Jesus Christ is Lord of All

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Joy in His Presence and Sorrow Apart from Him

Dear Father,
      Your joy is our strength. In Your strength we are able to obey. In obeying You we remain in You and our joy is complete. Please open our eyes to know Yous nearness to us so that we may be filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Please continue to remove our broken cisterns which can never bring us joy. Teach us to live inside of You and to comprehend Your nearness. Forgive me for not having the joy that You promised no one would take away and grant Your people Spiritual eyes to know this great joy of Yours. 
In Jesus Christ's Name, 

     God's purpose in this letter is to show us that if we remain in Him through obedience to His command of love our joy will be complete. The sorrows of mankind always involve a separation between God and man. Ungodly sorrow involves personal separation from God through idolatry. Godly sorrow involves the temporary loss of acknowledgement of the Presence of God that should result in the Godly sorrow that brings repentance, and sorrow on behalf of other people who are separated from God. Additionally the sorrow that Jesus Christ experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane involved His foreknowledge of the temporary separation from His Father which He was to encounter on the cross. From this time until the resurrection of Christ, the state of sorrow within the hearts of the disciples represents the futile effort of God's people to bring forth the salvation that results in joy. God's promise to us is that if we remain in Him by obeying His command to abide in His love, our joy will be complete.

Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10  If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11  These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. John 15

I. Sorrow Involves Separation from God

     Sorrow is a state of the heart characterized by sadness and grief. Sorrow always involves the separation between God and man. For those who do not trust in Jesus, their sorrows are a result of the idolatry of created things which can never bring joy. For those who believe in Jesus sorrow is a result of temporary idolatry in the heart, the Godly sorrow that brings repentance, or sorrow on behalf of other people who are separated from God. If man is completely aware of his reconciliation to the Father in Christ, He cannot experience ungodly sorrow and will experience the complete joy of the Lord. In the midst of this complete joy he may still have sorrow over lost souls and on behalf of the sufferings of God's people. A Christian may also have temporary sorrow from the Father's discipline for the sins of the flesh.

Ungodly Sorrow

As for the saints who are in the earth,
They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.
The  sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied;
I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood,
Nor will I take their names upon my lips. Ps 16:4

     In the midst of the delights of wickedness, those who remain separated from God experience sorrow in the midst of their pursuit of false gods. This sorrow is a result of the separation of their lives from the Presence of God. They had no knowledge of the "Light of His Presence" which alone brings joy to the souls of mankind (Ps 44:3). Truth is the strong foundation of joy. For much of the essence of joy is rooted in an assurance and hope in a secure future: a joy that is "set before" us (Heb 12:2). For those who pursue false gods, there is an absence of Truth in which case there is never a hope (confidence, expectation) that is rooted and grounded in the immutable character of God. There is no knowledge of the character of God. There is no sense of faithfulness and there is no understanding of any eternal Covenant. Thus, in the absence of Truth, regardless of how strongly the lie of the deceitful promises of sin is believed by the unbeliever, there is an absence of hope. And in the absence of hope, joy has no soil to plant its roots. 

13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.Rom. 15

     Furthermore, when the desire of the human heart is misaligned with the will of the Sovereign God, there is a sense of looming judgment as their "sins testify against them" (Is 59:12). The Spirit's work of conviction has made known to them that "the ordinance of God is that those who practice such things are worthy of death" (Rom 1:32). Those who practice idolatry have "exchanged their glory for that which does not profit" (Jer 2:11). And in this notion of the judgement that awaits them, there is no place for joy. With the darkened understanding of the character of God and the absence of a hunger and thirst for His righteousness, they were unable to experience the delights of the exaltation and worship of God. The soul of mankind was meant to find the deepest joy in praising and adoring the revealed glory of God. And in their separation from God, they could not know God or expend their beings in joyous worship of Him. What remained for idolaters to delight in was the temporary satisfaction of their mortal flesh. There was no blessed assurance. There was no removal of the fear of death and the eternal judgment of God. There was no filling of the soul with the living Water and praise of the Trinity. The only happiness that the idolater will ever find is the temporary satisfaction of the mortal flesh: the granted lusts of the flesh, the pride of life, and the boasting of what one has and does. What a wretched prospect. What a miserable slavery and degrading of the spiritual man made in the Image of God!

17 These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. 2 Peter 2

    For us who have believed, we ought to "exalt the Lord our God and worship at His footstool for He is holy" (Ps 99:5). May we "flee from idolatry" (2 Cor 10:14) and "guard ourselves from idols" (I John 5:21). For the moment we resort to idolatry and remain there, we have forgotten the blessed hope and assurance and the removing of the veil that had prevented us from seeing and joyfully worshiping the glorious God, and the fear of death and judgement will surely sweep over us in the midst of our heart's condemnation. 

