had because both were believers. By using the phrase, Lord Jesus Christ, Paul was pointing to our Lord Jesus Christ as a full person of the Godhead and was recognizing Lord Jesus’ full deity. God the Father and Christ the Lord are coequal in providing grace and peace.

Verses 4-5 > Philemon had been converted under Paul’s ministry and then had returned to Colosse. Although Paul had never visited Colosse, he had heard (perhaps from Onesimus or Epaphras) about Philemon’s continued trust in the Lord Jesus and love for all of God’s people. Paul was saying that if Philemon truly loved all the believers, then he certainly would be willing to include another believer – Onesimus – in that love.

 

Verse 6 > This verse describes Paul’s prayer and introduces the request that Paul will make to Philemon in this letter. The word you is singular (as in Philemon 1:4) – this was what Paul prayed for Philemon himself. The Greek word koinonia is rendered in these verses as generous. Koinonia is a difficult word to translate, but it incorporates the true outworking of Christian love in the body of Christ. The word focused on Philemon’s relationship with other Christians. Paul prayed that Philemon’s faith would show itself in koinonia among the believers. Paul prayed that Philemon would put his generosity to work. Paul will soon ask Philemon to welcome Onesimus as if he were Paul, and that Philemon should charge any of Onesimus’s debts to Paul (1:17-19). This is true koinonia, Christians giving to one another and caring for one another because they belong to one another.

Verse 7 > The love that Philemon showed to all the believers (1:5) had also given Paul much joy and comfort. Philemon probably had acted out his faith among the believers in many ways beyond sharing his home for church meetings. But Paul was concerned less about Philemon’s actions than about the spirit in which he was performing them. Paul hoped that Philemon’s loving spirit – which had given others joy, encouragement, and refreshment – would also show itself in his dealings with Onesimus.

 

Verses 8-9 > Carrying on the thought from verse 7 – the love Philemon had shown to the believer and to Paul ought to be extended to include another. This was indeed boldly asking a favor – in the Roman Empire, a master had the right to kill a disobedient slave. In any other situation, Onesimus’s action of running away would have signed his death warrant. But Onesimus had met Paul, and Paul knew Philemon, so Paul mediated because of their common brotherhood in Christ.

Paul first described his right to make this appeal to Philemon. Paul was Philemon’s friend and spiritual father (Philemon 1:19), but Paul was also an elder and an apostle with authority in the name of Christ. Paul was subtly reminding Philemon of his authority. Paul could have demanded how Philemon should act because it was the right thing to do, but Paul based his request not on his own authority, but on his friendship with Philemon and Philemon’s Christian commitment. Paul wanted Philemon’s heartfelt, not grudging, obedience, so he preferred just to ask the favor of Philemon.

Verse 10 > In the Greek text, Onesimus’s name is the last word in this verse, exhibiting Paul’s skillful crafting of this letter. After the introduction and sincere compliments to Philemon, he began to state his appeal. He gave Onesimus’s name at the last possible moment, not broaching the actual appeal until verse 17. Paul approached Philemon with tact and humility.

Philemon probably had been angered that his slave had disappeared (in Roman times, it was like losing a piece of valuable property). Thus, Paul first explained that his appeal was on behalf of someone who had become his son during Paul’s imprisonment – that is, someone Paul had led to Christ from prison. Philemon would be dealing with a fellow believer.

Verse 11 > Onesimus’s name in Greek means “useful.” The name was a common name for slaves and is found in many ancient inscriptions. A nameless slave might be given this name with the hope that he would live up to it in serving his master.

Paul used a play on words, saying that Onesimus had formerly had not been of much use to Philemon in the past, but had become very useful both to Paul and, potentially, to Philemon. Under Philemon’s service, Onesimus had failed to live up to his name. Paul was confident, however, that this new man with his new life in Christ would live up to his name if Philemon would take him back. In Colossians 4:9, Paul called Onesimus a “faithful and much loved brother.” Onesimus had become known for his faithfulness.

Verses 12-13 > Although Paul would have liked to keep Onesimus with him, he was sending Onesimus back to Philemon along with Paul’s own heart. Paul asked that Philemon accept Onesimus not only as a forgiven runaway servant, but also as a brother in Christ. This verse suggests that Onesimus himself would deliver this letter to Philemon, so Philemon would need to make his decision as he stood face-to-face with his slave.

