You Are Not the Only One

You are seen. You are heard. You are not alone.

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“. . . knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” 1 Peter 5:9

Sadness.  Sorrow.  Pain.  Sickness.  Disappointment with others.  Disappointment with yourself.  Hurt.  Betrayal, and more, can make anyone feel like they are living on an isolated island of despair.  While others may be physically near, the trials and troubles we encounter in this world can often make people feel alone, as if they are the only ones going through anything adverse or hard at the moment.

But the truth is, no matter the smile that splits across a face, and no matter how a social media post may read, people, every day, are suffering behind the façade.  Some are excellent at grinning and bearing it, while others will show you only what they want you to see.  Different people handle their different circumstances in different ways, but it does not mean they are not going through hardship or dealing with adversity.

It is easy to feel alone in the midst of trials.  The enemy would like nothing more than for you to think this way because when we feel alone, we tend to pull back into hiding, and we pull back our trust.  We don’t share with others what we are going through, carrying the burden and the weight of the moment on our own shoulders.

The beauty of the Bible is it does not hold back.  It shows us the good and the bad and lets us know the reality that comes with this life, that whether they show it or not, there are perhaps others around you who are experiencing afflictions of their own.

Jesus gave us no illusion that every day would be an awesome experience.  He said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation . . .” (John 16:33; emphasis mine).  We may not like to say or think about it, but there may be some things that come your way that will not put a smile on your face.  It may even leave you wondering, crying, “Why is this happening to me?”

While the words “you are not the only one” may not make you personally feel better, know that any affliction you face for your Lord will come with a promise that you are not alone (Hebrews 13:5).  It comes with grace and strength to say, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

In times of personal pain, all of this may be hard to digest.  And I, for one, never want to brush off the realness of what others are going through.  But I do hope to encourage you, dear blessed one, that you are seen, you are heard, you are not alone regardless of what it feels like, and you matter so much to our heavenly Father.

What you are going through is not a trivial thing and we are not brushing it under the rug of Scripture or a well-placed verse.  But I personally pray that your heart will be full, knowing God’s love for you, and knowing the body of Christ is rooting for you.  We love you, dear one, and God loves you more.

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The God-Placements | Carriers of the Ministry

What does effective ministry look like to you?

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“This shall be the service of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation, about the most holy things:” Numbers 4:4

Every believer has a place in the calling or ministry of God. There is no such thing as someone who has been saved by grace that is not equipped in one or more ways to operate in a particular gift (s) by His grace (Rom. 12:6). And while the area you are called to work in may not look like the ministry of another (1 Cor. 12:4), it is no less critical in its impact for God’s kingdom.

Like a well-functioning body, every member is needed to step up to the plate with their gifts (comp. 1 Cor. 12:12, 14). While the spotlight tends to fall naturally on those in the front, there are many behind-the-scene positions, if they were not managed by capable persons working in their gifts, then whatever is going on upfront would not be going on at all.

After watching a good movie, especially one with multiple twists and turns, I love to scroll through the credits to see those who participated in the making of the movie. My goal is to see who the writer is. Many eyes may be drawn to the main characters, but the real star of the show is the one who wrote the story. The one who allowed him or herself to spend much time in relative obscurity, working their gift to pull the story off according to their specific design.

There are no wasted behind-the-scene moments when working to help the service of God go forward, when helping to get His story out there. There is no work that we do for our heavenly Father that is to be considered unimportant if we are working where He has called us to work. There is great value in every calling (1 Cor. 1:26, 27).

And it was God who called the Kohathites for a special job. In the days of their wilderness wanderings, when the people were ready to journey, and the tabernacle had to be disassembled into its specific pieces by the priests, it was the sons of Kohath who were commissioned by God to be there to help in the process by being carriers of the holy vessels that were inside (Num. 4:15).

Because they were not priests; because they were not the upfront guys, the items would first be covered (for their protection) so they could not see or touch them (4:17-20), but they were still called upon to help carry the things of God, to help carry the ministry.

Where they were needed to work for the kingdom of God may not seem glamourous (after all, they didn’t get the special garments, with the special office of preparing the special offerings), but the work was helpful in successfully moving the articles of the tabernacle from one location to another.