     How can we know if we harbor idols? Idols are those very things that we hang onto that we would "curse God and die" (Job 2:9) if they were removed. What if we had a time log of the thoughts of our mind and the feelings of our heart? Do we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength? In the face of physical death for Christ's sake, would we hang onto dear life as we shrink back in fear. Or would we have faith even onto death, knowing that Christ will present us holy before the Father and that His will to take us from this world is the best choice and will result in His glorification through some means. Idolatry can be damning, not because our Father has not blotted out our sin and is not working daily to discipline us, but because the continuous idolatry of the heart shows a heart that has discontinued in the belief of the Gospel that accompanies the Spiritual rebirth. In the midst of our sorrow, we must plead with our Father to reveal any evils of our flesh that triggered it. Surely we will be shown many things...

Godly Sorrow that Brings Repentance

10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. 2 Cor 7

      The Godly sorrow that brings repentance is a gift of the Spirit that occurs during the time of the conviction of sin prior to the repentance that results in restoration to the joy of salvation. This sorrow is based on a perceived deviance from the previously contemplated glorious Truth. The substance of the glory of God is Truth. We often think of Truth in terms of "right or wrong" or "correct and incorrect". But Truth is the substance that the glory of God consists of. God is glorious because He is the Truth. 

Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
But to Your name give glory
Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth.
Why should the nations say,
“ Where, now, is their God?” Ps 115:1-2

      There is an opening of the eyes of the heart and mind that occurs as the true sheep see the glory of God. And there is a deep sadness of the heart that will always be present in the sheep who temporarily deviate from the Truth. There is an acknowledgement in the heart of the absence of love apart from obedience to His commands. For the true sheep have come to understand at least in part the benefit and the life-bringing effect of His commands. It is a great pity that mankind in his idolatry has never known the glorious effect of obedience to His commands. And once even a glimpse of this effect is known, there will always be a Godly sorrow that results in repentance when a lie is believed. The sorrow results in repentance because the true sheep know the faithfulness of their God and have built their house on the eternal covenant of the Rock of Jesus Christ. Jesus said that This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” (John 6:29). This work of belief is ongoing for the believer and requires perseverance and faithfulness. The believer must persevere in his worship of God alone and the abstaining from idolatry. The believer must faithfully believe in the faithfulness of God towards His own. "If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself." (I Tim 2:13). Our only work is to believe. Keep on believing "for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Phil 2:13). 

Godly Sorrow on Behalf of Others

     Those who walk in the Light of His Presence temporarily experience sorrow for the souls of the lost. We know that at the time when we see Jesus face to face, "He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces" (Is 25:8). Until that day, true believers experience sorrow over the souls of the lost. This type of sorrow may persist in the midst of Godly joy such that believers are "sorrowful yet always rejoicing" (2 Cor 6:10). Paul's conscience testified with himself in the Holy Spirit that he had "great sorrow and unceasing grief" in his heart and wished that he himself "were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren" (Rom 9:1-3). Similarly Paul "grieved over many who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged" (2 Cor 12:21). The sin of those in the church caused him sorrow perhaps for the sake of the true sheep within the church. Jesus Himself wept as the people cried over the death of Lazarus and was  "deeply moved in spirit and was troubled" (John 11:33). He knew that the death of Lazarus was allowed so that the glory of God would be revealed to the people. And yet the unbelief of the Jews caused Jesus to weep at their present separation from the knowledge of the Presence and glory of God. He likely experienced this sorrow at numerous times in His earthy life giving Him the title of the "Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief" (Is 53:3).

    There is a characteristic nature of Godly sorrow that allows it to pave the way for the joy of the Lord. Some of the deepest experiences of true joy follow periods of Godly sorrow. There is a never a removing of the blessed assurance and belief in the eternal Covenant of love in Christ during Godly sorrow. There is a deep peace and stability of the soul during Godly sorrow. Though the sorrow may be deep and ever present, there is a simultaneous vision of the heavenly realms of the Spiritual blessings of Christ. There is an understanding of the eternal judgement of God against wickedness and all who follow its path. There is a certainty in the Sovereignty of God in bringing glory to Himself and in revealing the "full extent of His love" to all His people (John 13:1)

For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
    and streams on the dry ground; 
I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring,
    and my blessing on your descendants. 
They will spring up like grass in a meadow,
    like poplar trees by flowing streams. 
One will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’;
    another will call himself by the name of Jacob;
still another will write on his hand, ‘The Lord’s,’ 
    and will take the name Israel.Is 44

II. The Sorrow of the Crucifixion

     There is a deep mystery in the events that occurred during the crucifixion of Christ. Christ was sent into the world to lay down His Life unto death only to take it up again so that all who believe in Him may be granted eternal Life and no longer be separated from the Father. During the crucifixion, I sense the Spirit teaching us that something extraordinary occurred that had never occurred prior to or after His work on the cross. Christ was to be separated from His heavenly Father for the first and last time. Similarly, those who were alive who followed Jesus did not understand and remember His promise to rise to Life again until after He had risen (see Luke 24). There is a requirement for Christ Himself to rise to Life in order for the people of God to be raised to Life with Him (Col 3). And if Christ had not been "delivered over to death for our sins and raised to life for our justification" (Rom 4:25), our "faith is futile and we still remain in our sins" (I Cor 15:17). Thus, if Christ had not been raised, we would remain separated from God. And we know that there would be only sorrow in the hearts of mankind in the absence of the knowledge of His Presence. Thus the period of time during the crucifixion reveals to the people of God the sense of sorrow and abandonment that would have overtaken them if God had not raised His Son from the dead. 

