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“We Wrestle Not Against Flesh And Blood” Ephesians 6:12.

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Many Christians think that their enemy is other people, but as Ephesians 6:12 explains, they are not. In. Our enemies are not homosexuals, nor are they the members of ISIS. They are not drug dealers, nor are they gang members. They are not prostitutes or pimps. They are not abusive spouses, nor are they pedophiles.

People are our territory to reclaim. The word says that Jesus did not come to destroy the world but that the world would have life. His mission was loving others, and our mission is to do the same. We reclaim these people through God’s love radiating through us.

I bet that now you are wondering how I could say this. You are thinking that I am crazy and that I don’t know what I am talking about. You are thinking about all the bad things that people do and how evil the people that I mentioned above really are.

Our Enemies Are Spiritual Beings

Our enemies are spiritual beings that influence people. It is important that we learn that people are not the problem, but the spirits that influence those people are the problem. Once we learn to separate the people from the spiritual influence, we are in a position to fight the good fight. We learn who to cast out and who to love. We can learn to love the person and hate the sin. As the Bible says, we separate the marrow from the bone.

When I was in the Navy, I was a hospital corpsman with the specialty of neuro-psychiatric technician. My job for over five years was to take care of acutely ill psychiatric patients. Many of these patients told me about some occult spiritual experiences that they had. Others told me about the voices in their heads and how they would talk them into believing certain things.

Because I understood that what these people were experiencing was a spiritual attack rather than from that person’s character, I was never afraid of the person. (Nor was I afraid of the spiritual influence because  greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world.) I had this uncanny ability to go up to a frantic confused, combative psychotically influenced individual and calm him down. I did it numerous times.

Other people that I worked with thought that I was foolish and flirting with danger, but I knew I was not in danger and I cared about the person that I was confronting. The most important thing was that the person that I confronted knew it too. The psychotics  knew that I not only wanted them to be safe and that I would help them be safe.

Relearning How To Love

Our greatest weapon against our real enemy is to love the people around us. good-and-evil-light-dark-angels-demons-desktop-1024x768-wanted-wallpaperI am not as loving a person as I would like to be, like the Ephesians of Revelation 2, I have left my first love. When I was at my Dad’s funeral almost a year and a half ago, I started awakening to this fact. Fortunately, we have a God who is forgiving and wants to lead us in the right direction. All we need to do is turn back toward him.

This learning to love taught me that I needed to first learn to love myself and see myself and God sees me. Then I needed to realize that I am not alone in needing love. Everyone needs to know that they are loved, and that leads me to where I am right now. God loves us. He wants to bless us with his love. All we have to do is ask. If we want more, we must give what we have been given.

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Donna Brown is an ordained minister. As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues. Her upcoming book A Coward’s Solace will be available soon. Click here for more information about Cygnet Brown and her books.

 


Fisherman in the Sea of Galilee

In Matthew 4:17 Jesus has started his ministry on earth telling everyone that “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

He then walked along the Sea of Galilee. In other places in the Bible and in history Sea of Galilee are the Sea of Tiberias, Gennesaret, and Chinnereth. this sea was source of the Jordan River. The Jordan River flowed from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. We can take a lesson from this when we recognize that the Sea of Galilee is the source. It was alive and teaming with fish and supported the communities that surrounded it. The Dead Sea however only receives water and has no outlet. It is a dead lake where nothing grows. If you take and take and take, you will be as barren as the Dead Sea.

Jesus wasn’t walking along the Dead Sea. He was walking along the Sea of Galilee and as he was walking, he comes across Simon Peter and his brother Andrew and he invites them and then the sons of Zebedee James and John to be his disciples to become “fishers of men”. He took these men and gave them a higher calling. There is no record of them wondering if they should go, whether Zebedee tried to talk James and John out of going, if Peter’s wife was worried about where the money would come from. None of these are recorded. It just says Jesus invited them and they went.

painting of Jesus Christ healing the sick

Throughout Galilee, Jesus started his preaching ministry. He went from synagogue to synagogue preaching the good news of the Kingdom of Heaven. But he did something more, he made a difference in the lives of the people around him. He healed people. He healed all kinds of diseases, but he also healed all types of torments. The word torments here is the Greek word basanos which is thought to come from the root word basia which means to walk, a pace, foot. In other words, this word basanos has to do with anything that makes us feel as though we were going to the bottom or down to the foot.

