Praise the LORD with Music and Dancing

Let us remember to praise the LORD, our Creator! Something to consider that goes against what many accept today… praise him with singing and dancing… with joyful noise and enthusiasm. We do not need to constrain ourselves to standing still and arms up to praise him, though that is ok also. Think about the level of enthusiasm it implies to be singing and dancing and playing music while we praise him. Surely we should be more excited about YHWH than when our favorite sports team plays a game!

Psalm 149

Israel Invoked to Praise the LORD.

     1Praise the LORD!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
And His praise in the congregation of the godly ones.

      2Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
Let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King.

      3Let them praise His name with dancing;
Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre.

      4For the LORD takes pleasure in His people;
He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.

      5Let the godly ones exult in glory;
Let them sing for joy on their beds.

      6Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,
And a two-edged sword in their hand,

      7To execute vengeance on the nations
And punishment on the peoples,

      8To bind their kings with chains
And their nobles with fetters of iron,

      9To execute on them the judgment written;
This is an honor for all His godly ones.
Praise the LORD!

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Give to Caesar Things That Are Caesar’s; and to God Things That Are God’s

The Pharisees were not pleased with the preceding parables about the vineyard owner and the wedding feast in which Jesus revealed clearly that they face God’s righteous judgment for rejecting God’s commands and mistreating His messengers, the prophets and Jesus, Himself. Rather than consider if they were wrong, which they were not open to accepting, they went and plotted with another group against Jesus… a group which they did not even agree with… the Herodians. With malice and forethought they plotted to trap Jesus in Matthew 22:15-22.

      15Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said. 16And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any. 17“Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?” 18But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? 19“Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius. 20And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” 22And hearing this, they were amazed, and leaving Him, they went away.

They were hoping for one of two outcomes:

  • Jesus says to pay the tax to Caesar and the people turn against Jesus because they saw Caesar as an occupying force rather than a civil government.
  • or Jesus says not to pay the tax and they notify the governor that Jesus is speaking against Rome in hopes He will be dealt with harshly by the Romans.

They attempted flattery and deception, but to no success. God will not be fooled by men. Jesus sees right through their attempted trap and calls them out on it. Then he answers the question in a way they can not even use to trap Him.

The answer still applies today. Much of what Rome was doing was evil in the sight of the Lord, but Jesus pointed out that the money in question comes from Rome and thus can be used to pay lawful taxes to Rome as the civil governing authority. This is not to say that we have to like it… and certainly does not discourage us from getting involved in our local and national governments where we have a voice and trying to reduce taxes that way. Governments are generally wasteful and spend money inefficiently and without honoring God. Spending “other people’s money” is not a natural driver to be good with spending. Spending your own money… that is a strong driver to be good with money.

Beyond the taxes, Jesus made another point… give to God, what is God’s. We know from other scripture that Jesus instructs us to put Him first, to put not even father or mother ahead of Him.

[Matthew 10:37-39] 37“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39“He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

Thus we can clearly understand that we can submit to civil government so long as we are not required to compromise our service to God… our honoring of His commands.  God must come first. We should actively engage in our local, state, and national government where we have the opportunity to help protect our individual rights as Christians, which are often under attack by powerful central governments that desire to be the ultimate authority instead of God.

Most of us pay our taxes lawfully for fear of the government. Many do not give to God what is God’s. They do not fear Him as they should. Thinking of God only as love, many expect that they can live in active disobedience to Him and His commands without consequence. They are wrong.

[Proverbs 9:10]   10The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

[Matthew 10:28]  28“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

When we accept Jesus as Lord, we are called to repent from our sins, obey His commands and submit to His will. To do so, our lives should reflect significant change. Our attitude, passion, time, talents, and money should be used to serve and honor God.

Give to God what is God’s.

I invite you to pray with me:

Father, You and You alone are God. There are none like You. Though we may fool others or fool ourselves in the way we should go, we will never fool or trick You. You are wise and not to be tripped up by the plans and deceit of men. Help us to have wisdom to know the way we should walk. Lead us to give to government what is theirs and give to You what is Yours. Let us have wisdom and courage, however, not to compromise Your instructions to comply with government. You come first. Amen. 

