Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Have you ever hard the statement “I’m between a rock and a hard place”. I did a little search to see what it really meant and found that it means; the dilemma of being in a position where one is faced with two equally unwelcome options appears to lie deep in the human psyche. Language always reflects people’s preoccupations and there are several phrases that express this predicament. The first of these quite literally conveys the uncomfortable nature of the choice between two choices you would rather not make. Other phrases that compare two less than desirable alternatives are ‘the lesser of two evils’, and ‘between the devil and the deep blue sea. I heard a song written by Mick Jagger, The fields of Eden are full of trash and if we beg and we borrow and steal we’ll never get it back. People are hungry, they crowd around and the city gets bigger as the country comes begging to town. We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. I dare say that most of us find at least one situation like that every day we live, confusion sets in and we don’t know which way to turn.

If you look in the Bible you see people faced with hard choices, Moses must have thought, “Should I remain a Prince in line for the throne of Pharaoh, or go lead my Hebrew people?” Abraham had to choose to stay in his home with all his possessions or journey to a far away land he didn’t know because he heard a call from God. Ruth was a Moabite that sojourned to a foreign land after the death of her husband with her mother-in-law and stayed, probably under the stares and gossip of the local women at the well. Esther took her life in her hands to go into the King and plead for her people when she could have chosen to remain in her chambers with beautiful clothes, plenty of food and servants to wait on her. There were other choices where right and wrong was clearly marked but a decision had to be made, Peter made the choice to deny Jesus to His face, because he feared for his life, and Judas who chose thirty pieces of silver in exchange for the life of Jesus and we know how that ended, Judas’ guilt made him hang himself. But think of the choice that Jesus had to make while kneeling at the rock in the Garden of Gethsemane. Matthew 26:39-42 He fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” He had to make the choice of suffering a torturous death rather than returning to His life in Glory with His Father or saving our souls for all eternity.

Now there is a choice that this country is making. Seems to me that the press is making our choices for us, we need to know for sure what the platform of both parties are before you go to the polls! I didn’t start out tonight to make a political statement, it had more to do with things I am having to decide in my own life, however I am not hiding from the fact that there is a hard choice to be made and someone has to stand up!

In your personal life are your choices hard or easy? My advice is make no choices without much prayer!

 

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Talk to the Hand!

There is an expression I’m sure you’ve heard, I searched to find its origin and found it in Wikipedia: ”Talk to the hand” (or “tell it to the hand”) is an English Language slang phrase associated with the 1990s. It originated as a contemptuous way of saying one doesn’t want to hear what the person who is speaking is saying. It is often elongated to a phrase such as “Talk to the hand, because the ears ain’t listening”. A variant is “talk to the hand because the face don’t understand!”  The article goes on to say, “The phrase is often considered to be sarcastic or obnoxious.” That saying took on a very personal meaning to me recently and I did find the user way too pushy and obnoxious for me!

I don’t like confrontation and will stay away from it that is until I feel pushed in a corner and then you might see a little fire in my eyes. I was in the office of a professional, he addressed the issue for which I had gone very briefly and then said, “I know all about that, now let’s talk about something more important” at which time he set in to discuss the faults with Christianity as opposed to the wonderful Muslim faith.  I kept a smile on my face as I reminded him of all the blood shed that was going on the very name of that religion, all the Christians who are being slaughtered right now because of their faith. I told him of how my father’s ancestors were slain because they wouldn’t give up the faith that Jesus is the Son of God and claim their own prophet. It was when I said the name of Jesus the hand first went up, long, tapered fingers shaking a stop signal. He persisted in trying to indoctrinate me and refused to listen to what I was saying. I could see in his eyes that he is a confused soul, then I spoke, “Wait a minute, let me speak” hand lowered momentarily, I continued talking before he had a chance to stop me again, “If Jesus appeared to you personally, would you accept Him?” Without hesitation he said, “No, I would not!” At this point I wondered why I was still sitting there; was he hoping to push my buttons until I got angry and proved my Christianity had failed? I told him that it was obvious he did not want to hear me by holding up his hand every time Jesus was mentioned and he said it was purely coincidence, I found that was almost too laughable to hear. Whatever happens to him now he had the chance to meet Jesus as I presented Him and he chose to reject any idea of Him.

