Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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Are you “Naked and afraid” before God? – Job 1:20-22

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Are you “Naked and afraid” before God? – Job 1:20-22 – 07/07/2016

Job 1:20 (ESV) Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” 22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.

Those of you who follow popular culture will be aware of the show “Naked and afraid” and the impact that it has on ratings. For a Christian it is quite an interesting premise as we were all without clothing prior to the fall in Genesis. I do not have satellite television so I am not always as up to date with the latest trends or fashions as far as television watching is concerned.

The idea of the show is that the contestants are in the wild somewhere, allowed to be in a dangerous situation with no clothes on and have to hunt, catch food and live off what they find in the wild. Several people I know would have watched it but were put off with the idea that he participants were naked.

What does this have to do with Job?

Not a lot really apart from the word “naked” but let us look at Job for a second… We know that Job was a wealthy man, he had offspring, he had lands, he had livestock, he had more than one property and he had servants. We know all of this because in the first three verses of the book of Job (which has 42 chapters) we see a catalogue of his wealth and in the first nineteen chapters he loses the lot when his sheep are destroyed, his camels are killed, he is attacked by two different enemies and his offspring are killed when they house they are in falls on them.

This is where we read from, if you do not have a bible check out the verses at this link and Job does something that shows his true heart and shows why God calls him “blameless and upright” because he knew the heart of the man. What would he say about your heart? He responds with what is in his heart “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

How would you be in that situation? I can be honest and say I would be mad at losing a fourth of what Job did and I have nowhere near the wealth he has. We all have our hot buttons that start our rage-emotion, for some it is someone holding you up on the freeway by driving dangerously slow, for others it is when the temporary things in your home break, some have a lower price than others to question whether God is truly blessing us and often times it is based on our “things” or stuff” that fills our lives.

Was Job right?

Yes of course he was, he had the attitude to bless and praise the name of God despite losing more than many of us will lose in ten lifetimes. I have never had a day where I have lost all that I had including by offspring so I have no idea what he was going through, however I do admire the heart of Job to leave the results up to God.

The Christian life is not easy and Job is even used as an example in the epistles in the book of James as one of steadfastness and one who endures…

James 5:11 (ESV) Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

We all have our things that we stake our value upon, for some it is your job or career; you may be proud or ashamed of what you do to pay the mortgage. For some it would be an idol for you as you slave away at the God or being a workaholic because that is the only place that you see worth in yourself. For some it is ministry and the ministry is about as much as getting your name out there as Gods.

I am not saying that God cannot use these things for his glory but know this; he knows your attitude, heart and motivation behind all that you do. He sees the “naked you” and knows your fears and loves you. He wants you to align your heart to his, your will to his, your gifts and talents to him and surrender the parts of your life to him that you are still holding onto by the skin of your fingertips and leave the results up to him. You may be naked before him but there is no need to be afraid, you have a good good father who loves you and wants to bless you far more than you would ever be able to achieve on your own.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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Trump vs Clinton/Sanders America gets the choice that it has chosen

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Trump vs Clinton/Sanders America gets the choice that it has chosen

This is an unusual blog for me to talk about such a non-Christian issue as the upcoming election. I try not to get involved in side issues like this because they usually only cause division but I feel that as a first generation immigrant from Scotland who really has no say in the ballot box, this is really the only outlet for me to have my voice so please bear with me.

First – a piece of humor!

Politics is a combination of the following

“Poly” – Many
“Tics” – Blood sucking creatures

Makes sense now huh?

What is my bias?

I am a Brit abroad, deep in California and commenting on a legal immigrant basis who if you knew my history of my paternal grandfather voting all of his days for the Socialist Labour Party and my maternal grandfather being an active campaigner for the Labour party and a member of the NUR (National Union of Railwaymen) my father was also a union representative in the steelworks where he worked, I too had a union card in places where I have worked in Scotland so your first inclination is that I would favor the DNC nomination. If that is the case then read on…

I am not in fact in favor of the DNC nomination as I am actually more Conservative in my political views in the US. In Scotland I campaigned for the Scottish National Party in an effort to secure Scottish Independence and in the US if I was polled based on the beliefs of what would work best for America as a country I would state that I was Republican in nature.