Shalom

Devotion by John in service to Christ

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

 

Many Signs and Wonders Accompanied Yeshua’s Death and Resurrection

Clearly He was the son of God. Darkness fell on the land when it should normally be light. Yeshua yielded up His spirit, meaning that His physical body died. The temple veil was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and rocks were split. There were a lot of very unusual events taking place around the time of Yeshua’s death. YHWH was trying to get people’s attention once more to highlight Yeshua as Messiah. One last series of miracles in regards to Yeshua’s earthly ministry.

Matthew 27:45-56

      45Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. 46About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “ELI, ELILAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GODWHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” 47And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, “This man is calling for Elijah.” 48Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. 49But the rest of them said, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him.” 50And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. 51And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. 52The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

      55Many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee while ministering to Him. 56Among them was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

As we reflect on the many miracles taking place to mark the passing of Messiah in His earthly body, I will highlight one selection of verses I have never heard anyone speak on or write on to further develop. I haver certainly never heard them in a church service. (I am sure someone has developed or studied this somewhere.)

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

Many tombs were opened up as the earth shook when Yeshua died and then were raised from the dead after Yeshua was resurrected several days later. They appeared to many people in the city. As there is no record of them being taken away to heave, I presume they went on to live out their lives until they died again.

Even the roman soldiers, who did not believe in YHWH recognized that this was worthy of notice as they declared, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” Let’s challenge ourselves never to take this momentous event for granted. Our God came in the person of Yeshua to live and die for us. When He walked among us and when He died there were many powerful signs and wonders to declare it such that even the pagans recognized it to some degree. May we never forget or fail to recognize the significance of what happened. May it never get boring or dull for us. May it always be fresh and fill us with perhaps both sorrow and joy.

I invite you to pray with me.

Father, please help us never to grow cold to the many miracles that You provided to help us understand the significance of what happened when Yeshua was crucified and died. Let us never take it for granted or lose the amazement at what happened. Let our love for You and our enthusiasm for Your miracles not grow cold. Amen

 Shalom

Devotion by John in service to Christ

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Yeshua Was Mocked for Us. Are We Willing to be Mocked for Him?

Have you ever been mocked for standing up for Yeshua? Have you ever been in a situation where you felt intimidated not  to let others know you follow Him? We all know this is wrong, but we still may experience those emotions in some situations. Consider that Yeshua has experienced some very harsh mockery while paying the penalty for our sins. In fact, He was ruthlessly mocked until the very end while He was suffering a tortuous death, crucified on the cross. Ask the LORD to help you to have courage and strength to live boldly and unapologetically for Christ, as He stood for us.

Matthew 27:27-44

Jesus Is Mocked

      27Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him. 28They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. 29And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. 31After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him.

      32As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross.

      33And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull, 34they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink.

      35And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots. 36And sitting down, they began to keep watch over Him there. 37And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

      38At that time two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left. 39And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads 40and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying, 42“He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. 43“HE TRUSTS IN GODLET GOD RESCUE Him now, IF HE DELIGHTS IN HIM; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44The robbers who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same words.

      45Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. 46About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “ELI, ELILAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GODWHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” 47And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, “This man is calling for Elijah.” 48Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. 49But the rest of them said, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him.” 50And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.

I invite you to pray with me:

Father, please give me courage to stand firmly for You. Help me to live boldly and unapologetically for You, even when I face mockery or persecution. Help me to honor You with all aspects of my life. 

Shalom

Devotion by John in service to Christ

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Will You Choose Yeshua? or Will You Go Along With the Crowd?

We all must decide in our lives… whom will we choose? Will we choose to follow the crowd or will we choose Christ? The crowd will demand we reject Christ.  Even in many churches today, the members do not live according to the word of God. They live more by the laws of man than those of God.  There are an absurd number of churches that can’t figure out if God changed His mind on homosexuality because some mortal judges passed a court ruling by one vote. They pursue the ways of men rather than those of God.

Often the seeming easy route, the route to be praised and accepted by men, will lead away from God. Perhaps it is subtle sometimes and often not subtle at all. The crowd will not draw you toward God. We must seek personal holiness and a relationship with our Father in heaven. We must pray, worship, and study. We must ask for the Spirit to lead us and be willing to obey and follow, even when it is difficult or uncomfortable. Then perhaps we may be ready and willing to stand for Christ when all others around us call out to crucify Him.

Matthew 27:11-26

Jesus before Pilate

      11Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor questioned Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.” 12And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He did not answer. 13Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” 14And He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge, so the governor was quite amazed.