Paul was willing to give away his very heart, a part of himself, in order to return Onesimus permanently to Philemon. Onesimus had become part of Paul’s ministry team. This was a sacrifice on Paul’s part, for Onesimus apparently could have helped Paul on Philemon’s behalf. Paul knew that if Philemon were available to be with Paul, he would have helped him in any way he could; therefore, if Paul had kept Onesimus, Philemon would have been helping Paul vicariously. Paul implied that he trusted Onesimus so much that Onesimus’s service could be considered in place of Philemon’s; therefore, Philemon should be able to trust him as well. Paul, imprisoned for preaching the Good News, longed for his friends; how difficult it was for him to send away this man. Yet Paul knew it was his duty to do so – Roman law demanded that a deserting slave be returned to his legal owner (although Deuteronomy 23:15-16 states the opposite). Because Onesimus belonged to Philemon, Paul chose to send him back.

Verse 14 > Paul would have liked to have kept Onesimus with him (Philemon 1:13). However, he decided not to try to talk Philemon into allowing Onesimus to return to Rome to serve Paul; Paul might have felt that this was taking undue advantage of his relationship with Philemon. Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon, preferring that Philemon make the final decision in the matter. The help probably did not refer to allowing Onesimus to return to Paul, but that Philemon would pardon his slave from severe punishment since Onesimus had become a new person in Christ. Philemon had to think of Onesimus not as a piece of property, but as a brother in the fellowship.

Verse 15 > Paul considered that all that had happened – Onesimus’s desertion and subsequent conversion to Christ – had been part of God’s providence. God can overrule and bring good out of human sin and folly. Onesimus had caused trouble and heartache, but he had become a new person, and Philemon would soon have him back. The little while of Onesimus’s absence would be overshadowed by the devotion that would bind him to his master forever. They would be together for eternity, but Paul also wanted Philemon to take Onesimus back into his service permanently now.

Verse 16 > For Philemon to accept Onesimus back, he would have to do so with the understanding that Onesimus had a new status – he was a person (that is, not merely a slave), and he was also a beloved brother. Paul knew how difficult it might be for Philemon to deal with Onesimus as a “brother” after the trouble he had caused. Paul made it clear that he not only trusted Onesimus (Philemon 1:13) but that he considered Onesimus a brother in Christ. With these words, Paul deftly placed himself, Philemon, and Onesimus all at the same level. While this prisoner, landowner, and slave had very different social positions, they were equals in Christ. While Onesimus had become very dear to Paul, he would mean much more to Philemon because Onesimus’s former relationship with Philemon had laid the groundwork for a lasting relationship between them.

Verse 17 > In this verse Paul stated his request: give him the same welcome you would give me. Like the father of the prodigal son in Jesus’ parable (Luke 15:11-32), Philemon should open his arms to welcome Onesimus back to his household and, as a new believer, to the church. God had welcomed Onesimus; so should Philemon. The word partner is koinonon from the word koinonia, translated as generosity. Philemon and Paul shared the koinonia described in Verse 6. Paul wanted Philemon’s attitude toward Onesimus to be based on his attitude toward Paul.

Verse 18 > Onesimus may have confessed some such act to Paul. The only way Onesimus could have financed his flight was to have stolen from his master money or possessions that he could sell. Even if not, he still would be in debt for the work that had not been performed in his absence. This would cause Onesimus to be extremely afraid to return to his master. It was bad enough that he had run away, but if he had also stolen money or possessions or had harmed his master in any other way, he would be in deep trouble. Thus Paul’s letter served as a buffer – giving Onesimus courage to return and giving Philemon the entire picture so that he might deal kindly with his slave.

Any money or possessions that Onesimus had taken certainly were long gone. Onesimus had no means to repay. Paul asked that any money stolen be charged to his own account; in other words, Onesimus no longer would owe Philemon anything, but Paul would. Paul was not suggesting to Philemon that he simply forgive Onesimus’s debt; the wrong needed to be righted. Instead, Paul took on that debt on Onesimus’s behalf. Onesimus would never know whether the debt was actually demanded and repaid. All he knew was that a debt needed to be paid because of his wrong actions – but that someone else was going to pay it for him. Onesimus got a dose of true Christian love through Paul’s action.

