Praying for Your Enemies – Don’t Mistake Our Silence for Weakness

Pray for my enemies? Scripture does not suggest we do this – it commands it!

This is one of the most difficult challenges for me – to activate my faith and pray with love for those who persecute believers.

Matt. 5:44 “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you

The type of love here is agapo –  Godly love (God’s love). I can understand feeling God’s love or asking for God’s love for those who love me and who have shown kindness to others who are hurt, downhearted, and needy, but Agape my enemies? Impossible.

For me. I cannot. At least that is what I thought.

Reading on I realized that my issue was allowing the attack to feel personal and the accusations permanent. Instead I saw these attacks as spiritually based.

And I saw God’s firmness and intent to work through even a hesitant or reluctant child. Verses like

Luke 6:32 “And if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.

Ouch.

So how can I go that extra mile? What might that look like?

The first step I can take is

Recognize the identity and origin of the enemies acts of hate and hostility

Identify in my mind that the people who are showing hatred and are hostile toward Christ followers are compromised/deluded by the one enemy – Satan

Let’s take it personally

My husband illustrated this when we had our first big argument and my quiet guy raised his voice in extreme anger and pounded on his desk, exclaiming “I WILL NOT allow Satan to ruin our relationship.”

Recently I spoke with a dear believing friend who is daily challenged by an unbelieving spouse. I wondered why, after years of such mental abuse, she could stand it Her reply amazed me: “He is not the enemy, he is deluded by the enemy – besides, I see more in the scripture about commitment than to feelings of love.” She believed she had been called to show Christ no matter the acceptance of her beliefs or the return treatment.

A long-time friend once said something extremely hurtful to me and my immediate reaction was to terminate the friendship. We talked and when I explained how deeply it affected me the friend said it was not meant to hurt me, but (and repeated the ignorance). I was appalled. It took me a couple weeks to work through it and while attending a wedding heard the “love chapter” I Corinthians 13. Applying one phrase – love keeps no record of wrong- to our relationship, through prayer I realized that person was not my enemy. Years of past friendship and probable future years together were not worth one moment of satisfaction. I gave the issue to God to handle, and we are still friends.

Now I see the need to identify those under the enemy’s power -All of these examples are a choice – to react or to respond as scripture says – with love and prayer. (2John 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.) not so I can demean them back but so I can pray for them.

I also see how the enemy works within my own relationships, and from without in all segments of my world, and how easily I can be fooled that my spouse or my friend, is the enemy; but the enemy is those who are being used to oppose God, and who are feeding lies into our relationships and callings.

So how can we pray the scriptures for them? Pray that those identified as consistently and intentionally opposing the things of God might have their eyes opened to truth. Pray that they would realize they are being used and are trapped and in slavery to their master, who is not just our enemy, but theirs as well. (He “prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” [from da¿ptw dapto – to consume/overwhelm/devour].I Peter 5:8

How do you pray for your enemies?

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I’m In This for You…

I’m In This for You…

And I didn’t even realize it.

And many of you reading this have been there for me…did you realize that?

There were and are special people whose attitude going through challenges made a difference for me. It helps to know that survival is real, and smiling while enduring is possible.

I’ll tell you a secret – when someone has done that for you, they appreciate being told because they often do not realize it.

Recently I had a challenge of my own, and could see no purpose or good from it. Hours – days – weeks and then months went by where I felt useless. I knew the times I spent in prayer for others were not useless, but still I felt useless. It was emotion defining my reality. Does that make sense?

Maybe it does if you have been there. But how does one keep from showing those unrealistic emotions?

I mean how many times do you answer with the whole story when someone asks how you are doing?

It is especially awkward when an injury or illness lingers, and you don’t really want to whine or even seem like you are doing so, Whining never helps anyway and only reminds you that you are miserable. Yet you really want all the prayers you can get – you want this over with and any and all help is welcome…true – but I also wanted – needed – no matter the situation or my condition – to be accomplishing something even if no one else could see it.

