Faith or Doubt?

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Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You,
command me to come to You on the water.”
 
And He said, “Come!”
And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water
and came toward Jesus.
 
But seeing the wind, he became frightened,
and beginning to sink, he cried out,
“Lord, save me!”
 
Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand
and took hold of him, and said to him,
“You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
 
When they got into the boat, the wind stopped.

And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying,
“You are certainly God’s Son!”
—Matthew 14:28-33

 

 

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Beautiful Feet

Today I’d like to share with you one of my devotionals that was published in A Cup of Comfort Devotional: Daily Reminders of God’s Love and Grace.

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How beautiful on the mountains are the feet
of those who bring good news of peace and salvation,
the news that the God of Israel reigns.
—Isaiah 57:7

 Have you ever awaited the sound of familiar footsteps? You’re so used to their footfall that you know who they are by the sound of their walk.

That’s the way I feel about my husband. Rick suffered terrible injuries in an auto accident many years ago and still walks with what he calls a wobble. One of his feet strikes the ground harder than the other. The distinctive sound tells me he’s on his way down the hall, shopping aisle, or sidewalk and enables me to sense his presence minutes before his actual appearance.

How beautiful are his footsteps to me! His feet and legs had to learn how to walk again, but he persevered in his physical therapy and is walking proof that God performs miracles!

We’re never alone in our pain and frustration because God is always with us, ready to surround us with His comforting presence.

Rest in the comfort that God’s
plans are better than your own.

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A Cup of Comfort Devotional: Daily Reminders of God’s Love and Grace, by James S. Bell and Stephen R. Clark. Copyright © 2004 Abrams Media, an F+W Publications Company, Avon, MA. A Cup of Comfort is a trademark of F+W Publications, Inc.

 

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What is Unseen is Eternal

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Therefore we do not lose heart.
Though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

For our light and momentary troubles
are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen,
but on what is unseen,
since what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal. 

—2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 

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Faithfulness

Today I have another wonderful devotional by Patricia Knight to share with you. This one is from her book, Pure Joy.

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In my garden are many flowers. Oh, it is a beautiful sight, encompassing the whole back yard in the summertime. But, right now, in the deepest of winter cold, there is no evidence of any life under the deep snow and layers of protective mulch. But, I know the flowers, in their dormant stage, are there. I have faith that when warm weather arrives, the snow melts, and the mulch is removed, all of the glorious blooms of last year will return. I don’t understand the cycle. God certainly breathes life back into the seasonally dead flowers.

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“Faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

Though we have never seen God, we believe in Him because He has given us evidence of His presence. All around us we are surrounded with His creation. Modern science has yet to duplicate many of His sophisticated creations.

As Christians, we don’t assign amazing happenings in our lives to luck. There is no luck, but only God talking with us and walking with us.

Faith is blind. God has a perfect plan for our lives, but He only reveals the details a little at a time. I wonder how many of us could be trusted with the weight of knowing what will happen in our lives in the future? I am predicting, not many of us. That is why faith is so important. God knows what routes and curves our lives will take in the future, but saves us from the burden of knowing. What a marvelous God is He! Each day, He gives us a bit more knowledge, and builds upon it with every succeeding day.

In the Old Testament, there are many “if/then” agreements between God and His people. There was an action, which produced a reaction. “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commandments, I will send you rain in its season”— (Leviticus 26:3). There were conditions to most of God’s promises so that He could build a personal, responsive relationship with His people.

Since Jesus died on the cross to absolve our sins, God commands that we live by faith. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1,2).

By exercising our faith in God, we become faithful, or we make faith a reality in our lives.

We become dependent, obedient, and joyful in our daily walk with God. It is not easy to be faithful. Without God’s help, it is impossible. But, we are told, with God’s help, “all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). God is the standard against whom we measure all our thoughts, words and actions. We learn faithfulness from God because God is first faithful to us. When God does what He promised, He is demonstrating His faithfulness to us. When we do what God requires of us, we are showing faithfulness in return. Our relationship is on a personal basis because the sacrifice of Jesus bridged the gap between sinful man and His Creator. If we accept Jesus into our lives to be our Savior and Lord, He only asks for our faithfulness. No other conditions are attached.

