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By Faith [repost]

Hebrews Chapter 11

Faith in Action

FaithSign

 

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

“By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

“By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

“By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.

“By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

“By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.

“By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

“By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.

“By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.

“By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.

“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”

Hebrews11

Years ago Hebrews 11:1 was given to me at Royal Family KIDS Camp, a camp for abused and abandoned children. I first served as a counselor there in 1996. God called me to this ministry even though I felt totally unprepared for the task. I tried to ignore God’s call on my heart but He kept showing me that HE wanted me to go there, until one night at a prayer meeting I heard Him say to my anguished heart, “I want you to do this for Me.”

How could I ignore that?

My week at camp was a mixture of faith and fear, trust and anxiety, exhilaration and fatigue. I remember that my days were filled with prayers of “Please, Lord…” as I faced a new challenge, and “Thank You, Lord!” as He helped me through the task.

I didn’t know it at the time but the camp administration team was watching all of us counselors as we interacted with each of the children in our charge. They met each night to search the Scriptures and find just the right verse to describe each of us. I can’t tell you how surprised I was to hear that they thought Hebrews 11:1 was mine.

Faith. It’s such a small word but so full of blessed meaning. So much happened that week that made me feel like I was barely keeping my head above water, when in fact God was holding me up and enabling me to accomplish the work He had for me there.

Beloved, I don’t know where you are in your faith walk right now. But I do know this: allow God to lead you without reservation and believe without a shadow of doubt that He knows best. He loves all of us too much to want any less for us!

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Faith as [Jesus] characterized it is nothing less
than a complete exchange of all that we are
for all that He is.

—John MacArthur

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Faith never knows where it is being led,
but it loves and knows the One who is leading.
—Oswald Chambers

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All who call on God in true faith,
earnestly from the heart,

will certainly be heard, and will receive
what they have asked and desired.
—Martin Luther

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Be faithful in small things
because it is in them that your strength lies.
—Mother Teresa

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Every tomorrow has two handles.
We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety
or the handle of faith. 
—Henry Ward Beecher

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Living by Faith

 

Heb11-13--faith-cross

All these people were still living by faith when they died.
They did not receive the things promised;
they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.
And they admitted that they were
aliens and strangers on earth.
—Hebrews 11:13

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A writer colleague of mine once wrote me about her mother’s recent death. She said she missed her mother a great deal but didn’t wish her back because the last months of her illness were terrible. At the same time, my own mother was struggling with various life-threatening illnesses and we didn’t know how much longer she would be with us.

As I read my friend’s words, I knew I would feel the same way when it came time for the Lord to take Mom home. Although I love my mother dearly, she struggled so much in the last few years of her life. She shared with me more than once that she was ready to be with Jesus. She knew—by faith—that there was a much better life for her in heaven with Jesus.

Can I get a huge AMEN on that?

Faith.

Paul describes faith as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). So many of our ancestors lived by faith: Abraham, Enoch, Noah and David, to name just a few. They lived with the hope promised to all of us by God our Father—the hope of living an eternal life free of cares or worries.

Have you ever wondered if this was easy for them?

Beloved, faith and trust go hand in hand. Our Biblical ancestors understood that. They trusted in a God they could not see and had faith in the His promises. We can follow their example by faithfully leaning on the only One who truly cares and understands our pain and frustration.

Faith isn’t the ability to believe
long and far into the misty future.

It’s simply taking God at His Word
and taking the next step. 

—Joni Eareckson Tada

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Faith is taking the first step
even when you don’t see the whole staircase. 
—Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Fight the good fight of the faith.
Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called
when you made your good confession
in the presence of many witnesses.
—1 Timothy 6:12

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He is Faithful [repost]

Lately I’ve been thinking about how the Lord is leading me in my writing life, and how thankful I am to Him for that. I am going to be starting a new phase soon and will share more about that when the time comes. For now, rather than cut back on my blog posting, I thought I’d share an older post with you once a week or so. 

This particular post from 2012 about God’s faithfulness concerns a very big turning point in my writing career. I discovered that sometimes we need to just stop everything in order to allow our Lord to give us a fresh insight into His plans for us. When I stopped writing a few years back, I had no idea that the hiatus would involve a huge amount of trust in Jesus.

The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
—1 Thessalonians 5:24

I’ve been talking and blogging a lot lately about leaning on the Lord with faith and trust. Today I’d like to focus on how faith plays such a huge part in trusting and believing in the Lord’s timing.

By the way, “faith” (a noun) and “believe” (a verb) are both translated from the same Greek word. If you claim to have faith in God, then believing in Him is to put that faith into action. In other words, our faith leads to believing that what God says is true and more important than what we see or feel with our frail and easily persuaded human minds.