Verse 19 > Often, Paul would use a secretary to write his letters as he dictated them (see Romans 16:22). But sometimes at the end of the letters, he would take the pen and write a few words in his own handwriting to authenticate the letters (see, for example, Galatians 6:11; Colossians 4:18). For Paul to write the words I will repay it emphasized that he was placing himself under legal obligation to do so. Paul was not “just saying” this to placate Philemon; he meant to do so by putting it in writing. If Philemon had demanded repayment, Paul would have had to do it. But it seems that Paul knew his friend well enough to know that he would not demand repayment. While Paul told Philemon to put Onesimus’s charge on Paul’s “page” in the accounting book, Paul also reminded Philemon that he (Paul) had a huge credit already, in that Philemon owed his very soul (his conversion and eternal security) to Paul. Once Onesimus’s debt was put on Paul’s page, it would be canceled. As Philemon’s spiritual father, Paul was hoping that Philemon would feel a debt of gratitude that would cause him to accept Onesimus with a spirit of forgiveness.

Verse 20 > In the matters of ledgers and debts, once Onesimus’s debt was repaid, Paul would still have a credit, for who can ever repay someone for bringing him or her to eternal life? Thus Paul asked that the balance be paid in kindness to Onesimus as a favor to Paul. Onesimus had been useful to Paul (Philemon 1:11); Paul hoped that Philemon would find the same. And as Philemon had refreshed the hearts of the saints (Philemon 1:7), he could hardly do other than refresh Paul’s heart as well.

Verse 21 > Paul was not only confident that Philemon would welcome Onesimus back, but that Philemon would also do even more than Paul asked. This may have been a hint that Philemon would willingly free Onesimus so that he could return to Paul or be freed when Paul got to Colosse. We can be sure that Philemon welcomed Onesimus, but the “even more” is left unknown.

Verse 22 > That Paul would ask Philemon to keep a guest room ready in his home indicates that Paul expected to be released (see also Philippians 2:23-24). Some feel that this was Paul’s way of reminding Philemon of his apostolic authority. Or it may have been a tongue-in-cheek way of securing a kindly reception for Onesimus because Paul hoped to eventually arrive to check up on what had occurred. It is more likely that Paul was simply hoping to eventually visit these friends who had been praying for him.

His freedom would be secured through these prayers. The words your and you are plural, focusing on Philemon, Apphia, Archippus, and the church in Philemon’s house. Paul had never been to Colosse; the word return in Greek simply means “granted” or “given as a gift” (the root of the word is charis, “grace”). For Philemon and the church in his home to have their prayers answered with a visit from Paul would indeed be a gift of grace. Paul was released from prison soon after writing this letter, but the Bible doesn’t say whether he went to Colosse.

Verse 23 > The you in this verse is singular. These are personal greetings to Philemon. Epaphras was well known to the Colossians because he had founded the church there (Colossians 1:7), perhaps while Paul was living in Ephesus (Acts 19:10). Epaphras may have been converted in Ephesus and then had returned to Colosse, his hometown. He was a hero to this church, helping to hold it together in spite of growing persecution and struggles with false doctrine. His report to Paul about the problems in Colosse had prompted Paul to write his letter to the Colossians. Epaphras’s greetings to and prayers for the Colossian Christians reveal his deep love for them (Colossians 4:12-13).

It is unclear whether Epaphras was actually in prison with Paul. Paul’s words fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus may have been a metaphor of warfare or “captivity to Christ.” It is more likely that Epaphras was with Paul voluntarily and would return to Colosse.

Verse 24 > Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke are also mentioned in Colossians 4:10, 14. Mark had accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey (Acts 12:25ff.) and eventually wrote the Gospel of Mark. Luke had accompanied Paul on his third missionary journey and was the writer of the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. Demas had been faithful to Paul for a while but then had deserted him (see 2 Timothy 4:10). Paul had sent greetings from these same people in the letter to the Colossians. But in that letter, a man “Jesus who is called Justus” also had sent greetings to Colosse. Much speculation has been done as to why his greetings were not included here, but it may simply have been that he was absent on the day Paul wrote this letter to Philemon.