What Jesus offered and gave to the people were The promise of the Kingdom and the gifts of salvation and healing.

“Well,” you say,” that was Jesus and that was then surely that’s not for us today. God works differently today than he did back then. He uses medicine and doctors today, right?”

I’m not going to answer the question for you of whether trusting in the medical system is God’s work. That’s between you and God. What I will challenge you concerning you  though is what Jesus told his disciples:

At the end of Jesus’ ministry, John records in John 14:12 Jesus spoke to his disciples and said, “Verily verily, I say unto you. He that believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works shall he do because I go unto my Father.”

What I am challenging myself (and you, if you’re up to the challenge) is this: If we believe the Bible as we say we do, why don’t we do the same works and even greater works than Jesus did? Why do we let the tormenter rule over our lives. Why are we ineffective in delivering others of their diseases and oppressions? Is it God who has changed or is it perhaps that we REALLY do not believe what he says? More importantly, what can we do about it?


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As we continue our study of Matthew, and our study of John the Baptist in particular, we learned yesterday that Christian baptism did not originate with John the Baptist, but had immersing in water had been part of several types of Jewish religious cleansing rituals.

The word Baptism however, is not a Hebrew word, but came from a Greek word bapto meaning “to dip”. in the New Testament there are seven different ways that the word baptism has been used and by understanding the context of each of these meanings, helps us to understand what baptism is and what it  isn’t.

1. 2. I Corinthians 10:2-11  Speaks of the Baptism of the cloud and in the sea where the children of Israel was more than just a type of our relationship with Christ.

2.  As studied yesterday, there is the baptism of John. His baptism is mentioned in many passages in the New Testament. Besides Matthew 3 there is also Mark 1, Luke 3:, 7:29-30, John 1:31-33; 3:23-26: 10:40, Acts 1:5; 11:16; 19:3.

3.    There was baptism of suffering as noted in Luke 12:50 where Jesus spoke of being dipped or experiencing for a short time the experience of death. In this passage Jesus also expressed that he was not looking forward to the occasion, but that he would be glad when the bapto was accomplished.

4.  In John 3:22 and 4:1-2 it speaks about Christ’s baptism in water. It is significant that Jesus was not the one who actually carried out the baptisms, but it was his disciples who did the actual baptizing. It is our duty as disciples of Jesus to immerse new converts in the good news of our Lord and Savior.

5. Christian baptism in water and the Baptism into Christ and His Body  (Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38-41,:8:12-16; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:15,33; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16; Romans 6:3-7; 1 Corinthians 1:13-17; 12: 13; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12;  Peter 3:21) is one of the cornerstones of Christian faith. This baptism brings the new believer into his body at repentance and the new birth. It is called “one baptism (Ephesians 4:5), because it is the only baptism that saves the soul and brings into the body of Christ. The immersion in water is not what saves a person, but the confession of the faith that precedes the immersion in water. The immersion in water is a symbol of the death of the old life and the Resurrection into becoming a new creation in Christ.

6. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a controversial subject in Christendom. (Matthew 3:11, 14:20-23; Mark 1:8; 10:38-39, Luke 3:16, John 1:33, 7:37-39; Acts 1:5; 11:16, 19:2-3.) Some say that the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at the new birth, others say that it is a separate experience. For now, we will leave  the decision of when this occurs between you and your Creator.

I hope this study of the Gospels is helpful to you. This study, of course, I am not the final authority of the truth that Christ has for us as believers. I would not be so bold as to suggest that I were. What I would hope though, is that this study would help to open your eyes to how great our God is and how much he loves you. Please comment! Maybe you have a question I can help you with. Perhaps you have insights I don’t and we can learn together!