     As Jesus contemplated the cup of the wrath of His Father that was to be poured out on Him during this temporary separation from His Father, His "soul was deeply grieved to the point of death" (Mark 14:34). Again, in this case His Godly sorrow regarded the future separation from God that He was to experience. However, the separation of God the Father and God the Son during the crucifixion was the only instance in all eternity when a sinless man was separated from God. For the righteousness of Christ is imputed to all those who believe in Him and they are no longer separated from God. But as Christ bore our sin and "became sin for us" (I Cor 5:21) He was separated from His Father and the greatest sorrow befell Him. In the same way Christ told His disciples prior to the crucifixion that they would "weep and lament, but the world will rejoice", they would "grieve but their grief will be tuned to joy" (John 16:20). During this time leading up to and during the crucifixion the disciples were paralyzed with fear, "Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered" (Zech 13). Their temporarily unbelief and misunderstanding of the upcoming resurrection caused them to feel separated from God. In this isolation of the heart the disciples were "filled with grief" but soon they would see Christ again and "rejoice and no one would take away their joy" (John 16:22). In the midst of this sorrow, Jesus likens them to a woman in labor who is temporarily traumatized with pain and anguish. If only she could fully comprehend the live being that was coming into the world!

20 Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. 21  Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. 22 Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.John 16

    The temporarily isolation of the hearts of the disciples reveals the sorrow that would have befallen us if we lost sight of the nearness of our God through the salvation that Christ has purchased for us. Even if we sought God in prayer, in our lack of faith we could only whisper a prayer and we could never bring forth eternal Life and the reconciliation to the Father in Christ which alone could bring us joy. Now that Christ has risen to Life we are granted the Holy Spirit who does not fall short of being the full Presence of God "with us and in us" (John 14:17). When we have the Holy Spirit, we are in the the period of time where Christ's statement "no one will take your joy away from you" applies. “But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘ Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. John 16 We ought to deeply understand this. If we truly believe what we claim to have believed, no one should be able to take away our joy. What is our work? Again, our work is to "believe in the One that God has sent". Keep on believing in His grace...

Lord, they sought You in distress;
They could only whisper a prayer,
Your chastening was upon them.
17 As the pregnant woman approaches the time to give birth,
She writhes and cries out in her labor pains,
Thus were we before You, O Lord.
18 We were pregnant, we writhed in labor,
We gave birth, as it seems, only to wind.
We could not accomplish deliverance for the earth,
Nor were inhabitants of the world born.
19 Your dead will live;
Their corpses will rise.
You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy,
For your dew is as the dew of the dawn,
And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.Is 26:16-19  

     Following the crucifixion when the work of Christ on the cross was finished and He had been raised to Life, the saints who were asleep in the Lord were raised and entered the holy city and appeared to many. At the very least, this is a picture of our resurrection with Christ. Apart from Him finished work, we remained separated from Christ. But all of the saints of all time are raised to Life with Christ to walk in the new unity with God that alone brings true joy. 

52 The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. Matthew 27

III. Completed Joy in His Presence

     When Jesus died, God did not "abandon His soul to Sheol" or "allowed His Holy One to undergo decay" but rather raised Him from the dead. Because Christ is risen, God has "made known to us the path of life" and "In His Presence is fullness of joy". Christ's resurrection has brought us reconciliation to God and a dispelling of the separation that had excluded us from joy. We are brought into His Presence and given fullness of joy. We will now discuss aspects of the true joy that results from our reconciliation to the Father in Christ by the work of the Spirit in our hearts. These aspects are in a particular sequence which will enable us to understand the development of true joy in our souls.

I have set the Lord continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will dwell securely.
10 For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.