Was that wasted time? I think not, because any time you have the opportunity to witness you must use it with the love that Jesus would show to a sinner. What made it so easy to speak up about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost? It is because I know them personally. I would love to have told him about a good friend of mine, who was a devout Muslim who somehow reached God’s heart and Jesus appeared to her in a vision and her life forever changed, she is a most devout worshipper of Jesus as the Son of God and can witness to anyone because she knows Him personally, as do I.

As I stood to leave finally freeing myself from his frenzied attempts to convince me, he said, “How often have you been coming?” “Every three months,” I answered, he thought a moment and said “Please come back in one month, no longer than one month,” with that he walked into another exam room and I wondered if he wanted me to come back sooner because he wanted to try again or if somehow his heart was touched and he might want to hear more? However, I will never go back!

If you want to talk against my Jesus I will hold my hand up and say to you “Talk to the hand, my face isn’t listening!”

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We are all different, aren’t we?

Point one: No two people are alike not really.

I am thinking of two songs right now, one is by Dave Mason, and says, “there ain’t no good guy, there ain’t no bad guy, there’s only you and me and we just disagree”, speaking of friends that have been separated for a while and find that they no longer agree on many things, they are good friends becoming “former friends.” The other song by Joni Mitchell says, “But now old friends are acting strange, they shake their heads, they say I’ve changed. Something’s lost but something’s gained in living every day. I’ve looked at life from both sides now, from win and lose, and still somehow it’s life’s illusions I recall. I really don’t know life at all.”

Both of these songs find friends at odds, looking at the same things in a different way. One agrees to disagree and the other is just disillusioned with life, period. I know both of those emotions up close and personal. Sometimes people take a different path, one that you find you cannot or will not walk down, so you go your separate ways. It doesn’t take away from the good times you used to have, it just means there are no more good times to be had, with them.

A lot of things you can just let go, like whether you prefer Chinese or Mexican food for take-out, but things that make a difference in your life or the way you live it cannot be compromised. One thing I hate is to be around someone who takes for granted that I agree with their stance on some things I may consider outrageous without ever really talking to me about it. It makes me think of some of those “fighting” talk shows where someone addresses the audience, which is booing them, with “You don’t know me!”

The man who wrote the greater part of the New Testament, Paul, and Peter, the disciple that recognized Jesus as the Son of God, had a major disagreement concerning Kosher vs. non-Kosher! Paul had an argument with Barnabas over young John Mark, who got homesick! Yes, these “holy” men had major conflicts, we won’t even talk about the one concerning circumcision!

Point two: You can disagree on minor things and still have communion.

Denominational differences? Stupid! What difference does it make to your eternal salvation what you wear or how you sing? Will it damn your soul to hell? No! What does matter?

Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

I can love my family the way I love myself, it gets a little harder with some others, so I look to God for strength! Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.      As long as you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, that He died on a cross for our sins, was buried and raised again in three days to live eternally with Father God and that one day He will return in the clouds, as He went away, to take us home with Him, and that He is the only door by which we can reach God then “there ain’t no good guys, there ain’t no bad guys, there’s only you and me and we just disagree!”

I’m looking at life from both sides now; I have been young and now I am, well, a little older!

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Love is not Lust

We need to guard our spiritual life as jealously as we guard our loved ones. When we let things slip in that takes our attention away from serving God with our whole heart guess what, HE gets jealous of us! Proof is found in ten different places in the Bible, I will give you two examples: Exodus 34:14 “Don’t worship any other god. GOD—his name is The-Jealous-One—is a jealous God. Be careful that you don’t make a covenant with the people who live in the land and take up with their sex-and-religion life, join them in meals at their altars, marry your sons to their women, women who take up with any convenient god or goddess and will get your sons to do the same thing.” Deuteronomy 4:24 “The Lord your God is a devouring fire; he is a jealous God.”

What about the people who are teaching that our One God Jehovah and our Savior Jesus Christ is only one of several ways to get to “Paradise”, Heaven! The same way that you are jealous over your partner or family, God is jealous over you! He loved you so much that He sent Jesus to be our personal savior.

1 John 3:1 “What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it–we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who He is or what He’s up to.”