Let me say at this point that neither party is exclusively the party of God (Again I could be funny and quote Psalm 12 – “the wicked walk on every side”) nor does either party represent uniquely “Godly politics” or I understand why people dependent on conscience would favor either party and I am more commonly seeing politicians no longer catering to my demographic, as the world has got more worldly we see the parties following what the popular tide is. It is no longer stating what you believe would be best for the country; it is more about what sells at the box office and will get your elected. The bill of sale for the souls of those involved has long since been redeemed.

Why do I care in the first place?

Because this is my home, the home country of my wife and the love of my life and also the home country of my daughter. Whilst I cannot truthfully be called an “American” as I was born in Britain I regard myself as a “New American” because I pay taxes here, contribute here and I have a heart for seeing America become great again.

What do I mean by American becoming great again?

I am not criticizing I truly am not, however if we look introspectively we know that things could be better and speaking uniquely from a Christian point of view I doubt very much whether Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders will make all that much of a difference in our country because we as a nation need a revival where our hearts are turned to Jesus and I hold neither of these “political saviors” up as someone who will suddenly make America the greatest nation to live in again. There is a quote from the musical Evita that says “eventually we get the Government we deserve!” and you can make your own application from that!

I don’t want Trump and I don’t want Hillary!

As a Brit I really should start a “revokation of independence” petition due to your choice of nominees to be your leaders! (That was humor) However…

I am sorry Bernie but it is not likely you will get the DNC nod!

For me it is a two horse (or donkey) race for the White House and unless Donald Trump does something crazy like appoint Ted Cruz as his VP then I doubt the GOP will be united against him but let us look at the candidates one by one.

TRUMP – Not at all popular among many grass roots long term supporters of the GOP, this may be to his advantage or it may work against him, conversely some long term Republicans that I never in a million years would have thought were going to support him have thrown their weight behind Trump.

His supporters are caricatured as unknowledgeable, fed directly from Fox news and RINO’s (Republicans in Name Only) and has polarized a group called “NeverTrump” supporters. Folks who would normally have voted for a lamppost if it was up for nomination for the GOP ticket and should he win he would need to do so and convince those NeverTrump folks as well as a percentage of swing voters that he was the lesser of two evils between him and Clinton.

One thing is for sure, if you would rather “anyone but Clinton” then whilst he may not be your first choice, a vote for any other than Trump is most likely to result in a Clinton victory. She may very well win anyway but if the Republican base as a whole will not vote for the guy the party aligned themselves to then it will hand victory to the opponents because there is no organized replacement and if there remains none then it will split a vote and default victory will be a Democrat one.

CLINTON- Everyone knows the former First Lady and wife of the 42nd President William (Bill) Clinton and everyone knows her experience in a political setting in both State and National politics. She is not without controversy and she is a long standing “anti-Republican” and in my view would be the Republicans worst nightmare on Election Day should she be elected.

She knows the system, is very much part of Washington and also knows that as long as she debates above mediocre against Trump then the raging dumpster fire that is the split in the GOP vote will lead her to victory all the way to Pennsylvania Avenue.

Ironically if she does get convicted (highly unlikely I know) of wrongdoing through the email scandal before the elections would Bernie get a consolation prize of being allowed to run or would the nomination fall to Hillary’s VP nomination?

The problem as I see it

Is that I can no longer tell the difference between the Democrat and Republican parties! The Republicans are no longer the party that elected Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Regan (in beliefs or the fruit of those beliefs) has certainly not been great with their choice of nomination. I said in my last blog on this subject that if the GOP did not thin out the herd from the five candidates that were running at that point that a Trump victory was assured. Below is a quote from that article…

“Perhaps the Republican establishment are hoping for a solution to what I said in the second part of this article and a solution to the fact that there are just too many candidates and Trump is capitalizing on the fact that people who are similar in campaign stances (such as Carson and Cruz) have not banded together to get their people voting for the one ticket in order to try to win more delegates. In this scenario I would see the following pairings

Cruz/Carson and Rubio/Kasich

Then and only then would someone come close to matching the Trump bandwagon. In my view this should have been done at least a week before Super Tuesday to maximize the opportunity for the one who is progressing to send his voters over to his preferred candidate. I am being blunt because before Super Tuesday only Cruz or Rubio could catch him based on donations and impact in various states.”