You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.Ps 16:8-11

1. God's joy brings us strength to obey Him.

Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “ This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 11 So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 All the people went away to eat, to drink, to send portions and to celebrate a great festival, because they understood the words which had been made known to them. Neh 8

     As we understand the Words of Christ that are spoken to us, we would be sure to weep in conviction. For our lives would never measure up the to righteous law of God. God in His great mercy and compassion comforts us even in the midst of this Godly sorrow telling us not to grieve because the joy of the Lord is our strength. In our grief, the first step in the development of joy is to accept the joy of God as our strength: our sustenance, our anchor, our stronghold. Though we do not feel joy, when we behold the Face of our Redeemer, we will see that He has joy. We may not understand why He has joy because we have likely forgotten the delights of His glory and the great victory that He has already purchased for us. But in faith, in the midst of our sorrow, we must hold onto hope with the strength that God provides. And as we behold His joy, we are granted this strength. In our grief, we may feel helpless, hopeless, despairing...but our first resort is to see the joy of God. This joy may not be implanted inside of us yet, but we must see His joy with the faith that the Spirit gives us when we turn to the Word of God. His Word has pierced our hearts and brought us Godly sorrow, but then we look to His Face and He has joy. Consider a child who realizes that he has disobeyed his father. The child is filled with grief perhaps at his incompetence to please the father. But then the child looks at the father and the father is glad ! ! "Dad, why are you smiling? I have not obeyed you". Our heavenly Father smiles because He has removed the filth of our sin and He foresees His power to enable us to obey.  And as His children, may our hearts rest: "If dad is glad, then everything is going to be okay". This realization will at least bring the strength to stand firm in faith/obedience if not joy itself.

But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength;
Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For You have been my stronghold
And a refuge in the day of my distress.
17 O my strength, I will sing praises to You;
For God is my stronghold, the God who shows me loving kindness. Ps 59:16-17

2. God Commands us to Abide in His Love so that our Joy will be Complete

     With the strength that we are granted in the acknowledging of the joy of the Lord, we are able to obey Him. For in our weakness we would not be able to obey Him, but His joy has given us strength to obey. He commands us to abide in His love through keeping His commandments. Jesus Himself gave us the perfect example for us to follow for He has obeyed His Father's Commands and abided in love. He obeyed the Father to death on the cross and showed us the full extent of the love of the Father that He abided in. He tells us to obey Him and remain in His love so that our joy will be complete. There is a bitter deception that we must have all believed at some point that obedience to Christ involves torture and agony. But it is quite the opposite: For in obedience to God's commands we can never resort to the idolatry that results in sorrow. Obedience to God's Commands keeps us aware of His Presence. Every act of disobedience on our part has blocked our view of His glory and inhibited our joy. But in obeying Him we are able to see Him and comprehend His love towards us. He promises that though this remaining in Him, we are able to have completeness of joy.

Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10  If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11  These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. John 15

3. The Perfection of Heart by Faith Allows our Desires to Align with God's Will

23  In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. 24  Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.John 16

     When our hearts are cleansed by the Word of God through our belief in Christ's finished work, our desires will be aligned with the will of God. As we make requests of Him we will not waver in our faith. For the wavering of faith accompanies the heart that is filled with the uncertainty that is a result of a guilty conscience. When we sense that we have idolatry or evil motives in our heart in the midst of our praying, our requests are never made with the faith that God requires when He promises to grant what we have asked for. The pure conscience will not host any evil desire or idolatry of worldly pleasures and thus any desire present in a pure soul will align with God's will. "Without holiness no one will see the Lord" (Heb 12:14). God "does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7). The faith that God requires to fulfill the request of the petitioner will only be present in a petitioner who has a pure heart. That is, God will not give perfect faith to someone to ask for something that is not in accordance to His will. And as we receive the deepest desires of our hearts, would we have anything less than complete joy?

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
And who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood
And has not sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive a blessing from the Lord
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is the generation of those who seek Him,
Who seek Your face—even Jacob. Ps 24:3-6

4. The Knowledge of God's Victory Over the World Grants us Joy in the Midst of Tribulation

33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16

     When our heart's desire and longing is only to know Jesus Christ in the eternal Life that He has given us, when we realize that He has overcome the world, we find that there is nothing quite so disheartening about any earthly trial or trouble. Earthly trials are only as disheartening as our faith in His promised inheritance is imperfect. If we truly comprehended the goodness of this Inheritance in Christ, we would be filled with joyous hope and eager anticipation, "inexpressible and glorious joy", to see Him face to face for each moment of our earthly lives. Persecutions are troubles resulting from obedience and discipline involves trials given to us by the Father because of our disobedience. When our earthly troubles seem to overwhelm us, we have likely lost sight of God's victory over the world that has resulted in our being granted an Inheritance which is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit. 

and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. I Peter 1

5. Knowledge of God as our Father Grants us Joy

     If we were left as orphans in this world, we would have a good reason to be filled with sorrow, but God has received us as His children and promised to keep us. His eternal covenant of love can never be revoked. We are irrevocably adopted as His children and He promises to "keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." (Jude 1). As we acknowledge His faithfulness, we will be filled with joy in His faithfulness and His loving kindness. He guards us so that we can never be lost and we have His promise that nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ! Our fellowship is with the Father and in our worship of His goodness, we will find our deepest contentment and satisfaction.      