He loves us and all we need do is to return that love to Him! Do not let anything stop us or divert our attention to other “ways”, and very important is we have to love each other, because God is love and if we are to be like Him, then we have to love each other whether we want to or not!

One last thought, Love is not Lust. You can lust after someone because their body is pleasing to your eyes and senses but the true description of love is found in,

1 Corinthians chapter 13

Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.

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Can I shine again?

IMG_0003The picture here is of me when I was 10 weeks old. I looked at it today and wondered if I had life to do all over again would everything turn out the same? The only way it could change would be if I could be re-born with the knowledge of all I have gone through so I could “edit” it all! I guess the closest we will get to have the chance to start over is to be re-born in our faith, in realizing that Jesus died so we could be made brand new! When I do too much heavy thinking songs start coming to me and an unlikely song was running through my mind. When I realized what I was humming turns out it was “A Groovy Kind of Love” by Phil Collins! The line that was stuck in my mind was “When I’m feeling blue all I have to do is take a look at you and then I’m not so blue”. Then the line “He restores my soul“, from Psalm 23 came right along with it. Odd.

We all have certain triggers that we know for sure will make us feel better, or will push you into the doldrums of depression. Funny that sometimes you actually choose to be depressed, you turn on that old song, you know the one, read an old letter or look longingly at a picture from the past. Choosing to be happy is not the easy path, but it is the one that leads you out of “the pit”. Recently, just for a few moments, I chose the former path and sure enough, within moments I had dissolved into tears, why do we do it to ourselves?

Reading the Psalms you can see the pattern the writer follows, from deep despair to giving God the “sacrifice of thanksgiving” because “God dwells in the praises of His people”. Psalm 23 finds him in a wonderful place, and verse three says: He restores my soul and leads me in paths of righteousness for His names sake.

Here are the definitions of “restore“: return to its original or usable and functioning condition; regenerate: return to life; get or give new life or energy; give or bring back; repair: restore by replacing a part or putting together what is torn or broken; bring back into original existence, use, function, or position.  When you consider the meaning of that word, you can see that to have your soul restored is a big deal! You can start all over again; erase the bad, depressing moments, become brand new! When you look in the face of Jesus, the words to my mindless song makes even more sense…”When I’m feeling blue, all I have to do is take a look at you, then I’m not so blue.” Or another you might identify with more: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” 

When a silver candlestick is tarnished it becomes black and you can’t see the beautiful shine, but you can take some silver polish and rub it back to its original shine and glory. It may be that you are just a little tarnished and need to be polished, or if you are bent, you might have to face the fire of the silver smith! Malachi 3:3(a) He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. This says to me that He will not send me to the fire alone, but will sit there and work with me while I am in the fire, being refined, purified and made an honorable vessel once again.

If you want to start over and get rid of your old baggage, offer yourself to Him as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), and quit trying to crawl off the altar, face the fire and be restored to your former glory!

I will never be that little baby again so what should I do? Offer the sacrifice of praise, and allow myself to be restored to the joy of my salvation, then just like the candlestick after it is has been polished, I will Shine!

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What do you need?

Hope is the state which promotes the belief in a good outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life. Despair is often regarded as the opposite of hope. Hope is the “feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best” or the act of “look[ing] forward to something with desire and reasonable confidence” or “feel[ing] that something desired may happen”. Other definitions are “to cherish a desire with anticipation”; “to desire with expectation of obtainment”; or “to expect with confidence”.

Proverbs 13:12 “Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around.” Proverbs 17:22 “A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.” When God created man he created him to be His own companion, to walk and talk with Him. He gave man dominion over every living thing and He made us to enjoy life, the earth, to be happy, joyous and live life to the fullest. It is the fault of man that the air of this earth became Satan’s property to do with as he would and because of that we cope with disease, pollution of land and sea, danger on every hand and most of all, unhappiness. In speaking to a person last night, hearing all the problems of a spouse that was hung up on alcohol, pornography and unfaithfulness to their vows, I felt heartsick, I prayed with her, she said she was hopeless. I feel sad for all the people who are crying out for help.