Verse 25 > The word your is plural, indicating that Paul sent this final blessing not to Philemon only, but to the entire church that regularly met in his home (Philemon 1:2). As Paul had begun his letter with grace (1:3), so he ended it with the benediction that the believers would continue to experience God’s unmerited favor. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is with Christians’ spirits because the Spirit of Jesus Christ indwells the spirits (the inner selves) of believers (see Romans 8:9-11).

Although neither Paul nor Timothy had visited the church in Colosse, they had, during their earlier travels, met individual Colossians such as Epaphras, Philemon, Archippus, and Apphia who, after their conversion, had returned with the Gospel to their native city. So Philemon was a friend and fellow believer. But this letter does not present doctrine or give commands; instead, it is a request on behalf of another believer. Paul chose to introduce himself in this letter as being in prison for preaching the Good News about our Lord Christ Jesus. This is the only one of Paul’s letters where he used such an introduction.

Timothy visited Paul frequently during his imprisonment (see also Colossians 1:1) and was with Paul in Rome when he wrote this letter. Timothy was not imprisoned with Paul, but he had stayed in Rome to encourage Paul and to help with ministry needs. Although mentioned in the salutation, Timothy is not considered a coauthor. Paul wrote in the first person throughout this letter (the same is true for the letter to the Philippians).

Philemon was a wealthy Greek landowner living in Colosse. He had been converted under Paul’s ministry (Philemon 1:19), perhaps in Ephesus or some other city where he had met and talked with Paul. During Paul’s years of ministry in nearby Ephesus, Philemon had been building up the Colossian church, which would meet in his home (Philemon 1:2). Thus Paul considered him a much loved coworker. Like most wealthy landowners of ancient times, Philemon owned slaves. Onesimus, the subject of this letter, was one of those slaves.

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Celebration of Mother’s Day Busuego-Family

Picture was taken before the author’s first book was published on August 2012.

No man succeeds without a good woman behind him. Wife or mother, if it is both, he is twice blessed indeed. – 1963.

Harold Macmillan

“I am successful and spiritually prosperous because of God’s blessings. My wife is the best God’s gift, blessing in my life, and the best mother of my four children, so I am twice blessed indeed.”

Elias A Busuego Jr PhD DTM

I called my wife Christie – MOM! Did you ever noticed that MOM spelled upside down is WOW? That is because my wife is beautiful and amazing mother of my four children: John, Chris, Elias (Jay) and Chrisha. They are all married with children. My youngest, our daughter Christine Elisha (Chrisha) will celebrate her second Mother’s Day with her husband Steve, and their son Nathaniel.

Our son Christopher’s wife Taylor will be her first Mother’s Day celebration with their daughter Zara Rose.

John, our oldest son with his wife Kristin will celebrate Mother’s Day with their children: Greyson, Harper and Maxwell.

Elias (Jay), our youngest son with his wife Sarah will also celebrate Mother’s Day with their children, Miles Elias and Liliana.

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Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

Happy Mother’s Day!

As a mother and a wife, the wife must come first, then the mother. It isn’t correct for a mother to interfere and take priority in her married daughter and son’s life. That said, this is hopefully not a path that has to be walked – to me it’s fine for my spouse to spend time with his/her mother, just the two of them!

Wife is a wife , she can’t be your motherMother’s love is unconditional and can’t be replaced by any one that is true. Remember one thing , Mother loves the child because you are born through her, your are her blood. … But wife she is a different blood although she loves you why that is God’s gift and a miracle.

Testimony of a wife 64 years of marriage.

Who should come first: your mother or your wife?

Magda Selmeci
Magda Selmeci, Master of Science Theoretical Physics & Quantum Mechanics, York University (1973) Originally Answered: Is a wife more important than a mother?

In the Bible, the book of Proverbs 31:10-29 says, “A Wife of Noble Character10  Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. 11  Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. 12  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. 13  She finds wool and flax and busily spins it. 14  She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar. 15  She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls. 16  She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17  She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. 18  She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night. 19  Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. 20  She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy. 21  She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes. 22  She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns. 23  Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders. 24  She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants. 25  She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. 26  When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. 27  She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. 28  Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: 29  “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”

These verses describe an ideal woman whose virtuous qualities are both a challenge and an encouragement to women striving for the same excellence. The verses form an acrostic or alphabetical poem, with each verse beginning with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The term translated “virtuous” (Proverbs 31:10) refers elsewhere to strength, ability, efficiency, wealth, and valor. She works late into the night (Proverbs 31:18). Earlier, the book noted that an understanding wife is from the Lord (Proverbs 19:14). Here, that gift from God is described in detail. The key to the character of this worthy woman is found in the fact that she “fears the Lord” (Proverbs 31:30; cf. 1:7). The book begins and ends by focusing on this motivating concept.

