Creation Speaks

cultivating eyes to see and hearts to hear

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"By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created,
people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can't see:
eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being."

Romans 1:20 (The Message)

December 19, 2014                                                     Christmas Blessings

"Because of God's tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us..."

Luke 1:78 NLT

"In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God,

and the Word was God.

He existed in the beginning with God.

God created everything through him,

and nothing was created except through him.

The Word gave life to everything that was created,

and his life brought light to everyone.

The light shines in the darkness,

and the darkness can never extinguish it...

...The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

He came into the very world he created, but the world didn't recognize him.

He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.

They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

So the Word became human and made his home among us.

He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.

And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father's one and only Son.

...No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father's heart.

He has revealed God to us."

John 1:1-5, 9-14, 18 NLT

sunrise over Prineville Reservoir, Central Oregon

December 7, 2014                                                                    
During the time of the Old Testament, names were given for more than identification, names were given to also attribute to the person's character. Various study resources indicate there are hundreds of names of God throughout the Bible – I've seen some list 600, others 900 names of God. (Hmmm, what do you think? I'd say our God is quite multifaceted!)

There is a certain Name of God in particular right now that fills my heart with gratitude and wonder every time I hear it. This name shines out in our Christmas songs of worship and in the Bible readings announcing Christ's birth – the Old Testament quote from Isaiah 7:14 proclaimed Christ's coming in Matthew 1:23 (NKJV):

"Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, 'God with us.'"

God with us.

Jesus became a man on earth in order to be with us.

Would His incarnation enhance God's ability to relate to us? From a human perspective, did it allow Him a keener vantage point, to see what we see, to actually feel what we feel? I have a feeling that in reality, God becoming a man simply allows we humans to believe in His ability to truly relate with us.

Yet beyond the wonder over God's humanity, God with us grants so much more application beyond the time period Jesus walked the earth as a human being.

At the very moment of Jesus' death on the cross, "The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom." (Mark 15:38 NIV). This curtain had been in the Temple for hundreds of years and served to separate humans from the place where the actual presence of God dwelt during that time period. The direction from which the curtain tore, top to bottom, indicates that God Himself tore the curtain and provided people full access to Him through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

That's what God longed for all along, ever since sin separated man from God's presence in the garden – that now through Jesus, nothing would separate us from His presence.

How our omnipotent God, creator of the Universe, whom even the Heavens cannot contain – how He chooses to be everywhere I am, to hold me in the dark, even when I'm oblivious to His presence,
this truth about His character blows my mind.

Following Christ's resurrection from the dead, directly preceding His physical return to Heaven,
Jesus declared to His followers:

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:20b NIV)

So here we have in the first chapter of Matthew, the announcement of Christ's arrival which includes the meaning of His name, Immanuel, declaring God is now with us. Then in the last chapter of Matthew, Christ assures us that even though He is physically returning to Heaven, He yet remains always with us.

Ahh, this is the best Christmas present we can ever receive here on earth... His presence.

Jesus had told His disciples,
"I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father...
No, I will not abandon you as orphans — I will come to you...
I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative — that is, the Holy Spirit — he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.
So don't be troubled or afraid." John 14:12, 18, 25-27 NLT

"What shall we say about such wonderful things as these?

If God is for us, who can ever be against us?
Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't he also give us everything else?

...Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love?
Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted,
or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?

...And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love.

Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,
neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow —
not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love.

No power in the sky above or in the earth below —
indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God
that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Romans 8:31-32, 35, 38-39 NLT

When our 5-year old granddaughter first saw our Christmas tree a few days ago she exclaimed,
"Hey, that looks just like Jesus' birthday cake!"

I just smiled. How about that?

November 23, 2014                                                     peace and thanksgiving

"Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice!

Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit).

The Lord is near... Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything,

but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests),

with thanksgiving,

continue to make your wants known to God.

And God's peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace]
which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

...for I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted)
in whatever state I am.

I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want.

I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me
[I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me...]"

Philippians 4:4-7, 11-13 (AMP)

"And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ

rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts

[deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state]

to which as [members of Christ's] one body you were also called [to live].

And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always]."

Colossians 3:15 (AMP)

Eastern Massachusetts

November 16, 2014                                                                    

"God knew what he was doing from the very beginning.
He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son.

The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored.
We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him.

After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name.
After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself.

And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end,
gloriously completing what he had begun."

Romans 8:29-30 The Message

"And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you,

will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns."

Philippians 1:6 NLT

Big Leaf Maple, Oregon, up the hill above my home this past week

November 9, 2014                                                                    

"The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith,

is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living..."