As if God weren’t faithful enough Himself, He gives us human examples to demonstrate how faithfulness works among our peers. Think about the faithfulness of Abraham. I still don’t understand how Abraham could even come close to offering Isaac upon the altar. But, he was faithful. He trusted God that He would show a love and mercy greater than Abraham’s would right at that moment. And, God didn’t disappoint him. You know the story (Genesis 22). It rings in our ears of a living example of what a man can do when energized with the power of God.

DanielLionsDen--AMPOr, how about the odds that Daniel faced? In spite of the new law restricting prayer, one really designed to trip up Daniel, he remained faithful to his God, and prayed as he always had. As a result, Daniel was thrown to the lions for his faithfulness. The hungry lions were powerless against his God. Still, he trusted. He remained faithful to God and witnessed to His glory among a savage people. And, God made him a great man.

To be abandoned by his brothers, sold as a slave, graduated to serve the king, and entrusted with a kingdom, only to be falsely maligned and thrown into prison, Joseph remained faithful. God, who had a plan for Joseph’s life, never forsook him. In the end, God rewarded Joseph’s faithfulness.

Do we have any more temptation today than those men of old did? I think not. The temptations were different, but there are no fewer of them. Everyday, we are bombarded with alluring come-ons. We are told to be faithful to our God, and He has promised to give us the power to resist temptation so that “we can flee the devil” (James 4:7).

One of my favorite Bible characters is Job. If anyone endured horrific losses, it was he. I am wondering if I could ever summon Job’s amount of strength? He gives me a challenging example. God gives me the strength. Pain, death, sorrows all plagued Job for no apparent reason. Reading of his triumph over all of it is an inspiration to me. Job remained faithful. I am commanded to do the same. Job was rewarded for his steadfastness when God returned all his losses, plus more worldly riches than he had before.

I know someday I will live in a heavenly home with streets of gold and fertile fields and prolific fragrant flowers. I will be in the very presence of God Himself, if I remain faithful. A pastor friend of mine frequently uses a haunting phrase: “Few Christians finish well.” I don’t want to be one of the casualties. I want to be faithful to the end. “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). May God give you the strength to remain faithful, no matter what the temptation.

“O Lord God Almighty, who is like you. You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you” (Psalm 89:8). No longer does law bind us, but we live by faith. Oh, that someday God will say to me as He did to the servants in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:23), “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master’s happiness!”

Wow! To hear those words at the end of my days is a wish and a dream. May those words of Jesus also spur you on to a greater faith, with a closer daily walk with Him.

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PureJoyThank you again, dear Pat, for allowing me to share your heart here!

 

 

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Christ Jesus Our Compass

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All my theology is reduced to this narrow compass—
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 
—Archibald Alexander

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My Hope: A New Message from Billy Graham

In the new short film, “Heaven,” Billy Graham talks about life and eternity. This is an excellent video by Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Please share this important message with as many people as possible.

Beloved, the reason for my hope in spite of all the health issues and other problems in my life is because of my faith and tust in my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, who took the punishment for my sins. This is THE most important decision anyone will ever make in their lives!

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.
The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;

and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
—John 11:25-26

If you have ANY questions after viewing this video, please go here to read more about how you can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and live with Him forever in heaven.

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Grounded in Reason . . . The Four Factors of Faith [GraceThruFaith.com repost]

Photo credit: GraceThruFaith.com

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree,
‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.

—Luke 17:6

Abraham had waited 20 years for the son God had promised him. He and Sarah even had a son with the help of a surrogate mother, but the Lord had told him Ishmael was not the son He had promised.  Finally Isaac was born, the one through whom God would bless all mankind (Genesis 21:12).  But some years later, before any of these blessings came to pass, God directed Abraham to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering. Though heart broken, Abraham took Isaac to the place the Lord had picked out, built an altar there and placed his son upon it (Genesis 22:1-10).

Read the rest here.

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Greater is He

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Beloved, do not believe every spirit,
but test the spirits to see whether they are from God,
because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

By this you know the Spirit of God:
every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;
and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God;
this is the spirit of the antichrist,
of which you have heard that it is coming,
and now it is already in the world.

You are from God, little children,
and have overcome them;
because greater is He who is in you
than he who is in the world.

