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Thread: Our Daily Bread

  1. #1761
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    May 10,2019

    Minister of Loneliness

    Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.
    Hebrews 13:1

    Following her husband’s death, Betsy has spent most days in her flat, watching television and boiling tea for one. She’s not alone in her loneliness. More than nine million Brits (15 percent of the population) say they often or always feel lonely, and Great Britain has appointed a minister of loneliness to find out why and how to help.

    Some causes of loneliness are well known: We move too often to put down roots. We believe we can take care of ourselves, and we don’t have a reason to reach out. We’re separated by technology—each of us immersed in our own flickering screens.

    I feel the dark edge of loneliness, and you may too. This is one reason we need fellow believers. Hebrews concludes its deep discussion of Jesus’s sacrifice by encouraging us to meet together continually (10:25). We belong to the family of God, so we’re to love “one another as brothers and sisters” and “show hospitality to strangers” (13:1–2). If we each made an effort, everyone would feel cared for.

    Lonely people may not return our kindness, but this is no reason to give up. Jesus has promised to never leave nor forsake us (13:5), and we can use His friendship to fuel our love for others. Are you lonely? What ways can you find to serve the family of God? The friends you make in Jesus last forever, through this life and beyond.

    By Mike Wittmer
    Today's Reflection

    Who needs your friendship? How might you serve someone in your church or neighborhood this week?
    Hebrews 13:1-8

    1 brotherly love continue.

    2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

    3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

    4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

    5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

    6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

    7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

    8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    May 11, 2019

    The Lord Will Provide

    So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide.
    Genesis 22:14

    My anxiety increased throughout the summer between my undergraduate and graduate programs. I love to have everything planned out, and the idea of going out of state and entering graduate school without a job made me uncomfortable. However, a few days before I left my summer job, I was asked to continue working for the company remotely. I accepted and had peace that God was taking care of me.

    God provided, but it was in His timing, not mine. Abraham went through a far more difficult situation with his son Isaac. He was asked to take his son and sacrifice him on a mountain (Genesis 22:1–2). Without hesitation, Abraham obeyed and took Isaac there. This three-day journey gave Abraham plenty of time to change his mind, but he didn’t (vv. 3–4).

    When Isaac questioned his father, Abraham replied, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering” (v. 8). I wonder if Abraham’s anxiety grew with each knot he tied as he bound Isaac to the altar and with every inch he raised his knife (vv. 9–10). What a relief it must have been when the angel stopped him! (vv. 11–12). God did indeed provide a sacrifice, a ram, caught in the thicket (v. 13). God tested Abraham’s faith, and he proved to be faithful. And at the right time, to the very second, God provided (v. 14).

    By Julie Schwab
    Today's Reflection

    What answer to prayer has been long in coming? When have you seen God provide at just the right moment?
    Genesis 22:2-14

    2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

    3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.

    4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.

    5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

    6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.

    7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?

    8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

    9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

    10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

    11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

    12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

    13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

    14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    May 12,2019

    Love Won’t Stop

    Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.
    Luke 15:6

    After I turned nineteen, and years before I owned a pager or a cell phone, I moved more than seven hundred miles away from my mom. One morning, I left early to run errands, forgetting our scheduled call. Later that night, two policemen came to my door. Mom had been worried because I’d never missed one of our chats. After calling repeatedly and getting a busy signal, she reached out to the authorities and insisted they check on me. One of the police officers turned to me and said, “It’s a blessing to know love won’t stop looking for you.”

    When I picked up the phone to call my mom, I realized I had accidentally left the receiver off its base. After I apologized, she said she needed to spread the good news to the family and friends she had informed that I’d been missing. I hung up thinking she’d overreacted a bit, though it felt good to be loved that much.

    Scripture paints a beautiful picture of God, who is Love, relentlessly beckoning His wandering children. Like a good shepherd, He cares about and seeks out every lost sheep, affirming the priceless value of every beloved child of God (Luke 15:1–7).

    Love never stops looking for us. He will pursue us until we’ve returned to Him. We can pray for others who need to know that Love—God—never stops looking for them either.

    By Xochitl Dixon
    Reflect & Pray

    How does it encourage you to know that God continually pursues you in love? How is He using you to reveal His love to others?
    Luke 15:1-7
    1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.

    2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

    3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying,

    4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

    5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

    6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

    7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    May 13, 2019

    A Longing in Stone

    I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.
    Deuteronomy 34:4

    “Ah, every pier is a longing in stone!” says a line in Fernando Pessoa’s Portuguese poem “Ode Marítima.” Pessoa’s pier represents the emotions we feel as a ship moves slowly away from us. The vessel departs but the pier remains, an enduring monument to hopes and dreams, partings and yearnings. We ache for what’s lost, and for what we can’t quite reach.

    The Portuguese word translated “longing” (saudade) refers to a nostalgic yearning we feel—a deep ache that defies definition. The poet is describing the indescribable.

    We might say that Mount Nebo was Moses’s “longing in stone.” From Nebo he gazed into the promised land—a land he would never reach. God’s words to Moses—“I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it” (Deuteronomy 34:4)—might seem harsh. But if that’s all we see, we miss the heart of what’s happening. God is speaking immense comfort to Moses: “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants’” (v. 4). Very soon, Moses would leave Nebo for a land far better than Canaan (v. 5).

