Monthly Archives: July 2013

Faith unwavering – Abraham

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There are many times the LORD has promised me great things, but for some reason, I have always received things that are just mediocre. I try to be content with all that the LORD has given. But, it always bothered me why am I not receiving the great things that the LORD has promised, why do I always end up with things that are not what actually the LORD promised…

Recently few things happened in our family and by the grace of our LORD, we will be able to provide witness to those events for the glory of our LORD. Still, it bothered me that we didn’t receive the promises of the LORD as He has promised-22-2201-HP6AD00Z.

When I enquired the LORD, the only answer I got was: “Have the faith of Abraham.”

Okay, first of all, I don’t think I can have a faith like Abraham. I mean, he is called the father of all faithful for a reason, right? I mean, even today, after knowing all I know about our LORD, I don’t think I would be willing to sacrifice my kids, but Abraham, he could, he would and he did. Smile 

But then the LORD made me realize that He was talking about some other angle.

Isaac was born when both Abraham and his wife Sarah were really old. Now, the LORD was asking Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac. We all talk about the obedience of Abraham and how he did not hesitate to do the LORD’s command.

The LORD is not expecting us to do the same. But there is something else we must learn from this. Till then, no one had ever be risen from dead, so Abraham had no reason to believe that. What would be the best alternative to that?

It would have been easier to believe that even if Isaac was killed, the LORD would be able to give another child to Abraham and Sarah. That would be easier than resurrecting someone from death.

But Abraham did not seek an alternative. He believed in the Word of the LORD. He believed in the Word of the LORD as it was. The LORD’s original promise was that it was through Isaac, his offspring would be reckoned. (Heb. 11:18)

If Isaac was sacrificed, then God could always give another child for Abraham and start a new covenant. But Abraham did not budge. He believed the original promise of the LORD. So, his faith was on only one thing: even if I had to sacrifice Isaac today, the LORD would resurrect him.

That’s the kind of faith the LORD is asking from us.

Say the LORD has given you a promise and you are waiting eagerly for that promise. But things go wrong, the doors are shut and instead of great things the LORD has promised, you receive some other thing. It is not as great as the LORD has promised, but it is better than what you had before. What would you do?

Will you settle for that and thank the LORD for providing at least this? Or, will you hold on to the original promise and keep moving forward with faith that the LORD will fulfill His Word as He has promised?

Your answer will decide the blessings you receive in your life. Believe in the Word of the LORD and believe in every letter of the Word.

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Psalm 119:93“I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have preserved my life.”

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Voice of strangers – present day

We all want to understand what is happening in our life right NOW. We live in “live feed” times, where everything has to be updated instantly.

I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, telephone service was something only the rich would have. So, if we were planning to go to our relative’s home during the month of May, we would write them a letter in April, saying that we would be visiting them on, say the 2nd of May. We would get a reply from them saying that they were looking forward for meeting us on the 2nd of May. That’s all. We would surely be there on May 2nd, and they would have a feast prepared for us and waiting for us. Life was simpler and apparently we had more faith on the written word (pun intended Smile).

Now, till the day arrives, there will be a phone call everyday to make sure there is no change in the plan. Only when we get into our bus, they will be convinced that we really are coming. Even then, they will call us every few hours to make sure everything is fine. When we call them and let them know that we are close by, they will start cooking, but not before that. Life has become a series of “instant updates”.

And, there comes the problem of a stranger’s voice – today, the present day, the NOW. We need to understand everything NOW, right NOW. If the LORD says He has a plan for us, we need to know that plan right NOW. If the LORD says He is giving us a blessing, we need to receive that blessing NOW. Everything is instant, immediate. But, then, the way of the LORD is not the instant-Ramen-noodles type. We see this in the Gospel according to Apostle John.

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The disciples knew the prophecies. They saw those prophecies coming true before them. But they did not understand all those fulfillments at that time.

Yes, my dear friend, right now, the LORD is working in our life. The LORD is fulfilling every single promise that He has made us. We are actually looking at the very manifestations of those many blessings that the LORD has promised us. Yet, we are not able to understand it at this time.

So, slowly we are losing our heart. Our faith starts to wane. We are wondering that probably we have made a wrong choice. No, dear friend, if you have believed in the Word of the LORD, then He will never let you be ashamed. But you may not be able to understand it right now.

Are you waiting for a promise that the LORD said He would fulfill? Are you not able to understand why all these things are happening in your life? Don’t fret. Don’t fear. The LORD is at work.

