The Marriage Triangle: Love and Respect

Please visit TRC to read more of the great articles in this issue!

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The Marriage Triangle:
Love and Respect

by Anna Popescu

A vital aspect of a mutually happy marriage is when a couple treats each other as God intended. God created men and women with different talents, desires and relationship needs. Husbands and wives need to honor each other by assuming the marital roles as God designed them.

Women crave love from their husbands.

Men need to feel respected by their wives.

Add “no matter what” to both of those statements!

A key element in this is the dreaded word, “submission.” I’m sure all Christian married couples have read Paul’s lessons on this, and let’s just say that many of us cringe when the Ephesians passage about this comes up in a sermon. It never fails to cause many husbands to elbow their wives when the words “submission” and “respect” surface.

So let’s review what Paul has to say on this subject in Ephesians 5:21-33, below (all emphasis is mine). This is where we learn about submission as it relates to marriage. Ladies, bear with me as I uncover several parts of this important topic. It isn’t only about us needing to submit to our husbands!

 

21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

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This love and respect aspect of the marriage relationship is a huge part of biblical submission in marriage, and not just for the wives. Husbands and wives are to love and respect each other as partners in the covenant union they share with Jesus Christ.

That is what the Marriage Triangle is all about, and this is clearly shown in verse 21. Husbands and wives are to be subject to (submit to) each other.

Note that the command of verse 21 (submit to one another) actually applies to every member of the body of Christ. Paul is saying there is a mutual submission in the body of Christ that carries over into the family relationships. The husband shows his submission to the wife by his sacrificial love for her. His role is like that of Christ in John 13, where He girded Himself and washed the disciples’ feet, accepting the lowest task it was possible for Him to perform on their behalf.1

Though not submitting to his wife as a leader, a believing husband must submit to the loving duty of being sensitive to the needs, fears, and feelings of his wife. In other words, a Christian husband needs to subordinate his needs to hers, whether she is a Christian or not.2

Now we move on to how wives are to be subject to (submit to) their husbands. Don’t stop reading yet, Ladies!

 

22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.

24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

Did you get that?

We wives are to be subject to our husbands as the head of our marriage, just as we are to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ as the Head of the Church (His bride). If we are believers in the saving grace of Jesus Christ, we are a part of that Church. As such, we are all to submit to Jesus out of reverence and respect for Him and His position as head of the Church.

The wife shows her submission to her husband by following his leadership, “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church” (v. 23).

The marital relationship is more intimate, personal, and inward than that of a master and slave. That is indicated in Ephesians 5:22 by the phrase “your own husbands.” The husband-wife relationship is built on an intimate possessiveness.3

I love this next part:

The verse seems to imply that it is assumed the wife would willingly respond in submission to one whom she possesses.3

Wives, you possess your husband as much as he possesses you! Have you ever thought of it that way before? Not as in a material possession. It is more in the manner of belonging completely to each other.

By the same token, husbands are instructed to love their wives.

I know; you’re probably wondering why Paul needed to tell husbands what they already know and feel: that they love their wives. But read on to see exactly how husbands are supposed to love their wives.

 

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,

26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;

29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,

30 because we are members of His body.

31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.

32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

The husband is to love his wife “just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (verse 25). Yes, a husband loves his wife, but this is a different facet of that love, deeper and more a part of that covenant marriage relationship we share with Jesus.

A husband is to love his wife with the same selfless love that Jesus had for His bride when He willingly died for our sins. This kind of love means the husband is to cherish his wife, treating her with tenderness, treasuring her and desiring to nurture her.

First, the loving husband gives of himself. In his leadership role as head, he seeks to lead by giving of himself to his wife in ways analogous to how Christ gave Himself to His bride. Christ’s giving of Himself was personal and sacrificial. This great principle of self-giving sets the tone and points toward the many ways in which this love can be manifested and realized.

Second, Christ’s giving of Himself was for the benefit of His bride—He gave Himself up “for her.” Just so, the husband’s self-giving should be for his wife’s benefit. In short, we may speak of this love as a giving of oneself for the benefit of the other.4

 

And the wife is to “see to it that she respects her husband” (verse 33).

All of us who are believers in and followers of Jesus Christ should respect Jesus’ role as the Head of His bride, the Church. But in this verse, Paul is particularly speaking to the wives and encouraging us to respect our husbands and esteem them as the head of our marriage—just as we respect and esteem Jesus Christ as the Head of His Church.