    Life often finds us standing on the pier. Loved ones depart; hopes fade; dreams die. Amid it all we sense echoes of Eden and hints of heaven. Our longings point us to God. He is the fulfillment we yearn for.

    By Tim Gustafson
    Reflect & Pray

    What are your unfulfilled longings? What places in life are you trying to satisfy with wrong things? How can you find true fulfillment in God alone?

    The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing—to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all beauty came from. C. S. Lewis
    Deuteronomy 34:1-5

    1 And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan,

    2 And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea,

    3 And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar.

    4 And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.

    5 So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    May 14, 2019

    A Kind Critique

    The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
    John 1:17

    During a landscape painting class, the teacher, a highly experienced professional artist, assessed my first assignment. He stood silently in front of my painting, one hand cupping his chin. Here we go, I thought. He’s going to say it’s terrible.

    But he didn’t.

    He said he liked the color scheme and the feeling of openness. Then he mentioned that the trees in the distance could be lightened. A cluster of weeds needed softer edges. He had the authority to criticize my work based on the rules of perspective and color, yet his critique was truthful and kind.

    Jesus, who was perfectly qualified to condemn people for their sin, didn’t use the Ten Commandments to crush a Samaritan woman He met at an ancient watering hole. He gently critiqued her life with just a handful of statements. The result was that she saw how her search for satisfaction had led her into sin. Building on this awareness, Jesus revealed Himself as the only source of eternal satisfaction (John 4:10–13).

    The combination of grace and truth that Jesus used in this situation is what we experience in our relationship with Him (1:17). His grace prevents us from being overwhelmed by our sin, and His truth prevents us from thinking it isn’t a serious matter.

    Will we invite Jesus to show us areas of our lives where we need to grow so we can become more like Him?

    By Jennifer Benson Schuldt

    Reflect & Pray

    How is Jesus using grace and truth to point out issues in your life? Where might He want you to make changes to honor Him more fully?

    Jesus, thank You for freeing me from the consequences of sin. Help me to embrace Your correction and Your encouragement.
    John 4:7-15

    7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.

    8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)

    9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

    10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

    11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?

    12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

    13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

    14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

    15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    May 15,2019

    When All Seems Lost

    My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Psalm 22:1

    In just six months, Gerald’s life fell apart. An economic crisis destroyed his business and wealth, while a tragic accident took his son’s life. Overcome by shock, his mother had a heart attack and died, his wife went into depression, and his two young daughters remained inconsolable. All he could do was echo the words of the psalmist, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1).

    The only thing that kept Gerald going was the hope that God, who raised Jesus to life, would one day deliver him and his family from their pain to an eternal life of joy. It was a hope that God would answer his desperate cries for help. In his despair, like the psalmist David, he determined to trust God in the midst of his suffering. He held on to the hope that God would deliver and save him (vv. 4–5).

    That hope sustained Gerald. Over the years, whenever he was asked how he was, he could only say, “Well, I’m trusting God.”

    God honored that trust, giving Gerald the comfort, strength, and courage to keep going through the years. His family slowly recovered from the crisis, and soon Gerald welcomed the birth of his first grandchild. His cry is now a testimony of God’s faithfulness. “I’m no longer asking, ‘Why have you forsaken me?’ God has blessed me.”

    When it seems there’s nothing left, there’s still hope.

    By Leslie Koh
    Reflect & Pray

    What will help you to remember and cling to God’s sure and certain hope of deliverance? How has trusting in God sustained you in a difficult challenge?

    Whenever I feel abandoned and alone, I cling to the hope You’ve given me through Christ’s resurrection, that I will be delivered to eternal joy one day.
    Psalms 22:1-5

    1 (To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar, A Psalm of David.) My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

    2 O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.

    3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

    4 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.

    5 They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
    Last edited by Old Ridge Runner; 05-15-2019 at 07:08 AM.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

  8. #1767
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    May 16,2019

    Bear Hug

    God is love.
    1 John 4:16

    “Bear” was a gift for my grandchild—a heaping helping of love contained in a giant stuffed animal frame. Baby D’s response? First, wonder. Next, an amazed awe. Then, a curiosity that nudged a daring exploration. He poked his pudgy finger at Bear’s nose, and when the Bear tumbled forward into his arms he responded with joy joy JOY! Baby D laid his toddler head down on Bear’s fluffy chest and hugged him tightly. A dimpled smile spread across his cheeks as he burrowed deeply into Bear’s cushiony softness. The child had no idea of Bear’s inability to truly love him. Innocently and naturally, he felt love from Bear and returned it with all his heart.

    In his first of three letters to early Christians, the apostle John boldly states that God Himself is love. “We know and rely on the love God has for us,” he writes. “God is love” (1 John 4:16).

    God loves. Not in the pillow of a pretend animal but rather with the outstretched arms of a real human body encasing a beating but breaking heart (John 3:16). Through Jesus, God communicated His extravagant and sacrificial love for us.