They are from the world;
therefore they speak as from the world,
and the world listens to them.

We are from God;
he who knows God listens to us;
he who is not from God does not listen to us.
By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. 

—1 John 4:1-6

 

Lately I have been enjoying “Greater,” a song by Mercy Me. The words have penetrated my mind and heart and I find myself singing this at all times of the day. In this dark and ever-changing world, it is good to be reminded of how much God loves and cares for us and wants us to know Jesus Christ personally as our Savior and Lord.

 

If for any reason you cannot view this video, please click here to see the lyrics.

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Beloved, if you have never invited Jesus Christ into your heart as your Savior and Lord, please read What Must I Do To Be Saved? I will gladly answer any questions you may have about this. Simply email me at faithlhj777 at gmail dot com.

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How Long O LORD {Part 3}

Published first in TRC Magazine on October 31, 2014:

Habakkuk Devotional Series – Part 3

If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed.
If you look at God you’ll be at rest.

—Corrie ten Boom

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Habakkuk’s Prayer

A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.

LORD, I have heard the report about You and I fear.
O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years,
in the midst of the years make it known;
in wrath remember mercy.

—Habakkuk 3:1-2

In Chapter 2, Habakkuk listens as God replies to his concerns. At the end of that chapter, he acknowledges God’s power and pre-eminence:

But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.
—Habakkuk 2:20

Now he prays to God in the form of a Shigionoth, which was considered to be a highly emotional poetic form. Habakkuk has confronted God about the havoc he sees going on around him and asks Him why He is not doing anything about it. God has replied to his concerns, but Habakkuk is still wondering if God will really do anything about it.

Isn’t that just like us? We pray about a situation, telling God that we trust Him to take care of things as He deems right. And yet if we don’t see something happen quickly, don’t we find ourselves questioning God’s timing and motives?

Habakkuk goes on to tell God that he knows the way God has worked in the past when chastising rebellious peoples. But why is he begging God to remember mercy? It seems Habakkuk has forgotten the times God followed up the punishment by granting mercy to these same sinners. He still sees nothing but chaos, madness and war all around him and wonders if God will really do anything to stop these wicked Babylonians.

Finally, Habakkuk remembers that God is still in control and makes the choice to trust Him. Although he is still afraid, he pleads for God’s mercy.

Habakkuk’s Prophecy – Praise

God comes from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah.
His splendor covers the heavens, and the earth is full of His praise.

His radiance is like the sunlight; he has rays flashing from His hand,
and there is the hiding of His power.

Before Him goes pestilence, and plague comes after Him.

—Habakkuk 3:3-5

What a song of praise Habakkuk now sings! As was so often done in Old Testament times—and as we still do today—he is remembering and praising God’s past faithfulness, mercy and grace. Now he acknowledges a few of God’s awesome attributes:

  • His holiness (verse 3)
  • His splendor (verse 3)
  • His radiance (verse 4)

The Shekinah glory, which protected and led Israel from Egypt through the wilderness (cf. Ex 40:34-38), was the physical manifestation of His presence. Like the sun, He spread His radiance throughout the heavens and the earth. —John MacArthur

The term Shekinah as commonly used describes the visible manifestation of God’s presence and glory usually in the form of a cloud.1

  • His power (verse 4)

This description seems to refer to the unfathomable “inner recesses of the divine power.” How can a finite being, even the godly prophet Habakkuk, comprehend and stand in the presence of infinite power? But dear child of God, don’t forget that this very One is also YOUR Father, YOUR God, YOUR Protector! Be encouraged! —Richard Patterson

  • His righteous anger (verse 5)

He is powerful, as the earth shakes, the nations tremble, and the mountains crumble. If nature is brought low, fear and reverence by people is inevitable. “His ways are eternal”—nothing human, natural, or supernatural can stand against Him. —Today in the Word, Moody Bible Institute
Pronouncement

He stood and surveyed the earth; He looked and startled the nations.
Yes, the perpetual mountains were shattered, the ancient hills collapsed.
His ways are everlasting.

—Habakkuk 3:6

Habakkuk praises God’s magnificence and power. Who else can stand and survey the entire world at one time? God now gives him a vision of how He will demolish the evildoers by literally shaking up their world. The mountains and hills which have been in place since God put them there will be no more as they collapse and destroy the savage armies.

