The Sparrow at Starbucks

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It was chilly in Manhattan but warm inside the Starbucks shop on 51st Street and Broadway, just a skip up from Times Square. Early November weather in New York City holds only the slightest hint of the bitter chill of late December and January, but it’s enough to send the masses crowding indoors to vie for available space and warmth.

For a musician, it’s the most lucrative Starbucks location in the world, I’m told, and consequently, the tips can be substantial if you play your tunes right. Apparently, we were striking all the right chords that night, because our basket was almost overflowing.

It was a fun, low-pressure gig—I was playing keyboard and singing backup for my friend who also added rhythm with an arsenal of percussion instruments. We mostly did pop songs from the ’40s to the ’90s with a few original tunes thrown in. During our emotional rendition of the classic, “If You Don’t Know Me by Now,” I noticed a lady sitting in one of the lounge chairs across from me. She was swaying to the beat and singing along.

After the tune was over, she approached me. “I apologize for singing along on that song. Did it bother you?” she asked.

“No,” I replied. “We love it when the audience joins in. Would you like to sing up front on the next selection?”

To my delight, she accepted my invitation.

“You choose,” I said. “What are you in the mood to sing?”

“Well…. do you know any hymns?”

Hymns? This woman didn’t know who she was dealing with. I cut my teeth on hymns. Before I was even born, I was going to church. I gave our guest singer a knowing look. “Name one.”

“Oh, I don’t know. There are so many good ones. You pick one.”

“Okay,” I replied. “How about ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow’?”

My new friend was silent, her eyes averted. Then she fixed her eyes on mine again and said, “Yeah. Let’s do that one.”

She slowly nodded her head, put down her purse, straightened her jacket and faced the center of the shop. With my two-bar setup, she began to sing.

Why should I be discouraged?

Why should the shadows come?

The audience of coffee drinkers was transfixed. Even the gurgling noises of the cappuccino machine ceased as the employees stopped what they were doing to listen. The song rose to its conclusion.

I sing because I’m happy;

I sing because I’m free.

For His eye is on the sparrow

And I know He watches me.

Holy moment

When the last note was sung, the applause crescendoed to a deafening roar that would have rivaled a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall. Embarrassed, the woman tried to shout over the din, “Oh, y’all go back to your coffee! I didn’t come in here to do a concert! I just came in here to get something’ to drink, just like you!”

But the ovation continued. I embraced my new friend. “You, my dear, have made my whole year! That was beautiful!”

“Well, it’s funny that you picked that particular hymn,” she said.

“Why is that?”

“Well….” she hesitated again, “that was my daughter’s favorite song.”

“Really!” I exclaimed.

“Yes,” she said, and then grabbed my hands. By this time, the applause had subsided and it was business as usual. “She was 16. She died of a brain tumor last week.”

I said the first thing that found its way through my stunned silence.

“Are you going to be okay?”

She smiled through tear-filled eyes and squeezed my hands. “I’m gonna be okay. I’ve just got to keep trusting the Lord and singing his songs, and everything’s gonna be just fine.”

She picked up her bag, gave me her card, and then she was gone.

Was it just a coincidence that we happened to be singing in that particular coffee shop on that particular November night? Coincidence that this wonderful lady just happened to walk into that particular shop? Coincidence that of all the hymns to choose from, I just happened to pick the very hymn that was the favorite of her daughter, who had died just the week before? I refuse to believe it.

God has been arranging encounters in human history since the beginning of time, and it’s no stretch for me to imagine that he could reach into a coffee shop in midtown Manhattan and turn an ordinary gig into a revival. It was a great reminder that if we keep trusting him and singing his songs, everything’s gonna be okay. ~ John Thomas Oaks

{Know someone who is facing hard times? The Drying Pot; And The Refining Fires Necessary To Become A Vessel Used By God}

Love Installation

Yellow love

A step by step guide to installing love on the human machine.

Customer: I can do that. I’m not very technical, but I think I am ready to install now. What do I do first?

Tech Support: The first step is to open your HEART. Have you located your HEART ma’am?

Customer: Yes I have, but there are several programs running right now. Is it okay to install while they are running?

Tech Support: What programs are running ma’am?

Customer: Let me see… I have PASTHURT.EXE, LOWESTEEM.EXE, GRUDGE.EXE, and RESENTMENT.COM running right now.

Tech Support: No problem. LOVE will automatically erase PASTHURT.EXE from your current operating system. It may remain in your permanent memory, but it will no longer disrupt other programs. LOVE will eventually overwrite LOWESTEEM.EXE with a module of its own called HIGHESTEEM.EXE However; you have to completely turn off GRUDGE.EXE and RESENTMENT.COM. Those programs prevent LOVE from being properly installed. Can you turn those off ma’am?