Friends, your position of performance may not include being front and center. There may be certain parts your calling cannot participate in. But wherever God has placed you, it is important, and your service to Him is valuable.

1 Corinthians 12:18 states, “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.” This is what I call the God-placements. According to His divine purpose and design, God has a special place for each of us, and every place we serve is essential and profitable for the Kingdom’s work.

While we may put much emphasis on those who are holding the microphone, speaking at large gatherings, singing to multitudes, and writing bestsellers – we forget the joy of being called where God knows we fit. Where God knows we can make the most difference.

We forget the importance of just doing. Doing what we do best for Him, for God. No matter how small or insignificant it may seem to others, it makes a difference for His kingdom.

One psalmist said, “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Ps. 84:10). Whichever way you want to interpret that verse, I would rather participate in the humblest of positions in the will of God than out, for in it I will find the richest of all experiences.

Everyone has a place. Everyone in their place can do something amazing that would help this work continue to grow and spread. If it is to hold a microphone, so be it. But if I only get to be a carrier for Him, let me carry the ministry God has instilled in me with all my might and strength, knowing there is no work, big or small, that is done in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).

Your reward may not come now with the applause of men (which is a heavy responsibility that produces low returns), but when performed for God, for His glory (1 Cor. 10:31), it will come with a “well done” (Mt. 25:23) from Him, the highest reward and applause we should seek.

Lord, though our flesh may desire to see more, do more, and touch more, let our spirit rest in the truth that if we are called to only be carriers of the ministry, we are called according to Your beautiful pleasure and placement for our lives. Help us to serve in that calling, with all grace, working to please our God and heavenly Father. AMEN!

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Defense Against the Tongue-Waggers

“And every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn,” Isaiah 54:17

Where to begin!  The Bible covers so much about the tongue, its power, and its effect that you would think we wouldn’t have to keep teaching about it and relearning these lessons over and over again.

Yet, here we are.  Why?  Because the tongue can be so hard to control (Ja. 3:8).  Which of us is not guilty of having loose lips at one point or another?  Which of us has not felt the sting of a sharp tongue?

God guards His word, but He also hears our words and how they are used.  More than that, He sees how words are used against His people.

The hurt that tongues let loose on others can be described as lashing or scourging (Jb. 5:21) in the pain they cause.  The psalmist recognized that the “strife of tongues” is something we need to be protected against (Ps. 31:20) because of the damage wrong words, especially words of accusations, can cause.

While it is easy to remember that God is mindful of us (Ps. 8:3-4), we must also remember that there is not a foul word spoken against us that gets passed Him.  God is the protector of not only your life but your integrity.

When David experienced the wicked schemes of others against himself, one thing he prayed about was the hurtful way they used their tongue like a serpent’s bite, full of poison (Ps. 140:3).  Demonstrating faith in God, he prayed, “I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor,” (Ps. 140:12). 

Yes, dear friend, the same God who knows even the very hairs of your head is the same God who is aware of every word spoken against you, and God will defend.

In the meantime, let us be mindful to choose wisely our own words with wisdom from above (Ja. 3:8-17).   

“For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.  But I trusted in thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my God.” Psalm 31:13-14

“A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.” Proverbs 11:13

A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness.” Proverbs 12:23

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29

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The Gates of Glory

Your beauty, O God, cannot be compared. I pray for many souls to be able to experience Your gates of glory. To walk through the doorways of heaven and to have their eyes feast on the sight of wonders beyond compare.

I pray for hearts to feel the embrace of love as everything in heaven welcomes them home. I pray for many to know what it is like to leave all the worries of this world outside those doors and to celebrate total freedom from all that tried to hold them down.

On this side of those gates, we can only imagine what that day will look like. But over there, the rich fulfillment of every Scripture-breathed promise will be seen, known, and felt, beautifully overwhelming us with the glory of our God.

Oh, that day is coming, dear friend. All will be revealed, and we will wonder no more. No, because there, we move from wonder to experience and this experience is its own reward.

Father God, thank You that You have prepared such a glorious place for us to dwell with You for all eternity. Beyond those gates, You welcome us into Your heavenly throne room. You welcome us into Your presence forever, no more to be separated by sin, death, and every failing thing this world offered. “In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11). Beyond the gates of glory, our souls will take in every beautiful thing that You are without hindrance or obstacle. Beyond those gates is where I want to be, and I thank You for this salvation You have secured for me. It is my heart’s desire for many souls to be blessed to enjoy Your presence. In the mighty and matchless name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I pray, AMEN!