33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

The respect asked of a wife recognizes the God-given character of the headship of her husband and thus treats him with dutiful regard and deference. Just as husbands have been asked to display their headship through likeness to Christ’s headship over His church, that is, through a love that cherishes and nourishes (verse 25, 28, 29), so now wives are asked to render their submission in a way that is most like that of the submission of the church to Christ, that is, a truly respectful submission because it is rendered voluntarily from the heart.

A wife’s respecting her husband and his headship therefore implies that her submission involves not only what she does but also her attitude in doing it. As with the husband, so with the wife, it is the heart’s attitude of grateful acceptance of the role God assigns to each and the determination to fulfill the particular role with all the graciousness God gives that Paul is urging on both wives and husbands in this last verse of his instruction.4

This is admittedly a hard lesson to learn when all around us society is eroding the concept of Biblical marriage as created by God.

Rick and I were talking about this recently, about how the media (especially TV) loves to portray the husband as a doofus who has no control over his household, and the wife, as the one who is in charge of the family because she always knows what is best. These are dangerous role models for men and women to follow because they are the exact opposite of what God has ordained for husbands and wives.

StLoveEachOtherCoupleEmbracingrive to stay strong in your marriage. Love each other with the kind of love Jesus has for His bride, the Church.

Husbands, love your wife as Jesus loves His Church. Wives, respect your husband just like you respect Jesus as the Head of the Church.

Here’s verse 33 once again, but I’ve emphasized certain parts to make a point:

33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

The point? Husbands and wives each have God-mandated responsibilities in marriage so that they will get along better and resolve disagreements in a God-honoring way.

Sure, there will be times when it will not be easy to remember how we are to Biblically treat or respond to our spouse. Those are the times to take our focus off of ourselves and the difficulty we’re going through, and instead, place that focus on Jesus Christ, the head of our marriage.


1Grace to You, “The Role of Women”

2Grace to You, “What Does it Mean to Dwell With Your Wife With Understanding?”

3GraceToYou.org, “Answering the Key Questions About the Family”

4Bible.org, “Husbands and Wives as Analogues of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:21 and Colossians 3:18-19)”

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How to strengthen your faith

There is a great question and answer section on Billy Graham’s site titled “Answers.” Today’s post is from there and is an excellent reminder for all of us. While you’re there, please check out the wealth of resources at Billy Graham’s wonderful site.

Q: I admit my faith is weak, but I know it would be strong if I could only see Jesus with my own eyes, even for just one minute. Why shouldn’t I ask God to do this for me?

A: God has already given you everything you need to make your faith stronger. Instead of praying for Jesus to appear to you somehow (which He never promised to do), you should be praying instead for the discipline to use the means He has given you to strengthen your faith. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

I often think of the similarity between physical strength and spiritual strength. What do we need to stay physically strong and healthy? We need two things: food and exercise. If we don’t eat, we’ll grow weaker, waste away and eventually die. And if we don’t exercise, we’ll also grow weak and won’t be useful or helpful to others.

Read the rest here.

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What is Habakkuk Syndrome?

Blogos is a great outreach of Got Questions Ministries. It is a collection of blogs that are—according to the site—”dedicated to the Logos – Jesus Christ and the Bible.”

If you recall, I did a series on Habakkuk last year. You can read it here, here and here. This article by S. Michael Houdmann fits in very well with the series. While you’re at Blogos, take the time to look around and read some of the other great blog posts.

 

What is Habakkuk Syndrome?

By S. Michael Houdmann, Got Questions Ministries

Other than in my daily “through the Bible in a year” readings, I don’t read the minor prophets very often. But, my favorite book in the minor prophets is Habakkuk. I read through Habakkuk recently, and I was astounded at how easily the message could have been written to the USA in 2015 instead of Israel in 600 BC.

To summarize the Book of Habakkuk:

Habakkuk asks God how long He is going to allow the wickedness in Judah to go unpunished (1:2-4).

God declares that He is going to send the Chaldeans/Babylonians to destroy Judah (1:5-11).

Habakkuk questions God as to how He can use the Chaldeans when they are even worse than Judah (1:12-2:1).

God essentially tells Habakkuk to trust Him, and assures Habakkuk that He will judge the Chaldeans as well (2:2-20).

Habakkuk declares his faith in God and trusts in His salvation (3:1-19).

