The Darkness Has Not Overcome

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Have you ever wanted to watch an important sports event on television, but it just wasn’t possible?

Perhaps you were scheduled to work at that time or some other circumstance was in the way.

When the event was over, you likely heard the results through friends or the media.

This team won.

That team lost.

This person won the contest.

This athlete was defeated.

Chances are, if you were really enthusiastic about the sport, watching a recording of the event might still have been of interest to you.

The only difference would’ve  been that you already knew the outcome.

You knew who would win.

We are all painfully aware of evil in this world.

Darkness that threatens us unrelentingly.

Yet, we are also aware of God’s presence and sovereignty.

With unfailing faithfulness, God is with us and He is in total control.

In the book of John in the New Testament, we find these words:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

—John 1:1-5

Jesus has come to the earth.

In Him, there is life.

He is the light, shining in this world that is currently plagued in darkness and sin.

That darkness has not overcome Jesus.

That darkness will NEVER overcome Jesus.

God has already told us who wins.

We know who overcomes.

Jesus says,

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

—John 16:33

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shines

He Will Keep

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Walking along the water’s edge, I came upon a sailboat.

Lodged securely in the sand, it gave a silent testimony to trips gone by.

To gentle winds that had given it flight across the lake.

To moments of solitude.

To a calmness that comes from leaving the shore behind…

There is a peace that can come only from God.

A perfect peace.

A peace born in fellowship with Him.

He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord!

—Isaiah 26:3

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perfect peace

A Cup of Cold Water

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Suppose that you lived during the time that Jesus was on the earth.

Suppose that you lived in an area where He visited.

Suppose that He came to your house one day and He was thirsty.

Do you suppose that your would have given Him a cup of water?

We live in the here and now.

Jesus is not physically with us on the earth.

There are a lot of other people here, though.

In fact, current records indicate the world population to be about 7 billion.

As a believer, when we do something for another person in need, it is as though we are doing it for Jesus–even if it is only giving water to someone who is thirsty.

And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.

—Matthew 10:42

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For the Glory of God

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What will Heaven be like?

There won’t be any sun to shine and give us day.

There won’t be any moon to guide us when it is dark.

Why?

The glory of God and the Lamb will shine brightly, illuminating everything.

There will be no need of a moon to reflect light in the darkness; there will be no darkness.

That’s what Heaven will be like….

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The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.

—Revelation 21:23

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need the sun

The Unfolding

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The banana tree in my back yard was getting ready to unfold a new leaf.

A sizable water droplet clung delicately to it, reflecting sunlight and its surroundings with crisp detail.

The leaves look so very different when they are completely unfolded and spread out.

My tree has several happy looking leaves.

If I had never owned a banana tree, I am doubting that I would have been able to identify a photo like the one that I took of this newly emerging leaf.

At the proper time, it would unfold and then it could be understood and recognized for what it was.

When we read the Bible, we “unfold” it.

It gives us understanding.

It gives us comfort.

It gives us direction.

It gives us light.

If we do not unfold the Bible, we may not recognize it for what it is—

God’s words to us.

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The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.

—Psalm 119:130

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Wonderful New Bodies

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She sees the entire life cycle.

I have a friend who raises butterflies.

Getting a leaf with only an egg on it, she places it in a netted cage.

Later, a caterpillar becomes the only resident.

The caterpillar will then form a chrysalis, and go into hiding…

At the proper time set by God, a beautiful butterfly emerges!

I had the privilege of being with her one day as she released a butterfly from a netted cage.

At first, it remained on her hand, then it flew out into the big, giant sky in the sunshine.

Caterpillars don’t have very good eyesight.

Butterflies do.

A caterpillar must stay near the ground, creeping along.

A butterfly can soar to the heights!

One day, those who believe in Jesus will have new bodies:

For we know that when this tent we live in now is taken down—when we die and leave these bodies—we will have wonderful new bodies in heaven, homes that will be ours forevermore, made for us by God Himself and not by human hands.

—2 Corinthians 5:1

Right now, our eyesight and understanding are so limited.

We are bound here to this earthly life.

There will come a time when we will soar to Jesus in glorious freedom to live forever in Heaven!

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The Insects

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There is a specific bush in my yard that seems to attract green and yellow flies that almost look metallic.

Sleek and futuristic looking, I can imagine a fancy sports car or racing motorcycle styled from its design.

After doing some research, I found that this insect is called simply, “Long-legged Fly.”

I have read that there are approximately nine hundred thousand different kinds of insects in the world that we know about.

