Divergence: Genesis 25:20-24

18 08 2012

Divergence, 5 Minute Bible

Regina’s Note: In the classic movie “It’ s
a Wonderful Life”,  George Bailey has the
opportunity to see what the world would
be like if he had never been born. Although
we do not get that opportunity, most of us can
point to times in our life that we came to an
intersection in the road. Depending on the
choice we made at that juncture -to go right,
left, or straight;  our life traveled off
into ramifications specific to that decision.
We decide who to marry, or not to
marry; which job to take; or where to live.

And as our lives play out, each decision branches us out in a new direction and sets us on a new path, ever further from where we began. As much as we would sometimes like to go back to a  place in time and go the other way, we cannot. The decisions we make, and the directions we go, change our life in innumerable ways, and affect all the people we will meet on the new path. Ironically ,our choices also unknowingly affect all the people on the forsaken path.  I often wonder about the hundreds of people I may have met had our lives converged, not diverged.

Lord, I ask You to use me to impart knowledge and revelation, not in my words, but Yours.

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20 Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to be his wife. 21 And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23 And the Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb,  and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other,  the older shall serve the younger.” 24 When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb.

Throughout the Bible, the theme plays out.  Two choices, two people, two nations, two destinies diverging.

It began with Adam and Eve’s family. Adam’s son Seth is recorded as righteous (after Abel is killed), while Cain’s line is rife with perversion. Seth’s lineage directly connects to Noah, who also had two righteous sons and one unrighteous son. The lines split again. Shem, son of Noah, is patriarch of a line that results in Abraham; while his brother’s descendants live in nations hostile to God’s faithful.

Abraham tried to force God’s promise of a son, and begat  Ishmael with his servant girl. His rightful heir, Isaac, was born years later; and the Bible records that the two brother’s descendants were enemies. Time after time, there is a “righteous” line, and an “unfaithful” line, splitting families and changing the course of history. This is where we find ourselves in this passage.  Isaac’s two son’s are born fighting, and the Scripture will play out that they will be at odds throughout their lives. Jacob’s line proceeds to King David and finally Jesus Christ Himself; while Esau’s line results in nations ever hostile to his brother’s descendants.

Joshua 24:15 “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Throughout history, people given seemingly the same upbringing and circumstances choose divergent paths. Serving God is a choice they make, or do not. Like a sports bracket, those who follow God continue forward into the lineage of Jesus. Generation by generation, individual by individual, those whose lines primarily serve God grow increasingly righteous. Those who choose to walk away grow increasingly wicked. Romans 1:21  For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

We are all walking the road Adam and Eve set us on when they chose disobedience to God. That split is the greatest one on history, the one which created the chasm between a Holy God and a sinful man. Our sin nature is a divergence we could never go back and correct. At that fateful intersection, Adam and Eve made a choice and took a direction humankind could never recover from, and now we all fall short of God’s standard of holiness. We can never be holy enough, or religious enough, or good enough to bridge the gap. Isaiah 66:4 “For when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, no one listened. They did evil in My sight  and chose what displeases Me.”  

We were forever on the wrong path, with no hope. But God was planning the ultimate “mulligan”.

Jesus was prepared to set in motion the greatest convergence in human history – that of reconciling sinful man back to God.  This great cosmic chance at do-over is something we cannot achieve on our own. It must come through Jesus. In a move far too good to be true, Jesus forgives and  removes our sins, and brings us back to that original intersection; into right standing with God if we so choose. John 8:34-36 “Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Matthew 12:30 “Whoever is not with Me is against Me, and whoever does not gather with Me scatters.” Through His sacrifice, Jesus has now created two distinct lineages that will last into eternity. We stand back at the diverging road, and it is now our choice.  We now choose which lineage to join; but ambivalence is not an option. Jesus warns us that not making a decisive choice for Him, will relegate us to those against Him. Those of us who choose to follow the line of Jesus will find, as our ancestors did, that we often suffer hostility from our brothers and sisters who have chosen other paths. John 15:18″If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first.

Unfortunately, as in the familial lines of old, those who make continual choices without God will find themselves further and further away, with less and less chance of going back.  Romans 1:28  Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!” But for those who choose to respond to His offer of free grace, He provides the almost unimaginable gift of a completely fresh start; one of His righteousness, not of our sin. We are offered the opportunity to return to the place of the very first wrong turn, in the Garden – and to make another choice. What an amazing and redemptive God we serve.  

Titus 2:11-14  “He teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good”

Today, Remember: Although we cannot physically go back in time and change the choices we have made , or the roads we have traveled;  Jesus does promise us that we can have a completely  new  spiritual start in Him.  He is willing to forgive all of our bad choices, our sinful actions, our mistakes. He teaches us not only to forgive ourselves, but to forgive others and leave the past as He does – as far as the east is from the west. We can go back to the beginning and begin a new life.