Living in the USA in 2015, I sometimes feel like Habakkuk. It blows me away how quickly the USA has descended into depraved wickedness. Romans 1:28-32 could be our national slogan.

Read the rest here.

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Living in Deep Darkness

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I will give you the treasures of darkness. —Isaiah 45:3

In the famous lace shops of Brussels, there are special rooms devoted to the spinning of the world’s finest lace, all with the most delicate patterns. The rooms are kept completely dark, except for the light that falls on the developing pattern, from one very small window. Only one person sits in each small room, where the narrow rays of light fall upon the threads he is weaving, for lace is always more beautifully and delicately woven when the weaver himself is in the dark, with only his work in the light.

Sometimes the darkness in our lives is worse, because we cannot even see the web we are weaving or understand what we are doing. Therefore we are unable to see any beauty of any possible good arising from our experience. Yet if we are faithful to forge ahead and “if we do not give up” (Galations 6:9), someday we will know that the most exquisite work of our lives was done during those days when it was the darkest.

If you seem to be living in deep darkness because God is working in strange and mysterious ways, do not be afraid. Simply go forward in faith and in love, never doubting Him. He is watching and will bring goodness and beauty from all of your pain and tears. –J. R. Miller (from Streams in the Desert Devotional)

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Living a Life of being Filled with and Walking in the Spirit

Beloved, as a follower of and believer in Jesus Christ, are you living a life filled with the Holy Spirit? And are you walking in the Spirit? This is an excellent explanation of what it means to be filled with and walk in the Spirit by my bloggy friend, Raymond Candy. Please spend some time perusing other wonderful posts on his blog, As Seen Through the Eyes of Faith.

Living a Life of being Filled with and Walking in the Spirit

“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;”  (Eph. 5:18)

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”  (Gal. 5:25)

Since the beginning of the early Christian Church there have been many different doctrines and beliefs as to what it means to “walk in the Spirit”.

The same holds true today.

Satan does not want you to discover how to walk in the Spirit.

At the very most he would like to see you fall in your Christian walk, give up, and turn from the faith.

At the very least he would like to see you continuously stumble and falter so that your faith would be weak and ineffectual.

Before we establish our belief as to what it is to “walk in the Spirit”, let us see what it is not.

Read the rest here.

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Holding Fast To Good : Teshuva

Life in this world has gone crazy lately. At least it seems that way to most of us. If you’re wondering how to handle all the upheaval without falling apart, please read this wonderful post by my bloggy friend, Ugochi Oritsejolomisan, of Teshuva. And while you’re there, check out the rest of her great site.

Holding Fast To Good : Teshuva

July 13, 2015 by ugochi oritsejolomisan

Sometimes thinking about all the craziness going on in the world we live in right now can make even the happiest person depressed. Especially one who looks away from the word to the world. I was in a discussion with some family members (Church family) and so many issues came up.

Random killings, terrorist attacks, kidnaps, robberies, sexual immoralities, divorces, Christians falling out of the faith…

The evil being exposed is so deep, intense and scary. Things that were formally unheard of are now being talked about with so much levity and casualness that boggles the mind and makes one wonder where exactly the world would be in few couple of years.

What’s a Christian to do?

Read the rest here.

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God is Love

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God Is Love

by Joni Eareckson Tada

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.” 
—I John 4:16

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are fellowshiping in a waterfall of love and joy. It is nothing short of amazing that the Trinity is driven to share that joy with us. It was the Savior’s mission: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you.” (John 15:11). What joy the Trinity enjoys! Misery may love company, but joy craves a crowd, and so the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit’s plan to rescue humans is not only for man’s sake. It is for God’s sake. The Father is gathering a crowd–an inheritance, pure and blameless–to worship His Son in the joy of the Holy Spirit. “God is love” and the wish of love is to drench with delight those for whom God has suffered.

Soon believers will step into the waterfall of joy and pleasure that is the Trinity. Better yet, we will become part of a Niagara Falls of thunderous delight as “God is all and in all.” In heaven, we will not only know God, we willknow Him in that deep, personal union, that utter euphoria of experiencing Him. There in heaven we will“eat of the tree of life” and be filled to overflowing with more joy and pleasure than we can contain (Revelation 22:2).

Amazing grace, how can it be, that God would share His joy for eternity with me? Remember, God shares His joy on His terms; and those terms call for us to, in some measure, suffer as His beloved Son did while on earth (I Peter 2:21). If you and I experience hardship, it is paving the way for a deeper joy for all of eternity!