Nine hundred thousand!

There are many more yet to be discovered.

Psalm 50:11 reads,

I know every bird in the mountains,
    and the insects in the fields are Mine.

It wouldn’t matter if there were thirty million insects.

God would know every one.

God knows each one of us, too.

We can trust that we are always in His sight and He is divinely focused on every person, all the time…

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the insects

From Those To Whom It Is Due

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What does it mean to give?

In most churches, there are opportunities to give a monetary tithe or gift in order to maintain the building and its ministries.

There is more to giving, however, than placing money in an offering plate or an offering box at the back of a sanctuary.

If I look back over my week, what are some ways that I gave to others?

Did I help anyone who had a need?

Did I call or text a friend who was hurting?

When I saw the troubled countenance of a coworker, did I say a silent prayer for them?

Did I bring a dessert to a neighbor, just to brighten their day?

Did I suggest that the elderly woman behind me in line at the grocery store go ahead of me?

What about the man across the street? When his dog broke from his leash, did I help to find him?

Did I offer to pray with a sick friend?

Did I take the time to talk about Jesus to someone?

When I bring a monetary gift on Sunday, I am giving a portion of my earnings back to God.

When I leave the church on Sunday, am I faithful to give to others in His Name for the rest of the week?

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Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.

—Proverbs 3:27

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There Is No Other

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As I was leaving home today, I noticed the formation while I was still on my street.

The white, puffy clouds were creating a circle around an empty sky of clear blue.

Happy to have my camera with me, I got out of my car to photograph such an unusual sight.

It looked like a portal to another place!

Of course, only sky was on the other side.

Nothing different.

There IS another place, though.

One that we cannot see now.

I believe that Heaven is real and that God is sovereign over all.

Moses spoke these words to the Israelites in the Old Testament:

Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the Lord Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.

—Deuteronomy 4:39

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One day, we will find ourselves passing from this earth beneath to the Heaven above.

Are you ready today to meet the Lord Himself?

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no other

The Crushed

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The old house was broken.

Most of its frame was falling in, unable to hold up its own weight.

What once had stood tall was now crushed in, its boards bent over the flooring with only some concrete blocks as a foundation.

It is easy to look upon structures like these and recognize immediately that they are in a state of ruin.

What’s not so easy is to look upon your family, your friends, your neighbors—-even people on a crowded street—and recognize the broken and crushed condition of their hearts.

Many people live in silent pain, hiding their brokenness at all cost.

Ashamed, they try to bear their burdens alone.

There is hope for them, but they don’t know how to find it.

Restoration is possible with God.

Psalm 34:18 reads, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Is there someone you know today who needs to hear this truth?

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crushed

He Performs Wonders

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There were so many plants for sale!

Walking through a market area, I came to an open air aisle with several varieties of plants.

On the end of a display a particularly unusual one warranted closer inspection.

I didn’t recognize its kind at all.

Of course, God has always known, since it was created by Him.

I just didn’t know about it.

In fact, I don’t believe I have never even imagined anything like it.

But there it was, right in front of me….

In the Old Testament book of Job, we find this words:

He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.

—Job 5:9

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I have been praying for several people lately involving incredible needs.

There are times when those needs are so heavy and so great.

I can’t fix the problems.

I can’t lift the burdens.

Beyond that, I don’t have the wisdom to really know what would be best in each situation.

It is happened before, though, and I trust it will happen again—

I will see how God works in each life as He performs wonders that I have never even imagined.

There will be miracles that I may not even recognize at first, yet they will be right there in front of me and all involved.

Of course, God will have known all along what He would do.

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Look Carefully

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Walking out to my car, I suddenly noticed him.

He was right by the car door that I was approaching.

Lying very still and cautiously, the snake was oddly motionless.

I took several photographs of him, yet he remained calm.

If I hadn’t been paying attention, I could have just stepped right on him.

That would have been bad….

Although I didn’t think he was a poisonous snake, he could’ve been.

In my life, I know I need to pay attention in all areas, not just the ground I happen to be walking on.

What dangers are lurking right in front of me?

If I listen to God’s guidance and pay attention, many troubles could surely be avoided.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

—Ephesians 5:15

look carefully

It Is Still Night

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A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.

—-Proverbs 31:10-15

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I don’t like to get up early.

Not really early, anyway.

Not while it is still dark outside.

I am usually sound asleep at that time.

When I read in the last section of the 31st chapter of Proverbs, I find a description of a woman who continuously makes wise choices.

She is wise, she takes care of her family, she is resourceful and she is loved and respected—and she gets up when it is still night.