Religious Inspiration Figurine Mary Joseph And Baby Jesus Flight To Egypt Statue

Have you ever considered how impossible the events around Jesus’ birth are? Yesterday we looked at his lineage and how it was orchestrated so that he could prove that he was man, he was a kind, and he was the Son of God. The probability of this happening by human design over thousands of years or it happening by chance can be viewed as virtually impossible. The likelihood of these events occurring at all can only seem possible when viewed in the light of supernatural, divine intervention, yet, here it is in the genealogy of Jesus Christ.

The amazing confrontation that Elijah had with the prophets of Baal (I Kings 18:22-40) seem like child’s play compared to the prophecies fulfilled in Jesus Christ’s birth and reviewed in Matthew.  First, the prophet Isaiah said that the Christ (the name means-anointed in Greek, in Hebrew Messiah has the same meaning)  would be born of a virgin. (Isaiah 7:14).

The prophet Micah said that the ruler of Israel would be born in Bethlehem. He would have existed from times of old and his reign would last forever. (Micah 5:2) Jesus was born in Bethlehem. (Matthew 2:6). He had always been (John 1:1-2). His kingdom will last forever (Revelation 22:1-6).

Hosea 11:1 said that God would ‘call his son out of Egypt.” This could have been an allegory  based on the idea that Egypt is a type of sin. However, as we see in Matthew 2:13-15. Joseph and his family fled to Egypt in order to avoid Herod’s wrath. When they returned, God’s son would come out of Egypt and literally fulfill this prophecy.

While Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were in Egypt, King Herod inadvertently fulfilled (Matthew 2:18) Jeremiah’s  prophecy of Jeremiah 31:15-16 that there would be weeping in Rama over the murder of the city’s children. Rama was a city 5 miles north of Jerusalem which indicated that Herod’s slaughter extended from Bethlehem, included Jerusalem, and extended at least as far as Rama.

After a dream where an angel told Joseph to return to Israel from Egypt, Joseph returned to his hometown of Nazareth. By returning to Nazareth, not only did he fulfill the prophecy concerning Egypt (Hosea 11:1), but he also fulfilled verbal prophecy (not written, so there is no scriptural reference) which was known the to people of that era which stated that the Messiah would be called a Nazarene.

When we look at these prophecies, it would be easy to dismiss these prophecies as fables written long ago. In our human intelligence, we cannot perceive the possibility that these events really happened. It is true. For man to have made this to happen or for all this to simply be a coincidence,this is impossible. It would be very easy to intellectually believe all this was simply a lie, made up to appease unintelligent human beings.

There is another possibility, however, that must not be overlooked. Perhaps these prophecies are true, and these events did happen as stated here in Matthew. Perhaps there really is a God who orchestrated all these prophecies into being fulfilled. Perhaps there is a God that really exists in whom nothing is impossible. (Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27, and Luke 18:27)


jesus mary joseph lighted with a candle Stock Photo - 11408014        Have you ever examined your own genealogy? If you notice, you have two distinct lines. One comes from your father and the other from your mother. Jesus also had a mother and a father. We discovered in our study of Christ’s genealogy in Matthew chapter 1 that even though Jesus was biologically the son of God, Joseph had adopted him as his son and therefore Jesus had a legal claim to the throne of David through his son Solomon. Click this link to read part one: Christ’s Legal Lineage.

Today we will look at Jesus Christ’s lineage through Mary. We find this lineage in Luke 3:23-38. In viewing this lineage, we need to first recognize that Luke’s perspective was different from Matthew’s. While Matthew’s viewpoint was to prove that Jesus Christ was the Messiah of the Jews, Luke’s viewpoint was to prove that Jesus Christ was “the son of man.” or was a descendant of Adam.

Even though Mary’s name is not mentioned in this passage, this must be her genealogy. Since Jesus was not the biological son of Joseph, he had to have some sort of biological connection to humans so that he could be qualified to become the Savior of mankind. This had to come through Mary. Therefore, this genealogy gives proof that Jesus was indeed a human being because he was descended from Adam.