If you are struggling with a lineage of regret, pain and rejection; Jesus offers a chance to change your family line. He welcomes you into  His family, as if your past never happened. It is a new life, a clean slate, a family of others who also have received this gift. This is a lineage straight from God, and He promises that once you join Him on the road,  your paths will never diverge again.

Deuteronomy 30:19 “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”

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Ways: Genesis 22:1-13

23 07 2012

5 Minute Bible : Ways

Regina’s Note: “Do you think it was worth it?”  When I lost my job back in 2004, I spent a good amount of time looking for a replacement position. But everything I was offered required me to travel extensively, or move to another city. Although those are acceptable expectations from a corporate executive level position, they were not acceptable conditions to me. My children had in recent years been moved from their home to a new state, and new schools. Their father and I had  gotten a divorce, ripping their young lives apart at the seams. Now living in a single parent  household, I could not even fathom putting them in the constant care of a nanny while both their parents were absent. I chose to start a local real estate career, one far less lucrative, it turns out, due to the national real estate crash and ensuing recession. There were times that I worked three jobs just to keep the lights on – and sometimes the lights still went out. There were times that I had to swallow my pride and borrow money; times that I went without eating in order to make sure my children were fed. Often, people ask me if it was worth giving up my career and putting my kids through the financial woes we have endured.

I will answer that with the words of my daughter. One day a couple of years back, she asked me the same question. I told her my motives and my reasoning. She walked into her room, and emerged a few minutes later, tears in her eyes. “Thank you, Mom, for choosing us”  was all she could say. Was the sacrifice worth it? You better believe it. Knowing what I know now, I would do it all again.

Lord, I pray You will use me to impart knowledge and revelation, not my words but Yours.

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1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” Abraham replied. 2 Then God said, “Take your son , your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you. ”Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you. ”Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”“Here I am,” he replied.12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son. ”13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.

Abraham and Sarah had prayed and waited for this son. He was the promise fulfilled to them, the promise of Abraham’s legacy of many nations and peoples. The command of God seems unfathomable and cruel to the casual observer.

Still, Abraham wasted no time . He set out the very next day to do what the Lord had commanded. We often hear a word from the Lord, or at the very least we know exactly what He expects from us, but we delay. We pray about it, we talk about it, we think about it…anything but actually act on it. But not Abraham.

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,  neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” God’s edict of sacrificing Isaac seemed to be in complete contradiction to His promise. Yet Abraham obeyed, because he trusted that the promise would yet be fulfilled, against all human logic. The road he set down that day was not a way he would have chosen. The Lord placed a road in front of him, and asked him to walk down it. But the way presented was incredibly hard.

Romans 11:33 “Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His ways!”  Ultimately, Abraham knew that God’s promise was irrevocable and trustworthy. So even though the reality of his circumstances  – being asked to sacrifice his son – seemed to belie that promise, he knew God’s Word to him would be fulfilled. At the heart of the willingness to sacrifice was obedience and trust. And there is the crux of it.  As believers, we need to learn to be willing to give up our idea of the best pathway for our life,  if He asks us to, and trust He has a better plan.

Deuteronomy 8:6 “So obey the commands of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and fearing him.” We have already learned that His ways are not the same as our ways. So following His ways is, by nature, foreign to us. It is going to look strange, and unfamiliar. It is the road less taken. It is the challenging way. But to decide that we know better than God what we need is nothing more than unabashed arrogance, and takes us away from God’s planned gifts. Psalm 128:1 “Blessed is the one who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways”.  

We know the end of the story. We know that God never intended Isaac as a human sacrifice, and most likely Abraham knew that too, but until the last second it certainly looked like that was the case.  However, he walked down God’s road in obedience without question and without hesitation, until God spoke. How often are we convinced that our situation will end in tragedy, when God is actually setting us up for great victory?

Isaiah 54:13  “All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.” Abraham was not the only one on a faith walk. Although this story often depicts Isaac as a young boy, historians most often place his age somewhere in his 30s. Therefore, he was a strong young man, and his father was 100 years older than him. He most likely would have willingly climbed onto the altar and allowed his father to tie him there.  Isaac also had great faith in God’s promise, and trust we can barely fathom both towards his earthly father, and his heavenly one.

Matthew 26:39  “He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”  Take solace in knowing that as a man, even Jesus asked God for a different path; but ultimately walked the way that God had determined. Praise Jesus He did, for the world would be lost without His obedience to the plan. Romans 5: 8  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  When all seemed lost, the ram in the thicket was provided by God as a substitute sacrifice.  It is a beautiful foreshadowing of Christ’s sacrifice, when He placed Himself on the altar in our place and secured our salvation when all was lost for us.

Knowing that God’s plans are always for the safety and good of His children, we must also get to a place of complete trust. As we walk down His paths for our lives, we will begin to transform, gain His wisdom, and more clearly see His ways are indeed, perfect.  James 3:13 “If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.”