As the Proverb says, when we are constantly disappointed and upset, we open the gates that protect our health so that along with being unhappy, we become sick. Question, Is anyone, or any material thing worth giving up your hope, your health and your life for? I say NO!   1 Corinthians 15:19 “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” Don’t worry about tomorrow, just live for today, start following Jesus, each step of the way. Jeremiah 29:11 “I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out-plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”

As we look at what the future might hold for us we can feel a full range of emotion from joy to despair and everything in between even when there are no big problems in our lives, but for those who are suffering from any loss, whether it is from the death of a loved one, divorce, loss of job, all the things that can bring us further down, then it is even worse. When I start feeling down and depressed I have to remember that God takes care of me and I should have no complaints, my children are healthy and happy so what else do I need? I need what we all need and that is hope, I have hope!

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Do I measure up?

In listening to different people talk about themselves, women and men alike, it seems that no one is really happy with the way they are. This includes everything from the way they look to how they conduct their business, and the problem is that even if you are happy with yourself there are those critics around you that are always trying to change you into the “person you need to be.”  There are those of us who feel that we are doing the best we can and still come up a little short of perfect. Matthew 5:48 “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  We read that and, frankly, it can scare you just a little, “how can I be perfect?” V 43-48 You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. This is HOW you can be this perfect, or at least a work in progress! Here’s the hard part, 1Corinthians 13:3 “and though I give all my goods to feed the poor and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing (or just doesn’t matter).”  If it has been a while since you read that chapter, do yourself and favor, read it and it will help you see that the only person you have to please is God and all we have to do is love people, even if they don’t love us back, this even includes the person who thinks you “ought to“: lose weight, wear less make up, go to the places they want you to go, always do exactly what they want you to do, shun the same people that they don’t like, gossip about those “less than” or anything from there to in-between and on and on.

Take a look at yourself in the mirror and know that this is the body that you have, the face and eyes and hair that only you have and the only one that can control the things you are looking at, in the flesh, is YOU! To let yourself feel inferior to anyone is a sin not only against yourself but also against the God that made you exactly who you are. God asks the question in Isaiah 45:11, “Who do you think you are to question how I made you?” That is the first step, then look in the Bible, which is the mirror of the Word of God, to see what we look like to Him. From what I know, we have to obey His commandments or we cannot say that we love Him, and His first and greatest commandment is that we love one another. I want to be right in God’s eyes, not man’s! When it comes down to it, no one can tell you what is right or wrong for you, you have to find out what God has to say about it for yourself. When you love Him you will keep His commandments and you will become that “perfect person” that everyone around you seems to think you should be, being good and not “sinning” is the easy part for me, it’s the “love thing” that gets me, so excuse me while I go work on myself, with the help of the Holy Spirit, Who already knows that I am a work in progress! (Has anyone seen my mirror?)

 

 

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Is it really a Pot of Gold?

I heard a beautiful rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow and it started a thought process. When we are young, Over the Rainbow sounds like the place where the pot of gold is, the place where our best dreams and wishes come true, it is the hope of where we will be at a certain time of life.

What is that certain time?  It’s different for everyone, but we all have those dreams.

What is the problem with looking at the rainbow? We never see the end of it or the pot of gold because it simply doesn’t exist. What did you imagine was at the end of your own rainbow? Was it riches? Is your end-of-the-rainbow a happy marriage with 2.5 children, a home and a soccer-mom van, or for you guys a little sports convertible or Harley? Is it a brilliant career? For some it would just be to have a full stomach at night instead of going to bed hungry, or the ability to eat food without their body rejecting it, or being able to stand and walk on their own without the assistance of anyone’s helping arm.

Genesis 9:16-17 “And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.”

We look at the rainbow after a rain and we remember that God set it as a sign of His faithfulness to us, His covenant to care for us. It is as much to you and me as it was to Noah “back in the day”! Noah found “grace in the eyes of the Lord”, that is why he and his family were spared from the destruction of the flood. What is Grace? It is the “unmerited favor of God” Romans 11:6 “And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is—free and undeserved.”

God has given us life and salvation freely, a part of His grace and mercy towards us!

If you could reach up into the sky to touch a rainbow, you would find it is nothing, we see it, and there are various colors, yet it isn’t tangible to the touch. Kind of reminds me of Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

We sing songs about it, admire its beauty, and talk about its pot of gold, yet it isn’t there except to our eyes. God’s promise to us is that He hears and answers our prayers, we believe even if we are not able to touch it.