As you’ll notice as you read this genealogy, you will notice that King Solomon was not in this genealogy. The genealogy instead of coming through him, goes through another son of David–Nathan. The reason for this occurred when God cursed Solomon’s royal descendent–Jechoniah– in that his  line would not give birth to the Messiah.

Another significance of this genealogy, besides the fact that it comes through Mary, is that the genealogy does not stop at Abraham as Joseph’s genealogy in Matthew did, but it goes all the way back to Adam. Adam was the only other man who God created directly. All others were born of men. Though it is true that God spoke of forming Jeremiah, it should be understood that in the case of Jesus, he used both the physical reproduction through Mary along with the direct creation through God. Both attributes were required if Jesus were to become the salvation of humankind.

As you compare the genealogies in Matthew and Luke closely, you will however discover another amazing discovery. In Luke 3:27 we discover that Solomon and Nathan unite in Zurubbabel by the marriage of  Salathial to the Neri’s daughter in Nathan’s line. Neri no doubt died without a male heir and the two branches of David were united under Zerubbabel. Jesus Christ therefore became heir to the blood rights and privileges of the whole house of David.

These often overlooked genealogies indeed contained some very valuable information about our Lord.


Famous LAST SUPPER painting

Before I go much further into the study of the Matthew, I want to discuss a question that comes up all the time and causes a lot of people to question the validity of the Word of God. That question is: If the gospels are supposed to be the word of God, why are there four different accounts of the same events? For instance, why is what Matthew says about the birth of Christ different from what Mark, Luke, or John. Doesn’t that prove that the gospels are inaccurate or even contrived?

Quite the contrary. What we have when we look at the gospels is not contrary information. What we have is the same information but from a different perspective. It’s similar to what happens when there is a car accident. The police make it a point to talk to everyone at the scene to find out each witnesses perspective. With each witness, the police will get a different story. Based on what each person says, the police will be able to piece together what happened and how it happened.

Each of the stories will be similar, but slightly different, not because some are telling the truth, and some are lying, but because each person has a different perspective. If for some reason the witnesses gave exactly the same information however, describing the incident in exactly the same way, even using the same phrases, then the police would know that each of the so-called witnesses had gotten together to coordinate their stories. The police would then have to delve deeper into why the witnesses coordinated their stories. The fact that the information was exactly the same indicated that the stories were contrived.

Because the gospels were written from different perspectives and offers different information, like the police at the scene of the accident we can better perceive the actual events. For this same reason, we can also conclude that the gospels were based on eye-witnesses rather than contrived at a later date.

Matthew is said to be written from the perspective that “Jesus was the Messiah, the King of the Jews .” Mark was written from the perspective that “Jesus was God’s servant”. Luke was written from the perspective that “Jesus was the perfect man”. Finally John was written from the perspective that “Jesus was God the Son.

This year I will be focusing this blog on the four gospels. Today we have looked at how the gospels offer different perspectives of the life of Christ.. Please let me know if you’ve enjoyed this post and comment below. Also I would love if you would check out my other projects. Under my pseudonym Author Cygnet Brown I have written two Christian Historical Novels in The Locket Saga–When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry. I am currently working on the third book in the series: A Coward’s Solace.


King Herod’s Temple was one of Herod’s crowning achievements.

In Matthew Chapter 2, the scenes center around King Herod. This King Herod, the first of several King Herods mentioned int the New Testament was  the pro-Roman king of the small Jewish state in the last decades before the common era. He started his career as a general, but the Roman statesman Mark Antony recognized him as the Jewish national leader.To secure is throne and the throne for his posterity, he married Hyrcanus’ nephew Antigonus’ daughter.  Although Herod had a  father who worshiped the Jewish God, Herod did not have a Jewish father so most Jews of the region did not consider Herod a true Jew and despised the man.

During a major overthrow attempt Herod escaped to Rome and persuaded Octavian and the Senate to order Mark Antony to restore him. He then became sole ruler of Judea. As long as he pleased Rome, he could do anything he wanted. Herod rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem.. Coins were minted in his own name.