Customer: I don’t know how to turn them off. Can you tell me how?

Tech Support: My pleasure. Go to your Start menu and invoke FORGIVENESS.EXE. Do this as many times as necessary until GRUDGE.EXE and RESENTMENT.COM have been completely erased.

Customer: Okay, I’m done. LOVE has started installing itself automatically. Is that normal?

Tech Support: Yes it is. You should receive a message that says it will reinstall for the life of your HEART. Do you see that message?

Customer: Yes I do. Is it completely installed?

Tech Support: Yes, but remember that you have only the base program. You need to begin connecting to other HEARTS in order to get the upgrades.

Customer: Oops…I have an error message already. What should I do?

Tech Support: What does the message say?

Customer: It says “ERROR 412 – PROGRAM NOT RUN ON INTERNAL COMPONENTS”. What does that mean?

Tech Support: Don’t worry ma’am, that’s a common problem. It means that the LOVE program is set up to run on external HEARTS but has not yet been run on your HEART. It is one of those complicated programming things, but in non-technical terms it means – “you have to ‘LOVE’ your own machine before it can “LOVE” others.”

Customer: So what should I do?

Tech Support: Can you find the directory called “SELF-ACCEPTANCE”?

Customer: Yes, I have it.

Tech Support: Excellent, you are getting good at this.

Customer: Thank you.

Tech Support: You’re welcome. Click on the following files and then copy them to the “MYHEART” directory: FORGIVESELF.DOC, SELFESTEEM.TXT, REALIZEWORTH.TXT, and GOODNESS.DOC. The system will overwrite any conflicting files and begin patching any faulty programming. Also, you need to delete SELFCRITIC.EXE from all directories, and then empty your recycle bin afterwards to make sure it is completely gone and never comes back.

Customer: Got it. Hey! My HEART is filling up with really neat files. SMILE.MPG is playing on my monitor right now and it shows that WARMTH.COM, PEACE.EXE, and CONTENTMENT.COM are copying themselves all over my HEART!

Tech Support: Then LOVE is installed and running. You should be able to handle it from here. One more thing before I go

Customer: Yes?

Tech Support: LOVE is freeware. Be sure to give it and its various modules to everybody you meet. They will in turn share it with other people and they will return some really neat modules back to you.

Customer: I will. Thank you for your help
by: Author Unknown

{Want more devotions? I’m A Sword Wielding Devil Slayer; Declaring the Word of God and Taking Back What the Devil Stole from Me!}

Be Free

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If you are quick to take offense, then you’ll be under the control of those who you find offensive.

If you are easily angered, then your actions will be dictated by those who anger you.

If you are obsessed by what other people think, then you will be imprisoned by their thoughts.

If you yearn for easy answers and quick solutions, you’ll fall prey to people who offer you nothing but promises.

If you find the truth too difficult to bear, you’ll be enslaved to those who tell you what you want to hear.

When you have the courage to think for yourself, the strength to accept what is, the commitment and discipline to make a difference, then you are free.

You are truly free to live with purpose, joy and fulfillment.

Let your life be defined, not by reactions to what others do, say, or think but rather your own unique vision.

Raise your eyes above the pettiness and follow the path of the greatness that is within you. ~ Author Unknown

{Want more devotions? I’m A Sword Wielding Devil Slayer; Declaring the Word of God and Taking Back What the Devil Stole from Me!}

Live Long, Live Strong Part 2

Live Long…by the Book (The Word of God)

Like every other blessing, there are conditions to living a long life. Psalms 91 is a picture of the person who receives this blessing.

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.”

The person this is talking about loves God and stays connected to Him. He doesn’t fear, but trusts the Lord to be his refuge and says so. The truth of God’s Word is his shield and buckler. He dwells or abides under the shadow of the Almighty in obedience, and God shows him His salvation. The word salvation means “material and temporal deliverance from danger and apprehension, preservation, pardon, restoration, healing, wholeness and soundness.”

God will satisfy you with good things, including healing, protection and long life when you are living and abiding in Him.

Keep Doing God’s Will

For years I heard Kenneth Hagin say you ought to live 70 or 80 years, and if you’re not satisfied, live awhile longer. He proved that to be true. He passed 80 and just kept going until he finished his work.

