Ongoing Restoration

As I have been writing this blog about my life experiences for the last five months. I am amazed at just how much the Lord has brought me through in my life. I am so grateful. This review process has provided me the opportunity to re-examine how all the dysfunction of my life had clouded (and to some degree still does) my vision of the Heavenly Father.

Even though I had given my life to Christ, I had so much faulty thinking that I couldn’t make sense of what it meant to be a Christian. As I have mentioned before, I had anger management issues. I had extremely poor self-esteem. I so wanted to do what was right, but just couldn’t. I always seemed to mess things up. My marriage and family life were not the healthiest. Combine all these things together with trying to “work out one’s salvation”, along with the wrong view of God and His word, and you have a disaster! This struggle brought on over three years of what is known as clinical depression. I had no direction in my life, every day I was just going through the motions. There would be days when I didn’t even comb my hair or brush my teeth. I slept all the time but was never rested. I played with my kids, (which was my only joy), like I was one of them.  I tried to find comfort in going to church and reading the Bible but then I would feel like a big hypocrite. It was a very sad and confusing time.

Then one day I found myself standing in front a display of self-help books. I was desperate! I noticed one titled HOMECOMING Reclaiming and Healing Your Inner Child by John Bradshaw. I picked it up and skimmed through it. I was a little leery because it came with a cassette tape you were supposed to listen to that contained encouraging subliminal messages hidden behind relaxing music. (It was in the early 90’s when everyone was in an uproar because it had been revealed that advertisers were using subliminal messaging to get unsuspecting customers to buy their products.) I also had reservations about reading things that were not “religious” because they might cause me more harm than good. I purchased it anyway, and took it home and began to read it. One of the suggestions was to write letters to yourself at different ages and then respond to those letters using your opposite hand as if you were now that age. I know it sounds weird, but it worked. I found the exercise to be very beneficial for me. I was surprised by the information that had been tucked away in the recesses of my mind.

Shortly after that, there was an emotional upheaval in my family that caused me to question whether or not I was losing my mind. I went to my family doctor with incredible pain in the back of my head; I thought for sure I had a brain tumor or something. He said it was a condition that he usually saw in people who were under a great deal of stress, and asked about the level of stress in my life. Well, that was all it took for me to have a complete breakdown in his office. He suggested I see a counselor and prescribed Prozac. I am not a “pill taker” and so he had to talk me into taking the medication. Prozac was a new drug that had just come out on the market and there had been reports that people who had used the drug committed suicide. It was this knowledge that caused me to be apprehensive. However, he assured me that he was prescribing the smallest amount possible and that in a few weeks the “happy hormone” levels should increase in my brain helping me to feel better. I was referred to a female counselor whom I called as soon as I got home. Within a few days I was sitting in her office wondering what in the world I was doing there. Little did I know that an amazing journey of restoration had begun, and is still going on in my life today.

Some years later, I attended a Christian seminar on interpersonal relationships in which it was shared that the intimate personal relations that we have with one another teach us something about who and what God is like, and if any one of those relationships (in which there are 7) is somehow damaged or distorted then we lose a valuable insight about our Heavenly Father.  It was stated that the loss of such insight in any one of those relationships make it nearly impossible to develop a healthy image of God and therefore affect the level of intimacy one might experience with God. WOW! There was not a single one of those relationships that was not damaged in my experience. I was blown away. How could I ever expect to experience the kind of relationship that I had been seeking with God when I was so broken? Then I heard the speaker say, “We are all miracles! No one escapes the effects of sin no matter how well adjusted their families may have been.”  Today, I realize that all my life experiences and the way that God has helped me work through them has been the fulfillment of Romans 12:21 “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” God has been doing “good” for me.

Once again I am encouraged by the joy of the Word, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Philippians 1:6. Praise God!  It is all about what He can do and not about what I do. “I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. These things will I do for them and not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16

May you experience the joy of knowing that God is on your side today! Blessings.