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thank You for inviting me into the fellowship of Your joy. Thank You for preparing me for heaven’s joy as I trust You in the fellowship of Your sufferings while on earth.

Blessings,

Joni and Friends 
www.joniandfriends.org

Copyright © 2006. Pearls of Great Price by Joni Eareckson Tada. Published in print by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan

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Praying Palms Down

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Answer me when I call to you,
my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
—Psalm 4:1

Today I’d like to talk about prayer—specific prayer, that is. The kind of prayer about painful or stressful situations that brings us to our knees. We pray and we pray, and then we pray even more … waiting for an answer from God.

As we pray, we often lift up our hands up in a symbolic gesture as we give our problem to the Lord. I know what I’m talking about because I used to do this very thing.

One day, however, I had a realization that has completely changed my prayer life. It occurred to me that when I pray with my palms facing up—toward the ceiling (or sky)—I can quickly and easily close my fingers into a fist and mentally and emotionally take back that situation or trouble.

I have a tendency to do that, you know, take back something I’ve been praying about and have supposedly handed over to the Lord, just because I might be able to somehow take care of it myself.

Does this sound anything like you?

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.  —Psalm 17:6

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Since I am a very visual person, I thought about praying for specific things palms down, with hands facing the floor so that I could drop my prayer request at Jesus’ feet. To me, giving up that situation palms down tells me that once I’ve let go of it that way, it’s gone. There’s no chance for me to pull it back.

I’m not saying that everything I pray for in this way gets answered exactly as I would like, but what it does is enable me to allow God to do His work—not only in the particular situation for which I prayed but also on and through me. Sometimes I get in God’s way too much and don’t give Him enough room.

When I pray in this manner, I feel a real peace come over me. The kind of peace that lets me know that I don’t have to worry about the problem, because:

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?
—Luke 12:25

and

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

Beloved, this is my prayer for all of us: that we will always remember to pray palms down.

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Godliness + Contentment

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Godliness + Contentment

By Patricia Knight

“But godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).

We could list the aspects of our lives that have changed due to the invasion of adversity, but that exercise would not change our circumstances. Instead of stressing the negative, why not accentuate the positive? List the gains rather than the losses. Reflect on the people you’ve met, the introspection you’ve gained, the spiritual strength and dependency that has grown, the patience learned, and the ability to mature in your faith.

If we are able to combine our faith with personal well-being, then improvement or enrichment will result. We have learned the secret for peace of mind. Following God, no matter what occurs in our lives, believing that whatever He chooses is best for us, and telling others about God’s goodness and grace, will all contribute toward our personal and spiritual riches.

1Thes5-18-HandSilhouetteSunset-35--AMPAs difficult as it may seem, we can develop a greater dependency upon our Lord even during afflictions. Therefore, we can go forward to accomplish whatever God asks us to do for Him, not in spite of pain, but because of it. We are commanded to “give thanks in all circumstances”(1 Thessalonians 5:18). The thankfulness we express is not an appreciation for leading a restricted, hurtful life, but rather it is a means of recognizing and showing gratitude for God’s sovereign leadership in our lives. Whatever He plans for us is perfect in its design and timing. 

Learning patience and perseverance produces a stronger faith. We learn those attributes by practicing them. Our hardship gives us reason to develop positive and useful emotional tools—those with which we can reach out to others in their time of need.  Christian maturity will follow.

When God has something to teach us, He may set us aside in order to instruct us in life’s lessons. The experience we gain will be invaluable in serving a loving, faithful God and others.

“Godliness + contentment = great gain”
is a method of expressing the verse as a formula for life.
It defines a spiritual goal for us—
one that God honors.

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Fearful Hands

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All hands will go limp; every man’s heart will melt.
Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them.
—Isaiah 3:7-8

Fearful Hands

By Patricia Knight

“Hands hang limp,” a description used four times in the Old Testament, is a metaphor expressing fear or failing courage. Isaiah 3:7-8 records, “All hands will go limp; every man’s heart will melt. Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them.” A typical reaction to intense fear is a limp, incapable mind and body. We freeze in our most ineffectual state. Doubts assail us; fear paralyzes us.

Jesus had just miraculously fed in excess of 5,000 men with a boy’s lunch of five barley loaves and two fish. After the baskets of extra food were gathered, Jesus commanded His disciples to go ahead of Him and cross the lake by boat while he dismissed the crowd. Then Jesus slipped away into the mountains for solitary prayer.