    John goes on, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). When we believe we’re loved, we love back. God’s real love makes it possible for us to love God and others—with all our hearts.

    By Elisa Morgan
    Reflect & Pray

    What do you find is most amazing about God’s love for you? How will you reveal His love to others today?

    Dear God, help me to let You love me and then help me to love You back—with all my heart.
    1 John 4:13-19

    13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

    14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.

    15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.

    16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

    17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

    18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

    19 We love him, because he first loved us.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    May 17, 2019

    God’s Amazing Hands

    Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.
    Psalm 31:5

    Twenty minutes into a flight from New York to San Antonio, the flight plan changed as calm gave way to chaos. When one of the plane’s engines failed, debris from the engine smashed through a window causing the cabin to decompress. Sadly, several passengers were injured and one person was killed. Had not a calm, capable pilot been in the cockpit—one trained as a Navy fighter pilot—things could have been tragically worse. The headline in our local paper read, “In Amazing Hands.”

    In Psalm 31, David revealed that he knew something about the Lord’s amazing, caring hands. That’s why he could confidently say, “Into your hands I commit my spirit” (v. 5). David believed that the Lord could be trusted even when life got bumpy. Because he was targeted by unfriendly forces, life was very uncomfortable for David. Though vulnerable, he was not without hope. In the midst of harassment David could breathe sighs of relief and rejoice because his faithful, loving God was his source of confidence (vv. 5–7).

    Perhaps you find yourself in a season of life when things are coming at you from every direction, and it’s difficult to see what’s ahead. In the midst of uncertainty, confusion, and chaos one thing remains absolutely certain: those who are secure in the Lord are in amazing hands.

    By Arthur Jackson
    Reflect & Pray

    Have you committed your life—your earthly and eternal existence and well-being—to God? How are you showing that you are trusting Him in good times and bad?

    Father, help me to be encouraged knowing that Jesus prayed Psalm 31:5 when He was on the cross. In the midst of pain and suffering, He committed His life into Your hands.
    Psalms 31:1-8

    1 (To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.) In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness.

    2 Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me.

    3 For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me.

    4 Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou art my strength.

    5 Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.

    6 I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the LORD.

    7 I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities;

    8 And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a large room.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    May 18, 2019

    We Need Each Other

    Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.
    Colossians 3:15

    While on a hike with my kids, we discovered a light, springy green plant growing in small clumps on the trail. According to a signpost, the plant is commonly called deer moss, but it’s not actually a moss at all. It’s a lichen. A lichen is a fungus and an alga growing together in a mutualistic relationship in which both organisms benefit from each other. Neither the fungus nor the alga can survive on its own, but together they form a hardy plant that can live in some alpine areas for up to 4,500 years. Because the plant can withstand drought and low temperatures, it’s one of the only food sources for caribou (reindeer) in deep winter.

    The relationship between the fungus and the alga reminds me of our human relationships. We rely on each other. To grow and flourish, we need to be in relationship with each other.

    Paul, writing to believers in Colossae, describes how our relationships should look. We are to clothe ourselves with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12). We ought to forgive each other and live in peace “as members of one body” (v. 15).

    It’s not always easy to live in peace with our families or friends. But when the Spirit empowers us to exhibit humility and forgiveness in our relationships, our love for each other points to Christ (John 13:35) and brings glory to God.

    By Amy Peterson
    Reflect & Pray

    In what ways do your relationships point to Jesus? How can you pursue peace?

    Holy Spirit, fill us with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience toward each other so the world may see Your love in us.
    Your gift changes lives. Help us share God’s love with millions every day.
    Colossians 3:12-17

    12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

    13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

    14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

    15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

    16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

    17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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  12. #1770
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    May 19, 2019

    The Crooked Steeple

    My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
    2 Corinthians 12:9

    Turns out that crooked church steeples make people nervous. When we visited some friends, they shared how, after a fierce windstorm, their church’s proud steeple was crooked, causing some alarm.

    Of course, the church quickly repaired the flagging spire, but the humorous image got me thinking. Often church is seen as a place where everything is expected to look perfect; it’s not seen as a place where we can show up crooked. Right?

    But in a fallen, broken world, all of us are “crooked,” each with our own collection of natural weaknesses. We might be tempted to keep our vulnerabilities under wraps, but Scripture encourages the opposite attitude. In 2 Corinthians 12, for example, Paul suggests that it’s in our weaknesses—for him, an unnamed struggle he calls a “thorn in my flesh” (v. 7)—that Christ is most likely to reveal His power. Jesus had told Paul, “My power is made perfect in weakness” (v. 9). So Paul concluded, “For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (v. 10).

    We may not like our imperfections, but hiding them only denies Jesus’s power to work within those aspects of ourselves. When we invite Jesus into the crooked places in us, He gently mends and redeems in ways our effort could never accomplish.

    By Adam Holz
    Reflect & Pray

    What are some of the “crooked” places in your life? In what ways have you seen God work through your imperfections?

    Invite Jesus into your imperfections for His mending.
    2 Corinthians 12:

    1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.

    2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth such an one caught up to the third heaven.

    3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth

    4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

    5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.

    6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.

    7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

    8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

    9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

    10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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