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Today, Realize:When God asks something of you that seems too hard or too costly, remember that He is seeing things from a completely different perspective. Sometimes He does ask us to walk down a path not of our choosing, because He wants to make sure that our allegiance is with Him – not in the pay of a specific job, the security of our chosen home, or the love of a desired spouse. His ways are different than ours, but His ways are untainted by sin, disillusionment, fear or bias and therefore represent our best opportunity for a blessed life.

Reject the temptation to dictate your own ways according to the pressures of this world. Rest in the knowledge that the pathway He has planned for you, although at first unfamiliar, is the one which will bring you to the destination He has chosen for you. Follow His ways, and He will always be by your side.

1 Kings 11:38 If you listen to what I tell you and follow My ways and do whatever I consider to be right, and if you obey My decrees and commands, as my servant David did, then I will always be with you.





Testimony: Genesis 21:1-6

9 07 2012

Regina’s Note:About 2 years ago, I felt strongly led to use my Facebook page for nothing but ministry. Although there is the random purely

5 Minute Bible : Testimony

personal post, most of the time I post a
scripture that has deep meaning for me,
a lyric from a worship song to encourage
others, or a call for prayer requests. Even my
very private life is exposed as I reveal how
God is working in my life, giving me great peace
through trials and hard times. It was my utmost
hope that the Lord would use my page to speak
to others in their pain and struggles, and to let
them know of God’s love. Sometimes, it’s a lonely
road. With the exception of a few friends who
are like-minded, and my family who are stuck with
me, I thought my page was largely unvisited. Often
I have people ask me “why do you talk so
much about God? It’s a little much, don’t you think?”

However, recently I have begun to get more and more emails. Emails from people I never would have expected, asking me how they can also know Jesus like I do. People are hungry for true peace, love and security in this volatile world. Only Jesus provides this in true measure. The Truth of His Word, through my testimony, is reaching and changing lives, as He said it would. I am so privileged and humbled to have even my small part in this eternal play.

Lord, I pray You will use me to impart knowledge and revelation, not my words but Yours.

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Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.  Abraham gave the name Isaac (which means “he laughs”) to the son Sarah bore him.  When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him.  Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”

God never reneges on a promise.

Psalm 146:3-6 Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.  Blessed are those whose hope is in the Lord their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— He remains faithful forever.

My life, recently, has showcased a series of people going back on their promises to me. The world is full of such situations; broken marriages, adultery, abandoned children, business deals gone wrong. Sometimes a strong soul will stand up and try not to be cynical about human relationship, but the reality is that man will disappoint us. God even tells us to guard our hearts, to be wise in all things, to not take a step without Godly counsel.  This world is a minefield for sure.

The challenge for a believer is to overcome cynicism born of this world. It simply does not apply to an eternal, loving God. To the contrary of all we have learned on Earth, God will not fail us, ever, regardless of what our circumstance looks like. In the above passage, Sarah finds this out. In her old age, and Abraham’s, they have indeed been blessed with a son. Although she laughed with scorn in our last passage, she now laughs with joy at  the fulfillment of God’s Word to her. The most poignant part of this story, however, is this – Sarah says “everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”

Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. I have been studying the social media phenomenon. They are finding that people are far more likely to believe a product review from a peer, then from advertising. Makes sense, right? This concept is hardly new, though, as the bible taught it thousands of years ago. People come to belief when they hear the word of Christ, when someone at their peer level tells them of their experiences and points them to the Word of God. Sarah knew this, and knew that when she told her story – gave her testimony – that others would believe and rejoice in the love and faithfulness of God.

Exodus 7:14 “And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua. Joshua was destined to take over leadership of the nation of Israel when Moses died. God tells Moses to write down his experiences, and to “rehearse them” in Joshua’s ears. In other words, tell your story of My faithfulness, My miracles, My transformational power! Tell Joshua what I have done, and tell him over and over until he knows who I am and what I can do, because he has a big job ahead of him. Moses had a testimony of his relationship with God, and it was necessary for Joshua to hear it before he could be properly prepared to fulfill his own destiny.  God calls us to “pray without ceasing”, but also to speak of Him without ceasing. Deuteronomy 6:6-7  “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

Once we know Jesus, it is our calling to tell others about Him. In some of His very last words on Earth, He said ” Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:17. Why? Because the freedom and salvation that Jesus came to give is the remedy for everything bad in this world! It is the answer to pain, suffering, loneliness, disillusionment and emptiness. Those seeking fulfillment through career, relationships, status, accomplishment, alcohol, sex, self-help seminars – will not find it. Only Jesus can truly heal with His unfathomable love – and once you know that, you have to tell the world!

Mark 5:19-20 Jesus said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.” 