Hebrews 11:1 The Message

"...I could go on and on, but I've run out of time. There are so many more—Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets. . . . Through acts of faith, they toppled kingdoms, made justice work, took the promises for themselves. They were protected from lions, fires, and sword thrusts, turned disadvantage to advantage, won battles, routed alien armies. Women received their loved ones back from the dead. There were those who, under torture, refused to give in and go free, preferring something better: resurrection. Others braved abuse and whips, and, yes, chains and dungeons. We have stories of those who were stoned, sawed in two, murdered in cold blood; stories of vagrants wandering the earth in animal skins, homeless, friendless, powerless—the world didn't deserve them!—making their way as best they could on the cruel edges of the world...

...Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever.

And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!"

Hebrews 11:32-38, 12:1-3 MSG

"I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made.

But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me.

Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this,

but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus.

I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.

So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us."

Philippians 3:12-16 MSG

Waldo Lake, Oregon; late September 2014

November 3, 2014                                                                    

"I'll tell you what it really means
to worship the Lord.

Remove the chains of prisoners
who are chained unjustly.
Free those who are abused!
Share your food with everyone
who is hungry; share your home
with the poor and homeless.
Give clothes to those in need;
don't turn away your relatives.

Then your light will shine
like the dawning sun,
and you will quickly be healed.

Your honesty will protect you
as you advance,
and the glory of the Lord
will defend you from behind.

When you beg the Lord for help
he will answer, 'Here I am!'

Don't mistreat others
or falsely accuse them
or say something cruel.
Give your food to the hungry
and care for the homeless.

Then your light will shine
in the dark;
your darkest hour will be
like the noonday sun."

"... The Lord will always guide you
and provide good things to eat
when you are in the desert.
He will make you healthy.

You will be like a garden
that has plenty of water
or like a stream
that never runs dry.

You will rebuild those houses
left in ruins for years;
you will be known
as a builder and repairer
of city walls and streets.

But first, you must start
respecting the Sabbath
as a joyful day of worship.
You must stop doing and saying
whatever you please
on this special day.

Then you will truly enjoy
knowing the Lord.

He will let you rule
from the highest mountains
and bless you with the land
of your ancestor Jacob.
The Lord has spoken!" 

Isaiah 58 CEV

Heavenly Father, Your Word can sound so very ancient... though nonetheless deep and transcendent.
This I know: Your Word is alive and forever.

Your Word, Your promises, remain alive to Your people throughout the children of Israel the people who first began building this wall, building our country almost four hundred years Your people yet today.

Awake us to know You. Enlighten us to understand the application of Your Word. Revive us to pray for and fight for and work for the fulfillment of Your Word.

You are a builder, a repairer of broken walls... of broken lives... of broken dreams... of broken hearts....

...yesterday... and today... and forever.

Broken down boundary wall, found among many throughout the backwoods of western Massachusetts

October 27, 2014                                                                    

"...Then Jesus
made a circuit of
all the towns and villages.

He taught in their meeting places,

reported kingdom news,

and healed their diseased bodies,

healed their bruised and hurt lives.

When he looked out over the crowds,

his heart broke.

So confused and aimless they were,

like sheep with no shepherd..." 

Matthew 9:35-37 MSG

"...So pray
to the Lord

who is in charge

of the harvest;

ask him
to send
more workers


his fields..." 

Matthew 9:38 NLT

As I considered this verse, the word that struck me was the word "into". That is, that Jesus said we should ask God to "send more workers into his fields" (own emphasis added).

And so I looked up the Greek meaning to the word "into" and found in Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon: "I. of Place, after verbs of going...sending; 1. of a place entered... a. it stands before nouns designating an open place, a hollow thing, or one in which an object can be hidden" (own emphasis added).

Thus, I considered: We can be walking right next to God's harvest, even all around in God's harvest and not even notice the empty, hollow hearts and lives waiting to be filled with the light and love of Jesus.

In addition, I find it quite comforting to acknowledge that our God is the One "who is in charge of the harvest."

Jesus, let us see Your harvest with Your eyes, and let our hearts break like Yours over these lost ones...
And LORD, enable our hearts to love like You love.

Send us out, LORD Jesus. Fill us up and send us out. Amen? Amen!

October 19, 2014                                                                    

"Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind,

                                                         had settled on us as the focus of his love,

                                                                                                                  to be made whole and holy by his love."

Ephesians 1:4 The Message

"May God give you more and more mercy, peace, and love."

Jude 1:2 NLT

Waldo Lake, Oregon; September 29, 2014

October 5, 2014                                                                    

One year ago, God reached down and pulled someone I love out of the clutches of death.
The strangle hold of substance abuse had been tightening for years, but during the previous seven months before October 1, 2013, that grip had carried him off out of sight, into a dark, hideous dungeon. We knew little of his whereabouts, but what glimpses given were horrendous, heart-thrashing glimpses – encounters where the tormentor would blast his rancid, hot breath one inch from my face, then hurl me to the ground with a thud, wielding his heavy fist to my heart.

How do you fight an enemy of this magnitude, of this merciless, taunting, daunting, bludgeoning force?