During the unrest between Mark Antony and Octavian, Herod manipulated his position so that he backed Octavian. When Octavian became the sole Roman leader and changed his name to Augustus, Herod was rewarded with the addition of Jericho and Gaza as his territories to rule.

Though Herod had the blessings of the new Emperor, his subjects did not share in this love of this Roman puppet king. As an attempt to receive the Jews’ approval, when an earthquake destroyed many homes and killed thousands of people, Herod built a new market, an amphitheater, a theater, a new building where the Sanhedrin could convene, a new royal palace, and he rebuilt the Temple He had new buildings built in Jericho and Samaria. He built new fortresses Herodion, Machaereus and Masada. He also built the new port city Caesarea in honor of the emperor.

Many of his building projects were Greek in design and the orthodox Jews as well as the Sadducees hated the king. He terminated the rule of the old royal house to which many of them were related; their own influence in the Sanhedrin was curtailed. The Pharisees despised any ruler who despised the Law. In addition, these building projects and Herod’s lavish lifestyle required required extreme taxation of the Jews. It was not unusual for Herod to revert to violence, employing mercenaries and a secret police to enforce order.

Jewish scholars discovered that seventy-six generations had passed since the Creation, and a well-known prophecy said the Messiah was to deliver Israel from its foreign rulers in the seventy-seventh generation. The slaughter of male infants of Bethlehem in the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew is not known from other sources, but it would have been totally in character for the later Herod to commit such treachery.

The Journey of the Magi by Bernardo Gozzoli, 1459

I could imagine that when the wise men came to Herod and asked about the “one born king of the Jews”, and Herod discovered that the king they described was not him nor his posterity, he would have done whatever was necessary to make sure that anyone fitting that description no longer existed. Fortunately for us, God knew of Herod’s plans and thwarted them. God told Joseph in a dream to take his family to Egypt and out from under Herod’s rule.

This year I will be focusing this blog on the four gospels. Today we have covered Matthew chapter 2. Also under my pseudonym Author Cygnet Brown I have written two Christian Historical Novels in The Locket Saga–When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry. I am currently working on the third book in the series: A Coward’s Solace.


When I think of God’s Greatest gift to us, the first Bible passage I ever had to learned comes to mind John 3:16-17.

For God so Loved the World that he GAVE his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.

Dixie-Stampede-Nativity

The first thing we need to get from these verses is that we cannot save ourselves. Despite common belief that there are many ways to God,as it says in Acts 4:12, there is no other way to salvation but through the name (authority) of Jesus Christ.

God knew that we could not save ourselves so he gave us his son because he loved us. He didn’t send his son to condemn us because we were condemned already. (John 3:18, Romans 3:23, 6:23). God sent his son because he was our only hope. God sent his son because he knew we couldn’t save ourselves. Without the redemption offered by our Lord Jesus Christ, it is as though we were in a fast moving car that has no brakes. If we can enjoy the ride while we’re moving, but in the end, the destination is disaster.

We can believe otherwise, but in the end, if we don’t accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, in the result  is still disaster.

You might say, well, this all sound great,you’re preaching at the choir, I’m already a Christian, but I have family and friends who have not accepted this. How do I convince them of this truth?

The key is in doing what Jesus did when he was here on the earth. He loved as his father did. He freely submitted to the will of his father. We need to do the same.

We’re not going to bring our homosexual friends to Christ by telling them that they are going to hell for their lifestyle. We are not going to convince doctors in abortion clinics to stop committing abortions by displaying graphic photos in front of their businesses. We are not even saving babies doing this either. We are not going to lead our children to the truth by condemning them of their clothes, tattoos or piercings. Pointing out sin does not draw anyone to Christ. Pointing out sin will only drive them away.