As believers, He really doesn’t give us an option not to speak. We are to speak even if we do not know what to say; Luke 12:11-12 “do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

We are to speak if we are rejected for doing so; Galatians 1:10 “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ”

We are to speak against evil and injustice; Revelation 12:19 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death”

John 9:25 “He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see” . I would like to make something perfectly clear. Although I speak of my experience, and of what Jesus has done for me…my voice, my words, my faith are not able to save anyone. At its best, my testimony should point other people to the Lord Jesus. He takes care of the rest as only He can. He promises that His Word shall not return void, that it is His Will that not one be lost, and that those who call on His name will be saved.

I am simply the advertisement for the greatest deal on earth – trading your sin for His grace, trading your pain for His peace, trading eternity without God for eternity in His care.  It is His promise, and He will never renege.

Today, Realize: It is beyond me why God would have chosen to use such fallible vessels as ourselves to spread His Word, but He did. He does not “need” us, as He ultimately draws all men to Himself. It is not our power of persuasion, but the Spirit’s – but He does tell us that our testimony is an important part of the process – unbelievable!  If the Lord has transformed your life, He expects you to tell others about it. This is for their more abundant life here, but also for the salvation of their souls. Given the gravity of the situation, we cannot worry about how we are perceived.  It is not always easy, we will not always be well received.

However, there may be a “Joshua” coming up behind you who needs to hear your story. You never know just whose ears the Word of God will fall on, and by His Spirit their lives, both here and into eternity, will be forever changed. For me, the very thought of hearing the words “Well done, good and faithful servant” from the lips of my precious Jesus is enough to spur me onward.

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses.





Laughing – Genesis 18:10-15

30 06 2012

Only the serious know how to truly laugh

Regina’s Note: I had my 46th birthday
this week. Birthdays do not bother me in
the traditional sense, that is I do not
fear getting older. But I cannot deny the
glaring fact that with each passing year,
I have had to say “one more year gone,
and nothing has changed”. Oh, it’s not for
lack of trying. I know all the principles
about motivation and going for your goals.
I have worked hard, been creative, been the nicest girl I could be. I have many moments of great joy, don’t get me wrong. But the big deliverance, the big breakthrough not only eludes me, I am beginning to think it is mocking me.

Those who walk with the Lord have great promises; both from His Word, and those He has placed deep in our hearts. We know what He promises, but as years drag on, it is easy to begin to get weary.  Tonight, as I sit on my bed and contemplate His promises, I am trying my best not to laugh.

Lord, I pray You will use me to impart knowledge and revelation, not my words but Yours.

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Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.” But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”

God has promised Abraham and Sarah a son, and through him descendants as numerous as the grains of sand. It is a grandiose promise from an unlimited God. But as years wore on and the promise looked to be unfulfilled, Sarah’s doubt grew into full blown disbelief.

Living in her old body, long past the age of childbearing, she knew that there was no way. Perhaps God had forgotten, perhaps, even, they had misunderstood Him. She became so convinced that when He announced it was time and the promise was imminent, she did what many of us would do. She laughed. I am thinking this was no joyful laugh, either, but one of sarcasm and pain. “yeah, right, God. Perhaps You haven’t noticed my current situation!”

Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? The promises of God are powerful and true. He cannot lie, and therefore we are to stand on His promises no matter what the circumstances around us look like.  The God of the universe has full capability to make every word He has spoken come to pass. Isaiah 55:11 So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

So if God’s Word is true, and we believe that; and His Word says that His promises WILL be accomplished – why do we struggle so much with our day to day trials?

Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and our strength, an ever present help in trouble.”  It seems to me that one  reason we have such trouble with God’s faithfulness is because we think He promises that He will give us what we ask or expect. When our outcome doesn’t meet our expectation, we think God is at fault.

But most often in the Bible, His promise is not of an outcome, but of His all-encompassing presence.

Philippians 4:6-7  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The above scripture has really been ministering to me this week. Out of a job, and feeling very alone in the natural world, God actually tells me that it is all right for me to go to Him and tell Him what I want, from my heart, no matter how gut-wrenching. But notice what He promises; not that our prayers will be answered exactly as we prayed them, as we tend to think. No, He promises peace, and rest, and joy. Matthew 11:28 Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest. 

These are the promises that Jesus makes to everyone.

Peace to those who seek Him.

Wisdom to those who ask for it.

Strength to those who turn to Him.

Salvation to those who believe in Him.

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But then there are the personal promises. The promises like God gave Sarah and Abraham. The promises that He whispers deep into your soul and confirms out of the mouths of others. Promises of His destiny for you, and for Your work for Him.

God’s promises will not look like many think. He doesn’t promise a beautiful home or late model car. Contrary to what many are preaching these days, He doesn’t even promise financial prosperity. God’s personal promises to His people often DO encompass those things, but they will always have a Kingdom purpose.  Notice God’s words to Abraham in Genesis 12:2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others

Although the promise of a son was in fact a great answer to prayer for a couple who desperately wanted children, it was through the line of Abraham that Jesus would eventually be born and all people would be blessed. God’s blessings on His people are never meant to be held and hidden away. They are given to us to be shared. 2 Corinthians 9:8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

It was a personal answer to prayer, aligned with Kingdom destiny.