Are you still with me? If so, I’d like to share one of the times God reinforced a believing faith in my life.

I don’t know about you but just when I feel comfortable with the way my life is going, that’s when I know God will start to shake things up a bit. I like to say He is moving me from one comfort zone to the next!

One of the examples of this in my own life happened about seven years ago. After several years of writing, my well of imagination seemed to have run dry. I had unexpectedly lost my desire to write.

Those who know me best suggested that I was probably experiencing writer’s block, but God simply had other plans for me. In the midst of my quiet times with Him, I felt Him telling me to stop everything writing-related for a time and focus on Him as I rested my exhausted body and mind.

As difficult as it was to understand this, I knew God was asking me to put into action what I believe to be true: God is more than worthy of my faith and trust.

My writing hiatus came to an abrupt end about a year later when a writing assignment dropped into my inbox that I knew had to be from the Lord. I had sent my resume to a publisher the previous year and then forgotten about it. Now this same publisher offered me an assignment that was tailor-made for my style of writing.

But there was a problem: not only was the deadline a mere three weeks away, but I needed to research and write while battling severe daily migraines.

The migraine issue was not a new thing, but I just cannot think clearly when in the midst of one of these nausea creating, light and sound bothering, hair hurting migraines hits me. And it was happening on a daily basis.

Nevertheless, I struggled through this assignment day after day, sometimes praying through my tears. And—day after day—God provided me with the ideas I needed plus the necessary strength to get this enormous amount of writing done in such a short period of time.

The finished book was a compilation of prayers written by me and several other authors. By the grace of God and by believing that He would faithfully help me complete this assignment on time, I met my deadline of composing 31 prayer devotionals.

You read that right: 31 devotionals in 3 weeks!

In great pain I toiled through the writing of every single one of those devotionals but God was faithful in giving me exactly the strength I needed exactly when I needed it most.

Beloved, are you facing something in your life that seems too much for you to handle? Maybe—like I did—you think there is nothing you can contribute because of your circumstances or illness or limited energy.

If you take away anything from what I went through, it should be this: when God wants us to do something for Him, He does not expect us to do it on our own. He just wants us to have faith and believe that He will walk with us through it.

He is the Great Enabler and will always grant us exactly the amount of strength and stamina we need to finish whatever He calls us to do!

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Day by Day Renewal

Saturday

On this Sweet Saturday, please remember that although we may lose heart during very trying circumstances, God does not lose heart with us. He is always ready to enfold us in His everlasting arms and remind us that through the pain we are being renewed day by day.

Day by Day Renewal

2Cor4-16-18


“Coffee Break: Recharge Your Brain”
read an Internet headline and could I ever relate to that! I am definitely a coffee drinker and very thankful that its pick-me-up properties help ease me into my day. I awaken foggy brained most days, but after an hour or two of java sipping, I feel better able to face whatever the day holds.

JustPourTheCoffeeAfter reading that headline, it occurred to me that if coffee can boost our energy levels, how much more could we be recharged by diving into the Word of God?

In this particular Scripture passage Paul is urging us to not dwell on our present circumstances and trials, but rather to focus on God’s grace in our lives.

I am always impressed by how often Paul—who continually praised God in the midst of the many trials, persecutions and imprisonments he endured—encourages us to look outwardly to God rather than inwardly focusing on our daily concerns.

What an example Paul is! He never lost heart over his dire circumstances and in fact urged his followers to use these situations to draw closer to God in order to be spiritually and emotionally renewed. Paul’s close relationship with the Lord gave him the confidence to rely on the Holy Spirit’s strength when things were toughest for him.

Beloved, we can do the same thing! During those times when we feel we positively cannot go on, let’s not let fatigue or pain keep us from drawing closer to God and renewing ourselves with His refreshing spiritual nourishment.
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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

ChristBeforeMe--StPatrick

—Saint Patrick

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Handling the Impossible Moments in Life

Gen17-1-ElShaddai

Life is hard. That’s an undeniable fact. We struggle in so many ways daily, wondering if life will ever get any easier. I firmly believe that if life was easy here on earth, we would probably not yearn for our heavenly home!

This wonderful article about El Shaddai is from Precept Ministries, one of my favorite sites. I have enjoyed many Precept Bible studies and always learn a lot from them. In fact, my New American Standard (NAS) Bible is an International Inductive Study Bible (IISB) written by Precept Ministries and published by Harvest House. This is the Bible my dear friend Donna gave me for my birthday way back in 1997, and is marked up with all kinds of notes and highlighting. It has been my go-to Bible ever since. Here’s a peek:

AnnaBible1

See what I mean about all my notes, markings and highlighting? I’ve started using a couple of different Bible apps on my iPad, but my NAS Bible is still the one I consult most often.