11 I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name,the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. 12 While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that theScripture would be fulfilled.13 But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. John 17

what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. I John 1


Excellent SongsCling to My Hands and Matchless Name by Jonathan Edwards (21st C)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A True Disciple

Dear Father,
     We praise You that Your glory brings joy to our souls. We praise You that the effects of Your righteousness are pleasing in our sight. Please forgive me for not being bold with your grace and Truth in the presence of Your people and I ask that You would give me inner confidence to show Your love unconditionally and faithfully. Thank You for causing us to love Your Truth and glory so that we may be received as Your children and followers of Christ. What I must write now is new to me, Lord, and I pray that You would give me grace and correctness in presenting a description of a true disciple. Teach us that a true disciple is a believer of Christ who lives to know the Master rather than to obtain any other earthly and demonic state. And warn us of the final state of all who do not love Truth and glory. 
In Jesus Christ's Name,

Theme Song: He Giveth More Grace

65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”
66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve,“You do not want to go away also, do you?” 68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal Life. 69 We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”John 6

     God's purpose in this letter is to help us understand the nature of a true disciple. In the past week God has made known more of this eternal Truth through His Word and confirmed by encouragement that I received from a few people and some circumstances.  At the present time, it seems an impossibility to me to be able to write what I am trusting Him to write next. But if it is His will He will give me the words and clarity to present this Truth. I feel that I must keep this writing brief (briefer than it may be if explained extensively) so as not to become lost in the ocean of the manifold wisdom of God. This writing flows out from the previous two letters. I commit my spirit into His hands and proclaim and Jesus Christ is my Lord, God, and Savior. 

     First, I will describe that Christ is the full manifestation of the Father's glory to the world. Second, the Father has complete authority over the response of human hearts to His glory. He will harden the hearts of some such that in their final state they utterly detest the glory of God in the midst of the lake of fire. He will enable others to come to Him by granting them faith to understand the glory of God and to be filled with love for the eternal Life of knowing Christ. Thirdly, His true disciples are now present in the world to show the glory of God to the inhabitants of the world through their love and unity in Christ. The chosen ones will always be drawn to the Truth as the Spirit removes their veil of ignorance and unbelief. In the end, God's glory will be revealed to all mankind and some will still hate It. Thus, everyone in hell will have committed the unforgivable sin of hating the revealed glory of God. 

(see verse above: John 6: 65-69).

“Let every valley be lifted up,
And every mountain and hill be made low;
And let the rough ground become a plain,
And the rugged terrain a broad valley;
Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
And all flesh will see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Is 40

I. Christ is the Full Revelation of the Glory of God to the World

     Christ was sent into the world as the "radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the Word of His power(Heb 1:3). Christ Himself is the Word of God who has come to the earth in the flesh. The chosen disciples of Christ who were alive at the time of Christ's ministry saw this glory of God that was revealed in the nature of the Son of God. Christ revealed the glory of the Father by accomplishing the work that His Father had given Him to do (John 17:4). His Father had sent Him to do the work of obedience and perfect submission to Himself. He was to live a life of reverent submission throughout each moment of His earthly life in which He was tempted in every way as we are yet without sin. His miracles revealed His glory. After He turned water into wine, the disciple John states "This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him" (John 2:11). His Words were spoken with authority and brought judgment onto all those who did not believe and Life for all who were chosen and granted eternal Life. He obeyed His Father unto death on the cross where He bore the sins of the world and was risen to life again for the justification of all His people. He came to present the "Light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the Image of God" (2 Cor 4:4). His Life on earth was full of grace and Truth. Of His fullness, the people of God were granted grace upon grace. Though no one had ever seen God, the One and only Son of God has explained Him to the world. The Son of God has explained to the world that the heavenly Father is full of love, Light, Truth, and grace. Christ is the true Light in the world. Yet until the Spirit had worked to remove the veil of unbelief and ignorance from mankind, though the Light was in the world, the people of the created world did not comprehend the Light of Christ.  He came to the very people whom He had created and these people did not receive Him until the veil was removed from the chosen ones (see John 1). Thus, every act, Word, and thought of Jesus Christ during every moment of His Life on this earth leading up to and in consummation of His death, resurrection, and ascension presented to the world the complete glory of God. The people of the world required the Spirit's removing of the veil of unbelief and ignorance to behold the glory of God seen in Christ. And the people of the world are completely responsible for their response to the glory of God for It has been revealed to all of them in Christ.