2 Corinthians 5:7 We live by faith, not by sight. It is so easy to look at your circumstance and think that God has forgotten His promise. But to think that your situation is too far gone, and God is not working in it, is nothing but human arrogance. In order to truly walk by faith, you have to understand how God generally fulfills promises. He strips away every earthly means of that promise being fulfilled, so that He alone will get the glory when it happens! As humans we often receive a miracle from God, but dismiss it as a coincidence, or luck; or worse yet, we give ourselves credit for it.

But when God has something really big to bestow, He often removes any earthly chance of it happening – so when it does, it HAD to be God. You cannot deny it.

The Israelites were promised exodus from Egypt, but were trapped between the Red Sea and the approaching army. There was no escape.  But God.  Abraham and Sarah were promised a son, but had grown too old and were sterile. There was no way they could have a baby. But God.  Bartamaeus had been blind from birth. There was no way he would even regain eyesight. But God.

The nation of Israel was promised a Savior, a Messiah! Jesus was sent to earth to save all mankind, but then He was crucified. He was dead. But God! 

Today, Realize: Go ahead, laugh! But laugh not with sarcasm, but with the anticipation of a child awaiting a gift from Abba. Like the waters recede before a tsunami, Jesus often removes any hope of a solution in the natural, so that when He comes rushing in like a flood there is no doubt that He is God… When everything in your life seems to be going the opposite direction of God’s promise to you, get excited!  Do not be discouraged when all looks to be lost, that is exactly the circumstance into which  God works. Remember, God cannot lie. Romans 3:4 says  “Let God be true, and every man a liar”.  The scripture can also apply to our circumstances, which often lie to us. Jesus tells us to trust Him, and not rely on our own understanding. If God has made you a promise, rest in the peace of knowing He will bring it to pass. And express great joy and thanksgiving, because when it comes, it is going to be spectacular. (and don’t forget to thank Him, through Whom it all came to pass, for His glory).

Nehemiah 8:10  Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.






Fear: Genesis 15:1

17 06 2012

Regina’s Note: I stood under the roller coaster for several trips to the park, staring straight up at the sheer drop and thinking “there is no way I would EVER get on that thing.” The shrieks of fear – and joy – from the people plummeting down the nearly 90 degree incline were enough to keep me terrified of ever climbing on the metal
twisting monster.

That fear was easy to identify. But the fear we experience in our walk with God is sometimes not so clear. My faith in God and His provision is strong, I have seen miracles over and over. So when a friend pointed out this week that I was paralyzed with fear in my current situation, I rejected her analysis. When a second person related the same observation days later, it began to sting. When God Himself pointed it out, it could not be denied. Fear is pervasive in our world, and can be crippling. There is a reason we are told hundreds of times in the bible not to fear – it is a real emotion. But it is not meant to be one which paralyzes, not when we trust God. I did eventually climb onto that roller coaster, despite my fear.  And I found it was a great ride.

Lord, I pray You will use me to impart knowledge and revelation, not my words but Yours.

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1 After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield,  your very great reward.”

The above verse is so simple, yet reveals so much about our God. In this single statement, God tells Abram 1) not to fear 2) that God will protect him and 3) that God will reward him.

In the Bible, we see the word fear many times, but often it is in the context of “fear of the Lord” – reverence, and awe in the worship of God. Yet the fear we experience in our everyday lives  is often far different and more temporal. It is into these circumstances that the Lord often tells us not to be afraid. I always found it so remarkable that in Romans 8:15,  we are told “The Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  God Himself tells His children not to fear in the more common, everyday sense. “Do not be afraid, my child. Daddy is with you.”

Fear is caused by many circumstances in our lives, and not surprisingly, God is faithful to point them out to us, one by one. Contrary to God expecting us never to have fear, the overriding theme is that He knows we will, and so He is reminding us continually that He is with us, and we need not be afraid on any of these occasions.

Guilt and Shame :
Genesis 3:10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” We first see fear  manifested on the Earth when Adam and Eve sinned. This story reveals right from the beginning the origin of fear – separation from God brought on by disobedience and sin. Adam was not afraid or shameful before the sin, but he was after. When we are not walking in fellowship with the Lord, fear is present.  I think it important to point out that God, knowing the sin had taken place, was still seeking out Adam. Regardless of the guilt and shame we feel due to our sinfulness, God continues to pursue a relationship with us, and when that relationship is established, this type of fear is alleviated.