 

It’s been that way since the concussion in January and the multiple side effects that followed. Three surprises changed my attitude.

 

One – I’m praying for you notes (with regular follow-up) gave me incentive to do whatever I needed to do to heal. Even (or for me especially) if it were to be still and to rest. Second, a new friend sent an email saying she had been watching me and thanked me for showing her what it looked like for a Christian to go through a trial. I still don’t know what I did to produce that, but it was a striking thought that my affliction could bring comfort to another. Then another friend surprised me today, saying perhaps my recent experiences were not necessarily to teach me something but to add compassion and empathy to my experiences FOR HER and others like her, who have had

Second, a new friend sent an email saying she had been watching me and thanked me for showing her what it looked like for a Christian to go through a trial. I still don’t know what produced that, but it was a striking thought that my affliction could bring comfort to another. Then another friend surprised me today, saying perhaps my recent experiences were not necessarily to teach me something now but to build up compassion and empathy from my experiences FOR HER and others like her, who have had long-term chronic illness.

Astonished, I realised it has taken these untimely and ongoing results of injury to increase empathy for those in similar or more serious situations. When weeks turned to months, I could not fathom what it would be like to spend years with a chronic issue. That thought alone sensitized noticing and caring for those in worse pain than myself. It does comfort me to know I can now hear others with more understanding and pray with more passion for those in on-going difficulties.

Now I know things I could not have known without those trials – I know how much a phone call, a card, or a note means to one who feels useless or invisible. You can be sure I was, and still am, taking notes to pass on to others the comfort that was given to me.

 

2 Corinthians 1:4 (ESV) who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

 

2 Corinthians 1:4 (MSG) He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.

 

It is so healing to hear someone say you blessed them and you know you could never have felt those words or prayers unless you had been down that particular path. Their receiving comfort values what I initially thought was a useless trial.

 

So many of you have been in it for me and shared your comfort with me. You showed me I can be grateful for the strange things that happen to me, for it can bring comfort to others. It is worth it to know a time of refining isn’t just about filing my rough edges – but for  your comfort and for eternity’s sake…

 

Now, I’m in it for you.

 

Delores

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Finding Hope through Story

I just read this wonderful book that is more than fiction and want to recommend it to all my friends.

Like Jesus, Ruchti reveals truth and relatable corrections and actions for a relationship in desperate straits.

Like Jesus’ stories, the hope and healing we read about may be for us, or for a friend, neighbor or family member – or even for someone we’ve not yet met.  But such stories of hope and healing will stay with us, preparing us to share life-changing principles when needed.

 

Like Jesus’ stories, Ruchti’s “Hemmed in Hope” tales reveal raw life experience, desperate needy souls and yes, hope.

As in everyday life, watching multiple reactions and actions for similar situations in my prayer circle brings fresh hope to current life situations. When the story characters finally begin to look for hope, to recognize hope and to hang onto hope for dear life, I too am lifted up and instructed out of this more than fiction story.  Ruchti’s characters, situations and reactions are realistic and relatable for people embroiled in such common situations, producing enlightenment and desire to pray for hope to come to them.

This is why I read Ruchti’s stories – because they are based on eternal truths from which lives can be better equipped and ready to apply for all relationships, including my own.

Find A Fragile Hope – HERE

Get to know Cynthia Ruchti HERE

 

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After Losing a Child: Changing my Why to When

Changing my Why to When

391 and 2597

That’s how many times the words WHY and WHEN appear in my most used Bible.

 

You think I’d get the lesson right there – kind of like I have 1 mouth and two ears. But no – I have to learn the hard way.

 

I’ve had a LOT of time to think and weep and pray since the concussion in January, followed by the Shingles, followed by a digestive issue last weekend where my unexpected 72-hour “diet” helped me lose a quick 9#.

 

Oh, I know they will be coming back . . .or at least some of them, but Why? You’ve been kicked out. Bumped upstairs. I’m not even sure what I would have done if God answered all those whys…I doubt I am really ready to handle that.