22  If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. John 15

II. God's Sovereignty over the Response of Souls to His Glory

      This glory of God manifested in Jesus Christ is revealed to all mankind at some point. "Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together" (Is 40:5). Those who lived before Christ have also seen the glory of Christ. "For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea;and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. (I Cor 10)" And we will discuss in the fourth section (IV) that the followers of Christ who live after the ascension of Christ are filled with the Spirit of God and reflect the glory of God to the people of the world. Many of us have wondered if there are people who have never heard the Gospel or how the opportunity to receive the Gospel will be granted to those who live in exile or in remote unreached places. Of this we may be sure: God promises that His glory will be revealed to all people. And we know that unless the Spirit had removed the veil, the glory could never be revealed to someone. Thus the choice to believe in Christ is very discrete and the Gospel is always very clearly presented to every person while they still have chance to obey the Gospel. The just God has chosen to reveal His glory in Christ to each person.

16 However, they did not all heed the good News; for Isaiah says, “ Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
18 But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have;
“ Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
And their words to the ends of the world.” Romans 10

     Though all will have beheld the grace, Truth, and love seen in the essence of the revealed glory of God shown in the Gospel of Christ, some will choose to reject the Truth and others will choose to receive Him. God has chosen to enable some to come to Him for "no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father (John 6:65)". The chosen ones are those who listen to His Voice and love His glory as It is revealed to them. Others have been and will be hardened so that they refuse to love the Truth even after seeing the grace and love of the glorified Christ. "So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. " (Rom 9:18) There are some whom God will "give over to the sinful desires of their hearts" (Rom 1:24). These are those who hate God's glory as it is revealed to them. God is fully sovereign over the souls of mankind. He is the Keeper: the "Guardian and Overseer" (I Peter 2:25) of the souls of the chosen one. He keeps them, refines them, and disciplines them so that they may behold the glory of God, love the Truth, obey His commands, and be saved. But for those who are devoted to destruction, the sovereign God keeps their hearts hardened to the Truth. He prevents them from seeing His glory at certain times by keeping the veil of ignorance and unbelief over their eyes during their hardness of heart (Eph 4:18). To these who are marked for destruction, He closes their eyes and ears so that they cannot return and be forgiven. For example, the miracles which occurred in Chorazin and Bethsaida revealed the glory of God to these people and yet they did not repent. If the same miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon, these people would have repented. But both groups were marked for destruction and God has kept both groups for judgment (Matt 11:21-22).  God has ordained the timing and the extent of the revelations of His glory such that those who are chosen will love the Truth and be saved and those who are devoted to destruction will hate the Truth and be damned. 

11 And He was saying to them, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, 12 so that while seeing, they may see and not perceive, and while hearing, they may hear and not understand, otherwise they might return and be forgiven.”Mark 4

     Our flesh may be filled with the notion that God is unjust or unmerciful to not enable everyone to come to Him since He has the authority and power to do so if He desired to. Christ states that  "39 This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6) The Father has chosen those whom He loves to be given to His Son and we have His promise that none of these people will be lost. But our human minds often ask "Father, why did You not choose some for eternal Life? Why did You choose to keep some for destruction?" And we know that we do not understand the entirety of God's manifold wisdom and knowledge. However, there are two pieces of Truth which will be of comfort to us (and have caused my heart to rest in Him in my considering of His authority over the responses of our souls to His glory).

1. God in very nature is just, loving, merciful, and gracious. Of this we can be sure. And in His perfect justice all of us should have been damned apart from Christ's sacrifice. Even if God sent all of to hell and gave us the punishment that we deserved, He would still be perfectly just, perfectly loving, perfectly gracious, and perfectly merciful. God is glorified even before the world began. In the abundance of the riches of His grace and kindness He has chosen to save some. It is a great marvel that He would choose to save even one person. His love and justice are excellent even if His wrath had remained on all of us for not loving His revealed glory and Truth. 

2. God's love, grace, mercy, and compassion are infinite. We have fallen far short of His glorious loving kindness and compassion. Thus, we can never put forth more mercy and tenderness than God. So if we felt in our subconscious pondering that we were more inclined to show compassion than God is, we have deceived ourselves and we have double confirmation that our minds are clouded from understanding His eternal Truth and need to be washed with His Words. 

III. The God Hater

7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and  signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but  took pleasure in wickedness. 2 Thess 2

     The glory of God in Christ has been presented to all people, and yet, those marked for destruction will be drawn further into wickedness as It is revealed. For as the glory of God is manifested to them, they will choose their wicked passions over the glory of the love and grace of God. This is the pivotal damning choice: the preference for wickedness over the revealed grace and all-satisfying love of God. Though each person, male and female, was made in the Image of God, the God-hater exchanges the "their glory for the glory of an ox that eats grass" (Ps 106:20) and exchanges "the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man". They have loved the "glory" of man, their own "glory" (i.e. shame), more than the glory of God. And they are damned because they have rejected the glory of God, not because it was not revealed to them and they had no knowledge of His goodness, but because after seeing the goodness of God, they have hated God. They have exchanged the Truth of God for a lie and worshiped the created things. Because of their wickedness and rejection of His glory, God gave them over to the hardness of their wicked hearts so that they "would receive in themselves the due penalty of their error" (Romans 1:27). In their hardened state, they have hated the glory of God. They loved the darkness rather than the Light because their deeds were evil. For those who do evil hate the Light and are afraid to come into the Light for fear that their deeds will be exposed (John 3). In the face of the Truth of the wrath of God against the wicked, the God-hater continues to follow the vileness of his heart. He hates the glory of God and has fallen completely in love with his own shame. (See Romans 1:21-32)