A commentary on Psalms 90 in the Tehillim says until Moses reached 80, like other men he was growing weaker. But look what happened to him then. “When he reached the age of eighty, Moses received an extraordinary infusion of youthful energy and vitality, because at that time he was chosen to lead the Jewish people out of Egypt, to receive the Torah, and to lead the Jews to the Promised Land. This Divine mission so invigorated him that his health and strength remained undiminished until the moment of his death.”

Deuteronomy 34:7 says, “And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.”

Just as He did with Moses, God can give you a new assignment at any time. So if you have noticed that you’ve been slowing down because you’re getting a little older, double up on the Word. Let the Word be made spirit and life to you (John 6:63). And get involved with what God is doing. That’s the best way to live a long, productive life.

Acts 1:1-2 in the New Living Translation says, “Jesus began to do and teach until the day he ascended…” That’s my plan too—to do and teach until I ascend! I encourage you to do the same. Live long and live strong-stay well and stay here as long as God has something worthwhile for you to do.

You Don’t Have to Be Sick

One woman wrote to us and asked, “If I keep getting healed, how am I ever going to die?” The best way for your body to die is for your spirit to just leave. You don’t have to be evicted—forced out by sickness, disease or accident. God can call you out and say, Come home. Come on up here. You can simply pass over from this side to the other side—from earth to heaven. I get excited just thinking about it. Glory to God!

You don’t ever have to be sick. God’s best is for you to live in divine health every day, but He is also eager to heal. John G. Lake said, “Divine healing is the removal by the power of God of the disease that has come upon the body. But divine health is to live day by day, hour by hour in touch with God so that the life of God flows into the body just as the life of God flows into the mind or flows into the spirit.”

You live in divine health by staying in continual contact with the Word of God and the Spirit of God. In fact, the way to be free in every area of life is to attach yourself to God.

It’s your responsibility to stay well and whole. You do that with the Word of God and by resisting the devil. Go to the Bible and find out the truth. Realize that healing belongs to you and stand in faith for it. Rebuke symptoms when they try to come. Say, “No, you’re not coming here, in the Name of Jesus. I’m healed by the stripes of Jesus.”

When the devil tries to crowd your mind with dark thoughts about your life being cut short, rebuke them. Replace those thoughts with the promises of God. Speak the Word out loud in faith. Remember Psalms 91 says the person who makes the Lord his refuge, the one who receives protection and deliverance, has to say so.

Obey Natural and Spiritual Laws

God didn’t make your physical body to fail. He made your physical body to sustain itself when given the right food and the right conditions. He created your body to stay well and live to be of old age.

And if that’s your goal, you’ll need to determine that. Regardless of what ailments your relatives have had, they don’t need to affect you. Don’t look at your family history. You are born of God. Now you’re part of His family. You can take the Word of God and stop any unwanted, hereditary tendencies in your life.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can eat unhealthy foods all the time and expect to live healed and live long. Most sickness is self-induced by living wrong and eating wrong. There are natural and spiritual laws by which we are to live. It’s our responsibility to eat the right kind of food, exercise, rest—to make choices that will help us stay healthy.

God expects us to obey Him. Scripture tells us over and over to hearken to God’s voice and His Word. Proverbs 4:20-22 says, “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.” The margin of my Bible indicates the word health can be translated as “medicine.” God’s Word is medicine to your flesh. Not only that, this medicine affects everything in your life. It will cause your faith to rise up and receive.

Get into the Word—it’s essential to your life and health. Spend time there and find out what God is telling you to do. If He instructs you to make changes, know that they will always be for your benefit. Psalms 25:12-13 in The Living Bible says, “Where is the man who fears the Lord? God will teach him how to choose the best. He shall live within God’s circle of blessing….”

When you are obedient to walk in His ways, God surrounds you with blessings— healing, protection, favor, whatever you need.

Guard Your Heart

If symptoms linger, if our healing doesn’t readily manifest, Ken and I start checking to see if we are walking in love and obeying God. We ask ourselves if we are spending enough time in the Word of God for it to be made life and health to our flesh.

Proverbs 4:23 in The Amplified Bible warns, “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.” You “keep” your heart by keeping it full of the Word of God. That’s the most important thing you have to do in this life. You can’t live in divine health and keep your faith up without a steady diet of the life force of God, which is the Word of God.

The wisdom of God is written down for us in His Word. Revelation of the Word is precious because it takes care of everything in our life. It causes health and healing to come. It brings happiness, joy and peace—nothing missing, nothing broken. Walking in God’s wisdom is a key to living long and living well. Proverbs 3:13-18 says:

Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.

By spending time in the Word of God we can have so much life flowing out of us that sickness and disease can’t even get close to us.