Let me share what I've found. Over and over and over again, we must call on the One who meets us where we are;

      the One who reaches through the darkness, through the despair, through the hopelessness;

the One who whispers in the night; the One who repeats His promises as many times as we need to be reminded;

      the One who silently carries when we are too weary, too wrought with pain to perhaps even notice Him;

the One who has already won every battle over darkness, sin and death for us;

      the One who calls us to rise, calls us to fight, calls us to overcome, calls us to love, right by His side;

the One who is most powerful of all;

      the One who came for, loves relentlessly, and rescues the lost ones, in His wisdom-way, in His time.

Since that day a year ago, a day does not go by that my heart does not spill over with awe-filled gratitude – gratitude for the great and valiant rescue; gratitude for the Presence in the stormy opposition; gratitude for the place He prepared ahead of time and continues to provide for rebuilding a life, a heart; gratitude for the people of God placed in a hedge of faith around us when we collapse too weak to keep fighting for freedom –
– you know who you are, and I just want to say thank you from the depths of my heart.

And most of all, I want to mark this day by openly saying thank you to our amazing Savior, Jesus Christ,
who proved His power and paid the price to win us back,
whose love never fails, never gives up, never runs out,
who simply wants us to trust Him, and to love Him right back. 

"I LOVE you, O LORD, my strength...

You reached down from heaven,

          and you lifted me

          from deep in the ocean.

You rescued me from enemies,

          who were

                   ...too powerful for me...

When I was fenced in, you freed and rescued me because you love me..."

Psalm 18:1 NIV, 16-17, 19 CEV

September 29, 2014                                                                    

"The Lord's kindness never fails!

If he had not been merciful,

         we would have been destroyed.

The Lord can always be trusted

         to show mercy each morning.

Deep in my heart I say,

        'The Lord is all I need;

                 I can depend on him!'"

Lamentations 3:22-24 CEV

"God is wonderful and glorious.

I pray that his Spirit will make you become strong followers

and that Christ will live in your hearts because of your faith.

Stand firm and be deeply rooted in his love.

I pray that you and all of God's people will understand what is called wide or long or high or deep.

I want you to know all about Christ's love, although it is too wonderful to be measured.

Then your lives will be filled with all that God is.

I pray that Christ Jesus and the church will forever bring praise to God.

His power at work in us can do far more than we dare ask or imagine. Amen."

Ephesians 3:16-21 CEV

Central Plains , Montana, USA

September 21, 2014                                                                    

"Assured that He Who raised up the Lord Jesus
will raise us up also with Jesus and bring us [along] with you into His presence.

For all [these] things are [taking place] for your sake, so that the more grace (divine favor and spiritual blessing) extends to more and more people and multiplies through the many, the more thanksgiving may increase [and redound] to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not become discouraged (utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out through fear).
Though our outer man is [progressively] decaying and wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day after day.

For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!],

Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting."

2 Corinthians 4:14-18 AMP

"And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction,
yet your Teacher will not hide Himself any more, but your eyes will constantly behold your Teacher.

And your ears will hear a word behind you, saying,
This is the way; walk in it, when you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left."

Isaiah 30:20-21 AMP

"But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you.

Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]"

John 14:26-28 AMP

Tobacco Root Mountains, Montana, USA

September 7, 2014                                                                    

"For we know that when this tent we live in—our body here on earth—is torn down, God will have a house in heaven for us to live in, a home he himself has made, which will last forever.

And now we sigh, so great is our desire that our home which comes from heaven should be put on over us; by being clothed with it we shall not be without a body. While we live in this earthly tent, we groan with a feeling of oppression; it is not that we want to get rid of our earthly body, but that we want to have the heavenly one put on over us, so that what is mortal will be transformed by life.

God is the one who has prepared us for this change, and he gave us his Spirit as the guarantee of all that he has in store for us.

So we are always full of courage. We know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord's home.

For our life is a matter of faith, not of sight.

We are full of courage and would much prefer to leave our home in the body and be at home with the Lord. More than anything else, however, we want to please him, whether in our home here or there.

For all of us must appear before Christ, to be judged by him. We will each receive what we deserve, according to everything we have done, good or bad, in our bodily life..."

2 Corinthians 5:1-10 GNT


"...Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come.

All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends

and gave us the task of making others his friends also.

Our message is that God was making all human beings his friends through Christ..."

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 GNT

"I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing.

Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I heard from my Father."

~Jesus -- John 15:15 GNT

August 31, 2014                Dig deep into knowing the LORD Jesus Christ, our Life-Giver, our Treasure

"My child, listen to what I say and remember what I command you.

Listen carefully to wisdom; set your mind on understanding.

Cry out for wisdom, and beg for understanding.

Search for it like silver, and hunt for it like hidden treasure.

Then you will understand respect for the Lord,

and you will find that you know God.

Only the Lord gives wisdom;

he gives knowledge and understanding.