Lack of Provision
Matthew 6:25-26 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.Are you not much more valuable than they? In this day and age, being afraid of lack of provision is a huge issue. According to studies, the fear of not having enough money is the most prevalent daily fear in a family; and is at the root of despair, violence, addictions, divorces and suicides.  Jesus assures us that God knows our basic needs, and is looking out for us. Although often we do find ourselves is tight situations, He is clear that we should continually look to Him and not worry. Matthew 6:27  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Storms of Life:
Matthew 8:25-26 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”  He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
The promise of Jesus once we accept Him as Lord and Savior is that He will never leave us and is always with us. Therefore we can be assured that He is with us even through the most difficult storms of life, and He has the ability to calm even the greatest storm with just a word. Notice in the story that Jesus was in the boat before and after He calmed the storm. He wasn’t waiting in a safe place to swoop in at just the right time, He was there the whole time . Remember Jesus is in the boat with you, and remember His words “Why are you so afraid?”

Rejection and Abandonment: 
Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Fear manifests when we feel alone, threatened, or attacked by others. Jesus certainly understands such emotion, and assures us that no matter how alone we feel, He is right by our side.  While often in our lives we find ourselves fearfully staring down loneliness and pain, He reminds us that He has never, will never, and can never leave us.  This is especially true when we are doing His work and suffering rejection for it. 2 Timothy 4: But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you. And further, 1 Peter 3:14  “even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.”

Death of a Dream:
Mark 5:35-36 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader.“Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”  Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
Often we see what we think is the end of the road – the end of a relationship, a job, an opportunity, a dream . Although the tendency is to give up and mourn the loss, Jesus is clear that with Him, situations are often far different that they appear to us. Just as Jesus went on to resurrect the little girl, He can resurrect dead things in your life. He tells us clearly not to be afraid, but to simply believe in Him and in His care and concern for our lives. In this story, the girl had to die for the miracle of her renewed life to occur and for God to receive the glory. Remember that when you think that you are experiencing the end of something; often it had to die to bring a about God’s greater miracle and plan.

The final piece to the Genesis scripture is that God promises that He is Abram’s  reward. This is the explanation to those who suffer hunger, despair, loneliness, loss, or even death. The reward that the Lord offers for relationship with Him is ultimately not a an earthly one, but an eternal one. The reward is everlasting life in heaven with our God, who will forever provide for us and keep us safe. The word “reward ” in this verse actually means “wages”  – what we have earned by what we have done. If we walk with God, He is faithful to give us everlasting life. If we reject Him, we have a very different payday. Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Today, Realize: It is said that courage is not the absence of fear, but action despite fear.  Jesus doesn’t expect us to walk without fear, but He does expect us to trust in His Words and step out in faith. The more you walk in this type of courage, not based in your abilities but in His love, the more precedent you will have that He will not let you fall.  Like the little girl who died, fear can signal that something has gone wrong in your world – but is also a harbinger of God’s great glory and power if you trust in Him and hand over your fears.

Ultimately, the goal is to get to the place that you realize that the God of the universe, the One Who holds all things together in His hands  -and the One who asks us to call Him “Daddy” – promises that if we trust Him, we have nothing to fear.When fear strikes, get into His Word and learn what He promises. And fear not.

1 John 14 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in My love. 





Staking Claim – Genesis 13:5-9

5 06 2012

Regina’s Note: Under the pinata is a dangerous place for a 3 year old to be. When the colorful toy is whacked into submission and candy begins pouring out, the bigger kids often swarm the ground below, grabbing every piece they can. Slower, tinier fingers usually miss out on most of the bounty, resulting in tears, hurt feelings, and parents swooping in to try to make things equitable. That is why a particularly memorable birthday party stands out in my mind.

The “older kids”, 6-8 years in age, got together and made a decision to let the younger kids have at it when the pinata broke. Only after each toddler had more than their little hands could hold did the older kids descend like locusts to clean up the rest. Those kids were bigger, older, faster and far more capable of collecting more than their fair share. But in that moment, generosity and kindness prevailed; and the choicest pieces of candy were given to kids who would not  have obtained them without the willing yielding of their older siblings.

Lord, I pray You will use me to impart knowledge and revelation, not my words but Yours.

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5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great. 7 And quarreling arose between Abram’s herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time. 8 So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.

The Lord had blessed Abram, and by extension, his nephew Lot, exceedingly. They had so many flocks and herds and servants that the grazing land and water supply was insufficient. Clearly there was an issue, and the workers were having a hard time working it out. Each side was responsible for the well being of their master’s herds, and each side wanted to make sure they got their fair share.

Abram was the patriarch in this family, of that there was no argument. He was the one who had gotten the Word from the Lord, and had every right to partition off the land as he saw fit. After all, God had said that Canaan was the land given to “Abram and his descendants”. He had the position of power and influence, and could have made a unilateral decision regardless of Lot’s feelings.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Instead of pulling rank, Abram chose to reconcile the disagreement by deferring to Lot. The master, the leader, gave up his power to a lesser man in order to maintain the peace in his family.  Proverbs 20:3 It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.