Isaiah 65:24 “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”

What is at the end of your rainbow? For me it is to know with certainty that my family is safe and secure both in this life and in the life hereafter. Of course if things like ice cream could suddenly be eaten with out consequence of calories that would be nice!

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Now the day is over

If I have wounded any soul today, If I have caused one foot to go astray, If I have walked in my own willful way, dear Lord forgive. Forgive the sins I have confessed to Thee; Forgive the secret sins I do not see; O guide me, love me and my keeper be, Dear Lord, Amen.” (C Maude Battersby 1911) If I were choosing words to pray for this evening, I think this would be a good place to start. I remember a prayer my grandson prayed over my dad when he was so very sick, he said, “Dear God, take your baseball bat of power and just hammer the devil on the head with it to get out of my grandfather, hit the devil with a lightening bolt and make him leave, in Jesus name AMEN” This prayer was said VERY loudly, I think he thought the louder he prayer the more power it would have, so we got an ear full!

In Matthew 17 we read how Jesus took Peter, James and John, apart from the other disciples, to a high mountain. His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. Sunlight poured from his face. His clothes were filled with light. Then they realized that Moses and Elijah were also there in deep conversation with him. A light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and sounding from deep in the cloud a voice: “This is my Son, marked by my love, focus of my delight. Listen to him.” When the disciples heard it, they fell flat on their faces, scared to death. But Jesus came over and touched them. “Don’t be afraid.” When they opened their eyes and looked around all they saw was Jesus, only Jesus. Maybe it’s just me, but if I saw such a miracle in front of my own eyes, I think I could muster up a little faith, right? As soon as they left the mountain a man came out of the crowd and fell to his knees begging, “Master, have mercy on my son. He goes out of his mind and suffers terribly, falling into seizures. Frequently he is pitched into the fire, other times into the river. I brought him to your disciples, but they could do nothing for him.” Jesus said, “Bring the boy here.” He ordered the afflicting demon out—and it was out, gone. From that moment on the boy was well. Later when the disciples had Jesus off to themselves, they asked, “Why couldn’t we cast the demon out?” “Because you’re not yet taking God seriously,” said Jesus. “The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle.” I don’t want to criticize the Disciples, but after having seen the transfiguration they didn’t have enough faith to tackle a simple demon? Give me a break!

Acts 19 we read of seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. In our modern vernacular, the demon beat the hell out of them! Why? They were being copycats, didn’t know the Power personally! Have you got mountain-moving faith?

It was a wonderful day that started at 5:30 am and I am thankful to all the ladies that were at the meeting today and received me so graciously and now I am ready for sleep so I will say, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take, Amen!” I believe in miracles, because I believe in God!

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Now you see it,

Now you don’t! There is a TV show that my grandson loves to watch, it is “Magic’s Greatest Secrets Revealed”, the mystery is taken out of all the tricks that we see and amaze us! As I was working in the kitchen and keeping one eye on what he was watching I heard him say to his sister “There is nothing magic, it is all illusion!”

True, in that world it depends on slight of hand and how good the man performing it is. Deception and it’s synonyms are: deception, fraud, double-dealing, subterfuge, trickery mean the acts or practices of one who deliberately deceives. deception<magicians are masters of deception>. fraud always implies guilt and often criminality in act or practice <indicted for fraud>. double-dealing<a go-between suspected of double-dealing>. subterfuge suggests the adoption of a stratagem or the telling of a lie in order to escape guilt or to gain an end <obtained the papers by subterfuge>. trickery implies ingenious acts intended to dupe or cheat. We recognize the Magician, but what about Satan, the accuser (and deceiver) Rev. 12:10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. The deception continues today with people trying to convince us that there are other ways to God outside of Jesus! When you believe that, you are accepting a lie! Jesus warned us to be careful about being deceived in Matthew 24:23-24 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it.  For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

The last line says, “to deceive, if possible, the very elect” (or those who should know better!) If you believe you cannot be fooled, then you are deceived already! Jesus is the only way to God He loves you, cares for and heals you!

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