Jesus teaches us that our commandment is to walk in love. We are to love God with all our heart and to love each other. You can’t live long and strong and be in strife, unforgiveness or other disobedience. When that happens the life flow is hindered. Disobedience also comes in the form of wrong words, traditions of men, anger, bitterness, grief, fear, envy and jealousy. All disobedience opens the door to the enemy and stops the life flow. These things can adversely affect our health and our ability to receive from God.

Disobedience opens the door to the effects of the curse in our lives, but obedience releases the blessings of God.

I’m convinced it would be possible to live to be 120 years old by obeying the Word of God. If you ate the way God said to eat and abstained from what He said to abstain from, you’d be well on your way to a strong, healthy body. Add to that a steady diet of the Word of God, allowing the life force of the Word to continually quicken (make alive) your mortal flesh. Then if you were faithful to obey the Word of God in every area of life, I believe you could live an active, productive life of 120 years or more.

When you walk with God, you can walk healed and live long. “And ye shall serve the Lord your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee…the number of thy days I will fulfill” (Exodus 23:25-26).

{Read Part 1}

{Want more devotions? I’m A Sword Wielding Devil Slayer; Declaring the Word of God and Taking Back What the Devil Stole from Me!}

 

Live Long, Live Strong Part 1

One of my favorite mentors is Gloria Copeland, she is a woman of excellence and she lives as the Word of God tells us we can live. I want to share with you over the next two posts something I believe we all need to hear. It has blessed me and I pray it will do the same for you…

The Bible has a lot to say about God’s will concerning our life here on the earth—how we are to live and for how long. God has a good, long life planned for us. But without that revelation, when we reach 60 or 70, we may start winding down and getting ready to go.

It’s His will for us to live out the full number of our days. Traditionally, Psalms 90:10 has been quoted in regard to man’s life expectancy. It says: “The days of our years are threescore years and ten (seventy years)—or even, if by reason of strength, fourscore years (eighty years)…” (The Amplified Bible). But what most people don’t realize is that reading this verse alone is taking it out of context. A footnote to Psalms 90 in The Amplified Bible explains:

This psalm is credited to Moses, who is interceding with God to remove the curse which made it necessary for every Israelite over twenty years of age (when they rebelled against God at Kadesh-barnea) to die before reaching the promised land (Numbers 14:26-35). Moses says most of them are dying at seventy years of age. This number has often been mistaken as a set span of life for all mankind. It was not intended to refer to anyone except those Israelites under the curse during that particular forty years. Seventy years never has been the average span of life for humanity. When Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes, had reached 130 years (Genesis 47:9), he complained that he had not attained to the years of his immediate ancestors. In fact, Moses himself lived to be 120 years old, Aaron 123, Miriam several years older, and Joshua to 110 years of age. Note as well that in the Millennium a person dying at 100 will still be thought a child (Isaiah 65:20).

Here we learn that the Israelites who died at 70 were living under the curse caused by disobedience. According to Galatians 3:13, Jesus has redeemed us from the curse being made a curse for us. If we have made Jesus our Lord, freedom from all the conditions the curse causes belongs to us—that includes sickness, destruction and early death.

So don’t have the mindset that you should only live to be 70. What God actually said about man’s lifespan is found in Genesis 6:3: “And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.”

Think about it. That means at 60 you are just middle-aged. That’s not the time to start slowing down. Instead stand on this scripture and others like Psalms 103:2-5: “Bless the Lord…who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction…who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Be determined to enjoy to the fullest the many productive years the Lord has promised you.

(Stay tuned for Part 2 next week)

{Want more devotions? I’m A Sword Wielding Devil Slayer; Declaring the Word of God and Taking Back What the Devil Stole from Me!}

Broken Crayons Still Color

As a child a new fresh box of crayons was like winning the gold star of the day for me. The smell of the new crayons as I would pry open the box to reveal the perfect point of each vibrantly colored prize- this perfection made my heart soar. When a box of new crayons had one break – I would discard it. When the paper would become tattered I would throw the crayon over in a tin where I hid away all the broken and imperfect ones. This tin was full of broken colors as a symbol for me to let perfection reign and do away with the imperfect. Looking back I now see just how much of a perfectionist I was even as a small child. That box of new crayons was a representation of perfection. No flaws – just sheer excellence.

Life is not about perfection, or being perfect. For those who are perfectionist like me, you understand this is a day to day battle. As a Christian I even found myself believing God wanted perfection out of me. The more I did the better He loved me; or so I thought. I believed He wanted me to be perfect in all areas of my life. But I was wrong.