The disciples knew everything and saw everything. Still they could not understand the fulfillment of the prophecies till Jesus Christ, our LORD and Savior, was glorified. Then they understood.

Dear friend, don’t worry if you can not understand. Don’t panic if things are a bit confusing right now. Just keep everything in your mind. Meditate on them just like Mary pondered about everything. Soon, the LORD will be glorified in your life. The LORD’s glory will be manifested through you. Many people will magnify our LORD because of the great things He is doing in your life. And, then, only then, you will be able to understand everything. So hold on to your faith. And keep glorifying our God.

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Psalm 119:93“I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have preserved my life.”

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Voice of strangers – King of Sodom

When Lot became a captive along with the rest of the residents of Sodom, Abraham set out to rescue his nephew. After the daring rescue, the king of Sodom was grateful and he says, “Give me the persons, and keep the goods for yourself.” (Gen. 14:21 AMP)

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Abraham deserved all that. The king of Sodom had nothing to hope for. If not for Abraham, the king and his subjects would have died as captives. So, he was right in offering everything to Abraham and of course, Abraham would have been right in accepting those goods. After all, the Bible does say the following:

A sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous. – Proverbs 13:22b (NIV)

But Abraham knew two things. One is that the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD. Abraham knew that very well. And he also knew one more thing: Abraham did not set out to rescue the king of Sodom. Though the outcome was the same, it was not his intent. Abraham wanted to rescue his nephew and the liberation of the king of Sodom and his subjects was just a side-effect.

There will be times when we end up doing good to people though that was not on our minds. Sometimes they will be our enemies, people who have been against us. When others see that, they will be mighty impressed by the “Christian” spirit in us. It will also look as if it will be a great witness for our LORD. But when such a thing happens, there is only one question you need to answer: was that your intent? If not, then never take any credit for that. For we can not bring glory to our LORD Who is Truth personified by an inherent lie. In such cases, let our answer be the same as that of Abraham:

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Philippians 3:14“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

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They shall not prevail against you… if

In the Book of Esther, when Haman was humiliated before Mordeacai, Zeresh, wife of Haman along with his friends, tells him something:

If Mordecai is the seed of the Jews, before whom you have begun to fall, you shall not prevail against him, but shall surely fall before him. – Esther 6:13 (MKJV)

The Bible clearly mentions that Mordecai was from the tribe of Benjamin and Haman, who was a Agagite, would know this – because Agag, the king of Amalekites was defeated by the first king of Israel, Saul who was also from the tribe of Benjamin.

However, here Haman’s wife as well as his friends mention something specifically: If Mordecai is the seed of the Jews, then you shall not prevail against him, but shall surely fall before him.

Jews specifically refers to those who belong to the tribe of Judah. When Judah was born, his mother Leah decided not to seek the approval of her husband in vain anymore; instead, she decides to praise the LORD and names her fourth son as Judah, saying, “This time I will praise the LORD.” (Gen. 29:35)

When we praise the LORD, we become the seed of Judah, we become Jews in true sense. And, if we praise the LORD, then they shall not prevail against us. Are you a seed of the Jews? Do you belong to the tribe of Judah? Do you worship the Lion of Judah? Then you will praise the LORD and no enemy of yours will be able to prevail against you; every single enemy of yours will surely fall before you.

When the Israelites camped in the wilderness, the LORD specifically commands the tribe of Judah on the east side, so when the sun rises, the sun light reaches the tribe of Judah first.

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Are you confused about your life? Are you surrounded by darkness? Don’t be afraid, don’t fret, dear friend. Praise the LORD now. Become the seed of the Jews. Belong to the tribe of Judah. No enemies of you will prevail against you. They will fall before you. When the sun rises tomorrow, be Judah – praise our LORD with all your heart.

Hebrews 12:1“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”

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Voice of strangers – Zophar

Few years back, I was attending a Bible study for college students. Around 24 students, including me, would attend the Bible study every Friday night from 6 pm to 10 pm. Apparently, we didn’t have any life Smile.

One day, one student asked a question to the study group: is it necessary for her to take baptism? Another student said, “NO, you don’t need baptism. We are saved not by our deeds, but by faith in Jesus Christ”.

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I raised my hand and objected to that. I pointed out that, yes, in his epistle to Galatians, Apostle Paul did mention that we are not saved by works, but by faith in our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ; but we should not forget who his audiences were. Paul was writing to Galatians who had one specific character to them. Paul himself mentions that in the same letter: for all of you who were baptized…

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But when I pointed it out, I was in for a surprise. Out of the remaining 23 students, 22 of them started shouting at me, almost on my face. To be honest, I was actually scared. Fortunately the study group leader was trying to understand my position – but then later he proclaimed proudly how he himself had not received baptism. This was met with thunderous applause and I was met with more jeering.