The blog post I’m sharing here today was published last year on the Precept Ministries’ Established blog. I printed it out and kept it for future use because the subject is very near to my heart. 

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God’s Name for the Impossible Moments in Life

The names of God reveal the character of God. And, knowing the character of God brings comfort to the hurting, healing to the broken, peace to the anxious, and confidence to the fearful. Perhaps no name brings more confidence to God’s people than the name God Almighty, or El Shaddai.

Read the rest here.

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Beloved, our Lord God Almighty—our El Shaddai—is always with us. All we have to do is cry out to Him for help and comfort when we need it. 

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AnnaSmile

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Our Confidence in the Throne of Grace


Heb4-16

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

“That will be ten dollars.” Miriam looked expectantly down at her customer, who couldn’t have been more than five years old.

The tiny girl carefully placed several coins on the counter. “Is that enough?”

Miriam could see right away that there was not nearly enough to pay for the pink slippers. What to do now? She looked down again at the little girl. Her simple sundress was clean but neatly patched in several different areas.

“Who are these slippers for, sweetie?”

A bright smile lit up the girl’s face. “It’s my Mommy’s birthday.” She stroked the slippers with her index finger. “They’re so soft. Maybe now Mommy can walk.”

“Oh, I’m sure your mother will love these.” Miriam frowned. “Does she have trouble walking?”

The little girl shrugged. “She sits in a chair with big wheels.”

“You mean a wheelchair?”

The little girl’s face brightened. “Yeah, a wheelchair! I forgot the word.” She frowned. “I got enough money, don’t I? I saved it from my ‘lowance for two whole months.”

Miriam looked around. “Did you come here alone?” 

“Yep.” She nodded. “It’s real close. I got a tire swing in front of my house!”

Miriam raised her eyebrows. She knew which house the little girl was talking about, a tiny bungalow a few doors down the street with a wheelchair ramp down one side of the front steps. The house was in desperate need of repair. In a small town like this, everyone knew that the Clarks had been going through bad times since Joe Clark’s warehouse job had been eliminated. He had been looking for work for the last six months.

“I’ll tell you what,” Miriam made a quick decision. “Since this is a birthday present, I’ll wrap them up for you.”

The little girl watched in fascination as Miriam placed the slippers in a box and deftly covered it with wrapping paper and ribbon. “There, all done.” She handed the package to the little girl, who hugged it close to her body.

“Thanks, Lady!” She took a few steps but then frowned and turned back. “It’s enough?” She pointed to the money still on the counter.

Miriam smiled. “It sure is. Now why don’t you get that present home to your mother?”

The little girl’s face lit up and she thanked her again before leaving the small drug store.

Miriam picked up the thirty-seven cents’ worth of coins and stared at them for several seconds. Then she reached into her purse under the counter, drew out a ten-dollar bill and stuffed it and the coins into the cash register.

Mexican currency is seen in the cash register drawer alongside U.S. Dollars

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Beloved, did you know that You can approach God with the same kind of confidence this little girl showed toward Miriam?

It is somewhat overwhelming to think of God’s throne of grace as being so easily accessible, but that’s exactly what God wants. He yearns for us to be comfortable enough with Him that we will not hesitate in bringing our cares and concerns confidently to Him so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

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AnnaSmile

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The Peace of God

Phil4-6

The Peace of God

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. —Philippians 4:6

“Are we there yet?”

I’m sure many of us have heard these words from our children more times than we care to remember. It’s always exciting to travel to new places and see new sights. But once there, the newness quickly subsides and the children—and probably us if we’re being truthful—long to be back home with their friends. They want to return to the familiar surroundings of their own neighborhood.

That’s just the way we are. While we might want to do something different and out of the norm, we still long to be back in our own homes and familiar surroundings.

Chronic illness in particular takes us out of our comfort zone and places us in an unknown situation. Where before we could rely on our bodies to perform in a certain predictable way, now we don’t know from one day to the next (sometimes hour by hour) what to expect. Will I be able to shake the fibrofog that stalks me most days? And how about simple tasks like the laundry and dusting? Will I need help with those jobs?

God tells us to “be anxious for nothing.” I don’t know about you, but at times that’s difficult for me. I long to be certain that I’ll feel well enough to accompany Rick when we make a date to join friends for dinner. And what about this blog? Will I have enough energy to keep up with it?

But God also tells us to be thankful “in everything.”  To me that means no matter what is happening with me on any given day, I must trust that God knows what needs to be done and will enable me to do the important things.

Phil-4-7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:7

Beloved, doesn’t it comfort your hearts to read that? What this means to me is that as long as I cling to God and His promises—no matter how I feel—He will grant me that special peace that can only come from completely trusting in Him.