One day I was scrolling Pinterest and found this picture.

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Wow! There is a strong and varied lesson in these few short words. One lesson teaches us no matter what failures have been in our life – we still work. Just because our past has been broken does not mean we cannot color out a better future.

I felt the Holy Spirit was showing me through those four words my distorted picture of needing to be perfect. God reminded me of that tin I had of broken pieces of crayons and crayons in perfectly good condition, except for the paper torn off. What could this possibly mean, why was this important? Because for me I did away with those things which were not perfect. For me looking perfect was important, not having flaws was important. I needed to be a better Christian; with no flaws, a better wife; with no flaws, a better daughter; with no flaws, a better mother; with no flaws, and on goes the list.

I always measure my day by what I have accomplished and whether or not my whole list was done. If the whole list was not done I had failed. I always want my body to look a certain way and if it does not I have failed. I want my children to behave a certain way and when they do not I have failed. I have lived this way as long as I can remember, BUT GOD!!!

God is showing me how to be a recovering perfectionist. As a perfectionist the attitude of – if it is to be it’s up to me, will prevail. You begin to feel only you can do it and do it right. You must be the one to juggle, and not just juggle – but it is far better to juggle while riding a bike across a tight rope, oh yea with fire underneath, and darts coming at you, and …… well… you get the picture. As a perfectionist the harder the task the bigger the trophy when you get it all done. Sadly you may accomplish some great feat, however, as a perfectionist you are not satisfied really. That few second swell of pride quickly goes away as you focus on all that has not been done yet.

God wants our life to reflect Him, and yes He is perfect, but He does not expect us to be. He expects us to lean on Him. A perfectionist feels they must do the task to make sure it is correct. To lean on someone else would not bring about the perfect results we desire. But God is showing me that leaning on Him and allowing Him to take over is exactly what I need.

For me the lesson of Broken Crayons Still Color means I can still color in the lines of my day to day life with a crayon that is not perfect. One which does not even have a perfect tip on it and whose paper may be torn. That imperfect crayon is one which will work. It does not look perfect on the outside but it does the job perfectly.

As I think of that tin of thrown away crayons I wish I had it now to remind me daily to lean on God and not strive for perfection; instead to strive after my Heavenly Father. God uses every single crayon in the box and guess what – even those in the tin.

{Want more devotions? I’m A Sword Wielding Devil Slayer; Declaring the Word of God and Taking Back What the Devil Stole from Me!}

How to Trust God When It’s Just Too Hard

how-to-trust-god-when-it-is-too-hardHave you ever been at a place in your life where you were just too scared to look back and too scared to look ahead at the same time? I have been in that place before and it is one of the hardest places to be in. What I have learned is when my faith seems too frozen to move, I must ask myself one question..”Do I trust God right now?” Trust – such a simple word, yet such a hard word too.

The word trust means, “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” Let’s break down the word and relate it to God. Trust in the firm belief that God is reliable, that God is truthful, that God has ability in your situation and that God has the strength. When we use this definition about a person we may not believe each of these points of reliable, truth, ability, or strength. But with God He is all of those things and more. Of course that is easy to say and believe until you are hit in the face of being too scared to look back and too scared to look ahead at the same time.

I can remember going into a new year and being scared of it. So much had happened to my family that I felt like I could not take one more bit of bad news. This is when I learned also that the firm growing of my faith in believing God for impossible things of the past had landed me right where I was in my life. All those struggles of faith had been a boot camp so to speak for the raging war I had found myself currently in. And while fiery darts were flying all around me my feet just could not turn around or move forward. I asked myself how was I going to trust God when all of this was just too hard? How do I obey the Word of God which clearly instructs us to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” – Proverbs 3:5-6.

In the midst of my struggles I could not understand the lessons but now looking back I see exactly what those valuable lessons from God were and I am passing them on to you:

  1. Your pain matters to God and you must know that God is with you and He is for you. “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13
  2. Allow God to fight for you- “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” Exodus 14:14
  3. You really do not know God is all you really need until God is all you have.”Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
  4. The pain is not just an interruption in your life; the very pain that hurts so much, is the very thing God will use to show you He is trustworthy. Psalm 62:5-8
  5. Remember Jesus took away the only true suffering which can destroy you – being cast away from God. That cannot happen. Focus on the fact that whatever you are facing cannot destroy you. “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes”Ephesians 1:4

{Want more devotions? I’m A Sword Wielding Devil Slayer; Declaring the Word of God and Taking Back What the Devil Stole from Me!}