After 2 hours of my “fellow Christians” jeering at me, making snide comments at me, I reached home around 11 in the night (as no one wanted to give me a ride back, I had a very long walk back), I had nearly 40 emails waiting for me – attacking my character, questioning my salvation, accusing me of working for the other side (that would be for the devil, of course). They also had started an email campaign informing the study group leader that I was not welcome to the Bible study group anymore. If I attended it, they all would boycott. I informed the study group leader that I would not attend the study group again. I didn’t realize then that I have met Zophar for the first time in my life.

Zophar was one of the three friends of Job. He was the most dogmatic of all three, he was the first one to accuse Job directly of wickedness; he even claims that Job has got it easy (Job 11:6). He represents the concept of odium theologicum.

If you are a true Christian, trust me, you must have met your Zophar already; if not, don’t worry, Zophar is on his way to meet you. Rolling on the floor laughing

They are ready to condemn you without knowing you. They could be fellow Christians, sometimes even pastors. “Oh, you are having trouble in life, that means you are a sinner and you are going straight to hell.” “Oh, you are sick. That means the LORD has forsaken you. There is no forgiveness for you.” “Oh, you sinned few times. That’s it. You are done. Not even the blood of Jesus Christ can blot out your transgressions. Get ready to be roasted in the hell for the rest of eternity.” 

Odium theologicum. Though, this Latin phrase denotes intense hatred or anger that arises because of difference in theologies, nowadays, the same can be seen from people who don’t believe in God. People who are atheists and those who call themselves liberals, who accuse us of such an outlook – just try to point out the mistake in their arguments, you will see the spirit of Zophar coming out of them with vengeance.

Condemning you. Calling names. Intense hatred. Ridiculing your view points. We are right, so you are dead wrong. Sorry, I don’t have to listen to you, because I know I am right. There are so many ways, Zophar would try to attack you. But, dear friend, don’t lose heart. Even in the Bible, we see that both Eliphaz and Bildad spoke 3 times, Zophar could vent his anger only twice. Yes, they would lose their steam soon.

Instead of getting hurt at the words of Zophar, let us focus on the words of our Savior. There is no condemnation in His voice. No accusations. No blaming. That soothing voice tells us just one thing: “Come to me, and I will never turn you away.”

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Psalm 119:60“I will hasten and not delay to obey Your commands.”

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Voice of strangers – Bildad

To do everything in this world, there are ways to go about it. We can do it our way, or follow someone else and there is always a traditional way – the way things are done always. This is the voice of Bildad – the second friend of Job.

Whenever we want to follow the voice of the LORD, there will be always some distraction from the traditionalists. If you don’t believe me, try to do something different in your church and see how many are offended by your action. Been there, offended many, got hurt in return Smile, much wiser now.

Always beware of the voice of Bildad. It explains how things are done always in the world and how it is good for us to do the same. And if we ever give in, it will lead to losses that we never could dream of.

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Most of us know about the incidents of chapters 13 and 14 in the Book of Numbers in the Bible. The Israelites sent 12 spies to the Promised Land and they came back with the report about the Land they were meant to inherit. 10 of them gave bad reports about the Promised Land, but two of them, Caleb and Joshua, had different things to say about the same land as they saw the Promised Land through the eyes of faith.

The Israelites, disheartened by the bad report, murmured against the LORD and as a result, they had to spend the next 40 years in the wilderness, till the every single person who murmured had to die in the wilderness. During the 40 years, both Moses and Aaron died in the wilderness, forfeiting their calling. Why did these things happen? The answer is: the traditional way – the voice of Bildad.

In Numbers 13:1-2, we see the LORD giving permission to Moses to send the spies to the Promised Land. Note that the LORD did not COMMAND Moses to send the spies, He just gives PERMISSION to a petition that Moses submitted. So, why did Moses, the servant of God, who asked the LORD’s advice for every single thing, submitted a petition without asking the LORD first?

In the first chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses recounts what happened during that time. Under direction from the LORD, Moses gives this command to the Israelites in Deut. 1:21.

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The command was given by the LORD through Moses to go and occupy the Promised Land. But instead of obeying the LORD’s command, the Israelites come to Moses with a suggestion.

Then you all came near to me and said, “Let us send men ahead to spy out the land for us and bring back a report about the route we are to take and the towns we will come to.” The idea seemed good to me. – Deut. 1:22-23 (NIV)

God had given a command to them. Instead of obeying it, they had an idea. God was leading them in the way they should go, but they decide to send spies to find their own route. Why?