      15Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the people any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16At that time they were holding a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. 17So when the people gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over.

      19While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.” 20But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death. 21But the governor said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Crucify Him!” 23And he said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they kept shouting all the more, saying, “Crucify Him!”

      24When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.” 25And all the people said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” 26Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.

Jesus chose obedience to the Father. Jesus chose to die for our sins so we may be forgiven. Whom will you choose? Decide ahead of time or you will likely fail when the situation is difficult around you.  Start by asserting yourself for Christ in small ways at first to gain confidence if you find that helpful. Take small steps until you are ready to take bigger ones. Pray for God to help you be bold for Him.

Keep in mind that in some cases you will not face an angry mob. You may face coworkers or friends at the coffee bar or in the office kitchen or at lunch. They may just be speaking against Christ and how He calls us to live in seemingly small ways. Will you stand up for Christ?

I invite you to pray with me:

Father, please help me to have courage and determination to choose You every time, in every situation. Help me to stand firm and courageously when needed, against the crowd and for You. Amen. 

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

 

Feeling Remorse and Selective Obedience

We are going to explore two aspects of the historical account in Matthew 27. There is a difference between feeling remorse and asking God for forgiveness. Second, selective obedience to the laws of God.

It is interesting to reflect on the remorse of Judas and the reaction of the chief priests after they had taken Yeshua into custody. Judas felt remorse when he heard Yeshua had been condemned. What did He think was going to happen when He turned Yeshua in? The chief priests hear that Judas declares Yeshua innocent, and they don’t care a bit, but they turn to the law and refuse to put the money back in the temple treasury. They have clearly twisted their thoughts in a knot with a decision to convict Yeshua before any facts were assessed. They rationalize executing an innocent man as if it is not murder, but then refuse to break a much less significant law.

Matthew 27:1-10

Judas’s Remorse

      1Now when morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus to put Him to death; 2and they bound Him, and led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate the governor.

      3Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” 5And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. 6The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.” 7And they conferred together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers. 8For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “AND THEY TOOK THE THIRTY PIECES OF SILVERTHE PRICE OF THE ONE WHOSE PRICE HAD BEEN SET by the sons of Israel; 10AND THEY GAVE THEM FOR THE POTTERS FIELDAS THE LORD DIRECTED ME.”

Notice that Judas did not repent. He did not turn to God and ask forgiveness. He simply felt guilty for what he had done. This is a very important distinction. One we should all heed carefully. If we do wrong, it is not enough to feel bad and try to fix it. We must turn to God and ask forgiveness and submit to Him.

As for the behavior of the chief priests, we must be on guard that we don’t get so focused on a certain outcome that we lose track of what is righteous and what is wicked. It is no good to reject God’s ways to accomplish what we want (e.g. murder of Yeshua in this case), and then to carefully cling to other laws and instructions as if we are righteous. We must serve Him fully, and with emphasis on the more important commands to be sure. Perhaps a silly comparison would be if a man’s son would avoid taking a cookie from a cookie jar without permission, but then steal $100 from his wallet or beat up the little boy next door. That is not righteousness.

I invite you to pray with me:

Father, please lead me in righteousness. Help me stay fully submitted to You. Let me not get blinded by what I want, but faithfully serve You in what You want. When I sin, help me turn to You and ask forgiveness. Amen. 

Shalom

Devotion by John in service to Christ

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Our Relationship With YHWH Should Be a Clear Focal Point in Our Lives

We don’t need to be familiar with the concept of the birthright of the firstborn in order to understand from Biblical history that those who live in opposition to the LORD can lose what would otherwise be rightfully theirs. We need not understand all the battles and locations in 1 Chronicles 5 to understand that the LORD may bring victory to those who trust in Him. Likewise, we can learn from the historical record that those who act treacherously against YHWH and pursue other gods may bring about His wrath, and it may have lasting implications for generations and across a nation. It is not just an impact on a single person who has sinned.