They have elected candidates that are more similar than they are different and I have not seen anything like this since 1997 in the British Elections for the Westminster Parliament where Tony Blair swept to victory as the UK fell for “New Labour” when they decided to abandon their formally socialist principles and out Conservative the Conservatives. It certainly worked as they were seen as the most viable alternative but since then they have been more alike to the Conservatives than they have been separate. Perhaps it is not just an American phenomenon maybe it is worldwide?

I chose to abstain or “no” vote

That is your democratic right as an American (or qualified citizen) and I would not condemn you for doing so because it is your right to use your vote in whatever fashion you wish. I do say though that in such a tight race this may be the few times where your vote may actually count. I would say this would be the same as when you change to Libertarian or Green from GOP or DNC as neither of those two parties really have a shot of getting the top job so you may be letting a candidate that you disagree more with getting in.

The choice as I see it

Is either Trump or Clinton, it is down to which one you despise least and honestly I see the dilemma because they are certainly not my choices and the DNC will favor Clinton because for the last 8 years we knew this was coming however the GOP have done this to themselves and due to that it may find itself unelectable in this election and America needs a balance. It needs a strong Republican Party (or at least a Conservative party) that will stand up for America. I hope this is not the beginning of the end for the GOP.

The only way to “make America great” again

Is TRUE REVIVAL, America needs to do what it says in 2nd Chronicles 7:14 and “humble themselves and pray, then God will see from heaven, forgive our sins and heal our land” We need redemption in this land, a true turning from our sins and accepting of the free gift that is our salvation through Jesus Christ and a true repentance from the wrongs we have done. We need to pray individually, as families, as communities and as cities from the lowest paid man in the city to the most affluent business man. From the homeless man who has nothing to the President who has everything, we need to all get right with the Lord and then we will become the greatest nation in the world again. The verse quoted is below…

2nd Chronicles 7:14 (ESV) if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

For me…that is waaaaay more important than who America elects to be the 45th President.

In closing

I am truly grateful I am not allowed to vote, I pray for you America because I know this is temporary and regardless of who is in the Oval Office I know that my King is Jesus.

God bless you all
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

The LORD’s prayer – Part 1 – Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name

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The LORD’s prayer – Part 1 – Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name

Matthew 6:9 (KJV) After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Like any good piece of mail a good prayer has an address. If you were mailing a letter would you send it without first writing on the envelope and alerting the mailing service to the destination of the intended correspondence? What success would you give of even receiving it back if the front had no destination or sending address? Would you do likewise with an email? It won’t go without a recipient email address and also the same with a fax, without a fax number it will go nowhere. Whilst God is eternal, omnipresent and outside of time and our constraints I would not send anything out without assurance that my intended recipient would receive it.

So Jesus had just finished saying how we should not be doing good deeds in order to be seen to be doing good deeds. (Self-promotion of how spiritual if you will) He used the example of sounding a trumpet whilst giving and now he goes onto a subject very close to his heart which is prayer. If we are praying to flatter men or to impress our peers then think on it like this. Are you actually praying to God or insulting God? I would speculate that it is the latter and I do not know about you but I do not want to be knowingly insulting God. What Jesus said was like all aspects of conviction Jesus did not say this to make others feel bad, he said it as an exhortation and now he wishes to teach on how to do it according to the fathers will. He was not interested in condemnation but correction in this case. Whether we choose to be condemned or corrected is completely up to us.

When we are praying we need to remember the wisdom that we find in the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 5 verse 2 which reads…

Ecclesiastes 5:2 (KJV) Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.

It is a conversation between God and you and in the same way that you would not babble with your best friend I would heed the example in Ecclesiastes that states do not do lengthy prayers for the sake of being heard, be real with God and be honest, let him see what he already sees in your heart is in your prayer life. What a glory to your relationship with God if you are willing to submit that much that you are in such submission that you let everything go and let it all out. That is true Christianity there and you would really be a man after God’s own heart.