He stores up wisdom for those who are honest.

Like a shield he protects the innocent.

He makes sure that justice is done,

and he protects those who are loyal to him.

Then you will understand what is honest and fair

and what is the good and right thing to do.

Wisdom will come into your mind,

and knowledge will be pleasing to you.

Good sense will protect you;

understanding will guard you."

                                                             Proverbs 2:1-11 NCV

"I treasure your word above all else; it keeps me from sinning against you.

Your word to me, your servant, is like pure gold; I treasure what you say."

                                                                                                                                        Psalm 119:11, 140 CEV 

"God's bread is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.

The people said, 'Sir, give us this bread always.'

Then Jesus said, 'I am the bread that gives life.
Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.'"

                                                                                                                                        John 6:33-35 NCV 

August 25, 2014                                                                    

"As a deer gets thirsty for streams of water,
I truly am thirsty for you, my God.
In my heart, I am thirsty for you,
the living God.

When will I see your face
Day and night my tears are my only food,
as everyone keeps asking,
'Where is your God?'

Sorrow floods my heart,
when I remember leading the worshipers
to your house.
I can still hear them shout
their joyful praises.

Why am I discouraged?
Why am I restless?
I trust you!

And I will praise you again
because you help me,
and you are my God.

I am deeply discouraged as I think about you
from where the Jordan begins
at Mount Hermon and from Mount Mizar.
Your vicious waves have swept over me
like an angry ocean
or a roaring waterfall.

Every day, you are kind,
and at night you give me a song
as my prayer to you, the living Lord God.

You are my mighty rock.
Why have you forgotten me?
Why must enemies mistreat me and make me sad?
Even my bones are in pain,
while all day long my enemies sneer and ask, 'Where is your God?'

Why am I discouraged?
Why am I restless?
I trust you!
And I will praise you again
because you help me,
and you are my God."

Psalm 42 CEV


"Yet I still belong to you;

you hold my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel,

leading me to a glorious destiny.

Whom have I in heaven but you?

I desire you more than anything on earth.

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,

but God remains the strength of my heart;

he is mine forever."

Psalm 73:23-26 NLT

August 17, 2014                                                                    

"O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles?

    O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?

  Have you never heard?

    Have you never understood?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

    the Creator of all the earth.

He never grows weak or weary.

    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.

  He gives power to the weak

    and strength to the powerless."

Isaiah 40:27-29 NLT

"You, the Lord God,

keep my lamp burning

    and turn darkness to light..."

Psalm 18:28 CEV

Paradise Beach, Southern Oregon Coast USA

August 4, 2014                                                                    

"For his anger lasts only a moment,

     but his favor lasts a lifetime!

Weeping may last through the night,

     but joy comes with the morning..."

Psalm 30:5 NLT

"You, the Lord God,

keep my lamp burning

    and turn darkness to light..."

Psalm 18:28 CEV

Bridger Mountains, Montana USA

July 27, 2014                 

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant in the trial and the change

One thing remains

Your love never fails
It never gives up
It never runs out on me  

                 One Thing Remains written by Christa Black Gifford, Brian Johnson, Jeremy Riddle

"Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."

1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT

Bridger Mountains, Montana USA

July 13, 2014                 

"Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ.
My ego is no longer central.
It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion,
and I am no longer driven to impress God.

Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not 'mine,' but it is lived by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave himself for me."

Galatians 2:20 MSG

June 22, 2014                                                                    

"So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.

Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you'll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That's a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It's because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn't long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it's all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.

Don't lie to one another. You're done with that old life. It's like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you've stripped off and put in the fire. Now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ..."

"...So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way."

                                                                                                                                        Colossians 3:1-17 MSG 

"Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness
and who seek the LORD:
Look to the rock from which you were cut
and to the quarry from which you were hewn..."

Isaiah 51:1 NIV

June 8, 2014                                                                    

"From a sea of troubles

         I call out to you, LORD.

Won't you please listen

         as I beg for mercy?

If you kept record of our sins,

         no one could last long.

But you forgive us,

         and so we will worship you.

With all my heart,

I am waiting, LORD, for you!

         I trust your promises.

I wait for you more eagerly

         than a soldier on guard duty

         waits for the dawn.

Yes, I wait more eagerly

         than a soldier on guard duty

         waits for the dawn.

Israel, trust the LORD!

         He is always merciful,

         and he has the power

         to save you.

Israel, the LORD will save you

         from all of your sins."

Psalm 130 CEV


"God, listen! Listen to my prayer,

         listen to the pain in my cries.

Don't turn your back on me

         just when I need you so desperately.

Pay attention! This is a cry for help!

         And hurry — this can't wait!"

Psalm 102:1-2 MSG

May 17, 2014                 

"Do everything without complaining or arguing.

Then you will be innocent and without any wrong. You will be God’s children without fault.