Because by tradition, before invading a land, they send spies ahead to find out the weakest link in the enemy’s fortresses. And, Moses, who grew up in courts of Pharaoh, would have known about this tradition better than anyone else there. So, that idea seemed good to him.

As a result, they spent the next 40 years in the wilderness and except Joshua and Caleb, everyone else lost his life in the wilderness.

Today, there is the LORD’s command to you regarding your future, your blessings, your family and your church. And there are people who suggest you to wait and approach the problem methodically – the proper way to deal in the traditional manner. Who are you going to listen to? To the LORD Almighty or to the tradition? Let us not forget the admonition of our LORD Jesus Christ.

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Psalm 112:5 “Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.”Brought to you by BibleGateway.com. Copyright (C) . All Rights Reserved.

Voice of strangers–Eliphaz

There will be always some people who look out for us. They really care for us. They have our best interest in their minds. Like Eliphaz. One of Job’s friends. But there comes a time when even the best intentions may lead us astray from the path of our LORD.

One such advice came to our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ from His apostle, Peter. Peter advised Jesus Christ against His death, especially death by crucifixion. Did Peter have Jesus’s best interest in mind? Yes. But was that the will of God our Father about our Savior? No.

There are times when the will of God in our life may not appeal to the common sense. There will be times when we follow the LORD, it will really look stupid in the eyes of others. When our well-wishers see that, they will surely advise us. There is nothing wrong with that. But how are we going to respond to that?

When we listen to them, sooner or later, our faith will have doubts. A faith with doubts is like a body with a small malignant tumor. Unchecked growth of tumor will result in death; too many doubts and too many words of worldly wisdom will result in dead faith.

Understand their intentions, but remember the worldly wisdom that comes from them is from the devil – tempting us to leave our faith. Because more than us, the devil knows that without faith, no one can please our LORD. (Hebrews 11:6)

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So, when such advices come our way, when our Peters and Eliphazs come to advise us, when they feel that we are going in the wrong direction and start talking to us about the futility of the course we are taking, remember the admonition that our LORD gave to His disciple:

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Psalm 112:5“Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.”

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Voice of strangers – Introduction

The voice of a stranger distracts us from the path in which our Good Shepherd is leading us. There are few things that the voice of a stranger tells us.

  • It tempts us, it entices us. It tells that the forbidden fruit is the best there to have and that we should have it – just like it lead Adam astray, samson_and_the_lion__by_highlander0423-d57gqunjust like it made David to commit adultery and then murder.
  • It tries to boost our egos. It says, come this way and you can kill a lion with your bare hands, because you are strong, you are mighty and you can do these things. You are empowered. We get tempted by this, because the Christian life is a life of absolute surrender. But when we go a little further, not very much, just a little, we can gain glory – just like Samson did.
  • It condemns us. It reminds us of our past sins and how worthless we are for this higher calling by the Holy God. It keeps telling us that these sins will catch up with us, no matter what and we will fall short of our goal anyway. So, give up your futile way of life, it keeps telling us.
  • It talks about being wise versus having faith. It tells us about all those people who have lost so much despite putting their faith in our LORD. It keeps telling us that we will also fail just like they did. So, why make a fool of yourself, it asks so lovingly.
  • It talks about tradition. For so many years, this is how this is done, do you think you can change everything? Do you really believe that you can make a difference, it keeps asking us.
  • It talks about understanding the world. Didn’t Jesus say understand everyone? Didn’t Jesus sit with the sinners? So how can you condemn sin? How can you be so intolerant? It keeps shooting at us till we give in.
  • It talks about social stigma. It tells that God has given us wisdom to avoid social stigma. It is not cool to be a Christian. It is not cool to believe in the Bible. It is not cool to disagree with what the world believes in as a part of evolution. It is not cool to question stupid assertions by scientists who always know better than us.

But then there is the Voice of our Savior. Amidst all the chaos in this world, His gentle voice tells us just one thing:

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Are you ready to have some rest? Then come to Jesus. HE will carry your burdens. HE will give you rest, the rest you need, the rest you deserve.

1 John 1:7“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”

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Meditate His law day and night

Delighting in the Word of the Lord is a great thing, but to be truly blessed, we need to do one more thing.

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Blessed is the man… who meditates on His (God’s) law day and night. – Psalm 1:1-2

Why is it important to meditate the Word of God day and night?