She gets up and prepares food for her family and female servants.

There was surely a lot to be done in the daylight hours and she was diligent to get a head start.

She was prepared.

Prepared for the day.

Before the day really got going, she was prepared in many ways.

How about me?

Am I prepared for the day when it arrives?

Will I have the proper attitude when the sun comes up?

Will I have already made good choices in the previous days that will set the stage for the new dawn?

Will I have already determined to be in communication with God, seeking His guidance through the coming minutes and hours?

Am I prepared?

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All Understanding

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Rejoice in the Lord always.

Again I will say, rejoice!

Let your gentleness be known to all men.

The Lord is at hand.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

—Philippians 4:4-7

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peace frame

We See Light

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Indeed, the fountain of life is with You.
    In Your light we see light.

—Psalm 36:9

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The picture below is actually three pictures.

They are identical, except for the size and lighting.

The light reveals so much.

In the larger photo, some parts of the arrangement are shrouded in the shadows.

The mid-sized photo has a greater amount of light.

More detail and beauty are evident.

The smallest picture shows the most light of all.

We, as believers, have the light of God in our lives, filling us— illuminating us.

Without His light, we would be in darkness, shrouded with shadows, as well.

If you could possibly imagine removing God from your life, think of what that darkness would really feel like to you.

It’s almost too painful a thought to even entertain.

Once in His light, we want to remain there.

Everything that is good and right and all that sustains us every day flows from Him–

and it is with His light that we see light.

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we see

Your Treasure

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While I was visiting a church for an event, I noticed an antique looking trunk.

It was sitting on the floor in the back, behind all the chairs.

Being of interest to me, I decided to photograph it.

I didn’t open it to see what was inside.

Still, I wonder what it was being used for?

If I think of adventurous sounding orchestra music, I can envision it being a treasure chest filled with jewels.

Thinking of soft violins playing a gentle tune, I can imagine a young traveler packing a trunk for a journey back in the 1800’s.

For years, trunks and chests have held what is important at the time to their owners.

The Bible speaks to us about what our hearts deem important:

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

—-Matthew 6:21

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What we care about the most is usually not something that can be placed in a trunk or chest.

We love God.

We love our families.

Our parents.

Our spouses.

Our children.

But sometimes, we let the pressures of succeeding in our careers and the opinions of others become more of a treasure to us than they should be.

Prestige.

Wealth.

Popularity.

Where is your heart today?

It’s where your treasure is…….

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your treasure fr

Imperishable

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So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;  it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;  it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.  So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.  The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.  The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven.  As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven.

— 1 Corinthians 15:42-48

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perishable

My Light and My Salvation

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This precious verse was brought to my attention today.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—

whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life—

of whom shall I be afraid?

—Psalm 27:1

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A Day That Has Just Gone By

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It’s actually quite a distance away.

I have friends that live in a different country from my own.

In order to keep up with exactly what time it is where they are, I have set a world clock on my smart phone to their time zone.

Also, on the same phone page, I have the time zone where I live, on the far eastern side of my country.

That way, I can compare what time it is here to what time it is there at a glance.

By default, the manufacturer of my smart phone placed the time that it would be where their company is located—on the far western side of my country.

While checking the time on my world clock page today, I was struck with a thought as I read the words that went along with my friends’ time zone in another country.

It simply read,

Tomorrow. 9hr 30m ahead.

Tomorrow?

Really?

Although I understand the concept in simple numbers of minutes, seconds and hours, something else came to mind.

Tomorrow—my friends are already experiencing it.

I will be soon, but not yet.

When tomorrow comes for me, God will already be there.

In fact, He’s there now.

He is as much in my future as He is in my present.

God is not constrained by human measurements of existence.

The Bible tells us that,

“A thousand years in Your sight
    are like a day that has just gone by,
    or like a watch in the night.”

—Psalm 90:4

Whatever concerns we may have about the future, we must trust that God will be there with His power, sovereignty and love.

So, how can we compare what time it is here to what time it is with God?

It’s already tomorrow.

Infinitely eternal hours ahead…..

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And With My Song

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The melodic sound of the cardinal rang out all through the yard.

He had found his way to the very top of one of the tallest trees.

There, for all to hear, he sang….

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The Lord is my strength and my shield;

my heart trusts in Him,

and He helps me.

My heart leaps for joy,

and with my song

I praise Him.