But you are living with crooked and mean people all around you, among whom you shine like stars in the dark world.

You offer the teaching that gives life.

So when Christ comes again, I can be happy because my work was not wasted.

I ran the race and won."

Philippians 2:14-16 NCV

May 11, 2014                 

Ah, that God Almighty would choose to put such relentless and powerful influence within such a tender vessel...

"I am calling up memories of your sincere and unqualified faith

(the leaning of your entire personality on God in Christ

in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness),

a faith that first lived permanently in the heart of your grandmother...

and your mother...

and now, I am fully persuaded, dwells in you also."

2 Timothy 1:5 AMP

May 4, 2014                 

"I have heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God's people.
So I never stop being grateful for you, as I mention you in my prayers.

I ask the glorious Father and God of our Lord Jesus Christ to give you his Spirit.
The Spirit will make you wise and let you understand what it means to know God.

My prayer is that light will flood your hearts and that you will understand the hope that was given to you

when God chose you.

Then you will discover the glorious blessings that will be yours together with all of God's people.

I want you to know about the great and mighty power that God has for us followers.

It is the same wonderful power he used when he raised Christ from death

and let him sit at his right side in heaven.
There Christ rules over all forces, authorities, powers, and rulers.
He rules over all beings in this world and will rule in the future world as well.
God has put all things under the power of Christ,

and for the good of the church he has made him the head of everything.

The church is Christ's body and is filled with Christ who completely fills everything."

                                                                                                                                              Ephesians 1:15-23 CEV

"Once again Jesus spoke to the people. This time he said,

'I am the light for the world!

Follow me, and you won't be walking in the dark. You will have the light that gives life.'"

John 8:12 CEV

"If you are filled with light, with no dark corners,

then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light."

Luke 11:36 NLT

April 27, 2014                 

"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.'

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him."

                                                                                                                                              Lamentations 3:21-25 NIV

"[Jesus] is forever able to save the people he leads to God, because he always lives to speak to God for them."

Hebrews 7:25 CEV

April 20, 2014                                     Happy Easter!       Jesus is alive!       Hope is alive!

"The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save."

                                                                                                                                                        Zephaniah 3:17a NIV

"I pray that you will be grateful to God
for letting you have part in what he has promised his people in the kingdom of light.

God rescued us from the dark power of Satan and brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son,

who forgives our sins and sets us free.

Christ is exactly like God, who cannot be seen. He is the first-born Son, superior to all creation.

Everything was created by him, everything in heaven and on earth,
everything seen and unseen, including all forces and powers, and all rulers and authorities.

All things were created by God's Son, and everything was made for him.

God's Son was before all else, and by him everything is held together.

He is the head of his body, which is the church.

He is the very beginning, the first to be raised from death, so that he would be above all others.

God himself was pleased to live fully in his Son.

And God was pleased for him to make peace by sacrificing his blood on the cross,

so that all beings in heaven and on earth would be brought back to God."

Colossians 1:12-20 CEV

April 13, 2014                 

"I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.

He drew me up out of a horrible pit [a pit of tumult and of destruction], out of the miry clay (froth and slime),

and set my feet upon a rock, steadying my steps and establishing my goings.

And He has put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.

Many shall see and fear (revere and worship) and put their trust and confident reliance in the Lord."

                                                                                                                                                              Psalm 40:1-3 AMP

"The Lord has been so good to me! How can I ever pay him back?"

Psalm 116:12 NIRV

My son, Silas and his dog Marshall. We enjoyed a hike to the top of Mount Pisgah today, a beautiful spring day.

April 6, 2014                 

"Our LORD and Ruler, your name is wonderful everywhere on earth!

You let your glory be seen in the heavens above.

With praises from children and from tiny infants, you have built a fortress.

It makes your enemies silent, and all who turn against you are left speechless.

I often think of the heavens your hands have made, and of the moon and stars you put in place.

Then I ask, 'Why do you care about us humans? Why are you concerned for us weaklings?'

You made us a little lower than you yourself, and you have crowned us with glory and honor.
You let us rule everything your hands have made.

And you put all of it under our power—
the sheep and the cattle, and every wild animal, the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea, and all ocean creatures.

Our LORD and Ruler, your name is wonderful everywhere on earth!"

Psalm 8 CEV

"For when they see their many children and all the blessings I have given them,

they will recognize the holiness of the Holy One of Israel.

They will stand in awe of the God of Jacob."

Isaiah 29:23 NLT

March 30, 2014                 

Giggles and coos... cuddles and kisses... snuggly bears and fuzzy ducklings ...

Oodles of endearing new baby congratulations fill the section of the card rack before me.

Card after card, heartwarming thoughts and promises abound...snips and snails...puppy dog tails...sugar and spice...everything nice...

Most certainly life will be more wonderfully sweet from here on out.

Yet, something feels amiss. I stand in the card aisle while an uninvited subtle, ever so quiet dread slowly infiltrates my heart.