 

The Most Beautiful Heart

The Young Man and Old Man Hearts

 

 

 

man wearing sunglasses
Photo by Bran Sodre on Pexels.com
Author Unknown – alltimeshortstories.com published at RESBC Prime Time May 2020

A young man was proud of his healthy and beautiful heart. One day, standing in the middle of the town, he proclaimed that he had the most beautiful heart in the whole valley. A large crowd gathered to have a look at his heart. His heart was smooth, shiny, and looked very healthy. Indeed, the man had the most beautiful heart in the valley, everyone agreed. The proud young man felt delighted and boasted his perfect which everyone admired. Suddenly, a voice from the crowd said, “Your heart is not as beautiful as mine.”The young man searched for the person behind the voice and an old man appeared in front of him.

“Show us your heart if you believe you have a more beautiful heart than mine”, said the young man. The old man carefully showed his heart. The crowd and the young man looked at the old man’s heart. The heart was beating strongly and healthily, but it was not smooth and shiny as the young man’s heart. Instead, it had scars all over it. It had pieces where some pieces of the heart had been removed and other pieces were put in. The other pieces didn’t fit perfectly and there were several uneven edges. In some places, there were deep gouges where some pieces were missing. The crowd laughed at the old man’s heart. “How can he claim that he has the most beautiful heart when it is all scared and uneven”, they thought.

The young man looked at the old man’s heart and laughed. “You must be kidding. Compare your heart and mine. My heart looks perfect and smooth, and yours is a mess of scars and tears.”

“Yes, your heart looks perfect, but I would never trade your heart with mine”, said the old man. “Every scar in my heart represents a person to whom I have given my love. I tear a piece of my heart and give to them. Often, my loved one gives me back a piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart. Since everyone loves each other in a different way, their piece of heart may not perfectly fit my heart, so you can see some rough edges. These scars and rough edges remind me of the love we shared”, he continued.

“Sometimes I would give a piece of my heart, but the other person may not return of their heart to me. These are the empty gouges. Although these gouges are painful, these remind me of the love I have for these people, too. So, do you now see what a true beauty my heart is?”, asked the old man.

The young man and the crowd stood silently with tears running down their cheeks. The young man walked to the old man, reached into his perfect and beautiful heart, ripped a piece out of it, and offered it to the man with trembling hands.

The old man gratefully received the offering, placed it in his heart, and then took a piece from his old heart and placed it in the young man’s heart.

The young man looked at his heart, it did not look shiny and smooth like it used to. But, it was now more beautiful because he could feel the love from the old man’s heart flowing into his.

This short story is almost similar to my short life story. When I was a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, I shared my love – the agape love that I received from our Lord Jesus Christ to one of the Marine in my platoon.

 

 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
In the Bible, book of Matthew 6:20-21 says, “20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

How does a person store his treasures in heaven? Storing treasures in heaven includes, but is not limited to, tithing our money. It is also accomplished through bringing others to our Lord Jesus Christ and all acts of obedience to God. That “treasure” is the eternal value of whatever we accomplish on earth. Acts of obedience to God, laid up in heaven, are not susceptible to decay, destruction, or theft. Nothing can affect or change them; they are eternal. The final sentence points out the significance of our Lord Jesus Christ’s words: “Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.” Wherever our focus lies, whatever occupies our thoughts and our time – that is our “treasure.” Our Lord Jesus Christ contrasted heavenly values with earthly values when He explained that our first loyalty should be to those things that do not fade, cannot be stolen or used up, and never wear out. He calls for a decision that allows us to live contentedly with whatever we have because we have chosen what is eternal and lasting.

Luke 6:45 says, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ reminded His listeners that their deeds and speech (what they say) would reveal their true underlying beliefs, attitudes, and motivations. The good impressions people try to make cannot last if their hearts are deceptive. What is in the heart will come out in a person’s speech and behavior.