The peace of God. I don’t know about you, but I sure am glad I have His peace to keep me calm in my circumstances. What a wonderful promise!

AnnaSmile

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A Cheerful Heart

Prov15-15

All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast. —Proverbs 15:15

I read once that even though we cannot always choose what happens to us, we can choose what our attitude will be toward each situation. How true that is.

Our Sheltie, Bleu (who is no longer with us), was a good example of this. For some unknown reason, he would bark unremittingly whenever we started up our truck or trike, or for that matter anything with a motor. When I ran the blender or food processor, he would get very anxious. In any of these situations, he looked around for comfort and reassurance. Sometimes he pulled one of his stuffed toys around the house until the noise stopped. Other times, he would run frantically from one side of the yard to the other while barking.

Every so often, he would come to me and I was able to reassure him with a calm voice and a loving touch that everything was all right and nothing would happen to him. In fact, this seemed to cheer him up enough that he would go find one of his toys to play with or contentedly chomp on a piece of rawhide for a while, even in the midst of the ongoing noise.

I used to find myself acting the same way at times. On days when I am overwhelmed with pain and fatigue, it used to be very easy for me to fall prey to my feelings and just like Bleu did, I would start to panic. Instead of looking to the Lord for the reassurance and comfort I know from past experience is waiting for me, I would get upset and wonder if I would ever feel normal again.

That’s when I found myself taking my eyes off God and focusing on myself and my circumstances instead. Oh, but God is so good! He has shown me over and over again that if I only hang in there and trust in Him implicitly, it doesn’t take long until His warmth and faithful promises penetrate this self-involved brain. I am once again reminded that I can rely on Him for strength and support instead of wallowing in my own anxious way.

It is then that I am finally able to change to an attitude of cheerful hope, knowing in my heart that my Lord has been lovingly caring for me all the time.

Beloved, are you struggling with how to be cheerful in spite of what you’re going through? Life is not easy. We all know that. But we can absolutely trust in God who loves us beyond comprehension and is always here to comfort and sooth us during our most difficult times.

CheerfulHeartA cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. —Proverbs 17:22

BeCheerful

“I am determined to be cheerful and to be happy in whatever situation I may be, for I have also learnt from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions and not upon our circumstances.” —Martha Washington

AnnaSmile…..

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God is Contagious

Sunday

My good friend, Pat Knight, sent me this the other day and I knew right away I had to share it with you!

contagious

God is Contagious

 “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 28:30).

Many occurrences in life have the capacity for contagion or communicability.  While contagion may designate a negative experience as with the spread of a disease, positive applications are contagious enthusiasm or humor.  An influence that spreads quickly among the populace, as a new philosophy, could also be classified as contagious. The rapid growth of the Nazi movement is a poignant example.

During Jesus’ three years of ministering on earth, He attracted an exceptionally diverse following of people who were captivated by His authority over the elements of nature and the ruling religions of the day.  His followers were equally as attracted to His teachings of grace and forgiveness.  They were fascinated by Jesus’ universal love and mercy.  Jesus accepted everyone–the young, the aged, the infirmed, and the healthy.  He even displayed love for His enemies.  

ContagiousLoveJesus’ love was contagious, attracting crowds wherever He traveled.  In His presence, people felt complete. The crippled, the blind, and the demon-possessed formed unending human lines as they sought His healing powers.  Jesus zealously communicated His passion to a world of needy people.  The Lord Jesus created a contagious faith!

The Christian faith has grown rapidly during the past two thousand years since Jesus walked this earth.  When Christians gather to worship, they create a contagious atmosphere with singing and praying in one accord.  During times of religious persecution, Christianity has gained strength and grown in significantly larger numbers.

From God’s nature of pure love and holiness, we are naturally drawn to worship Him.  We are His creation, His workmanship; created in His own image. Therefore, we become family; brothers and sisters in Christ.  When we gather, exuberance is expressed from worshipping among the family of God.

Lev19-2-holy-god

One who believes in God and claims Him as Lord of His life, invites Jesus to live in his heart.  God hears and answers prayer, as well as providing guidance and protection in all areas of our lives.  As a result we yearn to worship and serve Him, creating a spiritual vitality.  God consistently proves His faithfulness to each of us.  We respond to His love and trustworthiness with our most ardent worship. 

Do you project a passionate faith in God, communicating His love and grace to others?  Do you convey a profound, palpable trust in your Lord?  If so, then perhaps you would be interested in developing a contagious faith, proliferating God’s love wherever you go.  You have the capacity to create a dynamic spiritual epidemic of worldwide proportions!

Pat, thank you so much for allowing me to share your writing with my readers!

AnnaSmile

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