Reality check. Shouldn't people be warned as well? Really now, I don't want to spoil the party. And I don't mean to come across cynical. But let's be honest. Who wants to be caught off-guard? Shouldn't there be some fine print on the back of the card or something? I mean, shouldn't folks be warned that there can be serious negative side-effects that accompany parenting?

Unlike the ads we hear on television for the latest miracle drug, a full list of everything from insomnia to cardiac arrest may not be necessary. But perhaps a disclaimer on the back of each card should simply read:

     Warning –
     Brace yourself. When the reality of life this side of heaven hits that little bundle of joy,
     prepare to have your heart ripped out.

I've heard it said that having a child is like having your heart begin walking around outside your body. We can do everything humanly possible to raise our children for success and protect them from harm, but the fact remains, we live in a dangerous world that offers no guarantees.

Disease, depravity, death –

Harm, whether intentional or accidental, looms as a viable threat, to attack without warning, without respect, without mercy. And if that isn't bad enough, parents can become an easy target for blame.

So, is it worth taking a chance?

Is it worth it, LORD?   I ask Him.   The unwelcome ramifications thud like a stone to my chest.

His resolute reply, without hesitation, penetrates this war-torn heart.

          You were worth it. You were worth the risk.

          Yes, even every one of you I consider worth the risk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                With one breath He rolls away the stone that has gripped my heart.

"He was hated and rejected;

his life was filled with sorrow

and terrible suffering.

No one wanted to look at him.

We despised him and said,

'He is a nobody!'

He suffered and endured

great pain for us,

but we thought his suffering

was punishment from God."

Isaiah 53:3-4 CEV

"We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete.

He endured the shame of being nailed to a cross, because he knew that later on he would be glad he did."

Hebrews 12:2 CEV  

March 23, 2014                 

"A tree is identified by the kind of fruit it produces. Figs never grow on thornbushes or grapes on bramble bushes.

A good person produces good deeds from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil deeds from an evil heart.

Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.

So why do you call me 'Lord,' when you won't obey me?

I will show you what it's like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then obeys me. It is like a person who builds a house on a strong foundation laid upon the underlying rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against the house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who listens and doesn't obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will crumble into a heap of ruins."
                                                                                                                          Luke 6:44-49 NLT

"I will try to walk a blameless path, but how I need your help,

especially in my own home, where I long to act as I should."

Psalm 101:2 LB

March 16, 2014                                                                    

"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me,

for the LORD has anointed me

to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted

and to proclaim that captives will be released

and prisoners will be freed.

He has sent me to tell those who mourn

that the time of the LORD's favor has come,

and with it,

the day of God's anger against their enemies.

To all who mourn in Israel,

he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,

a joyous blessing instead of mourning,

festive praise instead of despair.

In their righteousness,

they will be like great oaks

that the LORD has planted for his own glory..."

"...The Sovereign LORD will show his justice to the nations of the world.

Everyone will praise him!

His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring,

with plants springing up everywhere."

                                                                                                                                        Isaiah 61:1-3, 11 NLT 

"Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever."      Psalm 125:1 NIV


"Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.

The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does."

Psalm 145:13 NIV

March 9, 2014                 

"In the Messiah, in Christ,

     God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade.

Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ.

          Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance.

Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God,

     which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—

          an aroma redolent with life."

                                                                             2 Corinthians 2:14-16 The Message

March 2, 2014                                                                    

"Jesus looked up and saw some rich people tossing their gifts into the offering box. He also saw a poor widow putting in two pennies.

And he said, 'I tell you that this poor woman has put in more than all the others.

Everyone else gave what they didn't need.

But she is very poor and gave everything she had.'"

Luke 21:1-4 CEV

"So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship.

Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking.

Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you;
you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect."      Romans 12:1-2 NCV 

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.

And love your neighbor as you love yourself."      Luke 10:27 GW


"For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth

that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His."

2 Chronicles 16:9 NASB

February 23, 2014                 

Every spring reminds us of God's promise of restoration.

"Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.
     The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.

Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers
     and singing and joy!

...There the LORD will display his glory,
     the splendor of our God.

With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands,
     and encourage those who have weak knees.

     'Be strong, and do not fear,
          for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.

               He is coming to save you.'"

                                                                             Isaiah 35:1-3 NLT

"Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.

In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. All power to him forever! Amen."
                                                                                       1 Peter 5:8-11 NLT  

"Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!"

Hebrews 12:1-3 MSG

Take courage. Hold fast to hope. Keep looking up. Be filled with His strength. Continue.

February 17, 2014                                                                    

"The body of Christ has many different parts, just as any other body does. Some of us are Jews, and others are Gentiles. Some of us are slaves, and others are free. But God's Spirit baptized each of us and made us part of the body of Christ. Now we each drink from that same Spirit.