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But the multitude of your enemies shall become like fine dust,
and the multitude of the ruthless ones like the chaff
which blows away; and it shall happen instantly, suddenly.
—Isaiah 29:5

Habakkuk goes on to praise God as the everlasting One, who has always been, always will be, and whose ways are forever just and true.

Prediction

I saw the tents of Cushan under distress, the tent curtains of the land of Midian were trembling.

Did the LORD rage against the rivers, or was Your anger against the rivers, or was Your wrath against the sea, that You rode on Your horses, on Your chariots of salvation?

Your bow was made bare, the rods of chastisement were sworn. Selah. You cleaved the earth with rivers.
The mountains saw You and quaked; the downpour of waters swept by. The deep uttered forth its voice, it lifted high its hands.
Sun and moon stood in their places; they went away at the light of Your arrows, at the radiance of Your gleaming spear.
In indignation You marched through the earth; in anger You trampled the nations.
You went forth for the salvation of Your people, for the salvation of Your anointed. You struck the head of the house of the evil to lay him open from thigh to neck. Selah.
You pierced with his own spears the head of his throngs. They stormed in to scatter us; their exultation was like those who devour the oppressed in secret.
You trampled on the sea with Your horses, on the surge of many waters.
—Habakkuk 3:7-15

This section is unquestionably difficult to understand. Habakkuk starts by recalling past events, stating and praising the way God protected His people (Israel) time after time. He continues to confirm God’s awesome power over His creation as He overtakes and subdues the enemies of His people by demolishing the very things He placed on this earth.

He ends this portion by heaping praises on God for protecting and saving His chosen people.

But while He comes thus, executing wrath and judgment upon the ungodly, He comes in mercy. He goes forth for the salvation of His people, for the salvation of Thine anointed, that is, the elect nation (Israel) and the God-fearing, waiting remnant of the last days (see Ps. 105:15).
—A. C. Gaebelein

Premonition

I heard and my inward parts trembled, at the sound my lips quivered.
Decay enters my bones, and in my place I tremble.
Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress,
for the people to arise who will invade us.

—Habakkuk 3:16

Habakkuk is sharing his own personal reactions to all God has revealed to him of what is to come. Although he knows that God will take care of the terrible Chaldeans, he also realizes that it will not be pretty.

Warren Wiersbe explains Habakkuk’s current state of mind this way:

“If Habakkuk looked ahead, he saw a nation heading for destruction, and that frightened him. When he looked within, he saw himself trembling with fear, and when he looked around, he saw everything in the economy about to fall apart. But when he looked up by faith, he saw God, and all his fears vanished.”

Praise

Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord GOD is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.

For the choir director, on my stringed instruments.
—Habakkuk 3:17-19

In spite of Habakkuk’s fears, his faith enables him to express his absolute trust in God. He exults (rejoices) in His LORD; “the Lord GOD is my strength.” He quietly and patiently acknowledges that only God is his help and directs his every step no matter how steep the mountain of trials may be.

Summary of Habakkuk

Habakkuk is the only Old Testament book consisting entirely of a dialogue between God and a man. Other prophetic books consist mainly of a record of the prophets’ message (preaching) to the people.2

In the first chapter, we considered Habakkuk’s confusion in a world filled with chaos. He felt that God saw and knew about all the injustice and corruption but did not care enough about His people to do anything about it.

In Chapter 2, Habakkuk patiently waits as God replies to his questions by saying that He is using the Babylonians for His purposes and will punish them for their sins in His timing. God reminds Habakkuk that no matter what he sees or feels, He is still on His throne taking care of business as He sees fit. Ultimately Habakkuk submits to God’s authority and continues to praise Him.

Finally, in this last chapter, we see that Habakkuk has done a complete about-face. He now completely understands that God has not abandoned His own people. His faith is renewed and his why is replaced with great rejoicing over the strength, constancy and faithfulness of God.

The theme of Habakkuk is faith. He has been called the prophet of faith. This little book opens in gloom and closes in glory. It begins with a question mark and closes with an exclamation point.
—J. Vernon McGee

This short book of prophecy is a great comfort to me. When I am feeling low regarding events currently going on in the world or even about the personal issues that make my daily life a struggle, I have great peace in knowing that God is always available to hear my questions and concerns.