So what do you do? The first thing we all must do is to ask God to teach us to love others as he first loved us. During this next year, rather than reading the entire Bible, focus instead on reading the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John over and over again for the entire year. As you read, meditate on how Jesus reacted with everyone. Write down in a journal your impressions of those interactions. Then in light of what you have read, begin to pray for your family and friends. Ask God to show you how to show his love for them through you. Then when you are around your family and friends, take a deep breath and again ask God to show you what to do. Love is the key to drawing others to Christ!

Thank you for reading this blog! Be sure to comments and tell me what you think!  Now that you’ve enjoyed this blog, check out my website and discover my other blogs and read a free chapter in my latest novel: Soldiers Don’t Cry, The Locket Saga Continues.

 


I am not usually a fan of posting scripture online. However, today here in the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving. Here in the United States, we have been given much favor with God. Therefore, I feel compelled to share  Psalm 138:1-8 a psalm of  David, for thanksgiving for the LORD’S Favor.

 

“I will give You thanks with all my heart ; I will sing praises to You before the gods. 

I will bow down toward Your holy temple And give thanks to Your name for Your loving kindness and Your truth ; For You have magnified Your word according to all Your name.

On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.

All the kings of the earth will give thanks to You, O LORD, When they have heard the words of Your mouth.

And they will sing of the ways of the LORD, For great is the glory of the LORD.

For though the LORD is exalted, Yet He regards the lowly, But the haughty He knows from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me.

The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your loving kindness, O LORD, is everlasting ; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.

Thank you Lord for keeping us safe this holiday season. I am truly grateful for all your blessings!


My husband and I have been attending North Point Church, the East Sunshine Campus since February shortly after we moved here to Springfield. In just a few short months, we met a lot of loving, giving people. It did not take us long to feel like we were becoming part of a community of like minded people who wanted a relationship with Christ as much as we do. We loved the worship, we loved the sermons, we loved the way that the church encouraged everyone to get involved. My husband grew up in this neighborhood, so we felt like this campus in this neighborhood was the perfect solution to “where God wanted us to attend church”.

Then on June twenty-ninth, everything started to unravel. The Senior Pastor of North Point Church Tommy Sparger admitted to moral failure. He admitted to having a year long affair. I had met Tommy the week before when he visited the North Point East Sunshine Campus. My impression of him was that he seemed humble. I told him that the reason I was there because of him. Then I said no, that wasn’t true, it was because of Jesus Christ and his work on the cross. He nodded and he moved on to speak with someone else.

His sin was not done in isolation. It affected a multitude of people and the situation was difficult for all of us,but we worked to process what had happened. The church body really seemed to try to pull together after that. It was though there was a death in the family, a very significant death. The one thing that we all felt was hope that God would bring us out of this experience, stronger than ever before.

We didn’t realize that not all the dominoes had fallen yet. On August 13th, the church board brought the attendees of the East Sunshine Campus together to let us know that because of financial circumstances beyond our control, the church had to close down the campuses of East Sunshine and Nixa at least temporarily.

Because of this one man, many came to know the Lord, therefore this same man’s sin has affected us too. (Nothing illegal, just poor judgement.)

As it says in John 10:10

The thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy, (Jesus said) I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10

We have to remember that it was SIN that nailed Jesus Christ to the cross that day. Of course, it was not HIS own sin that did it, it was OUR that nailed him there.

The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord Romans 6:23

As our church continues to grieve through its time of loss because of the sin of this one individual, I am reminded of how Christ’s disciples felt when he was crucified. Things had not gone as they had planned. The leader was gone, so they backed off from ministry. They hid because they were afraid of what future held.

But God had other plans for them. Christ rose from the dead. He was alive! Death no longer had a hold on him! Fifty days later, God gave them power to turn  the entire world right side up with  the Power of the Holy Spirit.

Just as God allowed the disciples to retreat to regroup, he has allowed us to retreat to regroup. God wants to give us a New Life and he wants to renew us with the gift of His Holy Spirit. He wants to solidify our faith in him, not in anyone else. He wants us to know that he has a greater work for us to do. God has a new beginning planned for us. He asks us just to do one thing. We need to open ourselves up to where the  Holy Spirit is leading us. We need to learn to wait on God to make the next move.

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