 

But WHEN? That has become more intriguing with every single day.

 

I buy videos – but they are all movies. So, surprise! Within the movies I was rearranging were three videos. An Ernie Haas and Signature Sound, and a Gaither Gospel Series video on Heaven. From 2003. Never opened. Heaven – was filled with precious testimonies by others who have lost a child, each including scripture and music on heaven. I cried, yes, but it was so healing, including those who also wonder why with a difference.

 

Then I tried the Signature Sound video – thought I would take a break from tears – I mean how many can you cry? (Answer: more.) That video with a different theme was upbeat and fun, until it found a crack in my heart. Gloria Gaither was a guest and she spoke on God’s character, specifically addressing forgiveness. God doesn’t “just” forgive, she shared, but He IS forgiveness.

 

The third, Heaven, by Randy Alcorn, is for next month. (Yes, I know it starts tomorrow J). But I need a little more quiet time to ponder, and to practice the new thoughts embedded in my heart during what felt like a very long night.

 

Pondering John 20:15 – with Easter coming, this story became so relevant. “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?

The questions were addressed to Mary looking for Jesus’ body, but of course it became a call for me too.

Why was I weeping (and asking why again)…and who was I seeking? –  I too amgrieving, and seeking Jesus, just as Mary was.

I want to be comforted with the truth, just as Mary was. When Jesus spoke to Mary he spoke of WHEN. Later, Jesus came to them, and said Peace be with you. And then He showed himself to them and WHEN they saw the Lord, they rejoiced.

 

Jesus comes to me each time I read His Words. Praying those words for others and for myself, they come alive, and each time I say Lord, this why is something only you can understand, so help me focus on WHEN, He shows Himself to me.

 

The truth that my emotions put me in the shadows, but WHEN I turn toward Him, and the shadows fall behind me. It is then, with changed focus, I can read, see, and hear the truth.

 

The truth is

John 10:29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

1Th. 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.

1John 2:25 And this is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life.

 

The truth is WHEN

 

Josh. 21:45 Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass

 

1Th. 5:24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.

 

A young man said to me to the effect that, If you really believe all those things, nothing should be able to sway your hope.

 

He was right, and so each time I think or say why, I give it back, as Job learned, to the only one with the answers, and instead

 

Eagerly anticipate

WHEN

Acts 27:25 So, dear friends, take heart. I believe God will do exactly what he told me. (in His Word).

I can hardly wait for

WHEN

She greets me again!

 

 

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Forgiveness is NOT…

Forgiveness is hard – a lot of times because of what we think forgiveness is.

Examples

  • “I HATE her, I will NEVER forgive her!” (be able to treat her as though the sin action/offense never happened)
  • “I will stay married to him, but things will never be the same, and I will never forgive him.” (Continue to treat/love as before the sin action)
  • “My family member abused me and I can not forgive them.” (as it feels like it would excuse what they did)
  • “I tried to forgive them, and it only made things worse.”  (went face to face and told them what they did and that I would forgive them for it)

 

We all have a lot of things and people in our lives to forgive.

Most people know the forgiveness part of the Lord’s prayer: forgive others as we have been forgiven.”

 

 

But sometimes we struggle with the idea of forgiving because we don’t know what forgiveness is NOT.

 

 

 

  1. An act of forgiveness is NOT a feeling
  2. Forgiveness is NOT a confrontation
  3. Forgiveness is NOT a desire for God to help us punish someone
  4. Forgiveness is NOT requiring the acknowledgment of the offense by the offender
  5. Forgiveness is NOT between you and your earthly offender

 

What! How can I forgive others if the act of forgiveness is not between me and the one who offended me?

 

All five of these “knots” are answered in the last phrase of the Lord’s Prayer – as we have been forgiven.

 

How was that? How have I been forgiven?

 

I was forgiven, according to I John 1:9 and other verses

  • Willingly – by choice
  • While I was still a sinner (capable and even likely of repeating the offense)
  • With a permanent release (put away) from any punishment or guilting – (no whining, reminding, or haunting)

 

So if I forgive as I have been forgiven. . .