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Overcoming

Anger used to be the first emotional response to any situation in which I felt threatened. I didn’t like being told what to do, and I could never take constructive criticism gracefully. Poor self-worth and a lack of trust made relationships difficult. I was expecting that when I accepted Christ as my Savior, all that was going to change. I was going to be “a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

The perception that magically after baptism our character defects and negative learned responses to life situations would somehow just disappear, is a dangerous and sometimes fatal misconception.  Many new Christians (and some old ones) suffer a roller coaster type experience in their walk with Christ, which causes some to have a weak and joyless experience, or they may fall away from their faith and give up, because they think the Christian life is just too hard. I have walked away many times from my relationship with Christ. I could not live up to the standard “Be ye perfect for I Am perfect”. I was just not worthy. I couldn’t control my temper. I wore my emotions on the sleeve of my blouse. If I wasn’t ecstatic and flying high on cloud nine, then I was defeated and in deep depression. I would withdraw from social contact and beat myself up for being a lousy Christian.

I failed to understand what Paul was communicating in Romans 3:25 when he said, “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (a substitute) through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;” I had to learn that in professing my faith through baptism I had been forgiven and cleansed from the things I had done in my past life. But, that did not mean that all the baggage associated with those experiences had been removed simultaneously when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Paul expressed it this way in Romans 7:18-23; 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”

In the Christian world I had experienced what is called “justification”, but justification is only the beginning of the adventure. Sanctification, another popular Christian word, describes the life long process whereby we are transformed into the likeness of Christ. I don’t know about you, but I always want the quick fix. But the fact of the matter is there is no quick fix. I needed to comprehend the meaning of Romans 12:1, 2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”  I had to learn  (and I am still learning) to live by Galatians 2:20; “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me, and gave himself for me.

I have to continue to remind myself that it is not about my behavior or performance. I can never be perfect in and of myself.  BUT! Colossians 1:27 states; To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:  I have learned that following Christ is a choice that takes practice. Pastor Dan Gabbert, in his book Biblical Response Therapy, expresses it this way. “By faith in Jesus, we may put off the old sinful habit; and by His grace replace it with (put on) the new Christ-like habit – put off the old habit, put on the new, put off the old, put on the new. By faithful grace-empowered practice practice, practice, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the protection of the angels, Christ’s victorious habits will become our natural responses to life’s challenges!”

Yeah! It’s about faith in what God says He will do! Philippians 1:6, Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” My responsibility?  Trust in God’s word, to believe He is working in my life to save me. I need to cooperate with Him, to be a “doer “as well as a “hearer” of His word. Romans 12:21, tells me that I am to be an overcomer and it tells me how to do it. 
”Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. And that is what God has been doing in my life all along.

He will do it for you too! Blessings.

Posted in Baptism, Bible Promises, Christianity, Everlasting Life, Faith, God, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Overcoming | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Awakening

The first memory about God I can recollect was when I was about 6 years old. A local church brought a group of young people to the orphanage to share the Gospel.  They had colorful people and shapes made out of felt that they used to tell Bible stories. I remember sitting crossed-legged on the floor and listening to this young girl talk about how much God loved her. She shared John 3:16. She said He loved me too and wanted me to live forever with Him. WOW! Really? Hope and desire were planted in my heart for this God who said He loved me. I liked the thought of being loved very much. Up to that point I don’t think I had really ever thought about being loved. It was as if I was just there and no one really cared one way or the other. There were to be many times in my life that I would ask this God to help me. But it would appear that at the time of the crisis, He wasn’t there and after a while I just quit asking Him for help. The idea was imbedded in my mind that no one was going to take care of me, so I had better take care of myself. Manipulation became the tool I used to get what I wanted. Self-sufficiency and a lack of trust would plague my life and be detriments to the love and approval I so desired from others.

I met my husband on a camping trip. My first impression of him was not a good one, actually. But oddly enough after just two weeks of knowing each other I moved into his apartment. Where I was living at the time was not a very good arrangement to say the least. I was only going to stay with him until classes started at the university, but as things turned out three years later we would marry, with a little one on the way. I wish I could tell you that everything worked out, but I can’t, we divorced eighteen years later.

June third was one of the happiest days of my life. I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. He was the absolute joy of my life. He was the sweetest little baby, he hardly ever cried. However, one warm summer evening he was fussy I could not seem to comfort him. I decided to take him for a walk in the stroller. On the corner of the street we lived on was huge redbrick church. As we came close to the building we could hear singing. My little one hushed his crying and listened. As I turned to walk back home, the singing began to fade, and he began to fuss again, so I walked back to the church and sat down on the curb, moving the stroller back and forth. He fell into peaceful sleep. It was a Wednesday.