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Is the Familiar Holding You Back?

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Is the familiar holding you back?  Has the comfort of where you are now satisfied you into a state of complacency and false ease?  Has fear paralyzed your progress forward?

Unknown.  Unfamiliar.  These words are areas that we don’t know like the place where we are now.  But the plans of our life and the order of our steps were never really ours to begin with (Proverbs 19:21; Psalm 119:133).

I will admit, there are some things where I wish the curtain were opened a little wider so that I can see more of the picture hidden behind.  But that is not what faith demands (2 Corinthians 5:7).  Faith asks for trust (Proverbs 3:5-6).  And faith asks for our obedience to move forward even if we don’t quite know all the steps or how it will turn out in the end.

The familiar is all around you every day.  It can snuggle you like that comfy blanket you drape over you when you want to settle down for the evening and have a nice read or watch a favorite show.  But settling is not a place to set up shop when you feel God calling you for more.

 

Do you feel Him calling?  If so, seek His face for guidance, ask Him for help, and when He prompts you to, walk forward in faith.

Blessings to you on your journey to break the chains of familiarity.

More Inspirational Articles to Encourage Your Journey:

“Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone”

“You Don’t Need to Know Everything!”

“Be Progressive”

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I Say to You, Arise!

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“I say unto thee, arise.” Mark 5:41

It’s too late.  The time for a turnaround has passed.  The episode of this life is gone and there’s nothing we can do about it.

“There is nothing we can do about it.”  Sound familiar?  How many times in our lives have these words been spoken by others, or even by us?  These words surface when we are at a loss for how to handle what’s before us.  It could be that we have tried, perhaps multiple times, to work on a solution in the midst of a mess, but our trying has fallen flat, and it just didn’t come together as we had hoped.

At this point, the white flag of surrender is raised, and we give up.  Looking at what seems to be irreversible and impossible, a solution unrecognizable to us, it is easy to believe that the time of hope is no more. “Why troublest thou the Master any further?” (v. 35).  For them, they knew what death looked like and the time for help has gone by according to what they believed to be true, so they spoke, “Thy daughter is dead.”

But when you invite Jesus to your house.  When you ask for Him to get involved with the problem, there is nothing too hard for God (Jeremiah 32:17, 27).

“As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe” (v. 36).  Jesus stepped in and took immediate action against anyone who would try to stand in the way of this miracle from going forth.  As soon as He heard the negative report, He countered it with His own promise: “Be not afraid, only believe.”  Their news was dismal, and they were ready to close the case on the possibility of something good coming from this hurt, but Jesus had better in mind.

There is no situation that is beyond His power to help when it is relinquished into the hands of our God.  Instead of holding on to what you see and feel, hold on to your faith.  During these crucial moments, give Jesus space to work a miracle.  Others may not understand, and the full revelation may escape you, nevertheless, “let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6) and believe.

“I say to you, arise” (NKJV).  The command for life to return to this daughter speaks hope: “It is not too late!”  Where we may see the end, Jesus sees a new beginning.  In what area are you hoping to see a turnaround? Believe, trust, and arise!

Father God, we are praying for Your touch in the midst of whatever we are facing.  Healing, deliverance, or just circumstance – Father God, we need You.  We believe that You can work the impossible.  We believe that Your favor and blessings and miracles are still in effect today.  And whatever it looks like, it is not too far gone for You.  Father God, we believe that You can restore, you can bring it back to wholeness and healing, and cause us to arise.  “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1, 2) is my heart’s prayer, and it is in Your hands, O God, we place it all.  In the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior, we pray, AMEN!

“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

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By the Seaside With Jesus

“And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.  And he taught them many things by parables . . .” Mark 4:1, 2

By the seaside with Jesus. To sit under His words. To hear His gentle yet commanding voice. The stories He told were more than just stories. They unfolded the realities of life. More importantly, they opened the truth of the Kingdom of God.

“Who hath ears to hear, let him hear,” He speaks (Mt. 13:9), knowing the choice will always be up to the individual heart.