And although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:32) 

     The God-hater will experience in themselves the penalty for their wickedness and eventually they will reside in torment in the hell fires. Consider the scribes who attributed the glorious work of Christ in His healings and casting out of demons to the devil. They saw the awe-striking power of God, and held onto their pride rather than to love the "Holy One of God". After beholding and experiencing the terrible judgments of the Lord, the God-hater will not repent. How thoroughly have they hated God! 

20 The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues,did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk;21 and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts. Rev 9

     Their hearts remain in hatred towards the glory of God. We often have a false image of unbelievers in hell as if there are some people there though they never heard the Gospel clearly or that they simply did not understand that Christ is the only way or they did not have the privilege of being around good believers...but we know that from the bottomless pit, no one will love God. No one will long for the glorious love and grace of God. They will remain in perfect hatred towards God. God's just wrath against those who reject His Son is not unjustly exorbitant or out of proportion to the offense of the damned person. For the damned person has eventually seen the glory of God and rejected It. He has continued to love his own wickedness. He has committed the unforgivable sin in his final state for he has seen the glory of God in Christ and rejected It through his insulting of the Spirit of grace. Just prior to Christ's description of the unforgivable sin He states "He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters". And in this sequence of Christ's Words we find the crux of the God-hater: the God-hater does not love the glory of God revealed in the grace and Truth of Jesus Christ. Thus, even when the Spirit reveals the glory of God to him at the preordained time, he will hate and refuse Him and continue to perform wickedness. And everyone whose name is not written in the Lamb's Book of Life will be thrown into the Lake of Fire because he has perfectly hated the glory of God revealed in the grace and Truth of Christ.

30  He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.
31 “ Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32  Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. Matt 12

IV. The True Disciple

     In view of the nature of the God-hater, we are given a deeper understanding of the nature of a true disciple of Christ. Just as the God-hater refuses to come into the Light and rejects the glory of God, the true disciple comes to the Light and comes to love the Truth revealed in the glory of God shown through Christ and His Gospel. The Father enables the true disciples to receive Him and in so doing to be granted the right to become His children because they have believed in His Name. He has granted them a new birth, "not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12-13). He has been born again by the Spirit who removed their veil of unbelief and ignorance at some point after hearing the Word of the Gospel. Now that the true disciple is born again, he is able to see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3). After Jesus has ascended into heaven and was seated at the right hand of the Father, God has chosen to reveal His glory through the true disciples of Christ who possess the indwelling Holy Spirit. The true disciple is hidden in Christ and daily carries around in His body the death of Christ so that the Life of Christ will be revealed. 

34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mark 9

     After Christ gave His teaching on the authority of His Father over the souls of men, "no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father" (John 6:65), many of his disciples left him. May we not leave Him as we comprehend this kind of authority that the heavenly Father rightfully has! Then Jesus asked His disciples "You do not want to go away also, do you?” (John 6:67) and 68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have Words of eternal Life. 69 We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” Dear saints, do we have the same attitude as Peter, a true disciple of Christ, had? Did Peter stand firm in his faith at every point? Did he not falter in his denial of Christ? And did not his Good Shepherd keep his soul for all eternity and work in him so that his love for the Shepherd increased and was renewed as Peter was restored in repentance? Peter had been marked out for eternal Life. The Spirit had planted in him a desire and longing for Christ. And though he faltered at certain points, the Holy Spirit in him was a guarantee and a deposit guaranteeing what is to come. The love for God and the knowledge of Christ as the only Way, the only Truth, the only Life, the only hope, and the only TRUE AGAPE characterizes a true disciple. A true disciple desires nothing from his discipleship than Christ Himself. He follows Christ for no other reason than to know Christ. He does not follow Christ to find fulfillment in his earthly purpose. He does not follow Christ for material gain. He does not follow Christ to be honored, respected, or "loved" by the other people in the world. He does not follow Christ to satisfy his self-righteousness. The true disciple follows Christ because he knows that there is no one else to whom he may go for the Words of eternal Life. The true disciple has believed in the Gospel and seen the glory of God in Christ. He knows that Christ is the Holy One of God. The true disciple's heart cries "I will follow You because You are my only hope. I will follow You because I MUST KNOW YOU! You are my Life, my joy, my peace. THERE IS NO TRUE LOVE OUTSIDE OF YOU! I will obey You because I believe in You. I will trust in You because I want to see more of Your glory. I will be a fisher of men because I want to see the power of Your Word..."