It was a strange occurrence that on Wednesdays we would find ourselves outside that church listening to singing. As the weather grew cooler I decided one evening to step inside. I sat in the back pew and listened. When the service was over several of the ladies came over to introduce themselves. They cooed and giggled over the baby and were genuinely happy that we were there. One of the ladies told me she had noticed me setting on the curb, but by the time the service was over I would be gone. They let me know they met every Wednesday at 7:00pm for prayer meeting and I was welcome to come back. I don’t know if it was loneliness or a sense of needing to belong or what, but I started coming to prayer meeting on a regular basis and it wasn’t too long after that that I was attending church also.  Once again hearing those words of God’s great love manifested in the cruel death of His Son on the cross, and His incredible desire to save us all regardless of where we came from or what our experiences had been, rekindled that desire that had been planted in my own heart when I was but six years old. I wanted to know Him better and wanted others to know Him too.  In February of 1979 I was washed clean in the waters of baptism and raised with the hope of everlasting life.  In the entries of this blog you will read how the journey has continued.

Jeremiah 31:3 “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.”

He is drawing you too. Blessings.

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“I Am Not a Bad Person”

Joy should fill the heart of every new mother, but when I gave birth to my fourth child, a little girl, I was not overjoyed. Don’t get me wrong; I loved my little girl very much. I asked God specifically for her, that she would be healthy and strong. That she would love people and help those in need. I asked that she’d have blue eyes (my husband and I both have brown), and dark hair, and today she is exactly what I prayed for. She is a most loving and compassionate person, and she does help people in need. And she loves the Lord! I am so proud of her.

I was sad and tearful, a lot. Sometimes I was even annoyed by this sweet little baby. I could not understand what was happening to me. I decided it was because I wasn’t getting enough outside stimulation with other adults. At church one Sunday we had a guest speaker from a local crisis pregnancy center. She was looking for volunteers to do counseling. I thought to myself, “This is something I could be good at considering my experiences”. So I signed up to go through the training classes. I had no idea the profound impact this decision would have on my life.

The idea of the Crisis Pregnancy Center was not to take a political or religious stance against abortion, but rather to educate women about what abortion is and how it impacts ones life, and to provide resources to make other choices possible. Those involved wanted to give women in trouble the chance to make an honest decision based on all the facts. They also wanted to be there when reality would sink in and many of these women, months or maybe years later, would have to deal with the guilt and shame that would attempt to ruin their lives. If you remember, I had an abortion, I was not a part the actual decision-making process; other people (out of the goodness of their hearts) made the decision for me. However, deep in the recesses of my mind was the knowledge of what occurred that day some ten years earlier.

I was excited about the opportunity to serve the Lord. I was fully prepared to give it my all. When I arrived for the first class, I found the ladies happily sharing tidbits about their day, sipping coffee and nibbling cookies. The lights dimmed. We were told we would be viewing a rather graphic film documenting what takes place during an actual abortion. The film was called “ The Silent Scream”. A doctor who performed abortions filmed one of the procedures he had done. After doing so he decided he could no longer perform abortions as a form of birth control.

Horror filled my being! The only thing I could think to say was, “I am not a bad person.” There are just not words to express the way I felt about myself. The tears welled up from deep within and streamed endlessly down my cheeks. I wasn’t hysterical. It was like years of tears fell, silently, all at once. Everyone was very understanding and tried to be comforting.

There was no comfort.

“I had done this thing”, was the thought that ran through my mind.  I had allowed a life to be taken. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew I had deliberately escaped as I had done so many times in my life when things were more then I could handle. I could have spoken up. I was seventeen. I wasn’t stupid or naïve. I didn’t know if I could carry another child to term and then give it away as I had done before. As I tried to work all this out, one thing was for sure, I didn’t want to go through that experience again.

I drove home but could not remember how I ended up in the driveway. The kids were in bed. I paid the sitter and sat in the dark for a long time. A few days went by like this, and then there was a knock at the door. A lady, I think she was from the volunteer group, was there with a bouquet of flowers. Sadly, I don’t remember her name. She had a sweet smile and understanding eyes. She told me that one should always send flowers when there has been a death in the family. I don’t remember all we talked about. She told me about a cemetery that was in a neighboring city that had a gravesite in memory of the “Unborn” and if I would like, she would drive me there so I could have closure. We stood together at the gravesite and wept and prayed for forgiveness.  It was then that she shared with me that when I would get to heaven Jesus would place my little one in my arms and I would have an eternity to raise my child.  I accepted the forgiveness that God gave me that day, and I was filled with hope at the possibility of seeing my little one. What an awesome thought!