I will choose to release that offense/grievance/sin and the person to God without waiting for or expecting change, regret or response from them.

 

 

It made me chuckle to think that we puny humans think we can change a person’s heart. Only God can do that.

 

Embracing unforgiveness (the choice not to release the offense and the offender to God)

is NOT an act of righteousness. Even if we were/are in the right.

 

 

Every offense comes with a choice and an opportunity.

 

A choice to receive it and nurse it

or

a choice and opportunity to Forgive – as God has forgiven me

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Here I am Lord

It’s been quite the journey since the concussion in January and then the shingles that “added insult to injury.”  Balance and vision are improving, but perhaps another 4-6 weeks until I can get a new vision prescription and spend more than 10 minutes on the computer without tear-producing pain.

Three different people sent me this devotion this week.  I have been and am learning from this time of fallow ground.  I will write more on that next time, but for now, just in case some of you are experiencing a challenging time, I share what so evidentally God wanted me to hear.  I can truly say this is where I am, Lord.

The devotions is from Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman

streamsindesert_2011header

This is my doing. (1 Kings 12:24)

The disappointments of life are simply the hidden appointments of love.
–C.A. Fox

My child, I have a message for you today. Let me whisper it in your ear so any storm clouds that may arise will shine with glory, and the rough places you may have to walk will be made smooth. It is only four words, but let them sink into your inner being, and use them as a pillow to rest your weary head. “This is my doing.”

Have you ever realized that whatever concerns you concerns Me too? “For whoever touches you touches the apple of [my] eye” (Zech. 2:8). “You are precious and honored in my sight” (Isa. 43:4). Therefore it is My special delight to teach you.

I want you to learn when temptations attack you, and the enemy comes in “like a pent up flood” (Isa. 59:19)., that “this is my doing” and that your weakness needs My strength, and your safety lies in letting Me fight for you.

Are you in difficult circumstances, surrounded by people who do not understand you, never ask your opinion, and always push you aside? “This is my doing.” I am the God of circumstances. You did not come to this place by accident — you are exactly where I meant for you to be.

Have you not asked Me to make you humble? Then see that I have placed you in the perfect school where this lesson is taught. Your circumstances and the people around you are only being used to accomplish My will.

Are you having problems with money, finding it hard to make ends meet? “This is my doing,” for I am the One who keeps your finances, and I want you to learn to depend upon Me. My supply is limitless and I “will meet your needs” (Phil. 4:19). I want you to prove My promises so no one may say, “You did not trust in the Lord your God” (Deut. 1:32).

Are you experiencing a time of sorrow? “This is my doing.” I am “a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isa. 53:3). I have allowed your earthly comforters to fail you, so that by turning to Me you may receive “eternal encouragement and good hope” (2 Thess. 2:16). Have you longed to do some great work for Me but instead have been set aside on a bed of sickness and pain? “This is my doing.” You were so busy I could not get your attention, and I wanted to teach you some of My deepest truths. “They also serve who only stand and wait.” In fact, some of My greatest workers are those physically unable to serve, but who have learned to wield the powerful weapon of prayer.

Today I place a cup of holy oil in your hands. Use it freely, My child. Anoint with it every new circumstance, every word that hurts you, every interruption that makes you impatient, and every weakness you have. The pain will leave as you learn to see Me in all things.
–Laura A. Barter Snow

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On the Shelf

7227It only takes a moment from a too-rushed schedule. A distraction, an errant thought you want to brush away, or a rush of movement to shake off an overwhelming thought.

 

A thud and a captive audience gasping alerted me to the fact that I’d looked away from the door too long, and instead attempted to rush through the plate glass window next to it.

 

More embarrassed than anything, I groped for the door to my right and shouldered myself and the bag of “tossed lunch” toward our car. Ken peered at me oddly as I dropped into the seat and used both hands to peel my glasses off my face.