It is a rare thing, in 21st century America, to consider such a move. Perhaps for a piece of cake, or even a few dollars. But this was a huge land inheritance, and Abram didn’t even insist on equity. He told Lot to choose what he wanted, and Abram would make do with the rest – even though ALL of it was rightfully Abram’s.

Abram understood a few concepts that are all but lost in modern Christianity.

Deuteronomy 10:14 To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. The earth and everything in it belongs to the Lord. Further, anything we have is given to us by His hand and as a gift. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Whether it is family, career, status, accomplishment, it is a gift from Him and not to your own acclaim.  Abram knew that the land was never his until God gave it, so he could easily give it up.   James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father. 

Acts 2:45-47  They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity, all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. Those gifts are given to us in the expectation of sharing and making sure that everyone is cared for and included, enjoying God’s fellowship. The concept of caring only for your own family, and stockpiling for your future needs before ever reaching out to another would be unheard of in the early church.  I have heard people saying Jesus was a communist for starting a church like this. To the contrary, Jesus often asked people to live like this, but never demanded it. Following Christ’s lead of unselfish living is decidedly a free will choice. Unfortunately, He also told a few that they would never see the Kingdom for not being able to part with their possessions  – not because their possessions were evil , but that they chose them over Him.. That is a huge price to pay for land and things. Luke 18:21-24 All these commands I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

1 Peter 5:6 God opposes the proud but favors the humble. Abram had rights to the land, not by some human edict but from God Himself. And yet he did not see fit to wave that right in Lot’s face, or use it for justification of his own desires. When we refuse to help a family in need because “We have done enough already” or “We might need those things someday”; when we do not help a homeless man because “He should get a job, like I had to”;  when we give all our old, stained clothes to the clothing drive so we can go buy new ones for ourselves…we are claiming our right to better things than other people, because we feel we deserve it.  Abram didn’t see it that way. He saw an opportunity to end a quarrel, to increase goodwill, and to bless his nephew. He saw a more wise way to end the quarrel, because his pride was not blinding him. Besides, Abram knew something else  – God had promised him a great destiny. That would come to pass with whatever land he possessed. Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

Luke 18:14 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. God is completely just. He does not expect us to act in obedience and not be rewarded for it. Through salvation and eternal life with Him, those who can renew their minds, casting off the lies and deceptions of a materialistic world and living humbly and generously are promised a reward of such magnitude it cannot be valued. It is like giving up a pebble to obtain a mine full of gemstones. But if you don’t believe you will receive the gemstones, you won’t be able to let go of the rock you are holding.

This doesn’t only apply to things. It means saying you are sorry, and forgiving, to end an argument…It means backing down off a fight for rights to a position or status even if you deserve it.  It means smiling and walking away instead of engaging someone who has offended you.

There are a myriad of ways to “give ground” in the spirit of peace.

Today, Realize:  As the saying goes, “it is not bad to have possessions, just don’t let them have you.”  Working hard and gaining reward is a positive goal, but Jesus calls us to then use those blessings to help others, not to store it up for ourselves. The great paradox of giving in God’s economy, is that when you give up something sacrificially, He promises to reward you Himself. It might not be money, it might not look like you expect. But God will always honor those who live unselfishly, and look out for the welfare of others. 2 Corinthians 9:8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.Whether giving possessions, or conceding emotional ground, the more generous person will always experience the greater blessing. Don’t allow pride, greed, or a sense of entitlement keep you from experiencing the true joy of a life of giving all you can to others, and the reward of an inheritance greater than you can even conceive.

Philippians 3:8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.





Altars, Genesis 12: 6-7

28 05 2012

bible study, devotionalRegina’s Note: There is a patch of floor in my home that I simply cannot walk past without remembering. It is the place where, in a moment of despair, I dropped to my knees and asked God to help me. It is the place He came and met me. My life has never been the same. When I walk by that area, sometimes I pray, but just as often I simply stop for a moment and thank Him for His grace and love. I never want to forget that I serve a God who listens, cares, and answers. That place, although just piece of laminate flooring, represents an eternal truth. If we call His name and ask for His presence, He is faithful to meet us there.

Lord, I pray You will use me to impart knowledge and revelation, not my words but Yours.

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6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem .At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land. ” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.

Abram and his entire family had been uprooted from their homeland. They arrived in the land of Canaan, and God says “this is it – this is the land I am giving you, you and your descendants.” I find it interesting that the next line is not “and Abram settled there”.  The Scripture record doesn’t say that Abram pitched a tent, erected an enclosure for the animals, dug a water well, or sat down to rest.

No, the first thing he did was build an altar.