—Psalm 28:7

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my song

I Lack Nothing

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The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
     He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for His name’s sake.
 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
 Surely Your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

—Psalm 23

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dwell in

Greatness, Power, Splendor

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The sunset was blazing with brilliant light that shot through the sky above the clouds on the western horizon.

Driving along the highway, I was captivated by the splendor of such a scene.

At some point, I looked the other direction, toward the east.

I was almost startled by what I saw.

Subtle pink sunbeams had traveled through the atmosphere and formed a dynamic display of dazzling light on the opposite horizon.

How glorious the sky looked!

The same God who holds the universe together and paints the heavens with color and light is the God who loves us with an everlasting love.

Do you know Him today?

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splendor glory

Hold Me Fast

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In our day and age, travel is so common. There are many, many people today who have journeyed thousands of miles away from home–not once, but several times. I have a friend who will be flying to the opposite side of the world tomorrow morning. I can’t keep him safe, but God can. There is no place that we can venture where God is not. And wherever we are, His power and presence will hold us tightly–safely–in the grip of His love.

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If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

    if I settle on the far side of the sea,

 even there your hand will guide me,

    your right hand will hold me fast.

—Psalm 139:9-10

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The Whole Countryside

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What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations. Oh, look—the deep, wide sea, brimming with fish past counting, sardines and sharks and salmon. Ships plow those waters, and Leviathan, your pet dragon, romps in them. All the creatures look expectantly to you to give them their meals on time. You come, and they gather around; you open your hand and they eat from it. If you turned your back, they’d die in a minute— Take back your Spirit and they die, revert to original mud; Send out your Spirit and they spring to life— the whole countryside in bloom and blossom.

—Psalm 104:24-30

The Message

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Among the Reeds

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Miracles are recorded for us in the Bible.

We see God’s sovereign hand in many lives.

God spared the life of Moses, during a time of great treachery in the land.

Not only did He spare the life of Moses, but He miraculously caused Moses’ very own mother to care for him as a baby.

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Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman,  and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months.  But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile.  His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

 Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it.  She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.

Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”

—Exodus 2:1-7

That Hebrew woman was Moses’ own mother.

God was in control then.

God is in control now.

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Struggling Hard

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It was time for an oil change in my car.

I knew where I needed to take it for repairs and maintenance.

Turning into the dealership parking lot, I was just behind a towing truck.

Bringing a car to be repaired in some way, the little red vehicle rolled along with the power of the truck, with no strength of its own engine engaged.

Almost immediately, I began to think of people, not cars and trucks.

You know them, don’t you?

Those people who are tired and lonely.

Their strength is waning and they’re just about to give up hope.

Asking help for their hurting hearts is almost as impossible as a stranded car asking for a mechanic.

Someone who sees the need will have to make the first move.

Carefully and lovingly, they can be brought to the “lot” where a second chance at life exists.

There they will find that God has the repairs all planned out.

And the cost?

It was completely paid for—-by Jesus, Himself.

Are you the “someone” that sees the need in a lonely heart today?

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give you rest

By Grace

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Provenance.

Until about a month ago, I didn’t know the meaning of the word.

After having heard it for the first time, I looked it up in a dictionary.

Provenance, defined, means the origin or source of something or its history of ownership.

I have no conscious memory of being born.

The recollection of the first months of my life seems unattainable.

I have very clear memories of my second year, although they are only a few in number.

By three years old?

I remember a lot.

Of course, my capacity to recollect increased considerably after that.

My origin?

Who really claims ownership over me?

I learned that much later.

God created me and gave me life.

It is He who truly owns me.

There came a point as I matured where I understood more than this.

I understood that I was a sinner—as all are—and I was in need of forgiveness from God.

Jesus died on the cross, paying the penalty for all my sin, so that I could receive this redemption.

Believing this, I repented and asked God to forgive me.

At that very moment, a new point of personal origin came into being.

My new life as a Christian began.

Provenance.

Knowing Jesus gives the word a whole new meaning…

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For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

–Ephesians 2:8

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grace

His Light in Our Hearts

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For most of my drive home, the rainy sky had been punctuated by a break in the clouds that captured my attention.

The muted gray colors around the break had been completely illuminated by the streams of white light that followed a path to the earth below.

Pulling over by some farmland, I stopped my car and took some photographs as I pondered what was before me.

The light seemed unusually white for the time of day—it was actually after 7:00 in the evening.

No streaks of brilliant orange or hues of blue and yellow.

Just white.

White is associated with purity.

God is pure.

I can imagine the glory of God appearing as a blinding white light.

In the New Testament, we find these words:

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

—2 Corinthians 4:6

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light shine