He will plead for you to listen. He will die in case you do. For no story is worth more than the story of love played out in the life of this beautiful Savior who sees us, knows us, and still decides to lay it all down for us regardless of what our choice may be.

Sitting with Jesus beside the sea is a beautiful scenario. But sitting with Jesus within heaven’s walls is even more glorious. It’s a story whose chapters never end, being read through eternity is the love we have found in this Friend.

Don’t settle for the here and now, look for Him then. For by the seaside, those stories lead to a marvelous end.

I would love to sit with Jesus, with my toes in the water, but on this earth, I don’t want to loiter.

Those stories, those words, put a seed in my soul, and I declare today, on good ground, it was sown.

The call of the sea is beautiful to me, but more pulling is the call, with Him, to spend eternity.

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:3

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One Sure-Fire Way!

If you have ever had hiccups the advice comes out of the woodwork on how to deal with them. “Hold your breath” some will say. While another may tell you to drink this or that, believing this will be the cure.

Growing up, we received a lot of advice on how to do this or get rid of that, or how to treat a specific ailment. Some refer to these homegrown remedies as old wives tales, and yet, history shows that some actually help in dealing with illness and the like (chicken noodle soup is a definite go-to for me). And it doesn’t matter if you didn’t agree, you would never convince those who pass down these remedies that it doesn’t work, for they have seen it help in the past and are convinced it can still help today.

David knew a thing or two about going through some things. Adversity was no stranger to his doorstep and yet, for all he faced, he always managed to stay in the faith.

How did he do this?

One way we can see this happening is through his own testimony found in Psalm 16:8 where he states, “I have set the LORD always before me . . .” Was this David’s sure-fire remedy for remaining when others would have moved?

Let’s examine the facts. When facing Goliath, David said, “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied” (1 Samuel 17:45).

When dealing with Saul’s mess, the Bible says, “David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him” (1 Samuel 18:14). Leaving it all in the hands of God, David refused to lay a hand on king Saul (1 Samuel 24:12, 13).

When his son, Absalom, drove David from his kingdom in his rebellion, and Zadok desired to bring the ark of the covenant, David spoke, and said, “Carry back the ark of God into the city: if I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again, and shew me both it, and his habitation” (2 Samuel 15:25). 

When cursed by Shimei, David refused to allow vengeance to take place on his behalf. Rather, he said, ” . . . let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him. It may be that the Lord will look on mine affliction and that the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day” (2 Samuel 16:11, 12). 

And when faced with his own sin, David said, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13). To God he said, “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3). “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me”(51:10).

David found God even in the adversities he encountered. The rest of Psalm 16:8 is when David proclaimed, “Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” Keeping God before his face was David’s way of being able to come through many difficult times, and yet still be dubbed “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22).

We can learn a thing or two from David.

How can we keep the Lord always before us?

  1. Simply put, don’t take your eyes off God. When Peter was invited to walk the waves with Jesus, his focus shifted to what was before him instead of the Christ who stood with him, and he began to drown (Matthew 14:25-30). Peter may have seen Jesus physically, but David saw God with a heart of faith and that’s where he kept his focus.
  2. Don’t compromise your beliefs. If God is before you, His word, His instructions are before you (Psalm 16:7), and like the three Hebrew boys, there is no fear of the furnace that will cause you to sway from that truth (Daniel 3:16-18). Hold on to His unchanging hand.
  3. Establish your hope in God alone (Psalm 16:11), now, and in the time to come. One day, this will all be over and we will see God face to face (Revelation 22:3-4).

David’s sure-fire way of dealing with this life will work in your life, too. With that king of old, we too can say, “I have set the Lord always before me.”

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“Walk In Peace!”

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee,” Isaiah 26:3

Peace is something that may seem far out of reach for most.  It is greatly desired and sought after; yet, many will never lay hold of it.  Why is that?  The answer is because of where it is found.  It is found in a made-up mind centered on who He is and a devoted heart that believes in the promises He has made.  “Perfect peace” speaks of the character of God at work.  Wherever He operates and whatever He delves into is marked by perfection.  That means when He established something that He wants to offer to all mankind He does so without there being anything wrong with it.  No fault in it whatsoever.  And He does here also.  As a matter of fact, the only thing that can mar this “perfect peace” that He is so willing to give is how man (the human race) accepts it.