2 Corinthians 1:3-5: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” (NIV)

In whatever your situation, be comforted today in Christ. Blessings.

Posted in Abortion, Abuse, Adoption, Bible Promises, Christianity, Faith, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Overcoming | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

“Picked Out Special”

I have never regretted the decision I made some 41 years ago to give my precious baby girl a chance at a real life. I, of course, wondered about her from time to time; “How had things turned out for her? Was she happy? Had the adoptive parents fulfilled the desires of my heart? And ultimately, did she know Jesus as her personal Savior?”

Seven years later I would have an encounter that would bring peace and assurance to my heart whenever I would wonder if she was “okay”.

One summer afternoon I had taken my baby boy on a swimming outing with some girlfriends and their babies to a local pool. There wasn’t much shade or privacy, so I took him into the bathhouse to nurse him. I noticed two little girls watching me. As they approached I was a bit concerned as to what they were going to ask and what was I to say. They looked to be about seven years old. The bravest of the two, a brown-eyed little sprite, walked right up to me and said, “Did you have that baby or pick it out special?” I was surprised, “I had this baby”, was my reply. Bold and proud, she responded, “I was picked out special!” Time froze for a moment as our eyes met. I looked into those beautiful brown eyes and the thought flooded my mind, “Could this be her?” She was the right age. Her eyes, her hair color, the playful impish smile that lighted across her face, all revealed a possible resemblance, “Could this be her?” She looked at the baby for a bit and then she was off and on her way.

What an awesome way to have your existence validated. “Picked out special”! I was filled with such a sense of happiness and joy that this was her experience. I took it as an assurance from God, that my prayers had been answered, and I didn’t have to worry about her anymore. My little girl was loved and “picked out special”. I could not have asked for a greater confirmation of my hopes and dreams for her.

Just a few years ago when I was praying for my eldest son to give his heart to the Lord, I had another incredible assurance from God that He was continuing to take care of my special child.  In the course of praying to God for help I became emotional and was crying and pleading with God on my son’s behalf. In answer to my request the Holy Spirit give me Jeremiah 31:16, 17: “Thus saith, the Lord; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord: and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border.” WOW! I was rejoicing and praising God for His mercy toward me when I thought of her. “Lord, what about her?” The Holy Spirit gave me Isaiah 54:13: “And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord: and great shall be the peace of thy children.” Thank you! Thank you, Father! “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings” Psalm 36:7.

I pray, that whatever your situation may be that you trust Him today. Blessings.

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Never Alone

I just could not seem to shake the flu. So I decided I had better see the Center doctor.  I told the cottage parent I was sick and needed an appointment.

I went to the doctor’s office on campus, and he gave me an examination and stated matter-of-factly, “You don’t have the flu.” “You’re pregnant”. Every ounce of air was sucked from the room; a feeling of paralysis overcame the muscles of my body. I said, “What?” “That’s impossible!”  “I haven’t been with anyone.”  He chuckled, “I don’t know what tell you, but you’re pregnant.” My mind raced as I tried to make sense of what I had just been told. Then a strange eerie awareness flooded my being. It was hard to breathe; my ears were hushed of all sound.  My thoughts in a panic began to search through the stored memories of my mind bringing the unconscious into startling reality. Searching, arranging, comprehending. Horror filled my being as the reality of the events came into focus. I shouted in my mind “It couldn’t have happened!” and yet I knew it had. I couldn’t recall all the details but I knew what most likely had happened during the two days I had lost some six weeks before.

The doctor witnessed my distress and called my caseworker. My mind was numb and absent of thought; my body seemed disconnected as I wandered around aimlessly from place to place. I could hear when people spoke but I couldn’t understand them. I could see their faces but they were distorted. In sleep there was no peace. My caseworker came to me and said, “Don’t worry, I have taken care of everything.” “Everything is going to be okay.” Her words didn’t make any sense to me. I didn’t know what she was talking about. In my mind nothing would ever be okay.

She drove me to a brown-bricked building.  I walked into what looked like a living room. My caseworker kept smiling and repeating, “Everything is going to be okay”; “Everything is going to be alright.”  I signed some papers, I did not read and then I was taken to a room with an examining table; I was given a pill the nurse said would help me to relax. I lay down and went to sleep. When I awoke I was in a comfortable easy chair. My caseworker was there, smiling, “It’s all over,” she said, “You’re not pregnant anymore.” Her smile was strange and kind of freakish, I didn’t comprehend what she meant. It would be over ten years before I would experience the full emotional impact of the event of that day.