 

I had a headache. Expected. Back and shoulder also ached next day. Expected. Went for massage and that helped some. Went to chiropractor who sent me to MD to check for potential shingles (often follows trauma) and to check for concussion. It began to feel like 9 little monkeys jumping on the bed when both shingles and concussion were confirmed and he sent me to eye doctor because I began seeing double.

 

1-nativecrossSuddenly from full-on schedule, all kinds of plans, commitments, goals to – REST.

 

I quickly began to realize I had carried over the drive for approval from childhood, because without lists, appointments, and commitments, I was reduced to inactivity – and I felt valueless.

 

Typing while looking at the screen was too painful Reading could be done but only in snatches, and only if material was at waist level or lower and I was looking down at the material, and lighting was low.

 

Of course the incident made me think of friend Candi Rae, who had a severe concussion. I hospital_bedprayed for her with more understanding than I’d been able to in the past. With my new schedule of appointments for the three areas affected, I thought of my friend Kathi and all the months and months of medical challenges she has recently. Those first days I found my value in praying with new understanding for many in my world.   From time to time lack of sleep and pain relief brought me to tears and I thought of Cec Murphy – emotions are not reality – they are just feelings.

 

Determined to read some reality – I pulled out my BSF Lesson (John) and read one of the introductory pages of Ted Dekker’s Forgotten Way study. I’d been too busy to start it in Dec. and too busy to do it in Jan. I could not do the videos but I could read these lessons and be confronted – and comforted with reality. Both had the same truth for me – God does not base our relationship or my value on what I do, or how much I do. Even if this stage were to be my new normal (as I am praying, please, God, no), God’s love for me and FearVerses-Antidoterelationship with me would not change.

 

The docs did do me one big favor – STRONGLY urged hubby to help me get a new adjustable desk. He and my favorite son got it set up and I look forward to eliminating some of the clutter it will replace.   Hopefully picture next week. I also review some products and had to chuckle at the new offering from a popular post-it-note company – a shelf. It will be a great place to display some big rocks as reminders of this moment and there’s value – even in being on the shelf.

 

PrairieandMisc2014 1340So there you have it. If you don’t hear much from this restless spirit over the next couple weeks yet (eye dr. says probably 3-5 weeks) you will know I am on the prayer shelf, soaking up some comforting reality, praying for you, and slimming down my previously overwhelming goal list.

 

 

 

 

 

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“Shepherds After My Own Heart” Means…

This was great. Pastor Mike happens to be my grandson. I Peter 5 is my favorite example of how Not to be a good shepherd. I appreciate how it relates and applies as do other passages shared to many other other callings that involve leadership, supervision, parenting etc. interesting how all of our callings of influence have the same core- submitting to and modeling Christ.

Questions & Hope

shepherds

“I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding” – Jeremiah 3:15

I’ve just finished my third book in the New Studies in Biblical Theology Series. My goal this year (+next year?) is to get through all 41 books. So far I am loving this series. Each book in the series traces a specific theme throughout all of Scripture. It is some good ol’ Biblical Theology, at its very best! The first theme I worked through was idolatry (previous blog post here) and the second theme was adultery (previous blog post here). I needed a pick-up after those first two (gee, really Mike?) and figured this one by Timothy S. Laniak (Professor of Old Testament at Gordon-Conwell) would hit the spot. If humans are so prone to adultery and idolatry (which we are), then what does it mean to be…

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Replanting America’s Garden

 

2327Someone once said
“GRACE and MERCY are like the two oars in a row boat. Unless they are both used in balance, the one rowing will go around in circles and never arrive at their destination.”

 

Grace is defined as undeserved favor – in other words, God giving us what we don’t deserve.

 

God gave us the gift of His son and his taking our place on the cross.

 

Knowing about and receiving and experiencing that GRACE helps us to understand how to show grace to others.

 

2023We can show GRACE in Word

            There’s always a choice in how to respond – Choose to respond in GRACE – with kind words the person may not deserve, but with love for their souls.