When one’s mind is focused wholeheartedly on an idea, then that becomes the single vision of that person.  Once the picture of the mind’s eye is narrowed in one direction, that’s where one will be led to follow.  Now imagine a time of being in the midst of arduous and severe trials and tribulations.  Where there are sorrows and disappointments that seem to do nothing to encourage one’s focus on God, only working to tear away at one’s faith.  Yet, through it all, that person takes a stand within them and says, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31).

The person who is able to stir up his faith in this manner as a defense and a shield to his mind, using the focus of God at work in his life and verifying it through His Word, will be kept in “perfect peace.”  He has made an on-purpose decision that no matter how bleak and dismal it may seem right now, God is greater than all, and “His tender mercies are over all His works,” (Ps. 145:9).  “How is one able to do that?” you may be crying out in frustration.  I answer you with Abraham’s example as referred to by Paul in Romans 4:20-21, where it says, “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.”  Simply put, as our verse in Isaiah 26:3 says, “Because he trusteth thee.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” That is including, “perfect peace.”  All His promises are in His Word and the one who bases the foundation of all that he believes on that one rock-solid truth will be upheld and kept through the worst of storms.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

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It’s a Matter of Choice

 When I was a child, one of the simplest toys we used to play with was dominoes.  I never played it as the game intended.  My only use for dominoes was to stand them aright like little soldiers in a line just to watch them fall.

After the pattern of my desire had been set, I tipped the first one, and that’s all it took.  As the first fell, it tipped the second, and the second tipped the third, and so on until they all lay still in the place where they had fallen. 

My designs were simple, but there are those who master intricate patterns and make designs on a grander scale.  And when their first domino tips, a beautiful display of artistry and showmanship unfolds, mesmerizing the onlookers.

The time and talent it takes to perform such works are amazing.  Investment of oneself is key for without that dedication the performance that brought the end reward would have never been accomplished.

And that’s how our lives pretty much go.  Daily we are faced with a myriad of decisions and each of these decisions matters.  Like dominoes, one will affect another, and then another, and so on, with not only the present moment of the decision being impacted but also the future that is to come.

With people being caught up in the here and now, the future, with its possibilities and consequences, is not the first thought on their minds. 

On the other hand, there are those who are concerned about their future and want to know what they can do to improve its outcome, be it physical, financial, or relationally.  The better investment of oneself in these areas is for a better turnout. 

But what about spiritually?

There was a young man who came to Jesus and wanted to know about his spiritual future.  He wanted to know what to do to gain eternal life (Mt. 19:16).  Jesus’ response to him was to follow the commands of God (v. 17).

“All these things have I kept from my youth” (v. 20), the young man replied, and yet, was there something still missing?  Did he feel a certain void?

I don’t have a definite answer, but I do know he pursued Jesus with more questioning, asking Him, “What lack I yet?”

“Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (Mt. 19:21).

Jesus’ response to his question of lack was not something the young man was expecting.  The answer he had been looking for to secure his future was found in giving up everything and following Jesus.

He had a decision to make, and like those tipping dominoes, one would lead to another.

After processing what Jesus required of him, he went away (v. 22) and Jesus explained how hard it was for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven, the eternal life he was looking for.  It would be akin to threading a camel through the eye of a needle (Vv. 23-24).

With their thinking that the rich man had the better vantage point, the disciples were astonished at what Jesus had spoken and asked Him, “Who then can be saved?” (v. 25).  Jesus plainly let them know, “With man this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (v. 26).

Thinking about their lives and the decisions each of them had made in walking away from everything and following Jesus, Peter asked Him, “Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?” (Mt. 19:27).

That’s an important question, Peter.  When you decided to wholeheartedly follow Jesus, the first domino fell.  Everything that followed came from the ripple effect of your first choice.  And while there may be many occurrences that happen in the middle thereof, the end result will be the very thing the young man was searching for but missed out on: everlasting life (v. 29).

When asked to follow Him, the young man turned away, but Peter, along with the other disciples, invested themselves and followed on.

The path to follow may not always be easy, but after all the dominoes have fallen, and all the choices have been made, one day we will look back over the story of our lives from the vantage point of salvation, and be mesmerized by the beauty of heaven before us, for that’s what will we have, and it is a glorious future to behold! 

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