Our bodies don't have just one part. They have many parts. Suppose a foot says, 'I'm not a hand, and so I'm not part of the body.' Wouldn't the foot still belong to the body? Or suppose an ear says, 'I'm not an eye, and so I'm not part of the body.' Wouldn’t the ear still belong to the body? If our bodies were only an eye, we couldn't hear a thing. And if they were only an ear, we couldn't smell a thing. But God has put all parts of our body together in the way that he decided is best.

A body isn't really a body, unless there is more than one part. It takes many parts to make a single body. That's why the eyes cannot say they don't need the hands. That's also why the head cannot say it doesn't need the feet. In fact, we cannot get along without the parts of the body that seem to be the weakest. We take special care to dress up some parts of our bodies. We are modest about our personal parts, but we don't have to be modest about other parts.

God put our bodies together in such a way that even the parts that seem the least important are valuable. He did this to make all parts of the body work together smoothly, with each part caring about the others..."

"If one part
of our body hurts,
we hurt
all over..."

"If one part
of our body
is honored,
the whole body will be happy..."

"Together you are the body of Christ.

Each one of you is part of his body." 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 CEV

February 9, 2014                 

When I hear people conclude "God said no" in referring to unanswered prayer, something resounds deep inside me like a chord struck out of tune – it's like I sense a subtle breach in harmony. Don't get me wrong, I'm tremendously inspired by the stories people then go on to share – how through adversity they have reaped an unexpected treasure. Truly, throughout all time, throughout the world, stories are told of God's children who discover a precious gem born out of suffering – a deeper sense of God's nearness, His grace, His strength and even His love. In the crucible of adversity is born a deeper, truer, higher faith. And oh yes, and only there, can we discover that "peace that passes all understanding" (Philippians 4:7).

So, with that being said, consider with me this matter a bit further. Something cautions me against presumption, against putting a word like "no" in God's mouth.

Say you have an earthly father who is a physician and is known to be good and kind. You bring to him your child who is ill and ask him to make the child well. Can you imagine your father responding, "no"?

Jesus said it well: "So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him." (Matthew 7:11 NLT).

I believe the quandary we feel over what seems to be God's refusal to our request has much, much less to do with who He is and much, much more to do with where we are and where we are going (perhaps more on this later).

No doubt about it, life this side of eternity is rough. Disease, death, depravity – all as old as sin, all raising havoc on the earth until Jesus comes back. Simply read the daily news. Trouble is not going away. Nevertheless, our God has not left us unprepared, nor will He ever leave us alone.

"Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV

"When you pass through deep waters,
     I will be with you;
          your troubles will not overwhelm you.
When you pass through fire, you will not be burned;
      the hard trials that come will not hurt you." Isaiah 43:2 GNT

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 NIV

And really, there remains yet one passageway for each of us to acquire more than a simple head-knowledge of these promises. It doesn't sound fun. But it is reality. Paul calls it the fellowship of His suffering...

"I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.
I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death,
so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!" Philippians 3:10 NLT

So again, to return to my case in point, I feel there must be so much more to it than God simply saying no to our desperate prayers.

Rather, might His answer be, "Hold on, child. Just wait and see."?

Perhaps such would get us a little closer to His character, His heart. But, consider this: if there is something on His lips in response to our unanswered pleas, it must germinate in something higher to cultivate something deeper.

Somehow, deep in my spirit I sense that during times like this, if there be a word on His lips, it is a word of divine, deep origin, in a heavenly language, birthed high in His ways above our ways (see Isaiah 55:9). Perhaps related to what Paul describes in Romans 8:26 (AMP):

"So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance."

Yes, it's imperative to realize, His responses to our prayers are saturated in the highest, wisest, big-picture-inspired, all-encompassing love.

We come to our Heavenly Father with our desperate prayers wrought with disappointment and pain, way-laid at His feet. His response emanates the consolation of an all-wise, all-powerful, yet all-loving Father as He picks us up and draws His beloved into His chest. Whatever His word may be in response to our prayer, if anything, I reckon it more similar to the "shhhh...shhhh..." of a lullaby as He pulls us in ever closer. We feel His warmth, His strength and His love. And though the circumstances around us have not changed, we begin to understand that everything will be alright. Our anxiety melts into the presence of His peace, His grace.

Such peace is nothing we muster up on our own – it is all Him, it is simply being with Him that propagates a higher, deeper, richer faith.

"The LORD your God is with you.

      He is mighty enough to save you.

He will take great delight in you.

      The quietness of his love will calm you down.

      He will sing with joy because of you."
                                                                                       Zephaniah 3:17 NIRV  

February 2, 2014                                                                    

"His coming

is as brilliant

as the sunrise."

Habakkuk 3:4 NLT


"Who has done such mighty deeds, summoning each new generation from the beginning of time?

It is I, the Lord, the First and the Last.

I alone am he."