There are some well-meaning Christians who have told me how they have understood everything there in the Scriptures. I was actually very impressed. But then I realized when they said they understood everything, they had read the Bible so many times, they know the verses by heart. But that is not “understanding”.

For example, I delight in the Word of God and I read the Bible everyday. But during a certain period in my life, my meditation of the Word was NIL. This went on for two years and then something happened. The Da Vinci Code.davinci-code-1

Suddenly I kept hearing about this blockbuster novel by Dan Brown, “The Da Vinci Code.” I am a sucker for thrillers, especially where I get to learn a lot of things. So, got my own copy and read the entire book in one night. I am not ashamed to confess that when I finished reading the book, I was mighty confused.

I called my wife and talked about my confusions about certain things mentioned in the book, and wise she is, she understood my confusions (though she has not read the book still) and explained patiently why many of the concepts presented in the book are wrong.

Of course, later, with lots of personal research and lots of prayer and meditation, I understood that the novel, “The Da Vinci Code” is just a fiction, despite the claims by its author. (By the way, IMHO his latest novel, Inferno, for a change, is right on the target and population explosion is the main culprit in the increase in crime rate in my country, India.)

But there were so many days when I wondered why was I confused by a novel. Slowly it dawned on me, that I was not meditating the Word of God. A friend of mine put it very nicely.

“Those who work in trying to identify counterfeit money do not try to learn everything there is about counterfeit money. But they learn everything there is to know about true currency. The moment they see something else, they know that it is not real currency.”

If we want to identify all the false teachings that are prevalent in the world today, then there is only one way out – meditate the Word of God day and night. Otherwise, we will get confused with all the other conflicting ideas that are presented today.

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Psalm 119:7“I will praise You with an upright heart as I learn Your righteous laws.”

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Delight in the Law of the LORD

We should not recognize the voice of strangers, but what makes us true Christians is that we recognize the voice of our Shepherd. So what are the ways to recognize the sweet voice of our LORD? Psalmist gives us the two ways in which we familiarize ourselves with the voice of our Savior. The second way (to meditate the Word of the LORD day and night) is dependent on the first way – to delight in the Law of the LORD.

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Blessed is the man… whose delight is in the Law of the LORD.
– Psalm 1:1-2

Delight – the original word means, “take pleasure in, be fond of”. What does it mean to delight is in the Law of the LORD?

When I was a teenager, I never used to read the Bible. But when I was travelling, I would see a verse from the Scriptures on the road – in a billboard, on some rocks, on the walls of churches and immediately my mind would jump in joy. I used to think that it was because I delight in the law of the LORD. It took a while to understand and a whole lot of maturity to accept that this was not the Psalmist meant when he wrote those verses Smile.

Then when I entered college, I had faced lots of failures and learned from the book, “The Power of Positive Thinking”, that reading the Bible helps us a lot in gaining confidence. So, I started to read the Bible diligently. Thought this was what the Psalmist was going for after all. Apparently, reading the Bible for our own good was not in his mind either.

Then came the period of turbulence. Whenever something bad happens, I would think that it was because I did not read my Bible today. So, out of fear, I started to read the Bible. If I don’t read the Bible today, something bad would happen to me. Took a while to understand that reading the Bible with fear just made me feel more guilty, but no delight per se.

Then I realized that there is something more there. I started reading the Bible not because I wanted to be successful in my life, not because I was afraid that things would go wrong if I didn’t read it every day… but because I love the Word of God.

Imagine that you have a newborn child. You have not seen the baby for 6 hours because you are working. Now, as you are going back, you are already wondering how the baby is going to be: sleeping, weeping, playing, just watching… how will the baby react on seeing you: will the baby smile, cry, or no reaction…. all these things are going through your mind. But why? Is it because you expect that the kid to grow rich and wealthy so that it can take care of you later? Or is it because you are afraid that if you don’t do all these, the kid will forget you or hurt you later?

No, you do all those things because you love the baby. You love without any expectations. Without any questions or any fear. You do all these because you love.

That’s why I read the Bible. Yes, I know if I delight in the Word of the LORD, He will surely bless me. But that is not the reason we read our Bible. Yes, I know if we don’t meditate on His decrees, it will be easy for the devil to ensnare us. But that is not the reason we read our Bible.

The only reason we read our Bible is because we love Him. Reading His letters gives us great happiness, it fills our hearts with so much joy that it is so difficult to express it in words. Yes, His Word delights us. And there is no one else who is more blessed than the man who delights in the Word of our LORD. Yes, my dear brothers and sisters, we are blessed indeed.

Romans 1:16“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”

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