Jesus addresses God as the “Father” we are praying to a loving father who has allowed us into a relationship to call him a title that is family. The Jews would consider that too close, too intimate and they would have a hard time with this. He is a father in heaven, ruler, full of majesty who is worthy of all glory, honor and attributed to all holiness. He is called “Our Father” which gives us all access to the same father; it is like we are in our churches, a community of believers that have a direct line to heaven, it reminds me of the lyrics of the song “What a friend we have in Jesus” when it states…

“All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!”

Jesus closes by giving due respect to the name of God. “Hallowed by your name” comes all the way back to Exodus 20:7 where we are told to not use the name of the LORD in vain. Jesus does his job by guarding the good name of God and reminding us that His name is holy. It should be hallowed. It speaks of separation from profane things, dedicated to God, consecrated, purify, to be cleansed, it is sometimes translated as “sanctified” and by using this word we are reminded that there is no spot or blemish on the name of God. His name should be treated with absolute care. (Greek word – hagiazo)

Jesus knows what he is talking about as far as the name of God goes, he was there at the beginning of creation and even when we are tried beyond what we can bear, God is still God and he will still be holy and just, his ways are far above our ways and I doubt many of us will ever suffer as Job suffered and in the book of Job at the end of the book Job challenges God on his plan for Job’s life and let’s look at the response…

Job 38:1 (KJV) Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, 2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. 4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. 5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? 6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; 7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 8 Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? 9 When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it, 10 And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, 11 And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed? 12 Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place; 13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?

Regardless of how “high and mighty” we think we are with God we could not hold a candle to who God is. Even the smartest intellects of man still have not been able to create as God did. His name is holy and deserves to be hallowed.

I pray that this article has been educational, challenging, convicting and exhorting, I pray that you received it well and please feel free to like, share and comment on whatever social media you wish as the LORD leads you too.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus

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Teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

Acts 5:17 (ESV) But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy 18 they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” 21 And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council, all the senate of the people of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, 23 “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. 25 And someone came and told them, “Look! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.” 26 Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” 33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men.36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing.37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, 40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

Apologies (in advance) for the long introduction)

For me this is a super exciting piece of Scripture. Not because my predecessors in the faith suffered, but more that it is proof that once you become a Christian, it is not all light, airy and fairy, that God will act like some big genie in the sky and grant all of our wishes because we are “the real ones”, there are 2 reasons why God won’t do that:

1)    The heart (even the Christian one) is deceitfully wicked and we would be corrupted easily if that were the arrangement.
2)    We really have no idea what we want and what is best for us. I liken it to a toddler who is throwing a fit because there is no apple in the fridge and the store is closed, we may want it but it will not be fulfilled.

Which is why, for me at least, (and hopefully for you also) that the “name it and claim it” preachers are wrong, you know the guys, the ones who promote a prosperity driven gospel, a gospel that is good when you are making bank from it. The type of messages that contain notions such as “whatever you give God, he will give you TEN TIMES back” (I think they mean a super spiritual reverse tithing celestial building society account with the creator)

Now I am of the belief that you cannot out give God, however my faith is not dependent on me owning a Mercedes Benz, wearing Nike trainers, a Ralph Lauren shirt and a pair of Levi Jeans. Such faith will see very quickly your mettle. To quote a good old Scottish saying you would disappear like “snow off a dyke” (means when it gets hot the snow will not endure the change in conditions and melt on the top of a wall not built by cement)

This is something we are still learning in the Western church, the mission church, where we quite literally have to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry” (otherwise the Pastor would do everything) with the possible exception of small churches/house churches and smaller church plants, people are hiding in plain sight, either not serving or not having their gifts used by inept leadership at the local church level.

Now I have a confession to make, I stink at evangelism! I can quite literally talk someone’s ear off for hours on end about topics that will not matter and have no eternal relevance (or relevance in the next five minutes) but if you had me cold call on a person to discuss eternal life, I try hard but I am not relevant, unless they have similar struggles to what I have had. I understand the pull of addiction, I understand what a sinful life is, I understand what it is like to have your brain think the dishonest route is the primary route, I have been through that and I emphasize with those people. I get what they are going through,

Lets get to the passage huh?