The idea of building an altar is prevalent throughout scripture. Altars were built to show devotion, submission and obedience to God. They served as a place of sacrifice and atonement. In this verse, Abram builds an altar to thank God for fulfilling His promise. It was the very first thing he thought to do, because he recognized that God was the one who brought him to where he was.

Altars also often served as places of memorial, sacred places where the faithful would continue to meet with the Lord. Altars are a place of acknowledgment of God’s interaction in individual lives. Noah built an altar when he disembarked from the ark (Genesis 8:20). Joshua built an altar when God gave him a great military victory. (Joshua 8:30), and constructed a pile of memorial stones when God led the Israelites across the Jordan into the Promised Land. (Joshua 4:6-7)

The Bible is careful to point out that these men used uncut stones, not polished stones or fabricated materials. As we saw in Towers, this was to keep the emphasis on the worship and adoration of God, not on the  details of the human workmanship. The focus is always on God’s power and authority, not man’s endeavors. Matthew 24:1-2 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

In the same way, God knew that no altar built by man, no animal sacrifice, no rite or ritual would ever suffice to truly atone for mankind’s sin. No work of man could truly bring communion between God and humanity.  It is why Christ had to come to earth. The altar, the sacrifice, had to be of Him.  Hebrews 10:10 For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time. Jesus Christ was sacrificed on the altar of the cross. He became the perfect sacrifice. He laid down His life for ours, and changed the dynamic of our relationship with God. What was considered “sacrifice” to God was radically redefined. No longer was the blood of goats and bulls required to atone for sin, Jesus paid that debt once and for all.  However, God still expects sacrifice from His people; not for atonement but for worship, not sacrifices of animals but the sacrifice of selfish passions and desires. He wants us to recognize that it is not our own efforts that brought us to where we are – but instead it was His grace. Such grace deserves an altar of remembrance and praise.

Hebrews 13:15-16 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. After Christ’s ultimate sacrifice, the need for altars of stone was eradicated. No longer were bricks and mortar needed to house the presence of God. Instead, the Holy Spirit was sent to dwell in human temples – you and me. 1 Corinthians 6:19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? Because we are temples of the Holy Spirit, in essence the altar is now made of flesh, of humanity.

In our humanity, God asks us if we are willing to lay down on the altar of sacrifice those things that are important to us  – money, status, lust, rebellion, pride – in order to follow Jesus in a truly spiritual way, the way His Word commands. We have to die to self and sacrifice the way we were, in exchange for who He is.

Romans 1:21 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Now that we are human tabernacles of living sacrifice to the Lord, we also become the place of submission, obedience and worship. Wherever we go, we should be cognizant that we literally embody these characteristics.

Submission is no longer through a series of laws carried out in the Temple, but in willingly laying down our old ways to walk with Jesus as the temple.

Obedience is no longer presenting sacrifices and performing rituals, but sacrificing our lives and wills to Jesus.

Worship is no longer bowing to an altar made of stone, but living knowing that true worship is in our speech, thoughts and actions, as well as treatment of others.

In the Old Testament, we learn that God is not pleased with a hollow act, bringing Him substandard sacrifice. Malachi 1:8  When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals,  is that not wrong? “says the Lord Almighty.

In the same way, The Lord does not expect half-hearted efforts from us.  In a world where half-hearted worship is considered normal…where we worship God on Sunday and ignore His Word on Monday, God challenges us to offer pure sacrifice to Him. The Lord will not be mocked. He asks for us to give our best to Him. As a matter of fact, Jesus told us not to even approach an earthly altar with gift of worship to God, until your spiritual altar is cleansed from anything not of the Lord. Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. We are further told that we cannot offer God a pure gift of worship if we do not love Him; and we do not love Him if our spiritual altar has been defiled by judgment, anger or arrogance. John 4:20 If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?

The Lord required uncut stones for His temple and altars, so the emphasis remained on Him. He also uses us, imperfect as we are, as the dwelling place for His Spirit, so that all the glory for all we accomplish as His followers goes to Him . 2 Corinthians 4:7 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves

Today, Realize: A walk with the Lord still requires us to build altars in our lives, places to recognize God, to thank Him, praise Him and worship Him. The altars are no longer stone, but altars of obedience, faith and worship. When we construct these altars in our lives, made not of natural elements but supernatural ones, we have an acceptable place to connect and commune with God. When we sacrifice anger , bitterness, ambition, judgment, self-righteousness, materialism and sin on the altar of the Holy Spirit, we present to Him the living sacrifice He has required of His church, and the aroma is sweet to the Lord. The sacrifice of Christ demands nothing less.

Remember, putting the sacrifice on the altar is the hard part. Once it is dead, it is dead. You no longer have to be a slave to sin, and to those characteristics of sin that used to define you. Christ was the final atoning sacrifice for us. All that is left for you to do is be willing to lay your sin on the altar. To lay down the old man, and to become a living sacrifice for your Savior.

1 Peter 2:5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.