 

We can show GRACE in Action

            By implementing MERCY

 

Mercy is compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm. (Dictionary)

 

IMG_1401            Forgiveness, responding thoughtfully instead of reacting in similar tone or language, and watching for or asking if the person has a need we can fill, are all ways we can, in MERCY, show GRACE to others.

 

Grace AND Mercy work together because you and I know that words are fine, but actions reveal the heart behind the words.

 

Words can touch a person’s heart – or leave them cold. Words of grace, delivered with acts of Mercy (noticing the person, listening to them, thanking them for sharing their heart with you, honoring their souls created in God’s image).

 

Serving with Grace and Mercy is easier when we remember that it is often hurting people that lash out and hurt others. If we can meet their actions are met with gracious acts of mercy and grace

 We are God’s seeds, and seasoning to this bitter world…

 

1-LaurieChicagoLet’s make America’s garden grow –

Enjoy the Gaither Vocal Band, reminding us

 

Let’s sow grace and mercy!

 

 

 

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After Losing a Child – All the Pieces of My Life

lauriekev (2)It is January and the 23rd is Laurie’s birthday. I have no doubt that is why I’ve been feeling the absence of a piece of my heart.

 

I’ve also been loading the music she played in her car onto an old phone so I can play the music in mine. It’s well mixed with songs that lifted me up, made me feel loved, and gave me guidance and direction. Laurie often would send a brief email, or text to say on the way to work today, I heard this song by Selah, or Keith Green, or Amy Grant, or…and prayed it for you.

 

Music has always calmed the beast of my emotions when I could not focus. I’ve found a unique (to me, anyway) way of really listening to music as a form of devotion. As I play the music, I type the lyrics. That may seem crazy, but it forces my mind and my hands and my heart to work together, and creates a focus of intense listening.  Sometimes, like today, I  found I’d missed a word, or missed understanding a word or two.

 

Yes, the song today was All the Pieces of My Life – by the Imperials – from their legacy album 1977-1988. Eons ago. 🙂

 

puzzleSo I’ve listened, sung along, and yes, prayed this song many many, times. I’ve also built puzzles, and enjoyed solving many puzzles, which perhaps made this song resonate so much with me.

 

I first pray for those who minister to my heart through this music. Next, I listen and type at least twice, then I look up the actual lyrics.

 

The image of an unfinished puzzle, with pieces piled up and jumbled – the puzzle unformed, is before me. Though I’ve obviously tried to gather and sort them—tried to make sense of it, I was discouraged. It had come to the point where I realized some of the pieces are gone, and I cannot complete it again. For some reason, all I heard at the end of the verse was again – and it brought my mind back to the desperate knowledge that lost moments are gone – a reminder that I could not put it (my life’s puzzle) together again.

 

1-lauriemechicagojordansBut – the phrase I’d missed was more than ‘again’ – it was in the words of Jesus, responding to my frustration, and anguish at this puzzle of life with the gaping holes from missing pieces:

 

“He said, pieces, pieces – I’ve got all the pieces to your life

A thousand tiny fragments of every single day

I can put them all together, and there will never be another one who can.

 

I can’t — but He can!

Such a simple truth, but it belted out in my heart!

The pieces may be gone from my sight – but they are not LOST – Jesus said,

He’s got them. He said they are in the Father’s hand! And He confirmed (see John 18:9 below) He’s not lost a single one of them!

 

He’s the creator of the design of that puzzle. I finally heard the complete message of the song

 

2042He spoke with great compassion — as he put one hand on me

And in His other hand he held what I could never see

(spiritual that is not visible to me)

So that

 

Every little memory, of every single day –

And He alone can put them all together

And there will never be another one who can.

 

Silly me for trying to do what only He can.

 

John 18:9 that the word might be fulfilled which He spoke, “Of those whom Thou hast given Me I lost not one.”

 

LaurieMIsmileJohn 10:28 and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.

John 10:29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

 

Pieces – by the Imperials

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