Apologies for the random thoughts, but as I look at my Mac Book and see the time on the top right hand corner it currently reads 02:33 AM, I am currently writing this while caring for my sick child, I have been sick all this week and I think that I gave it to her. This article will either be one of the best I have written, or one of the worst.

As I ponder this I am reminded of an account that I heard when listening to a radio program I catch most days on my way home from work, the radio host said that a prominent preacher that he respected was having a conversation with him and he reminded him of a poignant truth.

He said “Remember the Donkey” to which the host replied “The Donkey?” and the preacher said, “Even the Donkey knew the celebration and palm leaves were for the one he was escorting into the city”

We have to remember that! As much as we may get kudos, or thanks for a message delivered, we are simply the vessels that God chooses to use. In the same way I can do most jobs around my house far quicker and far easier flying solo, it is so much fun to show your kids how to do stuff. That is why God uses us to do his work!

Point by point through this passage

Can you imagine the scenes in this story, lets break it down.

1)    Religious people get jealous, they are not getting the kudos (maybe not being seen as the holy ones anymore)
2)    Prison time for the Apostles, if we can’t shut them up then we will lock them up.
3)    Heavenly jailbreak, doors flung open and they are told from above to keep preaching.
4)    Obedience, they went out and preached again
5)    Brought back before the religious rulers and accused
6)    God or man? Whom should I follow?
7)    Jesus is proclaimed and the full counsel of the gospel is delivered
8)    Religious leaders consider their options, jail cannot hold them
9)    If it is of man it will fail, if it is of God it will not
10)  Went from house to house proclaiming Jesus is LORD

Why it is encouraging to me

Because I don’t face a religious court for proclaiming Jesus Christ is LORD. No one has sued me for my opinions or what God has put on my heart for me to say. I stick to Conservative Christian theology mainly so I doubt I will ever end up in the situation of these apostles.

I kind of wish I did though, in the Western church we have lost our edge, I feel that although we are called to a battle, perhaps a heavenly war as it were. I do wonder about the urgency we have to save souls. I am not tarring all Christians with the same brush, I do think that sometimes we blow it unintentionally, but there are times when we are missing clear open doors to help someone and talk to them about Jesus. (I am talking to me first)

What is stopping you dear Christian?

In this historical account, the apostles are tried, convicted, jailed, released, threatened, beaten and then they continue on with their mission. Have you faced any of that in the last year? I know I sure haven’t, I haven’t even been mocked for having the beliefs I have. So really, with no gun to my head or knife on my throat, I have erred in this task.

Please be reminded (or if you did not know then please be aware) these are not educated men, they are tradesmen from Galilee, some fishermen, a physician and a tax collector. Jesus did not choose 12 Pharisee best of the best scholars who were brave men and fantastic orators. He chose the man in the street, the coward, the wimp, the doubter, most famously he chose the betrayer and then much later he chose the former persecutor to evangelize the Gentiles.

What I am saying is that despite the reputation you believe you have or the ways you have excused yourself from service with God. God wants you to do your part, when Moses tried to use the “slow of speech” argument, God had none of that! Pray about what you are called to and get in there and get dirty doing the LORD’s work.

I love how the last verse is worded. “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.” No breaks, no me time, no reassessment of priorities, every single day, wherever they were, temple, market, street, whoever’s house they were allowed into they had one purpose and one purpose only:

TEACHING AND PREACHING THAT THE CHRIST IS JESUS

I really need to reevaluate how I spend my time, how about you? That’s the challenge in this 2000 word article should you chose to accept it. Some will see it as good words and pass over it, some will ponder it a little while and have no resolve to implement it, but others will pray, meditate on these words. They will look for application and seek God’s will how they too can be teaching and preaching as often as possible. I pray you are in the third category.

God bless you one and all and I pray that this was a blessing for you, please like, share or comment below and please share this article on any social media platforms that the LORD leads you too. If you have any comments about this or any other article then I would commend you to use the comment function at the bottom of the page.
TGBTG
TTE