     True discipleship is rarely characterized by a defined earthly realm, sphere, or place. For the disciples walk in the footsteps of Christ who had no place to lay his head. Though God places them for certain periods of time in various places of influence, the place and the form of ministry is never the essence of the purpose of the disciple. Rather, the underlying desire to know Christ is the purpose of the disciple. Regardless of the earthly professions, place of residence, and pattern of life, true disciples exist to know their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Whatever they do is so that God may be glorified and that they may know Christ in it. As the true disciples walk in the footsteps of Christ and know Him, the Kingdom of God is in their midst and the glory of Christ, the Image of God, is put on display for the world in order that the Master may reap a harvest of souls to join the Kingdom. And the joy of the disciples in their knowledge of Christ increases as they bear this fruit. But the root of this joy is in the increased knowledge of the goodness of Christ. 

17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10

20 Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed;21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” Luke 17

     The nature of life for a true disciple persists throughout any earthly occupations that God has placed in his life. It is not as though there are some Christians who are too occupied with their earthly occupation to be a disciple of Christ. Rather, all who profess Christ are called to bear all the characteristics of a true disciple through obedience to the commands of their Master. They will, in fact, do so with eagerness because the love of their Savior has gripped their hearts for all eternity. They will not bear with the state of the mind and heart that is given over to anything other than their aim to bring glory to God and to know Christ in the process. Though they work heartily unto the Lord in their occupations, their hearts are "set on pilgrimage" and they are blessed because they "go from strength to strength" and they will appear before God in Zion one Day (Ps 84). They are disciples at the very same time that they live their daily lives on earth. What does the disciple do? He walks in obedience to the Spirit of God in him and the Word of Christ. We will now list some characteristics of true disciples. The motive in the true disciple behind his walking in this manner is always to know Christ:

1. In order to know Christ, a true disciple takes great pain to deny the flesh and remove the things in his life which entice him into sin.

45 If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into  hell, 46 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.] 47 If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into  hell, 48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. Mark 9

2. In order to know Christ through serving His people, a true disciple shows unconditional physical and Spiritual love to the people of God.

34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for youfrom the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Mesomething to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ Matt 25

3. In order to know Christ, a true disciple follows in the footsteps of Christ to suffer for His sake and to seek no revenge but to entrust himself to the righteous Judge.

21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the  cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.I Peter 2

4. In order to know Christ, a true disciple prays in secluded places and preaches the Gospel.

35 In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. 36 Simon and his companions searched for Him;37 they found Him, and *said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” 38 He *said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” 39 And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons.Mark 1

5. In order to know Christ, a true disciple teaches all people the Word of God and does not hide the glory of God but lets It be known to everyone.

12 And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “ We have never seen anything like this.”13 And He went out again by the seashore; and all the people were coming to Him, and He was teaching them.Mark 2

6. In order to know Christ and be called His family member, a true disciple does the will of God.

31 Then His mother and His brothers *arrived, and standing outside they sent word to Him and called Him. 32 A crowd was sitting around Him, and they *said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You.”33 Answering them, He *said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” 34 Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He *said, “ Behold My mother and My brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.”Mark 3

7. In order to know Christ, a true disciple has a humble lifestyle and preaches the Gospel of repentance and casts out demons wherever he goes. 

7 And He *summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits; 8 and He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belt— 9 but to wear sandals; and He added, “Do not put on two tunics.” 10 And He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town. 11 Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there,shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.” 12 They went out and preached that men should repent. 13 And they were casting out many demons andwere anointing with oil many sick people and healing them.Mark 6

8. In order to know Christ and inherit eternal Life, a true disciple leaves behind earthly wealth, possessions, and family

28 Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.”Mark 10

9. In order to know Christ and share in the fellowship of His sufferings, a true disciple serves and lays his life down as a living sacrifice.

41 Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John. 42 Calling them to Himself, Jesus *said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. 43 But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”Mark 10

10. In order to know Christ, a true disciple seeks the perfect unity of God's people in the Presence of God for the revelation of His glory to the world.

22 The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23  I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. John 17

Excellent Exhortation for Daughters of God:  I strongly encourage every woman to hear this message "The Powerful Influence of a Godly woman" by Kay Arthur. She speaks by the Spirit of God and you will be blessed and convicted to hear this message. 

Personal Note: You may have noticed that I have started using verses from the New American Standard Bible. I had been using NIV because it is what I was familiar with but have been encouraged by many others whom I trust in the Lord to use a Word-for-Word translation. 

Confession: I am praying that God makes me bolder in His love with you all in person. Many times when I see you, I do not have immediate words to say and I am sorry about this. With these types of thoughts that you read in these letters in the past year in my mind you can imagine that casual talk has been difficult for me. God has been helping me and I feel more confident than last year. I am praying that God gives me wisdom, confidence, and love to communicate His love in person with every believer. Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. (Prov 29:25). 
"Love Forever in Christ, Preethi"
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