Imagine that you were one of Jesus’ disciples. By now it was dark. Jesus had left your group, assuring you He would rejoin you in Bethsaida. Each of you were familiar with the demands of navigation on the local waterways. Several of you were fisherman by trade, having spent your lifetime coaxing a living from the sea. Your group of disciples had rowed three and a half miles into the lake in the pitch darkness. There were no lighthouses or emergency flares; just total blackness.

From Jesus’ outlook on the mountain, He could see you, His beloved disciples, struggling at the oars as the wind buffeted your boat. “At the fourth watch of the night {between 3:00 and 6:00 am} he went out to them, walking on the lake” (Mark 6:48).  

Distracted by the wind storm and thinking only of survival, you disciples worked as a team to keep your boat on course. Suddenly, out of the dark, tumultuous night appeared what you interpreted to be a ghost. With terror in your hearts, you cried out in shock. You had learned the superstitions about spirits in the night, causing disasters. Perhaps this was a water spirit which you had heard spoken about in hushed tones by the elders who told of experiences encountered during their lifetime of boating and fishing.

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Immediately he spoke to them and said,
“Take courage! It is I.
Don’t be afraid.”

Then he climbed into the boat with them,
and the wind died down.
They were completely amazed.
—Mark 6:50-51

In response to your fear, Jesus immediately “spoke to them and said, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ Then He climbed into the boat with them and the wind died down. They were completely amazed” (Mark 6:50-51). Not one of you had recognized Jesus until He spoke. Little did you realize when Jesus walked on the water toward your boat, He was displaying the majestic presence and authority of His Lordship, ruling over the waves. As His Word testifies of Him, “You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them” (Psalm 89:9).

God commands, “Do not fear…; do not let your hands hang limp” (Zephaniah 3:16).  Though hands hanging limp is an alternative method to explain fear, I wonder if the disciples’ hands dropped their oars during that frightful, majestic night when Jesus appeared to His chosen men by walking on water?

How often do our hands hang limp when what we need is a surge of heavenly courage and power similar to the promise Moses gave Joshua centuries ago.

“’Be strong and courageous… The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged’” (Deuteronomy 31:7-8).

Deut31-7-8-StrongBarbedWire--AMPOur experiences with fear may not be as visually explicit as witnessing our Master walk on the surface of water before our eyes. Nevertheless, our fears are just as real. Do such tragedies as developing cancer, being victimized with identity theft, or suddenly losing all of  our earthly possessions in a natural disaster, instill fear in our hearts? Do we allow panic and anxiety to wash over us like raging ocean waves, or do we grab the oars and look to the Master of the Seas as our Source of help?  Our head as well as our hands often hang limp with discouragement in an emergency situation. However, God has promised to care for His own, to provide for all our needs, and to give us victory in conflict.

Joseph was shamefully treated by his brothers when they forced him into a cistern and sold him as a slave to passing merchants. He was then sold to the captain of the guard in Egypt where he prospered, but without warning he was falsely accused of a crime and thrown into prison where he remained for several years, seemingly forgotten!

Job, known and admired as a model citizen who loved and served God, was victimized by having his property burned, his animals stolen, his children killed, and his health so compromised, he was humiliated, grieving, and in constant pain.

The Israelites, God’s chosen people, had suffered in servitude to the Egyptians as brick makers for centuries. They felt hopeless and helpless, waiting for God to rescue them from their cruel taskmasters.

Do any of our fears compare to what Bible characters suffered centuries ago? Perhaps our experiences pale in comparison or we could be dealing with much more horrendous hardships. The Israelites, Joseph, and Job all feared for their lives. Their circumstances reversed when God intervened, working out individual life plans, blessing them richly. Their catastrophic life stories are contained in God’s Word so we can learn from their mistakes and their victories. We aren’t so different from those biblical figures who suffered hardship, disease, and injustice. Their ultimate victory was a gift from God who loved them deeply, just as He does us.

God’s promises have remained constant throughout the centuries. “Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared” (Proverbs 3:25, 26). God is worthy of our trust. With promises so personal and profound, why not permanently put fear to rest and rely on God’s rich mercy and grace? Don’t let your hands hang limp, but trust your Lord enough to grasp His hands and walk in step with Him day-by-day.

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