Habakkuk had a conversation with God about the wickedness going on in the world. He thought God was not paying attention to the evil Babylonians but God assured him that not only did He know all that was happening, but that He already had a plan in place to take care of the matter.

Our world today is full of violence, injustice and depravity. We are daily faced with news of war, pandemic illnesses and terrorist activity. Christian values are being laughed at, and we who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior are scoffed at and treated as fools.

Is this any different than in Habakkuk’s time?

Take heart! No matter how awful and frightening the world is today, God is still in control. He is not surprised by anything that is happening. He is fully aware of what is going on, is using every single thing for His purposes and His glory, and will continue to do so forever. 

Picture4David Jeremiah’s devotional, “Fear No Evil,” says that evil has always been around and always will be:

Perhaps the evil is worse now; we’re closer to the end than we’ve ever been before. But evil has been around since the Garden of Eden, and God’s plan for victory was designed before the world began. The Bible tells us to fear no evil. Because Christ triumphed, we will also overcome evil in the end. Trust Christ in this evil age and redeem the time, for the days are evil.

Make no mistake: sin will be punished. Satan and his minions will eventually be sealed in the Lake of Fire where they will spend eternity. Those of us who claim Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord will live in peace and harmony with Him in heaven forever. There we will bask in the precious, lavish and all-encompassing love of our Abba Father.

He who testifies to these things says,
“Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
—Revelation 22:20

1 http://www.preceptaustin.org/overview_glory_of_the_lord.htm#Shekinah
2 http://preceptaustin.org/habakkuk_commentaries.htm

 

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Mourning Yet Praising

Today’s post is taken from one of Today in the Word’s devotionals by Moody Bible Institute. I think this pairs well with my Prayer When Struggling With Depression post from last week. 

Is it really possible to be depressed or in mourning and still be praising God? This might sound like a paradox but it is indeed possible. We can mourn or be depressed about a situation and yet praise God because of who He is and how He is always with us. If we have trusted Him in the past we can trust Him again and again because we know that He will see us through this particular storm. And because He has been faithful to us before, we can count on that faithfulness every single day.

Beloved, please read on. I believe you will be blessed by this as much as I am.

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Mourning yet Praising

StreamWaterfall-www.todayintheword.org

Read Psalm 42 

My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you. 
—Psalm 42:6 

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Ten years ago, Chuck and Lynette’s daughter Joy died of complications from epilepsy. She was 28 years old. Joy was a vibrant Christian who had lived up to her name—everyone who knew her testified to her sweet spirit. “I miss her so much every day,” Lynette said. “We used to sing together in church, and I have so many special memories of singing and laughing together. When I sing those songs today, sometimes I cry instead of laugh, but I know that one day we’ll be reunited at the feet of Jesus.”

Lynette’s statement beautifully captures the paradoxical tension within biblical lament. We can feel loss and hope at the same time. We can sing hymns of praise even while we weep and mourn.Our reading for today, Psalm 42, concludes our focus this month on lament. Unlike some of the other lament psalms, this one does not move in a straight line from lament over circumstances to trust in God’s character. Throughout the psalm, the poet describes how desperation and faith wrestle with one another.

In the first four verses, the psalmist articulates his loneliness, torment, grief, and longing. The opening image of the deer panting for water vividly conveys the psalmist’s desperate yearning. Verses 5 and 6 serve as both a summary of the psalm and a hinge between its two sections. The psalmist indicates that he is both downcast and trusting God. He has hope that the time for praise will come.

But the psalm doesn’t end there. Expressions of trust in God don’t end the experience of suffering and sorrow. The psalmist experiences God’s love (v. 8) and also feels abandoned by God (v. 9). The psalmist persists in biblical lament—he is downcast and disturbed, but he also trusts in God and looks forward to praise (v. 11).

Apply the Word

Biblical lament defies our cultural expectations to process grief in certain ways or to just get on with things. You don’t have to feel better before you praise God. Coming to Him with your desperation and suffering is itself an act of trust. Make verse 11 your own personal prayer and statement of faith that you will one day praise God at the feet of Jesus.

http://www.todayintheword.org/titw_devotion.aspx?id=142179

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