“But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. “For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior . . .” Isaiah 43:1-3. You probably know the poem “Footprints in the Sand”. Well, that pretty much depicts my life experience. I thank God that He has carried me all my life. I share my experiences because I want you to know that He has carried you too, and will continue to carry us all to the end. Our Father in Heaven wants to give us victory over what the enemy has done in an attempt to keep us from experiencing a real loving relationship with God. The precious Holy Spirit continues to work in my life to restore trust and to reveal the truth about the loving relationship that God has always wanted with me, and He is not a respecter of persons. He desires you to, to experience restoration and healing as you fall in love with a God who has sacrificed everything to make it happen. He has proved Himself to be Trustworthy.  Blessings

FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky. In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints. Other times there were one set of footprints. This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life When I was suffering from anguish, sorrow, or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints. So I said to the Lord, “You promised me, Lord, That if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I noticed that during the most trying periods of my life, There have only been one set of prints in the sand. Why, When I have needed you most, you have not been there for me?” The Lord replied, “The times when you have seen only one set of footprints Is when I carried you.” Anonymous

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Choices

I stayed with Robert and Jane until the summer of my sixteenth year. For some reason I developed a rebellious streak and didn’t want to be ruled by anyone. I started sneaking out at night to party and what not. There was one evening when I crawled out of my bedroom window and climbed down the TV tower antenna only to find Robert standing at the bottom. I picked up smoking and drinking and being a smart mouth. I understand now, that Robert and Jane could not allow my behavior to disrupt their home and impact their children, and that is why they made the decision that I return to the Center.

I wasn’t that upset about being at the Center, as I went to a cottage where my sister JoAnn was. However, she had changed since the last time I had seen her. She was withdrawn and sad. I would find out later that she had suffered some very traumatic experiences in her own life that had severely impacted her emotionally. She would never recover.

It was difficult to feel part of the Center environment. There was a different mentality. Some people use the word “institutionalized” to explain the way people think and feel about the world around them, who have spent time in a place like the Center. I also, struggled making friends at the new high school because; I had to take a yellow school bus with the name of the Center written in bold black letters on the side, that identified me as a “Homie”. That’s what the other kids called those who lived at the “Children’s Center”.  Everyone looked down on the kids that came from the “Home”. I looked for any way to be involved and accepted, so when I was invited by a very popular girl named Barbie to spend the weekend at her house I was thrilled. When I got to her house she let me know that we were going to hitchhike to a party town in a neighboring state. I had never done anything like that before. Another girl named Maggie came along too.

It didn’t take long for us to get a ride. A trucker picked us up; I was not comfortable, he immediately gave me an uneasy feeling in my stomach. We didn’t get too far down the road before he asked with a disgusting laugh, which one of us was going to “pay” for the ride. I demanded that he pull over immediately and let us out. I made quite a fuss and he pulled over. The other girls were freaked out too. We soon got another ride that took us to the bar where we were to meet some friends of Barbie’s.

I must admit I was out of my element and was kind of wishing I hadn’t come along. Of course I wasn’t going to let anyone know that. I just tried to act cool, like I knew what I was doing. I was served a turquoise colored drink that hit me pretty hard. The next thing I knew Barbie was shaking me as I was lying on the bathroom floor of the bar, which is a very disgusting place to find oneself. The next time I would regain consciousness would be late Sunday afternoon with no memory of the events of the weekend.

 

1Peter 5:8 “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion; seeking someone to devour.” They only way I can make sense out of the experiences of my life, is that God plays by the rules. It is not because God can’t, He is all-powerful; it is because He won’t override our free choice or the free choice of others. “God never forces the will or the conscience, but Satan’s constant resort is to gain control of those whom he cannot otherwise seduce – compulsion by cruelty. Through fear or force he endeavors to rule the conscience and to secure homage to himself.” (E.G. White; Mind, Character, and Personality, Vol. 1, Page 324.4) The Holy Spirit calls out to all of us to give our will to Him, to protect it. We find ourselves in difficult situations, that if we are honest, we have brought upon ourselves and must pay the consequences. However, remember Micah 7:8 “Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise, when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light unto me.” Further, Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may find mercy and grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 13:5 is a promise,  “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Oh praise the name of Jesus for His promises are sure!

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