Isaiah 41:4 NLT

January 26, 2014                 

"But I am always with you;

      you have held my hand.

You guide me with your advice,

      and later you will receive me in honor."

                                                                             Psalm 73:23-24 NCV

"You will teach me the right way to live.

    Just being with you will bring complete happiness.

        Being at your right side will make me happy forever. "

                                                                                       Psalm 16:11 ERV  

January 19, 2014                                                                    

Life is a journey...

Some days our paths meander through sunshiny meadows. Some days our paths trudge back and forth, back and forth. Some days our paths seem in danger of destruction on a storm-thrashed, treacherous cliff side.

From birth to death we journey through seasons of prodigious diversity.

Though our paths can be so very different from one another, at times our experiences are akin to others, granting us compassion, empathy and encouragement.

As unique as each of us are, each one of us begins at the very same place –

"For it was You who created my inward parts;
You knit me together in my mother's womb."

Psalm 139:13 HCSB

Yes, each of us begins in the hands of a loving Creator...

and while He knits, He thinks, He plans...

"Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began."

Psalm 139:16 HSCB

Then He places us into the world precisely where He wants us to be...

"From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth;
and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.
God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him,
though he is not far from any one of us." Acts 17:26-27 NIV

Together with God, we shape our journey, and our journey shapes us.

As unique as each of us are, holding uniquely diverse life stories, we all hold this one thing in common –
God created us with deep intention...and at the heart of that intention reigns His hope that we will find Him.

God loves you with an unfailing Father's heart and He will never, ever leave your side. He walks beside you through every sweet meadow, through every perilous storm, and through every place in between.

He will see you through.

"Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid or terrified because of them,
for the Lord your God goes with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you."

Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV

January 13, 2014                                                                    

"Jesus left Judea and started for Galilee again. This time he had to go through Samaria, and on his way he came to the town of Sychar. It was near the field that Jacob had long ago given to his son Joseph. The well that Jacob had dug was still there, and Jesus sat down beside it because he was tired from traveling. It was noon, and after Jesus' disciples had gone into town to buy some food, a Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well.

Jesus asked her, 'Would you please give me a drink of water?'

'You are a Jew,' she replied, 'and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink of water when Jews and Samaritans won't have anything to do with each other?'

Jesus answered, 'You don't know what God wants to give you, and you don't know who is asking you for a drink. If you did, you would ask me for the water that gives life.'

'Sir,' the woman said, 'you don't even have a bucket, and the well is deep. Where are you going to get this life-giving water? Our ancestor Jacob dug this well for us, and his family and animals got water from it. Are you greater than Jacob?'

Jesus answered, 'Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again. But no one who drinks the water I give will ever be thirsty again. The water I give is like a flowing fountain that gives eternal life.'"

John 4:3-14 CEV

"Now on the final and most important day of the Feast, Jesus stood, and He cried in a loud voice, 'If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink! He who believes in Me, who cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me, as the Scripture has said, From his innermost being shall flow continuously springs and rivers of living water.'"

John 7:37-38 AMP

"For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;

he will lead them to springs of living water.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

Revelation 7:17 NIV

January 5, 2014                 

"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;

I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.

These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them."

                                                                                                     Isaiah 42:16 NIV

"But now, this is what the Lord says—
       he who created you, Jacob,
       he who formed you, Israel:

'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
       and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
        the flames will not set you ablaze.

For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior...

I am the one who cut a path through the mighty ocean.

The Lord said: Forget what happened long ago! Don't think about the past. I am creating something new.

There it is! Do you see it? I have put roads in deserts, streams in thirsty lands."

                                                                                                      Isaiah 43:1-3, 16, 18-19 CEV  

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THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Message
(also marked MSG) by Eugene H. Peterson, copyright (c) 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible , New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton , Illinois 60189 . All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked “NCV™” are taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, KING JAMES VERSION.

Scripture quotations marked "NKJV™" are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Scripture quotations marked NAS taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) are taken from the Amplified Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked "WNT" are taken from The Weymouth New Testament in Modern Speech, which is in the Public Domain.

Scripture quotations marked "ASV" are taken from The American Standard Version, which is in the Public Domain.

Scripture quotations marked "GNT" are taken from the Good News Translation - Second Edition, Copyright 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by Permission.

Scripture quotations marked "NIRV" taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL READER'S VERSION®. Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998 by Biblica. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked "TNIV" are taken from The Holy Bible, Today's New International Version®. Copyright © 2001, 2005 by Biblica All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked "NRSV" are taken from The New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked "GW" are taken from GOD'S WORD®, © 1995 God’s Word to the Nations. Used by permission of Baker Publishing Group.

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Scripture quotations marked "ERV" Easy-To-Read Version. Copyright ©2006 World Bible Translation Center. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked "LB" are taken from The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. The Living Bible, TLB, and the The Living Bible logo are registered trademarks of Tyndale House Publishers.

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