 

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

The heart, because it is the depository of all wisdom and the source of whatever affects life and character (Matthew 12:35; 15:19), must be carefully guarded and protected from evil (Philippians 4:8). The heart, like a spring, is to be valued (Joshua 15:13-19; Judges 1:11-15), protected (Genesis 29:2; Exodus 2:17; 2 Chronicles 32:30), and not polluted (2 Kings 2:19.).

Proverbs 27:19 says, “As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person.”

Our face is reflected accurately in clean calm water. So a man’s or woman’s heart mirrors who he or she really is.

HFC Response to COVID-19

Home Fellowship Churches Response to COVID-19

The United States is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and despite “shelter in place” requirements, Born-Again Christian believers of Home Fellowship Churches continue to receive powerful and effective prayer, daily devotionals and inspiring God’s Words and virtual counselling services they have come to expect by faith and trust in God.

The health and safety of our families, relatives, loved ones and neighbors is, as ever, our priority in our prayers. As this situation unfolds, we are taking all necessary steps to protect families and relatives, and collecting true and good news from local, state and federal authorities especially from FoxNews to ensure the safety, dependability, spiritual services with encouragement and inspiration, and insights such as faith, hope, and agape love we share. Our hearts go out to those affected by the virus, and we are committed to accomplish our purpose, vision, and mission being part of spiritual, mental, emotional, relational response to it in the communities we love and serve. We will continue to communicate with all of our families, relatives, loved ones, friends, neighbors, church partners, veterans and their families in the American Legion Post 447 and District 10 about our response of good attitude and behavior, concerns, and prayer requests and as circumstances dictate in the coming weeks or months, hopefully, and God forbid.

Do not be afraid. Be smart and vigilant against this pandemic coronavirus. Have faith and trust God. We will continue to pray for all of you in your homes.

In the Bible, book of James 5:7-8 says, “Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. 8 You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.”

We as believers are to be patient even during injustice especially these hardships, suffering, grieving and mourning. We as Born-Again Christian believers need to endure, trust in God through our trials, and refuse to try to get even for wrongs committed against us (see also James 1:2, 12; Psalm 37). But patience does not mean inaction. There was worked to be done – serving God, caring for one another, and proclaiming the Good News. There is an end point, a time when patience will no longer be needed – our Lord Jesus Christ’s return. At that time, everything will be made right. The early church lived in constant expectation of Christ’s return, and so should we. Because we do not know when Christ will return to bring justice, anti-lynching, and remove oppression, we must wait with patience (see 2 Peter 3:8-10). As an example of patience, James talks about the farmer who must patiently wait for the precious harvest to ripen. Patience must be exercised and developed between the rains. Even nonfarmers have plenty of opportunities to develop patience. The waiting for the arrival of a baby, starting a new job, finishing school, waiting for a loved one’s visit, slowly improving health during a prolonged illness, Shelter-At-Home, sick of coronavirus, drug addictions, spousal and child abuse, all these situations try our patience. We will exercise patience as we concentrate on the result of our waiting. God’s way is seldom the quick way, but it is always the complete way.

There are three (3) truths to remember:

  1. Waiting reveals what we worship. When the Israelites’ plans were delayed, they pursued instant gratification because that’s what they valued. When we find ourselves dissatisfied with our situation (loneliness, emptiness, self-quarantine, sick, etc.) what do we turn to? Government officials, scientist, data medical models, etc.? What we focus on reveals what we value, and what we value determines what we worship.
  2. Waiting is never wasted. God wasn’t withholding His promise from the Israelites – He was preparing them for it. God’s timeline is different than ours, but our waiting might be preparing us for the plans and purposes God has for us.
  3. Waiting helps us focus on God’s faithfulness. God’s faithfulness hasn’t changed. The God who patiently protected and provided for the Israelites also conquered death so that we could experience eternal life.

If we find ourselves growing weary from waiting, look up and look back for learned lessons on what God’s done for us. This will help us hold onto hope.

Hoping in God is never wasted because the One and mighty God, our Lord Jesus Christ who conquered death is still in control, in the person of God – the Holy Spirit. The Holy spirit is always at work in our waiting.

Again, have faith and trust God. God bless you all!

 

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