1 Chronicles 5

Genealogy from Reuben

      1Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel; so that he is not enrolled in the genealogy according to the birthright. 2Though Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came the leader, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph), 3the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel were Hanoch and Pallu, Hezron and Carmi. 4The sons of Joel were Shemaiah his son, Gog his son, Shimei his son, 5Micah his son, Reaiah his son, Baal his son, 6Beerah his son, whom Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria carried away into exile; he was leader of the Reubenites. 7His kinsmen by their families, in the genealogy of their generations, were Jeiel the chief, then Zechariah 8and Bela the son of Azaz, the son of Shema, the son of Joel, who lived in Aroer, even to Nebo and Baal-meon. 9To the east he settled as far as the entrance of the wilderness from the river Euphrates, because their cattle had increased in the land of Gilead. 10In the days of Saul they made war with the Hagrites, who fell by their hand, so that they occupied their tents throughout all the land east of Gilead.

      11Now the sons of Gad lived opposite them in the land of Bashan as far as Salecah. 12Joel was the chief and Shapham the second, then Janai and Shaphat in Bashan. 13Their kinsmen of their fathers’ households were Michael, Meshullam, Sheba, Jorai, Jacan, Zia and Eber, seven. 14These were the sons of Abihail, the son of Huri, the son of Jaroah, the son of Gilead, the son of Michael, the son of Jeshishai, the son of Jahdo, the son of Buz; 15Ahi the son of Abdiel, the son of Guni, was head of their fathers’ households. 16They lived in Gilead, in Bashan and in its towns, and in all the pasture lands of Sharon, as far as their borders. 17All of these were enrolled in the genealogies in the days of Jotham king of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam king of Israel.

      18The sons of Reuben and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, consisting of valiant men, men who bore shield and sword and shot with bow and were skillful in battle, were 44,760, who went to war. 19They made war against the Hagrites, Jetur, Naphish and Nodab. 20They were helped against them, and the Hagrites and all who were with them were given into their hand; for they cried out to God in the battle, and He answered their prayers because they trusted in Him. 21They took away their cattle: their 50,000 camels, 250,000 sheep, 2,000 donkeys; and 100,000 men. 22For many fell slain, because the war was of God. And they settled in their place until the exile.

      23Now the sons of the half-tribe of Manasseh lived in the land; from Bashan to Baal-hermon and Senir and Mount Hermon they were numerous. 24These were the heads of their fathers’ households, even Epher, Ishi, Eliel, Azriel, Jeremiah, Hodaviah and Jahdiel, mighty men of valor, famous men, heads of their fathers’ households.

      25But they acted treacherously against the God of their fathers and played the harlot after the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God had destroyed before them. 26So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul, king of Assyria, even the spirit of Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away into exile, namely the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and brought them to Halah, Habor, Hara and to the river of Gozan, to this day.

Think about how your actions may affect how God blesses you, your family, your nation because of your righteousness. Reflect also on how your unrighteousness may impact the same in a very bad way by bringing about YHWH’s wrath and punishment. Truly our relationship with our Creator should be the most central and important things we spend time on to try to get that right. Let us seek Him in study of the Bible, worship, prayer, and rejoicing. Let us bring thanks before Him and take quiet time to listen to what He may wish to tell us. Let us honor Him in how we live.

I invite you to pray with me:

Father, please draw me in to right relationship with You. Help me to focus on You first, above all else. Let me not be distracted by the earthly things around me. Please bring Your blessings upon me, my family, and my nation so that Your name would be glorified. Amen. 

Shalom

Devotion by John in service to Christ

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Return to Me With All Your Heart

Joel 2 focuses on the coming judgment of YHWH on His people for their disobedience. Even as the mighty judgment comes, there is but one wise choice for those who have denied or rebelled against the LORD… repent.

Joel 2:12-13

12“Yet even now,” declares the LORD,
“Return to Me with all your heart,
And with fasting, weeping and mourning;

13And rend your heart and not your garments.”
Now return to the LORD your God,
For He is gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness
And relenting of evil.

The same is true for us today. No matter how bad your situation may be, do not give up. You can not stand against or run from the judgment of YHWH. The only wise choice, the only hopeful choice, is to come before Him humbly and repent, asking forgiveness. Do not be fooled, however. Even if we feel like our situation is not dire or dramatic. We should still take care to return to Him with all our heart. Let us not just submit to Him in part, but completely. Let us not submit to Him resentfully, but joyfully.

I invite you to pray with me:

Father, please help me to submit to You and repent from my wicked ways. Please forgive me and help me to embrace You with all my  heart. Amen. 

Shalom

Devotion by John in service to Christ

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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